By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
To celebrate its 15th Anniversary in Chicago, the African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) – hosted by Facets Cinematheque and presented by ArtMattan Productionists from June 9 to 15 – will present its most ambitious program to date in the Windy City. With 16 documentaries and fiction films set in the United States, Chile, Canada, South Africa, Haiti, Spain, France, Guadeloupe, the UK, Burkina Faso, and Egypt, ADIFF Chicago will celebrate 15 years of great cinema and great talks with new films, special events and revealing stories!
The ongoing controversy around the love life of powerful women is addressed with great humanity in Nnegest Likké’s opening night film “Everything But a Man.” This romantic comedy-drama tells the story of a sexy, strong and successful – but single – career woman who has a life-changing romance with a mysterious, French-speaking Black man from another culture. Director Nnegest Likké will be in attendance for the opening night reception on Friday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. and a Q&A after the screening. “Paris Noir – African Americans in the City of Light” by Joanne Burke is an exciting, enlightening documentary on the presence of African Americans in Paris from WWI to the early 1960s. Looking back today at their astounding achievements and the beneficial cultural exchange between France and Black America stirs up lively conversation. These jazz musicians, writers, artists, intellectuals – they launched the appreciation of Black culture worldwide. The Gala Screening of “Paris Noir” on Saturday, June 10 @ 6 p.m. will be followed by a Q&A session with Associate Producer and founder of Walking the Spirit Tours of Black Paris, Julia Browne and a reception. I read the book upon which this documentary is based, and it provides a fantastic look at Blacks in Paris, since 1914 with the movement of Black troops from the United States during World War I.
From its inception, ADIFF has always showcased great films that explore the black British experience, films like “Pressure” by Horace Ove, “Burning an Illusion” by Menelik Shabaz and “The Stuart Hall Project” by John Akomfrah. ADIFF is now proud to introduce the next generation of Black British filmmakers with the Centerpiece screening of “The Naked Poet” by Jason Barrett, a sharp, witty, sexy, deep and quite emotional exploration of the complexities of love presented from a Black male’s perspective in contemporary London. Director Jason Barrett will travel from London for a Q&A after the screening and reception on Sunday, June 11, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Miriam Makeba died in 2008. “Mama Africa – Miriam Makeba” by Mika Kaurismäki is a powerful portrait of one of the most important performers from the continent of Africa. The Special Presentation of “Mama Africa – Miriam Makeba” to be held on Thursday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. will be followed by a Q&A with a representative of the Chicago South African Consulate. The screening and reception that will follow are sponsored by the Chicago South African Consulate in commemoration of Youth Day – the annual South African celebration of the June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising of 1976.
In “Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings” the band director Carol Bash tells us the story of Mary Lou Williams, a woman who overcame many obstacles in her life as a professional jazz pianist. This revealing documentary will screen on Saturday, June, 10 at 4 p.m.
“Gurumbé: Afro-Andalusian Memories” by M. Angel Rosales is about Flamenco, the African presence in Spain and Portugal and the state of affairs of race relations in Spain. Well documented with a great intellectual rigor, the film goes into areas of Spanish culture seldom covered in Spanish films. “Gurumbe” will screen on Saturday, June 10, at 2 p.m. and Tuesday, June 13, at 8:30 p.m.
For its closing night, ADIFF is pleased to present an encore screening of “Hogtown” by Daniel Nearing, the city of Chicago’s first official filmmaker in residence. Set in Chicago during the winter of 1919, “Hogtown” is about a police hunt for a missing millionaire. Daniel Nearing will be in attendance on Thursday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. for the screening of his film and a closing night reception.
There will be themed programs that cover Egypt Past and Present; the Afro-Latino Program and Stories from Guadeloupe. Included in the latter program are “The Black Mozart in Cuba” by Steve James, which is a film about Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de St George, a Black classical composer and violin virtuoso born in Guadeloupe in the mid 18th century. The son of a slave and her master, he achieved enormous success as a musician, fencer and military man. During the French Revolution, Saint-Georges was colonel of the Légion St. Georges, the first all-Black regiment in Europe. Yet, when he died in 1799, he was all but erased from history. “Torments of Love” by Caroline Jules is a short contemporary drama about the difficult encounter between two sisters and their estranged father.
Other films include “Adopted ID” by Sonia Godding, which is about a young woman from Haiti adopted by a white Canadian family when she was an infant. Both the director and main character of “Adopted ID” will be in attendance for a Q&A and reception. The reception and screening, sponsored by the DuSable Heritage Association, will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10.
“Montreal White City” by Bachir Bensaddek is about an Algerian taxi driver who picks up a former Algerian pop star whom he thought was dead. Their chance encounter resurrects a past of turbulent times during the Algerian Civil War. Screening sponsored by the Quebec Government Office in Chicago.
“Cell 512” by Missa Hebié – winner of the SIGNIS award during FESPACO 2015 – is a social justice drama set in contemporary Burkina Faso.
The 15th 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, the South African Consulate of Chicago 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, please call 773-281-4114 or 212-864-1760 or visit http://www.facets.org or http://www.NYADIFF.org.
The Festival http://www.NYADIFF.