African Film Festival

The second annual African Film Festival, presented by Columbia College’s Department of Film and Video, runs Friday through Sunday, April 19 through 21, and next weekend as well. All screenings are free, at the Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan, at the Collins Theater, 624 S. Michigan, and at the Hokin Hall Theater, 623 S. Wabash. Tickets are free. For more information call 663-1600, ext. 5287 or 663-1124.


Sugar Cane Alley

In the colonial Martinique of 1931 a black woman (Darling Legitimus) works to save her grandson from the life of the sugar plantations, determined to send him to the city to get an education (1983). An unusual portrait of life in the French colonies, graced by a convincing evocation of time and place but compromised by a formulaic, conventionally sentimental screenplay. With Garry Cadenat and Doula Seck; Euzhan Palcy (A Dry White Season) directed. (DK) (Ferguson Theater, 7:00)


Angano . . . Angano . . . Tales From Madagascar

An unorthodox 1989 documentary from Madagascar by Cesar Paes that concentrates on storytellers recounting local myths. (Collins Theater, 9:00 am)

Palenque . . . un canto

A 1992 Colombian documentary by Maria Bozi about the Cimarrones, African slaves who escaped and settled on the coast of Colombia. On the same program, Joel Zito Araujo’s short Brazilian video Portrait in Black and White (1992). (Hokin Hall Theater, 9:00 am)

In a Time of Violence

A two-and-a-half-hour-long political thriller set during the final months of apartheid, made in 1994 as a miniseries for South African television; Brian Tilley directed. (Collins Theater, 10:20 am)

Nubes Soleadas at the Crossroads

Four short films: Raul Rerrera-Balanquet’s Nubes Soleadas at the Crossroads, about Cuban immigration to the U.S.; Yvonne Wellbon’s Remembering Wei Yi-fang, Remembering Myself (1995); and Zeinabu Irene Davis’s 1995 Mother of the River (1995) and Crocodile Conspiracy (1986). All the filmmakers will attend the screening. (Hokin Hall Theater, 10:30 am)


A striking 1983 independent short film by Julie Dash about a light-skinned black woman in Hollywood during the studio era. (Ferguson Theater, noon)

Chameleon Street

This highly original existential black comedy (1991), which won first prize at the Sundance film festival, charts the real-life exploits of William Douglas Street (played with a great deal of charisma and wit by writer-director Wendell B. Harris Jr.), a con man from Detroit who specialized in impersonations during the period covered in the film (1978-’85). Street impersonated a Time reporter, a surgery intern who performed 23 successful operations, an exchange student from Martinique at Yale, and a civil rights lawyer; various other scams (e.g., a failed blackmail attempt) landed him in prison. Not wasting any time with facile psychologizing, Harris explores his subject in a number of ways: as an essay of sorts on the mysteries and paradoxes of acting (compounded by the fact that some of Harris’s real-life victims play themselves, including basketball star Paula McGee and Detroit mayor Coleman Young); as the source of some very funny comedy; as an exploration of the invisibility of blacks in America that often suggests Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; and as a disturbing yet compelling rogue’s progress that often calls to mind an 18th-century picaresque novel. Part of what keeps it so interesting is the detached, dandylike air Harris gives Street, who’s portrayed as neither pure hero nor pure villain; but there’s also a lot to be said for Harris’s eclectic directorial style, which doesn’t always sustain itself but is brimming with inventive ideas. On the same program, Daresha Kyi’s 1991 short from the U.S., Land Where My Fathers Died. (Ferguson Theater, 3:30)

The Other Francisco

Sergio Giral’s 1975 Cuban film reproduces a 19th-century antislavery novel as its upper-class liberal author wrote it, then runs through the story again with Marxist revisions. It’s an interesting structural experiment, but the ideas are often better than the execution. (DK) Giral will be present to discuss his feature. (Hokin Theater, 3:30)

Living in a Nonsense Place

Noreen Ash Mackay’s South African documentary about apartheid, which was shot clandestinely (1995). Ash Mackay will lead a discussion. (Collins Theater, 3:30)

Voices From Robben Island

A 1995 South African documentary by Adam Low. (Collins Theater, 5:00)


The concluding chapter (1979) in Sergio Giral’s “Slavery Trilogy” is set in Maluala, the largest of the communities of runaway slaves that grew up in eastern Cuba; the film follows the negotiations between the Cuban government and the community’s leaders, who offer to lay down their arms in return for freedom and the title to their land. (DK) Giral will be present for a discussion. (Hokin Hall Theater, 5:35)


Though I suppose one could critique its sexual politics, this is a lovely, memorable feature from Burkina Faso (1994), directed by Dani Kouyate, about a young boy who’s torn between the influence of a modern schoolteacher and the influence of a griot. Well worth checking out. (Ferguson Theater, 6:00)

The Rosewood Massacre

A 1994 docudrama–directed by Kenneth B. Jones, who will be present, and utilizing actual witnesses as well as actors–about a Florida town destroyed by a lynch mob at the turn of the century. (Collins Theater, 7:00)

The Journey of the Lion

A Jamaican-German production in English, directed by Fritz Baumann, about a Jamaican Rastafarian in search of his roots. (Ferguson Theater, 7:55)

Stealing Home

An independent feature from the U.S. (1995), directed by John Carstarphen, that’s described as a love story. Carstarphen will attend the screening; a Chicago premiere. (Collins Theater, 8:00)

Maria Antonia

Adapted from Eugenio Hernandez’s play, this 1990 Cuban feature by Sergio Giral, set in Havana in the 50s, concerns a beautiful, rebellious young woman who’s taken to a high priest by her godmother; with Alina Rodriguez and Alexis Valdez. Giral will lead a discussion. (Hokin Hall Theater, 8:05)



See listing under Saturday, April 20. (Hokin Hall Theater, 3:05)

Sugar Cane Alley

See listing under Friday, April 19. (Hokin Hall Theater, 5:05)