13th Annual New African Film Festival

One of the largest showcases of African films, the 13th Annual New African Film Festival (NAFF) kicks off this evening featuring some of the best in cinema from the African continent.

Presented by Africa World Now Project, afrikafé and AFI, NAFF runs from March 9-19 and showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and will feature films from 16 countries from the African continent.

Highlights include Clash, Egypt’s 2016 Oscar Selection; Kati Kati, a Fipresci prize-winning Kenyan ghost story; festival favorite Woven, a U.S.-set Ethiopian-American coproduction; ’76, the hotly anticipated political thriller from Nigerian superstar director Izu Ojukwu; and the award-winning Tunisian drama, Hedi.

Check out a schedule of films from NAFF, below:

Hissein Habre: A Chadian Tragedy | Chad
Sat, Mar 11, 3:00
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s (Grisgris, A Screaming Man) powerful documentary records the testimony of a handful of survivors who lived through the brutal regime of Chadian dictator Hissein Habré. Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, maintaining a secret police force — the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS) — that tortured hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, killing nearly 40,000 over an eight-year period. Led by Clément Abaïfouta, chairman of the Association of the Victims of the Hissein Habré Regime, and himself a survivor, the film sees his team accomplishing an unprecedented feat: bringing an African head of state to trial. Two weeks after Haroun’s documentary premiered at Cannes in May 2016, Habré was convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture, becoming the first living African president sentenced for his actions. DIR/SCR Mahamat-Saleh Haroun; PROD Florence Stern. Chad/Senegal/France, 2016, color, 82 min. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Cannes, Toronto and New York film festivals

Clash | Egypt
Sat, Mar 11, 5:00
Setting the action entirely within the confines of a police riot van full of detained demonstrators of divergent political and religious backgrounds, award-winning filmmaker Mohamed Diab (CAIRO 678) crafts a gripping, technically daring thriller that succinctly reflects on Egypt’s current political situation from multiple perspectives. Amid the violent protests that erupted in the wake of the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, two years after the Tahrir Square protests of 2011, the police van cruises the streets, gradually filling with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as military supporters, journalists, and other protestors. In this intense microcosm of political polarization, can the detainees overcome their differences to stand a chance of survival? 2016 Oscar® Selection.
DIR/SCR Mohamed Diab; SCR Khaled Diab; PROD Mohamed Hefzy,
Eric Lagesse, Moez Masoud. Egypt/France/UAE/Germany, 2016, color, 97 min. In Arabic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Cannes and BFI London film festivals

Nakom | Ghana
Thu, Mar 9, 9:45; Tue, Mar, 14, 9:30
Set in present-day Ghana, Nakom follows medical student Iddrisu (Jacob Ayanaba) after he is summoned back to his home village of Nakom following his father’s sudden death. Iddrisu reluctantly returns, buries his father and temporarily becomes the reluctant head of the impoverished household and farm, inheriting not only the delicate task of planting a successful crop, but also a succession of family crises. Attempting to maintain his studies from the confines of a small hut, Iddrisu is caught at a crossroads between tradition and modernity, familial duty and personal fulfillment. As the new patriarch grapples with his two worlds, he must also struggle to ensure his family’s survival. DIR/PROD Kelly Daniela Norris; DIR/SCR/PROD T. W. Pittman; SCR/PROD Isaac Adakudugu; PROD Giovanni Ximénez. Ghana, 2016, color, 90 min. In Kusaal with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 New Directors/New Films; Berlin, Hong Kong, Seattle and Vancouver film festivals

Woven | Ethiopia
Sat, Mar 18, 7:00; Sun, Mar 19, 8:45
Q&A with filmmaker/lead actress Salome Mulugeta, filmmaker Nagwa Ibrahim and actress Alemtsehay Wedajo following both screenings
In this confident feature debut, co-director Salome Mulugeta stars as Elenie, a young Ethiopian-American psychologist determined to uncover the truth after a mysterious crime takes the life of her only brother. Moving back to New York to console her mother, Elenie finds herself torn between cultural expectations and her own fiercely independent spirit. As she processes her grief and tries to pull her life back together, she crosses paths with an enigmatic musician (Ryan O’Nan) dealing with a troubled young son and faltering marriage. When the dots begin to connect, Elenie must face difficult truths and tough self-examination. A multilayered story about love, loss, responsibility, and forgiveness, Woven upends expectations, showcasing Ethiopian culture and shining a light on the nuanced complexity of life in an interconnected world. DIR/PROD Nagwa Ibrahim; DIR/SCR/PROD Salome Mulugeta; SCR Kristin Hanggi; SCR/PROD Ryan Spahn; PROD Suszan Henderson. Ethiopia/U.S., 2016, color, 96 min. In English. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2017 New Directors/New Films; 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival

New Voices in an Old Flower | Ethiopia (U.S. Premiere)
Fri, Mar 10, 7:45; Wed, Mar 15, 9:30
While Ethiopia is known globally as the mythical land of Rastafarians, its contemporary music scene is far from easy to categorize. Filmmaker and music producer Quino Piñero’s nocturnal exploration of Addis Ababa demonstrates a country in which diversity rules — from reggae to hip-hop and from free jazz to electronic sampling. Combining colorful interviews with footage of recording sessions and atmospheric live shows that echo the traditions of Ethiopian jazz, pop and reggae, while looking to American-inspired hip-hop and electronic sounds, Piñero brings Ethiopia’s little-known, yet thriving contemporary music culture to life. DIR/SCR/PROD Quino Piñero; PROD Israel Seoane, Gonzalo Guajardo. Ethiopia/Spain/United Kingdom, 2016, color, 69 min. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2017 Rotterdam Film Festival

Kati Kati | Kenya
Fri, Mar 10, 6:00; Thu, Mar 16, 9:45
When Kaleche (Nyokabi Gethaiga) wakes up in the middle of the Kenyan wilderness, she has no idea how she got there. She makes her way to Kati Kati, a nearby hunting lodge, where she is greeted warmly by the eclectic group of people living there, informed that she is deceased and welcomed into a purgatory in which every desire is met. Striking up a friendship with the group’s leader, Thoma (Elsaphan Njora), Kaleche begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Mixing fantasy, parable, political allegory and myth, the stunning feature debut of Mbithi Masya deftly explores issues of life, death, memory and redemption, refracted through allusions to Kenya’s own troubled past. DIR/SCR Mbithi Masya; SCR Mugambi Nthiga; PROD Sarika Hemi Lakhani, Katja Lebedjewa, Marie Steinmann-Tykwer, Tom Tykwer, Ginger Wilson, Guy Wilson. Kenya/Germany, 2016, color, 75 min. In English and Swahili with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Winner, FIPRESCI International Critics’ Award, 2016 Toronto Film Festival; Official Selection, 2016 AFI FEST, Chicago, Stockholm and Palm Springs film festivals

Mali Blues | Mali
Fri, Mar 17, 7:30; Sat, Mar 18, 9:45
The West African country of Mali is considered the birthplace of blues, a musical tradition later carried by the transatlantic slave trade to America’s cotton fields. Yet today, the music and musicians of Mali are in grave danger. As religious fundamentalism becomes more widespread, dance and secular music are prohibited, musical instruments are destroyed and musicians are forced to flee their homeland. Mali Blues follows four artists: Fatoumata “Fatou” Diawara is a rising star on the global pop scene (featured in Abderrahmane Sissako’s acclaimed drama TIMBUKTU); Bassekou Kouyaté is a celebrated ngoni player and traditional griot;
Master Soumy is a young street rapper influenced by hip-hop; Ahmed Ag Kaedi is the leader of the Tuareg band Amanar and a guitar virtuoso. Each combines rich musical traditions with contemporary influences, using music to stand up to extremism and inspire tolerance and peace. (Note courtesy of Icarus Films.) DIR Lutz Gregor; PROD Kerstin Meyer-Beetz. Mali/Germany, 2016, color, 93 min. In English, French, Bambara and Tamasheq with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto, Stockholm and IDFA film festivals

Wùlu | Mali
Fri, Mar 10, 9:30
Set in the vibrant capital of Bamako in the years leading up to Mali’s 2012 coup d’état, Wùlu is an all-engrossing rags-to-riches crime thriller about Ladji (Ibrahim Koma), a young transport worker who ascends to dizzying heights of criminal power against all odds. Looking for a way to free his sister (Inna Modji) from prostitution, Ladji begins by smuggling kilos of cocaine into Bamako and gradually becomes entangled with the military, the government and eventually al-Qaeda as he is propelled ever deeper into Mali’s criminal underworld. Daouda Coulibaly crafts a near-Shakespearean tale of ruthless ambition and unchecked pride, set against an all-too-familiar background of political and social unrest. DIR/SCR Daouda Coulibaly; PROD Éric Névé. France/Senegal/Mali, 2016, color, 95 min. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 AFI FEST, Toronto and BFI London film festivals

Mimosas | Morocco
Sun, Mar 12, 4:45
Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2016 Cannes Critics’ Week, Oliver Laxe’s (You All Are Captains) new film is a breathtakingly shot Western that follows a mysterious caravan carrying a dying sheik into the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. His last wish is to be buried with his loved ones. But death does not wait. Without their leader, the company grows fearful, and at the foot of a mountain pass, they refuse to continue, entrusting the body to two men who agree to deliver it to its final destination. But who are these men? And do they really know the way? (Note courtesy of Grasshopper Films.) DIR/SCR Oliver Laxe; SCR Santiago Fillol; PROD Felipe Lage. Morocco/France/Qatar/Spain, 2016, color, 96 min. In Galician and Arabic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Karlovy Vary, Toronto, BFI London and Busan film festivals

The Train of Salt and Sugar | Mozambique
Mon, Mar 13, 9:30
Set in civil war-torn northern Mozambique during the late 1980s, The Train of Salt and Sugar follows a group of passengers aboard the single train which connects Nampula to Malawi. No civilians are allowed and yet hundreds risk their lives through 700km of sabotaged tracks. Salomão and Taiar are two soldiers who don’t get along. Rosa is a young nurse on her way to her first job. Mariamu, her close friend, only hopes to trade salt for sugar. Amongst bullets and laughter, stories unfold as the train advances under attack, ever so slowly, toward the next stop. (Note courtesy of Ukbar Filmes.) DIR/SCR Lícinio Azevedo; SCR Teresa Pereira, from the novel by Azevedo; PROD Pandora da Cunha Telles, Pablo Iraola. Mozambique/Portugal/France/Brazil/South Africa, 2016, color, 93 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Best Film winner, 2016 Johannesburg Film Festival; Official Selection, 2016 Locarno Film Festival

The Wedding Ring | Niger (U.S. Premiere)
Mon, Mar 13, 7:15
Rahmatou Keïta’s (AL’LÈÈSSI…AN AFRICAN ACTRESS) narrative debut follows Tiyaa (Magaajyia Silberfeld), a princess by birth, recently returned to her home in the Sultanate of Zinder after completing her degree in Paris. While awaiting the unlikely visit of a handsome suitor she met during her studies, Tiyaa has the opportunity to collect advice from the women around her, whose stories of love, marriage, desertion and divorce provide a magical and immersive journey into the little-explored, and fast-fading, customs of Niger’s Sahelian people. DIR Rahmatou Keïta; PROD Maryam Keïta. Niger/Burkina Faso/France, 2016, color, 96 min. In Songhoy, Zarma, Hausa, Fulaani with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

’76 | Nigeria (Opening Night)
Opening Night: Thu, Mar 9, 7:15 Also screening: Sun, Mar 12, 9:30
In this hotly anticipated political thriller from superstar director Izu Ojukwu (recently dubbed “the Nigerian Spielberg”), Nollywood favorites Ramsey Nouah and Rita Dominic star as a respected army officer and his wife, caught in the crosshairs of the attempted 1976 military coup against the government of General Murtala Mohammed. Hailing from culturally disparate parts of Nigeria, the couple eagerly anticipate their first child, while their families adamantly disapprove of the intercultural marriage. When rebellious soldiers on Joseph’s base attempt to recruit him into a coup plot, Joseph resists, but soon finds himself embroiled in a scheme that will isolate him from his military brothers and his own family. DIR/PROD Izu Ojukwu; SCR Emmanuel Okomanyi; PROD Adonijah Owiriwa. Nigeria, 2016, color, 118 min. In English and Igbo with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto, BFI London and Palm Springs film festivals

93 Days | Nigeria
Sun, Mar 12, 7:00
Based on the true story of the men and women who risked their lives to battle the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in 2014, 93 Days is a riveting ensemble thriller starring Bimbo Akintola, Danny Glover and Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama. When a foreign civil servant collapses upon arrival at Lagos’ busy international airport, he is taken to First Consultants Hospital, where he is admitted with fever-like symptoms. Despite his denial of contact with any Ebola victims in Liberia, the medical team, led by Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh (Akintola), quickly deduces that there is more to his case than malaria. Suddenly they are in a race against time to contain the deadly disease and prevent an outbreak in a megacity with a population exceeding 20 million. DIR/PROD Steve Gukas; SCR Paul S. Rowlston; PROD Dotun Olakunri, Bolanle Austen-Peters, Pemon Rami. Nigeria, 2016, color, 125 min. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto and Chicago film festivals

The Wedding Party | Nigeria
Sat, Mar 11, 7:15
A Nollywood rom-com to rival all others, The Wedding Party is the latest blockbuster from Nigerian media mogul and executive producer Mo Abudu, who sought acclaimed music video director Kemi Adetiba to give the project its high-gloss polish, whip-smart comedy and eye-popping visuals. Art gallery owner Dunni (Adesua Etomi) is the cherished daughter of Bamidele Coker (Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as Ali Baba) and his wife Tunuade (Sola Sobowale). When Dunni and her fiancé Dozie (Banky Wellington) decide to marry, the Cokers are determined to throw the wedding of the century. Add to the mix a high-strung wedding planner, unruly village gatecrashers, a thief on the loose and a best man with a flash-drive full of secrets, and the result is a hilarious melting pot of chaos and potential disaster. DIR/SCR Kemi Adetiba; SCR Tosin Otudeko; PROD Ijeoma Agukoronye, Zulumoke Onuekwusi, Don Omope. Nigeria, 2016, color, 110 min. In English. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

The Revolution Won’t Be Televised | Senegal
Sat, Mar 11, 9:30; Fri, Mar 17, 9:30
In late 2010, when aging Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade declared his intention to run for office yet again, a spontaneous resistance movement formed on the streets. Shortly afterward, a group of school friends led by celebrated hip-hop artists Thiat and Kilifeu mobilized the country’s frustrated youth into a popular protest movement called Y’en a Marre (“We Are Fed Up”). Over the course of the 2012 election campaign, first-time documentary filmmaker Rama Thiaw documented the meetings, campaigns, arrests and sheer hard work that fueled this high-energy, impassioned movement against political ineffectiveness and stagnation. Laced with a rhythm-pounding soundtrack featuring original songs from the hip-hop duo, and a poetic cameo from late Senegalese filmmaker and writer Khady Sylla, The Revolution Won’t Be Televised is a powerful depiction of artistry and activism in a country desperate for change. DIR/SCR/PROD Rama Thiaw. Senegal, 2016, color, 110 min. In Wolof and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Winner, FIPRESCI Prize, 2016 Berlin Film Festival; Official Selection, 2016 Hot Docs, Seattle and BFI London film festivals

Vaya | South Africa
Wed, Mar 15, 7:15
In this powerful drama, Nigerian director Akin Omotoso (Man on Ground) interweaves the stories of three hopeful migrants from the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, who journey to the dangerous, alluring world of big-city Johannesburg. Strangers to one another, the three small-town newcomers are bound by interlocking destinies and duty-bound missions. Nhlanhla (Sihle Xaba) arrives looking for a way to pay for his girlfriend’s dowry. Nkulu (Msimang Sibusiso) must retrieve his father’s remains from the capital and bring them home for burial. Zanele (Zimkhitha Nyoka) is chaperoning a young girl en route to reunite with her mother, a singer who manages a tavern. Upon arriving in the city, each finds their noble objective thrown off-course by the intimidating undercurrents of an unforgiving urban world that they are experiencing for the first time. DIR/PROD Akin Omotoso; PROD Rethabile Mothobi, Harriet Perlman, Robbie Thorpe, Ronnie Apteker. South Africa, 2016, color, 115 min. In Zulu with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2016 Toronto and 2017 Berlin film festivals

The Wound | South Africa
Thu, Mar 16, 7:15
Lonely factory worker Xolani (Nakhane Touré) joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood. When a defiant initiate from the city discovers his best-kept secret, Xolani’s entire existence begins to unravel. (Note courtesy of Pyramide Films.) DIR/SCR John Trengove; SCR Thando Mgqolozana, Malusi Bengu; PROD Elias Ribeiro, Cait Pansegrouw. South Africa/France/Germany/Austria, 2017, color, 88 min. In Xhosa with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Official Selection, 2017 Sundance and Berlin film festivals

Cannes South Africa Factory | South Africa
Fri, Mar 17, 5:45; Sun, Mar 19, 7:00
The Cannes South Africa Factory is a collaborative project pairing young South Africans with filmmakers from across the globe. The four short films resulting from the 2015 program premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Total runtime 64 min.
GALLO ROJO DIR Zamo Mkhwanazi, Alejandro Fadel. 2016, South Africa/Argentina, color, 20 min.
LOKOZA DIR Zee Ntuli, Isabelle Mayor. 2016, South Africa/France, color, 17 min.
PARAYA DIR Sheetal Magan, Martín Morgenfeld. 2016, South Africa/Argentina, color, 13 min.
THE BEAST DIR Samantha Nell, Michael Wahrmann. 2016, South Africa/Brazil, color, 17 min.

Zanzibar Soccer Dreams | Tanzania
Sun, Mar 12, 3:00
Times are changing on the soccer fields of Zanzibar as young Muslim women embrace their right to play the game, as part of the official curriculum now taught in schools. A sequel to the acclaimed 2007 documentary Zanzibar Soccer Dreams, Florence Ayisi and Catalin Brylla’s uplifting crowd-pleaser explores a new era for women’s sports in the East African archipelago. The film catches up with members of what became Zanzibar’s first national women’s soccer team to paint a timely portrait of a group of strong-willed women determined to better their lives and define new identities through sports. Once perceived as “hooligans,” the players on the national team are now celebrated as ambassadors for their country, and schools across the islands are busy training the next generation of soccer stars. This empowering documentary shows how the women of Zanzibar’s female soccer revolution continue to challenge taboos of gender, religion, and culture. DIR Florence Ayisi, Catalin Brylla; PROD Florence Ayisi. Tanzania/UK, 2016, color, 70 min. In English and Swahili with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Hedi | Tunisia
Tue, Mar 14, 7:15
Co-produced by the Dardenne brothers, Mohamed Ben Attia’s assured feature debut follows Hedi (Majd Mastoura), a quiet young man working in a dead-end job as a car salesman, following a path traced out for him by his overbearing family. With his mother frantically preparing for his impending marriage, Hedi embarks on a sales visit to the seaside town of Mahdia. Frustrated with work and home life, Hedi begins avoiding his professional duties and soon meets Rim (Rym Ben Messaoud), a freespirited globetrotter working as an activity leader at a local resort. Rim’s lust for life quickly rubs off on Hedi and the two begin a passionate love affair. With preparations for the wedding in full swing back at home, Hedi is finally forced to make a choice for himself. DIR/SCR/PROD Mohamed Ben Attia; PROD Dora Bouchoucha Fourati. Tunisia/Belgium/France/Qatar/UAE, 2016, color, 88 min. In Arabic with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Best First Feature winner and Silver Bear for Best Actor (Majd Mastoura), 2016 Berlin Film Festival; Official Selection, 2016 BFI London, Vancouver, Chicago and Stockholm film festivals; 2017 Palm Springs Film Festival

NAFF takes place at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910. For more information: visit www.afi.com/silver/; or call 301.495.6720; or Email [email protected] for further information.