What To See at the 2023 African Diaspora Film Festival in New York

What To See at the 2023 African Diaspora Film Festival in New York

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If you’ve been waiting patiently for your chance to see some of the movies that have created buzz at film festivals around the world this past year, then New York’s African Diaspora Film Festival (ADIFF) has you covered. This year’s lineup features some of the best films that have played at the Berlinale, Cannes, Toronto, Locarno, FESPACO, and Durban Film Mart. From dramas to documentaries, there is a solid schedule on offer, with both in-person and virtual options.

For two weeks in the year, Harlem becomes the center of African film, and this weekend it’ll be no different, as ADIFF kicks off on Friday, November 24th. It runs until December 10th, with over 30 African films from 14 different countries to see.

South Africa in the spotlight

Among the highlights on this year’s calendar is a program dedicated to the South African film industry. Fifteen films have been gathered for this collection, which explores how the country’s film industry has developed over the past few decades, from those made during the apartheid era until now.

A newly-restored version of Oliver Schmitz’ 1988 classic Mapantsula, which played at the Berlinale earlier this year, will be shown. So too, will two films based on seminal South African plays – Marigolds in August by Ross Devenish, based on the Athol Fugard production, and Nothing But the Truth, written and directed by John Kani and based on his own award-winning play of the same name.

The popular TV series Shaka ILembe, which tells the story of Zulu King Shaka, and stars Nomzamo Mbatha as Queen Nandi KaBhebhe and Senzo Radebe, as King Senzangakhona kaJama, will also make its much-anticipated U.S. debut at ADIFF.

Festival favorites

Both Nome by Sana Na N’Hada from Guinea-Bissau and Goodbye Julia by Mohamed Kordofani from Sudan found welcoming reviews from critics when they played at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Nome, which was at the ACID Selection program of the fest, will make its U.S. debut as the closing night film of ADIFF 2023. The historical drama takes audiences into the war of independence in Guinea-Bissau in 1969, as seen through the eyes of a former guerrilla fighter.

Trailer [ov st fr]

Trailer [ov st fr]

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Goodbye Julia, which became the first feature film from Sudan to be screened at Cannes – where it won the Un Certain Regard Freedom Prize – reflects the country’s tense relationship between class, race and religion, set against the backdrop of the years preceding the country’s 2011 referendum, where Southerners chose to secede and create their own country. Goodbye Julia tells the story of two women, Mona from the north, and Julia, from the south, and how their lives are brought together by a series of lies. The film has also been submitted to the Best International Feature Film category of the upcoming Oscars.

Egypt in the mix

Four Egyptian films will play at ADIFF, showcasing women in front of and behind the lens. Of them, Big Little Women, directed by Nadia Fares, which was first shown at the 2023 Locarno Film Festival, will make its U.S. debut. It’s a tribute to the director’s beloved Egyptian father, as well as to three generations of women who rebel against patriarchal prohibitions. Fares will be in NYC for the screening of her film for a conversation with Egyptian feminist intellectual Nawal El Saadawi about feminist struggles in the country.

Big Little Women | Official Trailer | Nadia Fares | Documentary | Egypt | Women’s

Panels and talks are also part of the festival’s lineup. The African Youth: Films and Society Program – a free program offered in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture – posits the question: “What’s on the Mind of Most Young Africans?” in a discussion with two young African filmmakers following the presentation of the films Kinshasa Makambo by Dieudo Hamadi (DRC), Citizen Kwame by Yuhi Amuli (Rwanda) and Otiti by Ema Edosio Deelen (Nigeria).

NYADIFF runs from November 24th until December 10th, in Harlem. Visit the website for more venue details.

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