African Film Festival

African Film Festival

Date Observed: April through May
Location: New York, New York

The African Film Festival is an annual two-month, non-competitive cinematic celebration held in New York City. The festival runs from the beginning of April until the end of May and showcases both feature- and short-length films produced by African directors in the diaspora.

Historical Background

Since the 1950s Africans have been creating films that depict the diverse cultures on the continent. The films have covered such topics as colonialism, corruption in independent nations, and traditional ways of life. Over the years, the films have served as vehicles of cultural exchange. In the late 1980s a committee of African and American artists and scholars banded together to find a way to use African cinema to promote and increase knowledge and understanding of African arts, literature, and culture. The goals were to develop a nonAfrican audience for African films and to expand the opportunities for the distribution of African films in the United States. Ultimately, the committee formed a non-profit organization, the African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), to sponsor a festival.

Creation of the Festival

The African Film Festival was established in 1993. The festival has grown both in terms of attendance and respect among critics. AFF also has expanded the festival's impact by adding a traveling film series, a young adults education program, summer outdoor screenings, and community outreach.


During the festival the New York and visiting populace have an impressive array of African films available for viewing. AFF's commitment to bridging the divide between post-colonial Africa and the American public through the medium of film is reflected by the diverse selection. Panel discussions and post-screening events have also been added over the years to broaden both educational and film distribution opportunities.

In recent years, wider embrace of the festival has been demonstrated by recurring commitment of the festival's hosts: the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Contacts and Web Sites

"African Cinema/Theatrical Movies about Africa," a resource of the Media Resources Center, University of California at Berkeley, that provides synopses of movies by African filmmakers

African Film Festival, Inc. 154 W. 18th St., Ste. 2A New York, NY 10011 212-352-1720; fax: 212-807-9752

Further Reading

Armes, Roy. Postcolonial Images: Studies in North African Film. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. Gugler, Joseph. African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. Pfaff, Francoise. Focus on African Films. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. Ukadike, Nwachukwu Frank. Black African Cinema. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
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