By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Chicago Crusader
The Chicago African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) is back to celebrate 14 years of consecutive work in the Windy City with recent and less recent films that illustrate the richness and diversity of the lives of people of color all over the world. To be held from June 10-16, hosted by Facets Cinematheque and presented by ArtMattan Productions, the festival will showcase 20 shorts, documentaries and fiction films set in the United States, Australia, Cuba, Jamaica, Canada, Haiti, Spain, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Nigeria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Egypt.
The festival is a great one that has been going strong across the nation and in other parts of the world. It will open with the Chicago premiere screening of “The Man Who Mends Women, The Wrath of Hippocrates” by Thierry Michel and Colette Braeckman, a powerful documentary about Doctor Denis Mukwege, who is internationally known as the man who mends thousands of women who have been sexually assaulted during the 20 years of conflicts in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His son, Dr. Alain Mukwege, will be in attendance to discuss the amazing work done in DRC at their Panzi Hospital by his father and his team.
The participation of African-American soldiers in the Spanish Civil War is a little known episode in the history of the quest for freedom that characterizes the African-American Experience. In “Invisible Heroes: African-Americans in the Spanish Civil War,” we get to know some of those African-Americans who were part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain. Eric Smith, Author of American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War, will participate in a Q&A after the screening.
There is a strong Caribbean flavor in the festival this year. Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are the context in which several stories unfold. “Toussaint Louverture” by Philippe Niang, “Maluala” by Sergio Giral, “Catch a Fire” by Menelik Shabazz and “The First Rasta” by Helene Lee speak to the rebellious nature of the Caribbean experience during colonial times. Both “Catch a Fire” and “The First Rasta” will be presented in the Centerpiece program Jamaican History, to be hosted by sociologist, editor and publisher Ras Sekou Tafari, owner of Frontline Distribution International, Inc., Chicago’s premie Rastafari & Pan-African book publisher and book distributor.
“Ninth Floor” by Mina Shum and “La Belle Vie/The Good Life” by Rachelle Salnave speak about more recent moments in the history of the region in and out of the Caribbean. Both films address the presence of Caribbean people out of that region and the troubles and tribulations of their experience in Canada and the United States respectively. The screening of “The Good Life” is sponsored by Chicago’s DuSable Heritage Association, and director Rachelle Salnave will be on hand for a reception and Q&A after the screening.
ADIFF Chicago 2016 features a rich selection of films directed by women from different parts of the world. Leading the selection is Jeryl Prescott Sales’ “Stand Down Soldier,” a poignant film about an African-American female soldier back to civilian life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The social significance of this film is quite remarkable, as viewers are rarely exposed to stories like the one told in this film.
The Spring Revolution in several North-African countries impacted the Muslim world, and women were very much involved in that movement. Austrian filmmaker Alexandra Schneider goes to Egypt in 2014 to show in her film “Private Revolutions” some of the issues women still face after revolutionary changes swept that country. “Sound of Tears” by Dorothy A. Atabong and “Sexy Money” by Karin Junger also explore the challenges faced by African women today in Canada, Europe and Nigeria.
The women-centered award- winning drama “White Lies” by Dana Rotberg is back in Chicago after a national tour that took this New Zealand film to New York City, Santa Fe, Austin, Hartford and many other cities. The film will be screened with “White Like The Moon” by Marina Gonzales Palmier.
The recent election of a Muslim mayor to run the city of London is a clear example of the Muslim presence in major European cities. It also illustrates how people of color of different religious persuasions are active participants at different levels in the government structures in several European nations. However, the lives of people of color in Europe are not easy lives as many must confront daily obstacles in their new homes. “Image” by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and “Fevers” by Hicham Ayouch are two films that look with a critical stance at the lives of North-Africans living in France and Belgium.
The 14th Annual African Diaspora Film Festival-Chicago is made possible thanks to the generous support of the following institutions: Facets Cinemateque, ArtMattan Productions, the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University, The Dusable Heritage Association; TV5 Monde, and The Quebec Government Office – Chicago. The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.
Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. For a full schedule and to order advance tickets online, call 773-281-4114 or 212-864-1760 or visit http://www.facets.org or http://www.NYADIFF.org.
Tickets are $15 for Opening Night, $12 for the Centerpiece, $10 general admission, and $8 students and seniors.