French Movies on the Bill at the New York African Film Festival

The 25th edition of the African Film Festival is taking place in New York from May 16 through 22. The program includes homages to the pioneers of African cinema along with a selection of Francophone works broaching subjects such as the suburban banlieue areas, adolescence, and the relationship with one’s origins.

The short film Gagarine filmed in 2015 by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh will be screened for the first time in the United States. The movie follows Youri, a twentysomething man who grew up in the projects of Ivry who has to say goodbye to the backdrop of his childhood when his building is demolished.

Three other short films at the festival are also set in France. In Le Bleu blanc rouge de mes cheveux, Josza Angembe portrays a young woman’s difficult journey to obtain French citizenship despite her parents’ disapproval. Askia Traoré’s Nulle part takes place in Nantes, and sees a young man return to his home neighborhood and find his childhood sweetheart following a funeral. This theme is also explored by Benoît Grimalt in Retour à Genoa City, in which the leading character returns to Nice to see his grandmother after moving away 20 years ago.

The feature-length films include Berni Goldblat’s Wallay, a modern tale of adolescence and ties to familial roots. Ady is what most people would call a “problem child,” and one summer his father sends him far away from France to the country of his elders, Burkina Faso. There, another type of life awaits, and the young Westerner is confronted with the humility of his heritage. Franco-Arab movie The Wedding Ring by Rahmatou Kaita is another of the festival’s feature movies, and explores relationships between spouses and between men and women in Saharan societies.

Several movies in the Francophone selection will be shown with English subtitles. Burkinabe director Apolline Traoré’s film Borders retraces the journey of four women from Dakar to Lagos. In another offering,  Maki’la, the Congolese lead character finds herself orphaned at the age of 13 and forced to fight to survive on the streets of Kinshasa. And the classic 1983 documentary movie Selbe: One Among Many by Senegalese director Safi Faye has been restored in its original version in Wolof, French, and English.

African Film Festival
From May 16 through 22, 2018
Various theaters in New York