Cascade Festival of African Films festival carries on mission to educate, engage
There'll be 30 films featured to commemorate the 30th year of the Cascade Festival of African Films, the longest-running African film festival in the country, Jan. 31-Feb. 29.
Films are shown Wednesdays through Saturdays at the Moriarty Auditorium on the Portland Community College Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St., or at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 S.E. Sandy Blvd.
There'll be one staged play through a partnership with Boom Arts, "How to Have Fun in a Civil War," an autobiographical performance by Ifrah Mansour that explores Somalia's civil war through poetry, puppetry, videos and interviews — and with humor, despite the play about the country's violent past. It'll be staged at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Moriarty.
"It's a beautiful piece and good for community building and engaging, and it's good for young people who don't know much about the Somali history," said Tracy Francis, festival director.
It's also meant to draw members of the Somali refugee community. Films shown at the festival often draw former residents of countries in Africa or people who have associations with the countries.
The 30th festival kicks off at Hollywood Theatre on Friday, Jan. 31, with 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. screenings of "Burial of Kojo" from Ghana and by Blitz Bazawule, a Brooklyn, New York-based Ghanaian hip-hop artist and filmmaker. He'll be in attendance.
The closing night film, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, is the Eritrean/American production "Life is Fare" at the Hollywood Theatre. It dives into the struggles and joys of being part of an immigrant community in the United States. Filmmaker Sephora Woldu will be in attendance.
The beauty of the festival is that it's free.
"Because that's part of our mission, (to) make it accessible for the entire community," Francis said. "We're here to educate people and have a platform for community engagement. People can donate, but it's not expected."
There'll be an after-film discussion with every film with somebody associated with the country addressed in the film. There are notes provided about the country in each film.
While Portland is the oldest, there are several cities that play host to African film festivals. Some movies make the mainstream festivals, such as Cannes, and "more films are starting to be recognized," said Francis, who travels to festivals to find films for CFAF.
It's rare that an African film gets a theater run; Netflix now has a service in Africa and it's picking up more African-made films.
The festival also includes: Family Fest Matinee with short films from Egypt, Eritrea and South Africa and activities and performances for kids; Women Filmmakers Week, Feb. 27-29, highlights female directors and uplifting films from Algeria, Eritrea, Libya and Ethiopia; Thursday Night Documentary Series, which addresses human rights and social justice in Mali, Libya, Gabon and South Africa; "Talking About Trees," a Sudanese film about four elderly Sudanese filmmakers and their quest to revive cinema in their country; and "Freedom Fields" from Libya, which follows a women's soccer team for five years.
For complete info: www.africanfilmfestival.org.
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