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African Film Festival 2012

January 26, 2012 - February 29, 2012


This year’s edition of our annual African Film Festival spotlights pool attendants in Chad, Beethoven lovers and gangsters in Kinshasa, Tuareg immigrants in Italy, a Spanish filmmaker in Morocco, and even two African American hipsters in San Francisco as it spans the globe to feature new voices from Africa and the African diaspora. A Screaming Man, from Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Daratt), acclaimed as one of Africa’s top contemporary filmmakers, anchors the festival, which also features a strong line-up of works from and about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Viewers can sample a documentary about a classical orchestra in Kinshasa (Kinshasa Symphony), then dive head-first into the city’s gangster life in the Tony Scott–like action film Viva Riva!, before embarking on a rich experimental documentary series—part animation, part archival footage—on the entire history of the country (Kongo). Starting the series off is Barry Jenkins’s festival hit Medicine for Melancholy, a contemporary work about two young African Americans in San Francisco whose visit to the Museum of the African Diaspora reminds us of the importance of seeking out images and narratives from all over the world, whether from Chad, the Congo, Italy, or San Francisco.

Jason Sanders, Film Notes Writer

Thursday, January 26, 2012
7:00 p.m. Medicine for Melancholy
Barry Jenkins (U.S., 2007). Barry Jenkins in person. A one-night stand evolves into something deeper and politically complex for a young African American couple when they decide to spend the next day together. With The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac. “The rare film as thoughtful as it is sensual” (Michael Fox). With Jenkins’s short My Josephine. (98 mins)

Thursday, January 26, 2012
7:00 p.m. Medicine for Melancholy

Sunday, January 29, 2012
4:30 p.m. A Screaming Man
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (France/Belgium/Chad, 2010). A graying pool attendant weighs his employment future—and his relationship with his son—amidst a rising civil war in “this modest film, if only in scale and apparent budget, about some of the greatest questions in life” (New York Times). From the director of Abouna and Daratt. (91 mins)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
7:00 p.m. One Way, A Tuareg Journey
Fabio Caramaschi (Italy/Niger, 2010). A young Tuareg child interviews his own family as well as other residents of his new Italian town in this clever documentary about family upheaval, immigration, and hope. Preceded by Lezare, by Ethiopian filmmaker Zelalem Woldemariam Ezare. (66 mins)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
7:00 p.m. One Way, A Tuareg Journey

Sunday, February 5, 2012
2:00 p.m. Kinshasa Symphony
Claus Wischmann, Martin Baer (Democratic Republic of Congo/Germany, 2010). Beethoven in the ruins: a behind-the-scenes look at the Orchestra Kinshasa as they attempt to keep classical music—and themselves—alive in a chaotic Congo. “A fully charged ode to the power of music” (Variety). (95 mins)

Sunday, February 12, 2012
6:30 p.m. Viva Riva!
Djo Tunda Wa Munga (France/Belgium/Congo, 2010). A local hustler gets in over his head when he tackles an Angolan gang—and seduces a crime lord’s gal—in this kinetic gangster film from the Congo. A Tony Scott/Denzel Washington Hollywood hit filtered through Congolese grit, and “a blast from start to finish” (Variety). (96 mins)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
7:00 p.m. Kongo: 50 Years of Independence of Congo
Samuel Tilman, Daniel Cattier, Jean-François Bastin and Isabelle Christiaens (Belgium, 2010). Forget Ken Burns or the History Channel: this three-episode series on the Congo is unlike any documentary series you’ve seen before. Vivid sepia-toned animation and first-person narrative voice-overs blend with rarely seen, startling archival footage to reveal a country whose struggles embody African history. (156 mins)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
7:00 p.m. You All Are Captains
Oliver Laxe (Spain/Morocco, 2010). This tender new film blurs fiction and documentary as it chronicles a young Spanish director’s attempt to make a film with a group of Moroccan children. “Imagine François Truffaut’s Small Change and Day for Night, but with the intimacy of Abbas Kiarostami’s films about children.” (Richard Brody, New Yorker). (78 mins)

The African Film Festival National Traveling Series is organized by the African Film Festival, Inc. This touring series has been made possible by the generous support of the National Endowments for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Lambent Foundation, and The Bradley Family Foundation. Special thanks to Mahen Bonetti, director, and Toccarra Thomas, program coordinator, for their assistance and support. The Festival at BAM/PFA is coordinated by Kathy Geritz, and is copresented by the Department of African American Studies and the Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley. Prints provided by the African Film Festival National Traveling Series, unless indicated otherwise.