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The New York African Film Festival Returns

A scene from Our Lady of the Nile, screening as part of the 28th New York African Film Festival (Photo: Notre-Dame du Nil – Sophie Davin)

The 28th edition of the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) is set to return with a virtual program. Presented by Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), this year’s NYAFF will showcase 10 features and 21 short films from Africa, Europe, North America, and South America.

The event will be presented under the banner “Notes from Home: Recurring Dreams & Women’s Voices” in FLC’s Virtual Cinema from February 4 to 14 and at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem from February 18 to March 4.

Presenting an array of offerings that capture “Africanness” in its myriad iterations and manifestations, NYAFF spotlights the global Black community’s influence on our cultural pasts, present, and futures.

The Opening Night film is Desmond Ovbiagele’s “The Milkmaid,” Nigeria’s entry for the 2021 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. Depicting the impact of extremism on the families of those it touches, the drama follows a Fulani milkmaid as she confronts the religious insurgents who kidnapped her sister.

The centerpiece selection is Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s acclaimed Sundance prizewinner, “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection,” which recently became Lesotho’s first-ever Oscar entry. The film paints a stirring portrait of an elderly woman whose plans for death are interrupted when news arrives that her village will be flooded and its inhabitants resettled to make way for a reservoir.

Other features in the program include the documentary “Sankara Is Not Dead,” which follows the young poet Bikontine as he travels along Burkina Faso’s only rail line in the wake of the 2014 uprising and encounters the enduring legacy of the late President Thomas Sankara; Pascal Aka’s Afro-noir “Gold Coast Lounge,” about a Ghanaian crime family fighting to prevent its lucrative lounge from getting shut down by the government amidst danger and intrigue; Mohamed Ismail’s “La Mora,” in which a young Spanish woman embarks on a journey of self-discovery to Morocco after finding a secret about her parentage in a letter left behind by her late mother; Amleset Muchie’s “Min Alesh?,” an Ethiopian drama about a young woman’s quest to change her family’s fate through her passion for running; Hawa Aliou N’diaye’s documentary “Invisible Husband,” which introduces audiences to the phenomenon of jinn possession in the director’s community in Mali; Atiq Rahimi’s “Our Lady of the Nile,” based on Scholastique Mukasonga’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, which brings viewers into the lives of teenage girls at a prestigious Rwandan boarding school as a growing inferno engulfs their nation; and A “Day with Jerusa,” which captures a mystical, intergenerational encounter between two Black women in Sāo Paolo, Brazil.

The feature presentations also include a new restoration of “Camera d’Afrique (African Cinema: Filming Against All Odds),” Férid Boughedir’s 1983 documentary capturing the rise and the striking visions of African auteurs like Ousmane Sembéne, Souleymane Cissé, Safi Faye, Oumarou Ganda, and Gadalla Gubara at a time when African countries were emerging from the shadows of colonialism.

This year’s NYAFF will showcase a retrospective of trailblazing filmmaker Fanta Régina Nacro, who became the first woman from Burkina Faso to direct a fiction film with her 1991 short, “A Certain Morning (Un Certain Matin).” A founding member of the African Guild of Directors and Producers, Nacro explores modernity and tradition from a woman’s perspective in films that are poignant, satiric, and often surprisingly comic. A program of her shorts will include “A Certain Morning, Bintou,” “Open Your Eyes (Puk Nini),” and “Konaté’s Gift (Le truc de Konaté).” Nacro will join the festival for a special Q&A about her career.

“Each generation takes a sprint and then passes the baton. Looking back, our filmmakers act as modern-day griots, grabbing that baton and weaving the story of their time while also propelling us forward,” said AFF Executive Director and NYAFF Founder Mahen Bonetti. “This year’s festival captures that look toward the past that helps our storytellers meet the present moment with inspiration from the elders.”

The 28th NYAFF will present 17 additional films in three genre-spanning shorts programs. “Notes from Home,” an exploration of Africa on the continent and abroad, includes Joe Penney’s “Sun of the Soil,” Marin Sander-Holzman’s “1000 Songs,” Che Applewhaite’s “A New England Document,” and Akosua Adoma Owusu’s “Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us.”

“New World Order” presents tales of women power throughout the ages, including Chelsea Odufu’s “Black Lady Goddess,” Hlumela Matika’s “Tab,” Vatora Godwin’s “Omi,” Mmabatho Montsho’s “Joko Ya Hao,” Kyung Sok Kim’s “Furthest From,” and Tomisin Adepeju’s “Appreciation.”

“City Dreams,” a tapestry of desires expressed and realized in urban areas around the globe, includes E. G. Bailey’s KEON, Laurence Attali’s Tabaski, Ukachi Arinzeh’s “The Inconvenience of Being Black,” Will Niava’s “Zoo,” Edem Dotse’s “Linger,” Sylaz Udee’s “The Elevator” and Manu Luksch’s “ALGO-RHYTHM.

The NYAFF Digital Art Exhibition will also feature short experimental and performance works by Kenyan artist Ingrid Mwangi. Mwangi and her partner Robert Hutter, together known as Mwangi Hutter, often use their own bodies as sounding boards to reflect on social interrelationships. These works will be presented on More details about talks and events will be announced in the coming weeks on

Beginning February 18, the festival has a two-week virtual run at the Maysles Documentary Center. Additional details on this segment of the event will be announced shortly.

Film at Lincoln Center Virtual Cinema tickets are $12, and go on sale on January 22 at noon. Learn more at

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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