This year, the New York African Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary of showcasing films from the African continent and diaspora in their diverse forms. For three decades, the festival has bridged the gap between African cinema and the rest of the world.
Last year’s festival opened with Cannes-premiered magical-realist fable, I Am Not a Witch, Senegal’s 2018 Oscar selection Félicité and the U.S. premiere of acclaimed Kenyan cinematographer Likarion Wainaina’s Supa Modo feature debut. Some of the feature-length films featured in this year’s instalment of the festival include Sudanese documentary Talking About Trees, Nigeria’s Kadara/Destiny, Ngozi Onwurah‘s Shoot the Messenger and several others.
Additionally, the festival’s Shorts Programme boasts a number of varied and enthralling short films from across the continent and the world. According to the festival, “The Shorts Programme is composed of works by filmmakers who are challenging the notion of home, space and where in the world Africa is.” Furthermore, “Taboo subjects are tackled within the realms of gender, sexuality, liberation, redefining the evolving phrase “tradition versus modernity” and from the point of view of younger generations.”
Below are 6 short films that are a definite must-see and are part of the festival’s Shorts Programme.
1. ‘A Cemetery of Doves’ (2019)
This short film is about love, heartbreak and navigating the world as a queer individual. A teenager’s declaration of love for an older man is met with rejection and he subsequently struggles with heartbreak and fear for his safety and future in a society which is intolerant of the LGBTQ community.
Directed by: Adé Sultan Sangodoyin
2. ‘Coffee Colored Children’ (1988)
This short film is an oldie but certainly a goodie. Coffee Colored Children is a lyrical and unsettling film which conveys the experience of children of mixed racial heritage. It certainly tackles the issue of identity and the experiences that come with that particular identity in an exquisite manner.
Directed by: Ngozi Onwurah
3. ‘A Game’ (2010)
This short film was adapted from a short story written by Italian writer, Alberto Moravia. What initially begins as a playful and seemingly innocuous game, descends into a confrontation between a divorced single mother and her little daughter.
Countries: Egypt & Sudan
Directed by: Marwa Zein
4. ‘Love in Submission’ (2019)
Love in Submission has all the makings of an excellent suspense film. In the white-picket-fence suburbs of central New Jersey, two Muslim women who come from very different backgrounds and are meeting for the first time, discover they are already inextricably bound by an explosive secret.
Directed by: Lande Yoosuf
5. ‘My Sister, Sara’ (2020)
This short film highlights the work of Sarra Idris, a young woman and prominent grassroots activist, who kept the world informed during the Sudanese revolution of 2018/2019 which eventually led to the ousting of longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir.
Directed by: Sarra Idris & Amin Elhassan
6. ‘Troublemaker’ (2019)
Troublemaker tells the story of a young boy who learns that all actions have consequences. Set in Eastern Nigeria, the coming-of-age film explores violence, masculinity and the effects that war has on multiple generations within a community.
Directed by: Olive Nwosu