African Film Festival to feature award-winning films

Highlights include controversial romance ‘Rafiki’

“Rafiki” tells the tender story of two teen girls who fall in love. The movie was banned in Kenya but embraced by audiences. 

The 14th annual African Film Festival invites St. Louisans to see eight of Africa’s most acclaimed films on the big screen.

Highlights include two Kenyan films, the controversial “Rafiki,” which was banned in its own country, and “Supa Moda,” a family-friendly film that one critic called “the most important superhero movie you’ll see this year.”

“Rafiki”is a tender romance between two teen girls who fall in love. The Kenya Film Classification Board banned the film “due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law.” But critics and audiences hailed “Rafiki,” which earned a spot at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Supa Moda” headlines the festival’s “Eye on Youth” program and tells the story of a sick girl who dreams of becoming a superhero. The film debuted at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival and was the Kenyan entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Other films include “Borders,” which tracks four women as they travel across western Africa, and “Bariga Sugar,” which chronicles the unlikely friendship between two children raised in a Nigerian brothel.

Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences and coordinator of the festival, said this year’s lineup highlights the work of new female African filmmakers, who explore bonds of sisterhood and global systems of inequality.

“In creating this year’s lineup, I thought not only about genres, but really wanted to think about the younger generation of creatives emerging from the continent building on the foundation of the forefathers of African filmmakers,” Toliver-Diallo said. “The films all tell great stories, but they also ask us to consider the story before the story, which causes us to raise important questions.”

The event is sponsored by the Department of African and African-American Studies, the Film and Media Studies program and the African Students Association, with funding from the Washington University Women’s Society and the Missouri Arts Council.

Saturday’s films are co-presented with the Saint Louis Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., which will host  a reception following Saturday’s evening screening. Visitors are encouraged to park at the nearby Danforth University Center. Free shuttles will be provided to Brown Hall.

Originally published in the Source.