A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

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Top Billing: Spotlight on the DC Independent Film Festival
By Nyasha Laing

The 2007 DC Independent Film Festival (DCIFF) will showcase three new African-themed films helmed by Americans as well as the critically acclaimed works of three African-American directors. Recent moviegoers are no strangers to films about Africa, thanks to the Oscar-nominated performances of Beninese actor Djimon Hounsou and Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond and Forest Whitaker as Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the tour de force, The Last King of Scotland.

African-made movies scored some measure of success on the big screen last year with sleeper hits like Tsotsi- the tale of a Soweto youth pushed to choose between gang life and redemption- and other offerings like Drum, starring Taye Diggs in the story of an activist journalist in 1950s Sofiatown, South Africa and Dwendele, a Burkina Faso film exploring tradition and modernity. These films expanded the African cinematic vocabulary beyond the stories of dictators and civil wars.

Since 2000, DCIFF has been home to thousands of independent filmmakers from the Washington area, across the United States and overseas. It is a major venue promoting African-themed films. The Festival, which takes place this year from March 1 through March 11, exhibits over 100 films and features with thirty thematic programs including Political, Cine Latino, Jewish, International, Black, and European lineups- catering to a diverse demographic of independent filmmakers and audiences alike. Adding to the bill are a music festival, film making and financing workshops, as well as a tribute to producer John Daly (Platoon, Terminator, Last Emperor). The Festival promises to attract aspiring and experienced filmmakers and their fans.

On Saturday, March 10th the African-themed showcase will be paired with the African-American directed montage in recognition of the historic connection between African and African Diaspora cinema. This year's film festival offers some attractive options for audiences seeking original and independent films about Africa and Africans - even if not produced by Africans. Though these films may never be blockbusters, they serve a vital purpose- voicing the unheard stories of fascinating characters from some of the places we call home.


FILMS FROM AFRICA

Kibera Kid

Dir. Nathan Collett

This touching short docudrama plays the Tsotsi refrain of a young boy, Otieno (pictured above), caught between a gang life filled with petty crime and a life away from the sin-filled streets. He is an orphan and aspiring musician trapped in Kibera, Kenya's largest slum.

One Story
Dir. Craig Volk

A chilling, inspiring, true story of Isaac Khor Bher's journey of survival through two decades in refugee camps in the Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. Isaac, the first "Lost Boy of the Sudan" to be reunited with his family, now serves as the co-founder of Project Education Sudan, a non-profit organization in Denver that focuses on building schools in Southern Sudan. Director, Craig Volk, who spent the 1990s writing for Emmy-winning TV shows, shot One Story in the Sudan with a crew of film students from the University of Colorado.

Remembering John Marshall
Dir. David Tames  

Remembering John Marshall recalls the life of filmmaker and activist John Kennedy Marshall (1932-2005) who spent fifty years documenting the lives of the Ju/'hoansi people of Namibia and helping them fight for their land and water rights. His films on the Ju/'hoansi made anthropologists and viewers take their story seriously. This close, intimate portrait of his life, told by family and friends, should help keep the director from coming across like the great white hope. See a preview of the film here.

All films screening at 3:30pm, on Sat, Mar 10, at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.


FILMS BY AFRICAN-AMERICAN DIRECTORS

Ancestors

Dir. Cable Hardin

An animated, historical short film in which a first-time, African-American father faces the surreal possibility that he and the mother of his child are blood relatives.

My Brother
Dir. Anthony Lover

An inner-city feature-length drama starring Vanessa L. Williams, this film recounts the bond between two brothers and their mother, who is facing a life-threatening illness.

Gangsta Mimes
Dir. Matthew Brown

A comedy by a local filmmaker, the tale of accidental contact between two mimes on a New Jersey sidewalk that escalates to full-scale confrontation. Street violence ends in peace. See scenes from Gangsta Mimes below:


Official Selection - "Gangsta Mimes" Trailer

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All films screening at 5:00pm on Sat, Mar 10, at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.

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