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New York African Film Festival Celebrates 30th Anniversary

New York African Film Festival Celebrates 30th Anniversary

In celebration of this year's African Film Festival, here are 6 must-see films from their prestigious Shorts Programme.

Under the banner "Streaming Rivers: The Past into the Present," the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) returns virtually this December with a spotlight on the cinema of two nations: Nigeria and the Sudan. Presented by Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) and African Film Festival (AFF), this year's regional NYAFF will screen six features and eight short films in the FLC Virtual Cinema, as the AFF celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The festival will transport audiences to the Sudan and Nigeria, two nations whose film industries were disrupted in their nascency — in Nigeria by an economic decline in the late 1970s and early 1980s and in Sudan by the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir whose 30-year grip on the country was ended by the 2019 uprising. In recent years, Sudan's film industry has been revived by an emerging crop of filmmakers, who are also dedicated to restoring the works of the veterans on whose shoulders they stand. Nollywood can claim the mantle of being Africa's homegrown film industry, which has influenced filmmakers globally and provided the template for other nations to jump-start their own nascent motion picture businesses.

The festival's Shorts Programme boasts a number of varied and enthralling short films from across the continent and the world. According to the festival, "The Shorts Programme is composed of works by filmmakers who are challenging the notion of home, space and where in the world Africa is." Furthermore, "Taboo subjects are tackled within the realms of gender, sexuality, liberation, redefining the evolving phrase "tradition versus modernity" and from the point of view of younger generations."


Below are 6 short films that are a definite must-see and are part of the festival's Shorts Programme.


1. 'A Cemetery of Doves' (2019)

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film is about love, heartbreak and navigating the world as a queer individual. A teenager's declaration of love for an older man is met with rejection and he subsequently struggles with heartbreak and fear for his safety and future in a society which is intolerant of the LGBTQ community.

Country: Nigeria

Directed by: Adé Sultan Sangodoyin

Find more details about A Cemetery of Doves here.

2. 'Coffee Colored Children' (1988)

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film is an oldie but certainly a goodie. Coffee Colored Children is a lyrical and unsettling film which conveys the experience of children of mixed racial heritage. It certainly tackles the issue of identity and the experiences that come with that particular identity in an exquisite manner.

Country: Nigeria

Directed by: Ngozi Onwurah

Find more details about Coffee Colored Children here.

3. 'A Game' (2010)

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film was adapted from a short story written by Italian writer, Alberto Moravia. What initially begins as a playful and seemingly innocuous game, descends into a confrontation between a divorced single mother and her little daughter.

Countries: Egypt & Sudan

Directed by: Marwa Zein

Find more details about A Game here.

4. 'Love in Submission' (2019)

Still taken from YouTube.

Love in Submission has all the makings of an excellent suspense film. In the white-picket-fence suburbs of central New Jersey, two Muslim women who come from very different backgrounds and are meeting for the first time, discover they are already inextricably bound by an explosive secret.

Country: USA

Directed by: Lande Yoosuf

Find more details about Love in Submission here.

5. 'My Sister, Sara' (2020) 

Still taken from YouTube.

This short film highlights the work of Sarra Idris, a young woman and prominent grassroots activist, who kept the world informed during the Sudanese revolution of 2018/2019 which eventually led to the ousting of longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir.

Country: USA

Directed by: Sarra Idris & Amin Elhassan

Find more details about My Sister, Sara here.

6. 'Troublemaker' (2019) 

Still taken from YouTube.

Troublemaker tells the story of a young boy who learns that all actions have consequences. Set in Eastern Nigeria, the coming-of-age film explores violence, masculinity and the effects that war has on multiple generations within a community.

Country: Nigeria

Directed by: Olive Nwosu

Find more details about Troublemaker here.

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#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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