The AFI Theatre and Cultural Center is offering up a wonderful array of films from Africa. These films showcase a growing new set of very talented film directors, producers, and writers and also showcase the incredible talent and creativity that is relatively undiscovered.
Some of the films have been submitted to the Oscars for consideration, and one (War Witch) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
The films to watch this week are:
March 11, 2013
5:30 p.m. 'Tey' - Senegal
From the moment Satché (actor/musician/poet Saul Williams) opens his eyes, he knows today will be his last. His friends and family gather to say goodbye, both exalting his best qualities and pointing out his shortcomings. In the streets of Senegal, Satché takes it all in, visiting former loves and old friends and spending his last moments with his wife and children. With this joyous, impressionistic ode to the fragility of life and death, Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis finds a poetic spiritualism amid the film's gentle rhythms. Official Selection, 2012 Berlin, Sydney, Chicago and London Film Festivals.
DIR/SCR Alain Gomis; PROD Eric Idriss Kanango, Oumar Sall, Gilles Sandoz. France/Senegal, 2012, color, 86 min. In French and Wolof with English subtitles. NOT RATED
7:20 p.m. 'Zabana' - Algeria
This official Oscar submission marking the fiftieth anniversary of Algeria's independence, is a heartfelt and meticulously researched biopic delves into the life of Ahmed Zabana, a national hero whose execution sparked a revolution. Fighting against French colonial rule alongside his ragtag band of FLN (National Liberation Front), thirty-year-old Zabana (Imad Benchenni) was charged with the murder of a French official and sentenced to death by guillotine. Filmmaker Saïd Ould-Khelifa presents a complex portrait of a man who struggled for freedom and dignity in a film that was chosen as Algeria's entry into the 2013 Academy Awards. Official Selection, 2012 Toronto Film Festival.
DIR Saïd Ould-Khelifa; SCR Azzedine Mihoubi; PROD Yacine Laloui. Algeria, 2012, color, 107 min. In Arabic and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
9:30 p.m. 'The Repentant' - Algeria
When the Algerian government enacts a law that provides amnesty to rebels who lay down their arms, Rashid, a jihadist fighter, leaves his hideout in the mountains and returns home. But the law can't erase the past, and when Rashid crosses paths with a middle-class couple whose lives were destroyed five years earlier, the cycle of violence, secrets and manipulation seems unavoidable. An intimate narrative and complex performances from the cast allow Algerian filmmaker Merzak Allouache to place viewers at the heart of this engaging and deeply touching story. Official Selection, 2012 Cannes, Chicago and Palm Springs Film Festivals.
DIR/SCR Merzak Allouache; PROD Yacine Djadi. Algeria, 2012, color, 87 min. In Arabic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
March 12, 2013
6:00 p.m. 'Swirl in Bamako' - Mali
Makan peddles his wood carvings on the streets of Bamako, but his meager earnings aren't enough to support himself, let alone the girl of his dreams, Sira. His luck is about to change when his friend convinces him to buy a lottery ticket for a big payday, and he actually wins. The only problem? He can't find the ticket! Now Makan must track down his winning ticket, embarking on a wild chase through the streets of Bamako. But with his eyes focused on the prize, will he end up disappointing the object of his affection? Official Selection, 2013 Pan African and Cairo Film Festivals.
DIR/SCR/PROD Dominique Philippe. Mali, 2013, color, 70 min. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. NOT RATED
7:30 p.m. 'Playing Warriors' - Zimbabwe
When twenty-something advertising executive Nyarai finds out that her best friend Nonto is getting married, she and her lawyer friend Maxi are sent into a frenzy, worrying that their time to find "Mr. Right" may be running out. Determined to marry for love—despite the insistence of her meddlesome mother that she hurry up and settle down—Nyarai sets out to find a modern man as strong and dependable as the mythical traditional warrior. Reminiscent of a Zimbabwean SEX AND THE CITY, director Rumbi Katedza's delightful debut feature is a smart and insightful comedy about the struggle of young African women to balance modern lifestyles with the pressures of family and tradition. (Courtesy of New York African Film Festival).
DIR/SCR/PROD Rumbi Katedza; PROD Jackie Cahi. Zimbabwe, 2012, color, 78 min. NOT RATED
9:15p.m. 'Nairobi Half-Life' - Kenya
This official Oscar submitted movie highlights the life of a young man chasing his dreams of making it big as an actor. Headstrong yet naïve Mwas (Joseph Wairimu) leaves behind his small rural village for the sprawling Kenyan capitol of Nairobi. A few rookie mistakes land him in jail, where Mwas is taken in by Oti, a small-time crook. Although he learns how to survive in the dangerous and sprawling capitol, Mwas is torn between his new lifestyle of theft, violence and money and his dream of becoming an actor. Rising talent Wairimu delivers a strong performance in David 'Tosh' Gitonga’s fast-paced crime drama, which won the Breakthrough Audience Award at AFI Fest 2012.
DIR David 'Tosh' Gitonga; SCR Potash Charles Matathia, Samuel Munene, Serah Mwihaki; PROD Sarika Hemi Lakhani, Tom Tykwer, Ginger Wilson. Kenya/Germany, 2012, color, 96 min. In English and Swahili with English subtitles. NOT RATED
All the films are extremely well done and are all worth watching. It is definitely worth a trip to Silver Spring to watch any one of them (although I would try to get all three in each day).
For more information about the festival, or to purchase tickets, please visit AFI's website, or call 301-495-6720.