The African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) will celebrate its 28th anniversary virtually nationwide for the first time from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13 with 75 narratives and documentaries from 31 countries including 26 World, US and New York premieres.
For 28 years, ADIFF has spotlighted culturally and socially meaningful feature and documentary films about the human experience of people of color all over the world. The films in ADIFF 2020 explore the full humanity and range of the Black and Indigenous experience, giving a multidimensional voice to often misrepresented and misunderstood realities and peoples. Titles in ADIFF 2020 come directly from important domestic and international film festivals such as Tribeca, Venice, Toronto, Cannes, Berlinale, Durban, the Pan African Film Festival, The Trinidad and Tobago film festival and the International Havana Film Festival of the New Latin American Cinema in Cuba. Others are independent productions made by filmmakers eager to share their message with an audience.
The selection in ADIFF 2020 of African narratives totals eleven films including seven US and NY premieres. These films present a wide range of themes from commenting on current events to looking back at African history.
Premieres in ADIFF 2020 include Myopia by Sanae Akroud (Marocco), Nafi’s Father by Mamadou Dia (Senegal) and A Taste of Land by Yuhi Amuli (Rwanda) that have in common strong political commentaries; the love stories Back of the Moon by Angus Gibson (South Africa) and Forgiveness for Whom? by Ariam Weldeab Araya (Eritrea), and the powerful social commentaries Buried by Françoise Ellong (Cameroon) and A Son by Mehdi Barsaoui (Tunisia).
Myopia starts when the imam of a remote village needs a new pair of glasses. He is the only one who can read in the village. So Fatem, who is six months pregnant, volunteers to go to the city to get a new pair of glasses for him. Myopia is built around the inability to see the other with or without glasses. The metaphor is rich in nuances. As Fatem gets to the city, she is surrounded by men and women incapable to see her in the simple and direct manner she presents herself. Very well acted and directed, Myopia is one of those films that remains in your system long after the screening. The manipulative journalist, the so-called social activists are characters who give this film a very strong reading.
A fight between an Imam and his powerful brother over their children’s marriage is the basic story of Nafi’s Father. At stake: how a small community slowly drifts towards extremism. Nafi’s Father offers a realistic portrayal of how money and guns can destabilize social structures – be they familial or religious – when the leaders of these structures are blind to inner conflicts. Winner of multiple awards at Locarno, Namur and Vues d’Afrique film festivals, Nafi’s Father – the first film by NYU trained Senegalese director Mamadou Dia – is described by Variety as “an engrossing feature debut”.
There is a generation of Africans who know little about the colonial years. However, the colonial adventure has not left the continent. In A Taste of Our Land by Yuhi Amuli, we experience a story about the new colonialism in Africa and its repercussions in people’s lives. This fiction tells the story of a mine worker who finds a gold nugget in a mine owned by a Chinese entrepreneur and thinks that this nugget is the solution to his problems. His wife needs medical assistance and he is short on cash to pay the bills. That gold nugget is indeed a solution. A Taste of Our Land is the portray of a desperate man in a desperate situation. We are exposed to issues of land ownership, health services in a low wage nation and most of all, the new colonial structure in which China participates today. Films like Budha in Africa, The Big Banana (ArtMattan Films), and now A Taste of Our Land, illustrate the evolution of colonialism on the African continent.
Back of the Moon is set during the last days of Sophiatown, the Johannesburg ghetto. In an atmosphere of music, violence, love and apartheid, we meet Badman (Richard Lukuuku) and Eve (Moneoe Mosshesh). He is a ruthless intellectual gangster who reads and recites poetry in French. She is a lovely and beautiful singer who illuminates every room she walks into. The imminent destruction of Sophiatown brings an urgency to the lives of the characters in Back of the Moon that hits the audience in the face. The love story between Eve and Badman infuses the film with a sublime flavor. This South African film winner of the 2019 Durban International Film festival is the Centerpiece film of ADIFF-NY 2020.
Forgiveness For Whom? is a captivating film about the clash of cultures and customs. A couple in an arranged marriage must face the reality of what true love is and is not when a love interest from the outside world threatens the very foundation of their lives. The film explores the norms of traditional behavior for men and women within the context of a modern Eritrean society and the repercussions – both positive and negative – when one decides to push the boundaries of those social norms.
Buried by Françoise Ellong, a US premiere from Cameroon, is about four childhood friends. The film starts at the end of the funeral of the priest who ran their orphanage. One of the friends, Ndewa, takes the group to a remote corner where they will rekindle their memories and share their discomfort. “This psychological thriller only slowly distills the keys to this past, with many dramatic confrontations, misunderstandings and twists, but we quickly understand that this deceased priest, who was called “Daddy”, was anything but a protector. Sexual harassment in religious institutions is therefore the theme chosen by Françoise Ellong to call for an awakening of consciousness in the face of the law of silence and impunity within the Church (and by extension of any institution claiming to be Divine). As the final song suggests, “let’s not let suffering bury hope.” It is by ceasing to bury the truth that trauma is allowed to re-emerge and be healed. […] In the end, it is the question of forgiveness that is asked and the answer is not unanimous, so that this ending opens up even more the debate that the film is sure to trigger after its viewing.” Olivier Barlet
A Son (Bik Eneich), to have its NY premiere in ADIFF, is an intense family drama starring French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila, winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor, Venice Film Festival 2019. This film is about an 11-year-old who needs a liver transplant after being seriously injured during a terrorist attack. At the hospital, a family secret is revealed. A Son “is a drama that expertly captures complex human emotions within their socio-cultural, historical and political context.“ ~ Hollywood Reporter
For more information about the 28th 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 [email protected]. Festival web site: www.nyadiff.org.
The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.
ADIFF 2020 FACT SHEET
WHAT: 28th Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival
WHERE: Going 100% online nationwide for the first time
WHEN: From November 27, 2020 until December 13, 2020. • SLATE 1 Friday, Nov. 27 9:00 AM –Wed, Dec. 2 11:59 PM • SLATE 2 Thursday, Dec. 3 12:01 AM –Tue, Dec. 8 11:59 PM • SLATE 3 Wed, Dec. 9 12:01 AM –Sunday, Dec. 13 11:59 PM
TICKETS: From $2 to $15 depending on screening/event. Festival passes available.
4 SPECIAL EVENTS: Opening, Gala, Centerpiece, Closing
6 PROGRAMS: Spotlight on Afro-Colombian Cinema; Juano Hernandez: An Afro-Latino in Hollywood: the First Nation program; Art, Resistance and Activism Program; Public Award for the Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color; ADIFF School Program.
75 FILMS IN 31 COUNTRIES: Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Curacao, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Mali, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, Netherland, New Zealand, Peru, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Senegal, Switzerland, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia, Trinidad & Tobago, UK, USA.
26 PREMIERES 16 SPECIAL GUESTS 17 DAYS
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), Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story by Yousry Nasrallah (Egypt), The Pirogue by Moussa Touré (Senegal), White Lies by Dana Rotberg (New Zealand), and The Citizen by Roland Vranik (Hongary), among others.
ADIFF attracts 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.
Commenting on the line up of ADIFF Chicago 2019, film critic Kathleen Sachs of the Chicago Readers wrote: “The films in the 17th Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival – Chicago do what much media and even the public school system fail to do: educate. Through robust programming that gives meaning to the word “diverse,” the selections in this year’s festival illuminate the experiences of those living in the African diaspora around the world. The New York-based husband-and-wife programmers, Reinaldo Barroso-Spech and Diarah N’Daw-Spech, have chosen more than a dozen films that, through a variety of modes and genres, further dimensionalize already complex issues specific to those living in these communities. Naturally, documentary lends itself to this mission, though several narrative features and a short fiction add to the plenitude of information.”
The 28th 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 Harlem Community Development Corporation, the New York City Council in the Arts; The International Organization Of La Francophonie New York, New York City Council Member Bill Perkins; the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC, The Délégation générale du Québec à New York / Québec Government Office in New York, Columbia University Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, and Manhattan Cultural Tourism Grant.