Films of Africa
Cascade campus hosts 26th annual festival
2/2/2016, 4:49 p.m.
The longest-running African film festival in the United States will feature more than 18 films, documentaries and shorts.
Portland Community College’s Cascade Festival of African Films is a free and open to the public screening of new films from across the African continent. The month-long festival embarks on its 26th year this week offering Portlanders a rare opportunity to see Africa through the eyes of Africans.
This year’s festival opens with back-to-back screenings of “The Rooftops,” a series of interlocking tales from Merzak Allouache, Algeria’s preeminent filmmaker.
Allouache himself will be on hand to introduce and discuss his film, which is the focus of the festival’s opening-night gala on Friday, Feb. 5, at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd. “The Rooftops” will show twice during the evening, at 6 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Audiences will also have the opportunity to meet director Yared Zaleke, who was recently named as one of Variety’s “Top 10 Screenwriters to Watch” after his film “Lamb,” was selected as the first-ever Ethiopian work to be screened at Cannes. The film will be shown at noon, Feb. 25 and 7 p.m., Feb. 26 at the PCC Cascade Moriarty Auditorium.
In total, the films at this year’s Cascade Festival of African films hail from 11 African countries: Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Ethiopia.
In addition to welcoming directors Allouache and Zaleke in person, Portland audiences will have the chance to connect across continents through online video discussions with other directors in Africa following the local screenings.
In a time when most news stories about Africa fixate on war, famine, disease and corruption, the Cascade Festival of African Films presents a clear-eyed, authentic view of African life in its many diverse forms, said Tracy Francis, the film festival’s coordinator.
This year the festival will also examine LGBTQ issues in Kenya with “Stories of our Lives” (Kenya, 2014); gender issues in South Africa with a series of women-directed shorts; poverty in Ethiopia with the heartwarming story “Lamb”; and love in the romantic comedy “Flower Girl” (Nigeria, 2013).
Organizers say most feature films are not suitable for children, with the exceptions of “Kirikou and the Men and Women” (France/West Africa, 2012), showing on Feb. 27; and “Lamb,” showing on Feb. 25 and 26.
A longtime fixture of the film festival is its Thursday evening documentary film series. This year’s documentary series, “The Power of Music and the Arts,” offers a chance to witness how the arts can be a powerful force for social change and expression through films from Rwanda, Egypt, Sudan, and Morocco.
More than 5,000 people attend the festival each year. Most screenings take place at the Moriarty Auditorium at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus, 735 N. Killingsworth St.
For complete screening information, visit africanfilmfestival.org.