Film
Still from "Nigerian Prince."

7 Must-See Films from This Year's Tribeca Film Festival

As the Festival kicks off today, we're highlighting the films we've got our hearts set on seeing.

The 17th Tribeca Film Festival begins in New York today, and we're spotlighting films that show Africa and the diaspora like you've never seen them before. From the Okavago Delta in Angola to the ballot boxes of Minnesota, these films aim to transport viewers through the continent and beyond, showcasing the diversity that exists in each person's story.

The Tribeca Film Festival was started 18 years ago, in the wake of 9/11. This year, the organizers are commemorating the spirit in which the Festival began, and celebrating the potential of the arts to make real change in societies across the world.


"This year's Festival proclaims that the arts have the unique ability to heal and reach across diverse groups with the universal truth that society can be enriched and strengthened through storytelling," writes Tribeca Enterprises CEO, Jane Rosenthal.

Check out our picks for this year's Festival below, with words from Tribeca's website.

Into the Okavango


As the Earth's truly pristine expanses disappear more and more each day, the Okavango Delta remains an Edenic oasis with an abundance of animal species roaming its air, water, and land. But despite the spectacular sights of African elephants splashing in the river, rarely seen birds soaring above, and wildebeest migrating across its grassy expanses, the Okavango river basin—which provides water to more than one million people—is under dire threat.

Enter Dr. Steve Boyes and a team of international scientists, photographers, filmmakers, and African guides, who have made it their mission to track the cause—or causes—of the threats to the Okavango Delta's source waters and to determine how they can protect the river basin before it gets any worse. In an epic four-month journey down the Okavango Delta's source rivers—beginning in Angola, venturing into Namibia, and, finally, emptying into the Delta in Botswana

- Liz Domnitz

Director: Neil Gelinas

Countries: Angola, Namibia, Botswana

Nigerian Prince

When troubled American teenager Eze (Antonio J. Bell) is sent away to his mother's native Nigeria against his will, he quickly finds himself entangled in a dangerous web of scams and corruption, with his magnetic con-artist cousin Pius (Chinaza Uche) as his guide. Nigerian Prince, the electric debut feature from writer-director Faraday Okoro, seamlessly blends thrilling sequences of elaborate deception and dramatic tension with surprising moments of humor, making it so much more than a fish out of water tale. Newcomer Uche is a particular revelation as Pius, his confidence and cunning matched only by the sadness underlying his performance.

The film is shot in Lagos, and writer-director Faraday Okoro was the first winner of AT&T's Untold Stories program, which supports underrepresented filmmakers in the industry. Okoro won $1 million to produce his film.

- Lauren Hammonds

Director: Faraday Okoro

Country: Nigeria

Tanzania Transit


With a fighting spirit and a storyteller's heart, Rukia looks to start her life over in a new land. Peter Nyaga, a charismatic preacher, has already found his answer, but it means he cannot waste even a train ride in spreading his gospel—and shilling his book. And Maasai elder Isaya embarks on a multi-day trek home, joined by his grandson William, who is more interested in pursuing his career as a performer in the city than in carrying on the ancient traditions of his people.

Tribeca alum Jeroen van Velzen's ruminative, captivating road movie follows three people finding their way, literally and figuratively, on a train journey across Tanzania. Each has already overcome considerable hardships, yet, in some sense, they appear unable to keep up with the fast-changing society around them.

- Ian Hollander

Director: Jeroen Van Velzen

Country: Netherlands

The Serengeti Rules


Nicolas Brown's visually rich and thought-provoking documentary profiles scientists from around the globe whose parallel experiments with different ecosystems have led them to similar, surprising conclusions about the relationships between predator and prey and, by extension, the balance of life on our planet. The conclusion these disparate thinkers and experiments reach speaks to the essential role played by so-called "keystone species" in preserving the balance of an ecosystem and protecting it from collapse. To prove its thesis, The Serengeti Rules traverses the Pacific Northwest, Peru, the Aleutian Islands, and the Serengeti, bringing to life the simple-but groundbreaking discoveries these scientists have made throughout the last few decades.

- Dan Hunt

Director: Nicolas Brown

Country: Tanzania/Kenya (Serengeti)

The Feeling of Being Watched

"The grey area between paranoia and the truth is a dangerous place," says Algerian-American filmmaker Assia Boundaoui at the outset of The Feeling of Being Watched. Boundaoui hails from a predominantly Arab-American enclave in Bridgeview, Illinois, just south of Chicago, where rumors of F.B.I. surveillance circulated throughout the '90s and early '00s. A public radio journalist by day, Boundaoui sets out to uncover why her family and neighbors were targeted and whether that scrutiny was justified; in the process, she discovers the wide-reaching effects of constant surveillance on the community's relationships with law enforcement and with each other.

- Matt Barone

Director: Assia Boundaoui

Country: USA

Time for Ilhan

Ilhan Omar is an immigrant and a Muslim woman. She wears a headscarf—and she wants your vote. Like many in her community, Omar immigrated to the United States from Somalia in the '90s. As the community grew, Omar observed an increasing disconnect between the citizens and the public officials who represented them. So, in 2016, she decided to do something about it. Following the candidate from her first day on the trail, this documentary brings audiences a rare inside look at a campaign as Omar, a political outsider hoping to become the first Somali-American legislator elected in the United States, takes on a 43-year incumbent for a seat as Minnesota state representative.

- Dan Hunt

Director: Norah Shapiro

Country: USA

When Lambs Become Lions

In Kenya, the intersecting lives of three men crystallize the fierce conflict over conservation efforts in the country's vast northern plains. There's X, the calculating ivory dealer; Lukas, X's most trusted elephant hunter; and Asan, a wildlife ranger whose task it is to prevent and deter poaching. To complicate matters, Asan is X's cousin. For all three, this pressing debate is not simply a matter of environmentalism—it's a fight for survival. Both poacher and ranger struggle to make ends meet, while various external forces, as well as their own actions, conspire to undermine their efforts—that is, until they're presented with an opportunity that might reverse both of their fortunes.

- Shayna Weingast

Director: Jon Kasbe

Country: Kenya

popular
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Idris Elba to Star In Netflix's Upcoming All-Black Western 'The Harder They Fall'

The film also stars Jonathan Majors and is being produced by Jay-Z.

Idris Elba is set to star in the upcoming all black Western The Harder They Fall from first-time director Jeymes Samuel.

The film, is slated to premiere on Netflix, and also stars The Last Black Man In San Fransisco actor, Jonathan Majors. The film is being produced by Samuel, as well as Jay-Z, who will also help write original music for the movie along with Samuel, Deadline reports. The two previously worked together on the Great Gatsby.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Joseph Otisman and Cynthia Dankwa as Kojo and Esi. Photo by Ofoe Amegavie via 'The Burial of Kojo's' Kickstarter page.

'The Burial of Kojo' Is Ghana's First Golden Globe Entry

Blitz the Ambassador's debut film is being considered for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the 2020 Golden Globes.

Blitz Bazawuke, also known as Blitz the Ambassador's critically-acclaimed directorial debut The Burial of Kojo is officially in the running for a Golden Globe nomination, making it the first Ghanaian film ever to be considered for a nomination.

The musician, writer and director took to Twitter on Friday to share the news along with a picture of the list of contenders for the Golden Globe's "Best Foreign Language Film" award, which also includes Senegal's Atlantics (which is also in the running to become the first Senegalese film nominated for an Oscar) and Malawi's The Boy Who Harnessed Wind. Ninety-five films from 65 different countries are being considered for nomination in the category.

READ: In Conversation: The Cast & Crew of 'The Burial of Kojo' On Representation, Power & Filming in Ghana

The mystical and visually striking movie, which premiered at the Urban World Festival in NYC last year, tells the story of two brothers through the eyes of its young protagonist Esi, played by Cynthia Dankwa. The film takes viewers on a surreal journey exploring family bonds and the complexity of life and death. "Usually movies about Africa are very dystopian, more about survival mode. We never get a chance to break down our people," the director told OkayAfrica in an in-depth interview last year. "We just end up with a war, and in a war you can't show nuance in family relationships—the film is about survival. The hardest thing to do is humanize a people that has little history in cinema. Hopefully this film brings father and daughter closer, especially back home."

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Cardi B Teases New Remix of Davido's 'Fall'

Looks like the Nigerian star's massive hit is getting yet another re-up.

Cardi B has teased her apparent upcoming remix of Davido's "Fall."

Posting from a private jet, as she was on her way to New York before heading to West Africa, Cardi B shared a video of herself rapping and dancing along to the unreleased remix.

From the sounds of it, Cardi's "Fall" remix will feature a brand new verse from the New York rapper.

Keep reading... Show less
Art
Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.