African Cinema Shines in the 24th Annual New York African Diaspora International Film Festival

76 by Izu Ojukwu - part of NYADIFF 2016 Spotlight on Nigerian Cinema

The African Diaspora International Film Festival is back for its 24th edition from Nov. 25 to Dec 11 with a total of 66 films from 30 countries including 34 US and NY Premieres.

Screenings will be held in three venues in Manhattan: Teachers College, Columbia University, Cinepolis Chelsea Cinemas and MIST Harlem.

The past 25 years have been fruitful for African films in the United States. We moved from the films by Ousmane Sembene to those by Tunde Kelani, Moussa Toure, Souleymane Cisse, Abdoulaye Ascofare, Khady Sylla, Ana Ramos Lisboa and many more. African films are part of the cultural landscape of America today and are no longer obscure films. In fact, it would not be too inaccurate to say that some African films have succeeded in having better Box Office results in the USA than many non-African specialty films.

ADIFF 2016 is loyal to the festival tradition of bringing to New York quality African cinema. This year, a total of 21 African films - including 11 US and New York premieres - will be featured in the festival. They are films from Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi and Egypt together with co-productions from Belgium/Morocco, France/Kenya, USA/Ghana, Mali/Germany and Senegal/Switzerland.

Straight from TIFF, a selection of Nigerian films that represent a departure from the familiar is showcased in ADIFF 2016. Featuring films with bigger budgets, strong acting, a firm direction and interesting topics, the Spotlight on Nigerian Films is one of the highlights of ADIFF 2016.

In 93 Days by Steve Gukas, Danny Glover leads a team of doctors fighting a potential Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. In historic drama '76 by Izu Ojukwu the pregnant wife of a young soldier accused of complicity in the abortive coup of 1976 helps him prove his innocence. The Arbitration, the latest film directed by box-office sensation Niyi Akinmolayan, is a bold and whip-smart courtroom drama that presents a cautionary tale of lust, betrayal, and corporate ambition. In Taxi Driver (Oko Ashewo), a dark comedy thriller directed by Daniel Oriahi, a small-town mechanic turned chauffeur for the mob gets caught up in the troubles of a beautiful sex worker. TIFF describes Taxi Driver as a "Scorsese-meets-Nollywood crime comedy that transforms the fast-paced and vibrant city of Lagos into an expressionistic film noir metropolis."

David Dontoh has been in front of the cameras for quite some time in the Ghanaian film industry and beyond. His experience is rich and his advocacy for the improvement of the image of Africa in films is significant. The acting power of Mr. Dontoh is showcased in four films in ADIFF 2016 Kukurantumi, The Road to Accra, No Time to Die both directed by King Ampaw, Silent Moment by Kopi Rana and Like Cotton Twines by Leila Djansi. Mr. Dontoh will attend ADIFF to present these films and participate in a round table about African Cinema in the United States.

Burkina Faso, home to FESPACO, is a country that has produced a good number of important films. Cell 512 by Missa Hebie is a story depicting the conditions in the prison and justice system in that country. Presenting a strong social commentary, Mr. Hebie is loyal to his style of providing a direct analysis of his native Burkina Faso.

Based today in Sweden, Burkinabe filmmaker Danni Kouyate (Sia, the Dream of the Python, Keita: The Heritage of the Griot) tells us a story of family, identity dilemmas and Hip Hop. Fresh and very creative, While We Live illustrates the large diversity of sources and inspirations that feed African films today.

Egyptian filmmaker Khaled El Hagar comes back to ADIFF 2016 with Sins of the Flesh, a strong drama about love, betrayal and adultery with the Spring Revolution in the background. Mr. El Hagar is one of the daring Egyptians filmmakers whose work confronts heads-on the taboos of their society.

In Rebel / Insoumise by Jawad Rhalib, Laila is a young IT professional whose political activities force her to leave her native Morocco for a while. As she gets used to working in the fields of Belgium as a seasonal worker, she rebels against the working condition of the migrant workers in the farm. Rebel / Insoumise deals with issues of immigration, social unrest in Europe and Africa, the place of women in both societies and racial relations in Europe.

Malawi does not have a film industry. However, a number of creative filmmakers from this small country in East Africa have decided to make films and put the country on the map in more ways than one. Two films from Malawi in ADIFF 2016, Seasons of a Life by C. Shemu Joyah and Mercy's blessing by May Taherzadeh, are among the pleasant surprises of the festival. Seasons of a Life is a story of family ties, love and a society in transition and women's rights. Mercy's blessing tells us the story of Mercy and her desire to move out of poverty.

Fatoumata Diawara is a major singer in her native Mali, Europe and North America. In Mali Blues by Lutz Gregor, the camera follows her and a group of artists to the Niger Music Festival. In between musical performances, one is exposed to the impact of Islamic extremists in Mali and the role of the artists in the combat for freedom in that country.

Four bucket drummers from the Chicago South Side travel to Senegal and the cultural shock is major. Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey by Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel is one of those documentaries that keep the viewer thinking about the importance of getting to know other cultures and the need to build awareness concerning the understanding of the Africa and its Diaspora. Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey is presented with Youssou Ndour: Return to Goree a film about the connection between Africa and the African-American experience.

For more information about the 24th Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival, to receive the complete line up, screeners and high resolution images please contact Diarah N'Daw-Spech at (212) 864-1760/ fax (212) 316-6020 or e-mail Festival web site:

The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

The 24th Annual New York African Diaspora International Film Festival is made possible thanks to the support of the following institutions and individuals: ArtMattan Productions; the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, Teachers College, Columbia University; the New York City Council in the Arts; L'International Organization Of La Francophonie New York, New York City Council Member Inez E. Dickens; the French Cultural Services; The Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, The Delegation generale du Quebec a New York, The Australian Consulate-General, New York, TV5 Monde, The Urban Movie Chanel (UMC), WBAI and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. ADIFF is a proud member of the Harlem Arts Alliance.

Described by film critic Armond White as "a festival that symbolizes diaspora as more than just anthropology," ADIFF has managed to increase the presence of independent Afrocentric films from all over the world in the general American specialty movie scene by launching films such as The Tracker by Rolf de Heer (Australia), Kirikou and the Sorceress by Michel Ocelot (France), Gospel Hill by Giancarlo Esposito (USA), Darrat/Dry Season by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Chad), The First Rasta by Helene Lee (France/Jamaica), The Story of Lovers Rock by Menelik Shabazz (UK) Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story by Yousry Nasrallah (Egypt), and The Pirogue by Moussa Toure among others.

Attracting a wide cross-section of cinephiles and audiences of African-American, Caribbean, African, Latino and European ethnic backgrounds who share a common interest for thought provoking, well crafted, intelligent and entertaining stories about the human experience of people of color, ADIFF is now a national and international event with festivals held in New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, and Paris, France.


WHAT: 24th Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival
WHEN: November 25 to December 11, 2016
* MILBANK CHAPEL, TEACHERS COLLEGE, CU - 525 W 120th St.- 125 Zankel
* COWIN CENTER, TEACHERS COLLEGE, CU - Entrance between 120th and 121th St. On Broadway
* CINEPOLIS CHELSEA CINEMAS - 260 W 23rd St. (Betw. 7th and 8th Aves.)
* MIST HARLEM - at 46 W 116th St (at Malcolm X Blvd)

TICKETS: From $11 to $65 depending on screening/event.
Opening, Gala, Centerpiece, Closing
Meet Jimmy Jean-Louis; Black Australia; Spotlight on Nigerian Cinema; Meet David Dontoh; Senegal Connection; Dancing While Black; ADIFF Cinematheque; Afro-Latino Program; Public Award for the Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color; ADIFF School Program.
Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Uruguay, USA.


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