Africa & The Diaspora At Tribeca Film Festival 2016

From a new doc on "the Egyptian Jon Stewart" to the story of a young & female Tunisian rocker, here's our Tribeca Film Festival roundup.

Children of the Mountain, dir. Priscilla Anany.
The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival began Wednesday night in New York City. From a new documentary on "the Egyptian Jon Stewart" to a 360 degree virtual reality journey across the continent and the story of a young and female Tunisian rocker, the following is Okayafrica's annual roundup of TFF films. For more, check out Okayplayer’s top picks for Tribeca 2016.

Tickling Giants

dir. Sara Taksler

In her feature-length documentary, Daily Show Senior Producer Sara Taksler takes a look at the rise and career of Egyptian TV presenter Bassem Youssef, who in 2011, at the start of the Arab Spring, left his job as a heart surgeon to become a full-time satirist. The decision would lead to him hosting the weekly political satire show, Al Bernameg, and ultimately becoming “the Jon Stewart of Egypt."

“With a precise documentary eye, Daily Show Senior Producer Sara Taksler captures the strength and fragility that color Youssef’s life on and off screen, as well as the courage of the coworkers who stand by him,” writes TFF's Cara Cusumano. “She celebrates satire as a tool with a greater use than the extraction of a laugh, positioning the genre as both a weapon against fear and an instrument of democracy for those in desperate pursuit of freedom.”

As I Open My Eyes

dir. Leyla Bouzid

Tunisian screenwriter and director Leyla Bouzid’s debut feature offers a glimpse into the lives of Tunisian youth in 2010. A music drama set on the eve of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, the film tells the story of a young Tunisian woman in an underground band. “For Farah (Baya Medhaffar), the young woman at the heart of the film, music transcends cultures and languages, and the lengthy musical interludes demonstrate a kind of escapism,” writes TFF Artistic Director, Frederic Boyer. “Music too is wrapped up in the politics.”

Children of the Mountain

dir. Priscilla Anany

Ghanaian writer-director Priscilla Anany’s debut feature tells the story of a young mother (Rukiyat Masud) who goes to the greatest lengths to find a cure for her son, who was born with a cleft palate and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome.


dir. Stephanie Riggs

The immersive VR documentary is making its world premiere at Tribeca’s Virtual Arcade. Inspired by Dayo Olopade’s book, The Bright Continent, the film takes viewers on a 360° journey across the continent in search of Kanju, the Yoruba word for “creativity born of struggle.”

Tribeca Film Festival 2016 takes place April 13 – 24 in New York City.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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