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From the African Perspective

30th Cascade Festival brings 30 feature films

1/28/2020, 12:05 p.m.
The Cascade Festival of African Films, presented by Portland Community College, is celebrating its 30th anniversary as the longest-running African ...
The acclaimed film ‘The Burial of Kojo’ screens on the opening night of the Cascade Festival of African Films, Friday, Jan. 31 at the historic Hollywood Theatre in northeast Portland. The night will include live music and attendance by the film’s director Blitz Bazawule who is also a popular Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Ghanaian hip-hop artist.

The Cascade Festival of African Films is celebrating its 30th anniversary as the longest-running African film festival in the United States.

From Friday, Jan. 31 through Feb. 29, free screenings will showcase 30 feature films, documentaries and short films from more than 20 nations. The films are shown Wednesdays through Saturdays each week at either the Moriarty Auditorium on the Portland Community College Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St., or the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 S.E. Sandy Blvd.

The festival arose from humble beginnings when four PCC faculty members came together over a shared love of Africa and African cinema. In 1991, the event drew approximately 400 film lovers. Today, sustained by a small staff and an army of dedicated volunteers, the festival attracts more than 5,000 attendees every year.

‘Life is Fare,’ an Eritean/American film, dives into both the struggles and joys of being part of an immigrant community in the United States. The film will conclude the five-week Cascade Festival of African Films on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Hollywood Theatre. The director Sephora Woldu will be in attendance at the screening.

‘Life is Fare,’ an Eritean/American film, dives into both the struggles and joys of being part of an immigrant community in the United States. The film will conclude the five-week Cascade Festival of African Films on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Hollywood Theatre. The director Sephora Woldu will be in attendance at the screening.

“We are a city hungry for perspectives and experiences that broaden

our understanding of the wider world and bring into focus our place in it,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui in a news release to kick off the event. “That the festival has endured for three decades is a testament to the diversity and vitality of African cinema, and to the hearts and minds of a city committed to honoring the ties that bind all of us together.”

Opening night is Friday, Jan. 31 at the historic Hollywood Theatre with live music and back-to-back screenings of the acclaimed film “Burial of Kojo” (Ghana). The film’s director Blitz Bazawule, who also is popular Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Ghanaian hip-hop artist, will be in attendance to discuss his work. The screenings are 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Since its inception, the Cascade Festival of African Films has evolved to encompass more than just films from Africa. Attendees can enjoy “Saturday Socials,” which are held between the afternoon and evening screenings on Saturdays, and features food, local vendors, live music, and more.

This year, the festival is partnering with Boom Arts to bring a live theatrical production of “How to Have Fun in a Civil War.” This autobiographical performance by Ifrah Mansour explores Somalia’s civil war through poetry, puppetry, videos, and interviews, confronting a violent history with humor. The performances are 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8 and 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Moriarty Auditorium.

Other highlights include matinee shows for the whole family, a focus on women filmmakers and a special series showcasing fully re-mastered classic films from seminal African filmmakers.

For the complete calendar of film screenings and director appearances, visit africanfilmfestival.org.