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10th New York African Film Festival

10th New York African Film Festival
NEW YORK  •  Walter Reade Theater  •  Ongoing
This year's festival includes a mid-career retrospective of Abderrahmane Sissako, a filmmaker who has always put Africa at the center of his world. Sissako's oeuvre is one of the most honest in its narrative position and delicate in its political enunciation.

Other films include:

My Land, My Life
Rehad Desai, South Africa, 2002; 52m
R My Land, My Life is told through the eyes of the filmmaker, who once lived in Zimbabwe and held Mugabe in esteem and now returns to make sense of the conflict that takes him into a strife-torn farming area. Through the central characters - a farmer, a farmhand and a war veteran - we enter into the social texture of present-day rural and urban Zimbabwe and its unfolding drama. The conflicts between farm worker and settler are explored, as are the conflicts between farmer and settler and farmer and farm worker. The focus of My Land, My Life is about the complexities of how a range of ordinary Zimbabweans understand the fast-changing political landscape in Zimbabwe. It is a nuanced and candid film that is frank in its pro-equality stance and a critique of those who claim to represent the interests of the peasants and workers from both sides.

Rostov Luanda
Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali / Mauritania, 1997; 60m.
Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and French with English subtitles
In 1980, director Sissako left his native Mauritania for Rostov-on-the-Don to learn Russian and study the art of filmmaking. While there, he became friends with Bari-Banga, an Angolan freedom fighter. Almost two decades later, Sissako begins another life-altering journey - this one to Luanda - in search of his old friend and the promise of African liberation. This is turbulent African history written in actual flesh and blood, as Sissako captures the painful stories of the regulars at the Biker Cafe, located in the heart of Luanda. Although Sissako goes to Angola seeking his old friend and his old hopes, he makes new friends and finds an Africa at ground zero, bereft of ideologies and illusions, much of its past destroyed by the catastrophes of colonialism and civil war, but possessed of an irrepressibly resilient spirit.

Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali / Mauritania, 1997; 26m. Arabic with English subtitles
This film explores the impact of the modern world on the traditional male society of the Maghreb. It is a film about men who prefer to live life as an abstract game and the free-spirited woman who changes all that. Said and Youssef are two brothers who are crazy about chess and have fulfilled a lifetime dream by opening a "chess bar" in the middle of the desert. The men sit around drinking palm wine, playing board games and composing love poetry to imaginary women. All this changes when, on a train, Youssef meets Sarah, a sexually liberated, uninhibited métisse, who easily lures Youssef into an affair. Soon he is dreaming not about chess but about opening a coffee bar in Genoa. The friendship is destroyed, the bar sold; Youssef, dressed in Western clothes, waits to leave with Sarah; will she show up? Said boards a train and sits down next to a Westernized woman bearing a resemblance to Sarah....

Heritage Africa
Kwaw Ansah, Ghana, 1989; 110m
A riveting exploration of the impact of colonialism in the Gold Coast, as seen through its central character, a man named Kwesi Atta Bosomefi, who prefers to be called Quincy Arthur Bosomfield. The perfect product of colonial education, Bosomfield embraces English culture in all forms, rising within the colonial administration to become an African district commissioner (a rarity) and member of the black educated "elite." In the process, he abandons his African heritage and all that has real meaning to him. Only after a series of humiliating encounters, peppered with vivid recollections of his past and a frightening and revealing dream, does he reclaim his true identity and heritage.

Wa'n Wina
Dumisani Phakathi, South Africa, 2001; 52m. English, Sotho and Zulu with English subtitles
How are young people in South Africa getting by in the age of AIDS? Dumisani Phakathi returns to his old neighborhood in Phiri, Soweto. He walks around with his camera, talking to people on the street and in their homes and yards. Although some are struggling with poverty and unemployment, the main topic of conversation is sex and love. Zonke and his friends lift weights in the backyard while his HIV-positive brother holds AIDS Consortium Workshop meetings out front. Rumia, a teenage mother, has started drinking to relieve the stress of caring for a baby while attending school. A group of men debate what it means to be a man: to have gone to prison and suffered physical hardship, or to provide for your family. This is a rock-and-roll journey that reveals the gaps between the world of everyday and the anti-AIDS campaigns that often talk past the very people they are supposed to address. It is the recognition of people's will to survive in the age of AIDS.

An Old Wife's Tale
Dumisani Phakathi, South Africa, 1999; 26m
In the new, democratic South Africa, cultural norms come under the spotlight. Former injustices have been corrected through legislation and all can now enjoy equal rights. In this comedy, Hendrik, an Afrikaner farmer, decides to exercise his constitutional rights and enter into a polygamous marriage, like his farmhand Lucas. A Xhosa man, Lucas has long lived happily with his three wives. Hendrik seeks his advice on how to manage such a situation and soon his dreams become reality when a recently widowed nubile friend visits the farm.

Christmas with Granny
Dumisani Phakathi, South Africa, 2000; 26m
English and Xhosa with English subtitles
A young boy, Madlozi, is taken on a journey to be baptized into his grandmother's faith. The poignant train trip is a metaphoric journey hailing the past and looking into the future. His grandmother is adamant that Madlozi will adopt the culture of his forefathers; Madlozi stubbornly resists. The journey, seen through the young boy's eyes, conjures up scenes from a segregated South Africa and juxtaposes them with aspirations for the future.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad, 2002; 84m
Chadian with English subtitles
In a hot, dusty town near the border of Chad and Cameroon, a father abandons his family, changing the lives of his two young sons forever. When he fails to appear for their amateur soccer match, they search for him high and low. One day at the local cinema, the boys believe they see him on screen, and steal a reel of the film as proof. Beside herself, their mother sends them off to a strict boarding school where things become increasingly intolerable. Premiered at this year's New Directors/New Films festival, director Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Bye Bye Africa) has brought us an accomplished and ultimately optimistic work, with outstanding charismatic performances by the young actors.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center Web Site

Contact: Tel: (1) 212 875 56 00

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