From Sahara Desert in the North through to the Congo Forests and Drakensberg Mountains in the South and every region in between, Africa is a melting pot of culture. So diverse is African culture that even within the same tribe, there is cultural stratification. The hundreds of cultural tourists streaming into African villages from overseas and even within across is a true testament to cultural richness of continent Africa. While such diversity has been heralded and celebrated within economic and political circles as important national identities and foreign exchange earners, celebration of African cultural diversity through films delves into the social realms. One such event that has been at the center of these celebrations is the African Film Festival; an annual all-year round film festival and cultural carnival dedicated to promoting understanding of African culture.
An All-year Round Cultural Carnival
African Film Festival was established in 1990 with the primary objective of empowering filmmakers and audiences alike on the diversity and richness of African culture. While the flagship events were originally staged annually in a few cities, it has grown into a multi-event and diverse program, all-year round event organized in dozens of cities around the world. Such diversity in programming symbolically pays true homage to the richness of African culture that they are organized to celebrate. Some of these programs are educative in nature such as the French Heritage Language Program among others. It has also incorporated community and traveling series programs.
For years, New York has served as the center of the celebrations with numerous penciled in throughout the year. The city also hosts a non-award event where films by Africans in the Diaspora are screened. Additionally, it offers a platform for an educational discourse on African films and culture through a panel comprising of scholars, critics and filmmakers. The 2018 African Film Festival calendar will kick off with ‘An Opera of the World’, which will be directed by Professor Manthia Diawara. The opera and discussion will focus on immigration and will be held at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on 6th February.
Submission for 2018
Films to be showcased during the scheduled events are usually submitted throughout year. However, for the 2018 African Film Festival New York submissions were closed on 19th January. The New York events are usually held across various venues in May with the Film Society of Lincoln Center serving as the venue for most of the events. The events usually feature more than film; there are also other objects of cultural representation such as dance and pieces of art.