2012 Festival Highlights


Opening Night with Scheherazade: Tell Me a Story at the Hollywood Theatre

We open this year’s festival with a tribute to the “Arab Spring”: the incredible, infectious explosion of democratic yearning that rocked North Africa last spring and that continues its turbulent trajectory. Though made two years before the events in Cairo’s Tahrir Square would erupt, Scheherazade dramatically captures the fusion of oppressive politics, repression, and the desire for freedom and creativity that have fueled the Arab Spring. The film will be preceded by a short celebratory performance by the Jefferson Dancers II.


Guest Directors Reveal the “New Diaspora” from the Inside

This year’s festival features appearances by two young directors who focus on the lives of Africans newly arrived in the United States. Andrew Dosunmu, a filmmaker, photographer, and creative artist raised in Nigeria, will show his acclaimed first feature film, Restless City, set in the volatile world of West African immigrants in New York City. In her film Broken Dreams, Fathia Absie, a former Voice of America journalist from Somalia, focuses her lens on young Somali-Americans who have “disappeared” from Minnesota, presumably gone to Somalia to fight for Al-Qaida related groups.


Documentary Films Illuminate the Continent and Beyond

We again devote Thursday evenings and two Saturday afternoons to documentaries from Africa. This year’s documentary films reveal a number of unexpected topics and issues, including the impact of the growing number of Chinese in Africa, Kinshasa’s magnificent, surprising Kimanguiste Symphony Orchestra, the lost manuscripts of Timbuktu, a different perspective on war trials, and the hidden lives of Somalis living in Maine and Minneapolis.


Centerpiece Film: A Riveting Action Film from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

One of last year’s most talked-about international films was the action thriller from Congo, Viva Riva! In some ways it represents a new direction for African film. Its very frank presentation of violence, drugs, corruption, and sex in present-day Kinshasa is definitely for adult audiences, but its underlying story of an outsider fighting for recognition and survival against all odds is timeless and universal.


“Somali Saturday”: The Challenges of New Americans

As part of this year’s focus on New Africans in the United States, and in partnership with PCC’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equity and the Somali American Council of Oregon, we present a Saturday afternoon program on February 18 devoted to the unique challenges faced by Somalis who have moved to this country and this region. We will be showing two very strong films—The Letter and Broken Dreams—followed by a discussion led by director Fathia Absie and members of Portland’s Somali community.


Family Film Day at the Kennedy School with Baba Wagué Diakité

Family Film Day focuses on films that appeal to younger audiences (ages 5 and up). This year’s program is a wonderful group of animated African folk tales, Tinga Tinga Tales and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears . . . And More Stories from Africa. Artist/storyteller Baba Wagué Diakité of Mali will carry on the tradition of introducing the film with a traditional story from West Africa.


Women Filmmakers Week

The final week of the Festival again coincides with Women’s History Month and features three films by women directors, this year with films made in Ghana and Sierra Leone.