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The 31st annual Cascade Festival of African Films celebrates 'Africa Through African Lenses.'

COURTESY PHOTO - 'Hero' is part of the Cascade Festival of African Films, which will be show online, Feb. 5-March 10. 'Hero,' from Trinidad & Tobago and director Frances-Anne Solomon, screens at 3 p.m. Feb. 6.It didn't go away, it just moved online like most things in 2020 and '21.

The Cascade Festival of African Films, the longest-running African film festival in the United States, will return for its 31st annual run from Feb. 5 to March 10 but will be presented entirely online at www.africanfilmfestival.org. It's usually held at the Portland Community College's Cascade Campus.

The festival is free and open to the public. It celebrates "Africa Through African Lenses" with a curated collection of nearly 25 films by African directors from more than 15 nations.

"While we can't gather in person this year, I know that the beauty and power of these films will bring us together even in virtual space," said Tracy Francis, CFAF director.

Online there'll be live interviews with filmmakers (9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays), community conversations (7 p.m. Mondays), a virtual marketplace of local vendors, a Family Film Fest (3 p.m. Feb. 20) and more. Each CFAF film will open for viewing on a specific date and remain available for viewing anytime until the following Wednesday or until the maximum number of views has been reached. 

"Obviously, films are meant to be enjoyed in a theater, and our festival is meant to bring fans of African film together from across our region, but I think this year's unique circumstances will make this a festival to remember," Francis added. "People will be able to watch from the safety of their own homes, and our online format will be able to reach fans of African cinema anywhere in the world."

The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, featuring a gala of musical performances and other festivities and opening night film "You Will Die At Twenty," from Sudan and about the beauty of community and meaning of life.

"It reminds us of the importance of cinema, community and hope for the future," Francis said.

Other highlights: "The Ghost and the House of Truth," a thriller from Nigeria by festival favorite Akin Amotoso; historical drama "Hero," highlighting the pan-African movement; "When We're Born," an uplifting musical from Egypt; an imaginative surreal journey from Angola, "Air Conditioner."

The festival closes with a drive-in screening of "Farewell Amor" at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 6, at a location to be determined.

"It's a follow-up to the short film screened at our festival before, "Farewell Meu Amor," and continues the story of the challenges new immigrants face in coming to the U.S.," Francis said.


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