The African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) will celebrate its 29th anniversary both in person and virtually with in person Special Screenings followed by Q&As at Cinepolis in Manhattan, a selection of in person screenings at Cinema Village and an online selection of 77 films from 38 countries from November 26 to December 12, including 38 World, U.S. and New York premieres.
The festival is presenting an eclectic selection of recent and less recent films that are thought provoking and entertaining, some by independent filmmakers and others coming directly from major international film festivals such as Berlinale, Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, FESPACO (Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou) and Durban. Several revivals are also part of the program.
ADIFF 2021 wants to recognize FESPACO – the largest film festival on the African continent that, since 1969, represents a rare opportunity for African storytellers to showcase their creations on a global stage – with a selection of 15 FESPACO titles including some in competition this year.
Other highlights include a World Black History program, a strong selection of South African cinema, LGBTQ+ themed films, Special Presentations and Zoom conversations.
The Opening Night film, the critically acclaimed drama The Sleeping Negro by Skinner Myers will have its New York premiere screening in person at Cinepolis on November 26 in the presence of the filmmaker. The Sleeping Negro is “a superb character study of a Black man, how he sees himself and how he was treated by society, it is surreal yet real and terrifying.” ~ Ulkar Alakbarova, moviemovesme.com.
Following on the footsteps of the LA Rebellion filmmakers, director Skinner Myers tells a very personal and intimate story in a radically non-traditional cinematic style as a means to express freely his feelings as a Black man in America.
I recently watched this film, and even the main character, played by Myers and credited as the Doppelganger, doesn’t have a name—or I don’t remember anyone referring to him personally. He seems to be tortured by how he is treated in the workplace—a position that he has been given through nepotism and his white fiancée. He is charged with doing something that makes his skin crawl ethically, but he believes that he has no choice.
Somewhere down the line, he decides that it is too much, and he is tired of bowing to other people’s needs. An old friend comes by unexpectedly to visit, and Myers tries to confide in him, but that results in an explosive exchange. Even his fiancée can’t provide relief, as that situation quickly deteriorates—as the couple prepare to meet her parents. “The Sleeping Negro” isn’t ready to kowtow to her demands regarding clothing and posture at the planned “unveiling dinner.”
He notes that he is tired of being viewed as a threat or a monkey and not being able to live in this truth. He constantly fabricates one reason or another for the scar that he has on his face. Does he think someone will get too close, if he tells the truth? The film presents some chaotic situations that represent the chaos in the sleeping Negro’s life.
The ending moments of the film present a dilemma for the main character when he finally goes about doing the necessary deed to secure his job. It pains him, but he manages to shoulder through while holding onto his dignity. There is a surprise actress involved in the end scenes, one whom I was pleased to see again.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
The World Premiere presentation of “Fighting for Respect: African American Soldiers in WWI,” by Joanne Burke, is a historical documentary that captures the plight of African American soldiers who fought in WWI, receiving the Croix de Guerre military decoration from France, while still fighting discrimination and hatred at home in America.
“Loimata, The Sweetest Tears,” by Anna Marbrook, a poignant yet tender story of a family’s unconditional love for each other as they confront intergenerational trauma. They return to their homeland of Sāmoa in their commitment to heal, find their identity and become whole again. There will be a Zoom Q&A after the virtual Centerpiece screening of this film on December 4.
“Zépon,” by Gilles Elie-Dit-Cosaque, is a poetic comedy located on the island of Martinique today in a world of fighting cocks and family revenge. It could be summarized in one line: Following a bet, one man plays his only daughter in a cock fight.
Several films spotlighting the Afro-Brazilian experience will also premiere in ADIFF 2021.
For more information about the 29th Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival, visit the festival website: http://www.NYADIFF.org
Described by film critic Armond White as “a festival that symbolizes Diaspora as more than just anthropology,” ADIFF has managed to increase the presence of independent Afrocentric films from all over the world in the general American specialty movie scene. It is now a national and international event with festivals held in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Paris, France. The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.
TICKETS: From $10 to $30 depending on screening/event. Festival passes available. Four Special Events: Opening, Gala, Centerpiece and Closing; Six Programs: FESPACO Celebration; South African Cinema; The First Nation program; Black World History Program; Public Award for the Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color and ADIFF School Program.