I’ve been aching to write posts about the films I’ve been watching in my African film class this semester, but I’ve held back because a lot of the movies worth writing about are hard to get here in the US. This week, though, marks the start of the 21st New York African Film Festival, taking place at Lincoln Center, the Maysles Cinema Institute, and BAMcinématek from May 7th – 26th. To be completely honest, I’m not familiar with any of the directors on this year’s program, but I know that there’s a great deal of solid work coming out African countries producing films. That said, for this year’s festival the theme is “Revolution and Liberation in the Digital Age.” Though for news junkies this title brings to mind Twitter, Facebook, and the Arab Spring, for African film it’s also a reference to what has happened with the advent of digital technology in the African film industry. Nollywood films are the prime example of what occurs when cinema becomes an accessible form for those with smaller budgets. Put that together with revolution, and you get films with political and social messages made to reach a popular African audience. Not every film in the festival fits this mold, but you won’t get another better opportunity this year to see contemporary African films on the big screen.
I’ll certainly be making my way out for a couple of screenings, and I hope you’ll do the same. Don’t forget, it’s likely you won’t be able to see these movies in any other way, since they’re not widely distributed. You’ll find the full roster online on the festival’s website here.