African Film Festival

The third annual African Film Festival, presented by Columbia College’s Department of Film and Video, concludes this weekend, running Friday through Sunday, April 25 through 27. Screenings are free at the Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan; the Collins Theater, 624 S. Michigan; the Hokin Hall Theater, 623 S. Wabash; and the Center for Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood. For more information call 312-663-1600, ext. 5170, or 312-663-1124.


Short films 1

Three documentaries: Ivan B. Watkins’s Zambo (1996) from the U.S., Rafael Deugenio’s Candombe (1995) from Uruguay, and Nadine M. Patterson’s Moving With the Dreaming (1996) from the U.S. Watkins will attend the screening. (Ferguson Theater, 1:30)

W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices

Louis Massiah’s two-hour documentary on the African-American writer and educator, crafted with four different screenwriters (1995). (Hokin Hall Theater, 1:30)

Aime Cesaire, A Voice for History

Part one, “The Vigilant Island,” and part two, “Where the Edges of Conquest Meet,” of Euzhan Palcy’s three-part documentary about the Martinican author who coined the term “negritude” and launched the movement called the “Great Black Cry.” Palcy will attend the screening. (Ferguson Theater, 2:45)

The Road Taken

A 1996 Canadian documentary by Selwyn Jacobs about black sleeping-car porters in Canada from the early 1900s to the 1960s. On the same program, What Ever Happened to the Dream?, a half-hour look at the failures of the civil rights movement by two Columbia College graduates, director Sherry Bates and producer Paula Harris, both of whom will attend the screening. (Hokin Hall Theater, 3:45)

The Blue Eyes of Yonta

A tragicomic 1991 feature by Flora Gomes, set and filmed in Guinea-Bissau, about the secret love of a young girl who’s secretly loved by someone else. I haven’t seen this film, but Gomes’s subsequent Po di sangui is beautiful and hypnotic. (JR) (Ferguson Theater, 5:00)

Oggun: Forever Present

A 1992 video documentary by Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando, chiefly about Yoruba philosophy and singer Lazaro Ros. On the same program, Marc J. Hart FX’s U.S. video Drive By of Thoughtz (1996) and Michelle Stephenson’s American-Brazilian We Choose to Rap (1995). Hart FX will attend the screening. (Hokin Hall Theater, 5:15)

Ego Corum Paribus

A half-hour narrative directed by Michael Wright (1995) about a racially mixed couple and a Native American boy they encounter. Wright will attend the screening. (Collins Theater, 6:00)


A 1996 SF feature about a deranged mortician, directed by Washington, D.C., filmmaker S. Torriano Berry. (Collins Theater, 6:30)

Ava and Gabriel

A 1991 Curacao-Holland production directed by Felix De Rooy that recounts a love story between a black Surinamese painter and a teacher of mixed origins. (Ferguson Theater, 6:45)

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) On the same program, Ivan B. Watkins’s short experimental documentary, Blackheart Man (1996). Palcy and Watkins will attend the screening. (Hokin Hall Theater, 7:00)


A first feature (1995) by Canadian filmmaker Clement Virgo comprising three stories involving black characters over the same Easter weekend in Toronto. (Collins Theater, 8:05)

Almacita Soul of Desolato

Folklorish fantasy (1988) by Curacao-born director Felix De Rooy, about the virginal priestess of a West Indian animistic cult who gives birth to a child after being seduced by an evil spirit; forced from her ancestral village, she eventually sets out on a purifying quest that brings her into contact with powerful mystical forces. With Marian Rolle and Nydia Ecury and cinematography by Ernest Dickerson (of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and John Sayles’s The Brother From Another Planet). (Ferguson Theater, 8:30)

Zan Boko

A 1988 video from Burkina Faso directed by Gaston Kabore. (Hokin Hall Theater, 9:35)

Aristotle’s Plot

An intriguing and often funny, if at times confusing, feature from Cameroon (1996) by the talented Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Mozart Quartier). Originally intended as the African entry in the British Film Institute’s “Century of Cinema” documentaries, which recount the histories of various national cinemas, it took on too many other agendas to fulfill that assignment. It’s partly a comedy about the taste of action-movie fans in a small town in southern Africa, partly a meditation on the difficulties of making films in Africa. (JR) (Collins Theater, 9:45)



The exciting thing about Haile Gerima’s lush, wide-screen folkloric feature about black slavery–independently made and distributed–is its poetic conviction, backed up by a great deal of filmmaking savvy. Born in Ethiopia but based in the U.S., Gerima attended UCLA’s film school around the same time as Charles Burnett, Larry Clark, Julie Dash, and Billy Woodbury. I haven’t seen his previous films–which include Harvest 3000 Years, Bush Mama, and Ashes and Embers–but Sankofa (1993) shows that he has a camera style and political vision all his own. A glamorous black model (Oyafunmike Ogunlano) posing for pictures outside an ancient castle in Ghana where slaves were once bought and sold provokes the ire of a self-appointed tribal guardian of this tourist spot; he hurls a curse that magically transports her into the role of a slave on a Jamaican plantation, where most of the remainder of the film is set. Beautifully shot and powerfully acted, the depiction of slavery from the vantage point of the slaves as they move toward revolt is rendered mainly in English dialogue, with an intriguing score by David J. White that manages to encompass American jazz and blues as well as African elements. It stands to reason that if anything could bridge the radically disparate experiences of being an American black and an African slave it’s poetry, and Gerima puts it to stirring use. With Alexandra Duah, Nick Medley, Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka, and Ghanaian drummer Ghanaba. (JR) On the same program, the short Zajota and the Boogie Spirit (1990). (Ferguson Theater, 8:30 am)

Ta Dona

Adama Drabo’s 1991 feature from Mali follows a young forestry-commission employee who leaves his village in search of a plant with mythical healing powers and other ancestral secrets. (Hokin Hall Theater, 9:00 am)

Ca twiste a Poponguine

A 1993 coming-of-age film from Senegal by Moussa Sene Absa, set in an African village during the 60s. (Collins Theater, 9:00 am)

Le franc

A penniless musician wins a lottery in a suggestive 45-minute film from 1994 by the highly talented Djibril Diop Mambety (Touki Bouki, Hyenas). (Hokin Hall Theater, 11:00 am)

The Nuba: Sudan’s Secret War

A 1995 English documentary by Julie Flint about the plight of the Sudan’s Nuba people. A panel discussion will follow the screening. (Center for Inner City Studies, 11:00 am)

John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk

A 94-minute documentary about the controversial Afrocentric scholar and activist, adviser to the first president of Ghana and confidant of Malcolm X. St. Claire Bourne directed; Wesley Snipes, the executive producer, is the narrator. A discussion will follow the screening. (Center for Inner City Studies, 1:20)

Ashes and Embers

John Anderson stars as an alienated Vietnam veteran in a 1981 feature by Haile Gerima, a director born in Ethiopia who’s now based in the U.S. Incorporating documentary as well as subjective and surrealist elements, the film is set in black communities in Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and rural Virginia. (Ferguson Theater, 2:30)

Short films 2

Tracey Moffatt’s Nice Colored Girls (1987) and Ngozi Onurah’s And Still I Rise (1993) from England, and Ayoke Chenriza’s Hairpiece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People (1985) from the U.S. (Hokin Hall Theater, 2:30)


A 1996 Algerian feature directed by Belkacem Hadjadj about the consequences of a Kabyl peasant rescuing a man who’s close to death. (Collins Theater, 2:30)

Short films 3

Ngozi Onurah’s Coffee Colored Children (1988) from England, Columbia College graduate Virginia Bailey’s Robert & Rande (1992), and Safi Faye’s Selbe, One Among Many (1983) from Senegal; Bailey will attend the screening. (Hokin Hall Theater, 3:35)


A 1996 feature from Zimbabwe by Ingrid Sinclair about the war of liberation that changed Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. (Collins Theater, 4:10)

W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices

See listing under Friday, August 25. (Center for Inner City Studies, 4:30)

Camp Thiaroye

Ousmane Sembene and Thierno Faty Sow’s powerful and novelistically rich Senegealese film (1987) is set in 1944 at a desert training camp, where the black French colonial troops, just back from fighting in World War II, discover they will be paid only a fraction of the back pay given to white solidiers–leading to a series of events that culminate in a violent revolt. Sembene is perhaps the greatest of all African filmmakers, and this is one of his best. (JR) (Ferguson Theater, 4:40)

Sey Seyeti

Ben Diogaye Beye’s 1980 feature from Senegal, also known as One Man, Several Women, tells parallel stories about three young couples. (Hokin Hall Theater, 4:55)

When the Stars Meet the Sea

A solar eclipse is the focus of this 1996 narrative feature from Madagascar by Raymond Rajaonarivelo. (Collins Theater, 6:20)

Naked Acts

Bridgit Davis’s 1996 independent feature, in which a 27-year-old loses 57 pounds, then is cast as an actress in a nude scene. (Hokin Hall Theater, 6:30)

The Journey of the Lion

A 1993 Jamaican-German production in English, directed by Fritz Baumann, about a Jamaican on a journey in search of his ancestral roots. (Ferguson Theater, 7:25)

My Footsteps in Baragua

A 1995 documentary by Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando, focusing on the West Indian community in Cuba and three Caribbean intellectuals. (Hokin Hall Theater, 8:05)


Jean-Marie Teno’s 1996 feature from Cameroon chronicles the adventures of an illegal cabdriver. (Collins Theater, 8:30)

Silences of the Palace

A striking semiautobiographical first feature (1994) by Tunisian writer-director Moufida Tlatli about being a woman in the Islamic world. Told in flashbacks from the vantage point of the mid-60s, it recounts the story of a young woman who may be the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman as she grows up on his lavish estate. Slow and nuanced, this is well worth your time. (JR) (Ferguson Theater, 9:00)

Bodiless Spirit

A 1996 feature from Ethiopia by Debebe Tisge, released in the U.S. under the title Broken Strings. The producer will be present for a discussion. (Hokin Hall Theater, 9:05)

Tableau ferraille

The latest (1996) Senegalese feature of Moussa Sene Absa (Ca twiste a Poponguine), about the rise and fall of an intellectual and a political leader. (Collins Theater, 10:15)

Welcome to the Terrordome

A 1995 English action thriller set in the near future, about an African family trapped against their will in a segregated city ruled by warring gangs and corrupt police. Directed by Ngozi Onwurah. (Ferguson Theater, 10:35)



See listing under Saturday, April 26. (Hokin Hall Theater, 10:30 am)


See listing under Saturday, April 26. (Hokin Hall Theater, 12:10)

Tableau ferraille

See listing under Saturday, April 26. (Hokin Hall Theater, 1:50)

Aristotle’s Plot

See listing under Friday, April 25. (Hokin Hall Theater, 3:30)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of “Moving With the Dreaming”.