There have been a number of festivals celebrating South Africa’s 20 year anniversary of democracy here in New York. Just the other day I was raving about the Carnegie Hall extravaganza, and art galleries around the city have been playing on the theme too. This year’s African Diaspora International Film Festival has a bunch of movies from South Africa for its event too.
The schedule is a mix of 14 films, chosen with the help of the National Film and Video Foundation and Kwazulu Natal Film Commission and they range from comedies to classics. Some of the films are making their US debut, like festival-centrepiece Between Friends, while others have had limited runs here before, like Otelo Burning. Between Friends, I’ve read, is a Tyler Perry-type movie about old friends with even older secrets re-uniting at a game lodge with the proverbial mishaps ensuing. There is also the chance to see a few shorts, bundled together as part of the programme. The 1959 Come Back, Africa is a stark reminder of life before democracy, and the documentary Letters to Zohra pays tribute to Nelson Mandela’s closest ally in prison, Ahmed Kathrada.
I’m happy, too, to be given the chance to finally see Material, about a stand-up comedian who stands up to his father, which screened to much acclaim in South Africa when it was released 2 years ago, as well as I, Afrikaner, which screened at the BFI London Film Festival earlier this year. Many of the filmmakers have come out to New York for post-screening Q-and-A’s and with the issues re-ignited by events in Ferguson this past week, the conversations around race and society, ones familiar to South Africa, should be welcome here in the US too.
[Pic: I, Afrikaner – courtesy ADIFF]
The African Diaspora International Film runs until Sunday December 14th.