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Cascade Festival of African Films lifts curtain on 23rd year

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Portland Community College’s 23rd Cascade Festival of African Films is set to bring 22 films and three filmmakers to Portland in February.

The longest-running annual African film festival in the United States runs from Feb. 1 through March 2 at two North Portland locations – the Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building Auditorium, Cascade Campus (705 N. Killingsworth St.), and the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd.). The festival, which is free and open to the public, shows films ranging from full-length features to documentaries and short films. More than 5,000 people attend the festival annually. Each evening screening is followed by a discussion led by individuals with expert knowledge of the region shown in that evening’s film.

This year begins with African Diaspora films focused on the Caribbean.

The Cascade Festival of African Films opens with “Toussaint Louverture” at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, in the Hollywood Theatre.

The Cascade Festival of African Films opens with “Toussaint Louverture” at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, in the Hollywood Theatre.

“With recent releases of so many fresh and exciting Afro-Caribbean Diaspora films, we seized the opportunity to program films like ‘Toussaint Louverture,’ ‘Le Mozart Noir a Cuba,’ ‘Le Mozart Noir,’ and ‘Elza,’” said film festival coordinator Tara Foster. “We are excited to open the 23rd season with this significant Diaspora focus.”

This year’s Cascade Festival of African Films is dedicated to the memory of Harold Williams, Sr., who passed away last summer. Williams, Sr., was a long-time member of PCC’s Board of Directors since 1990 and respected community leader.

“Harold was a dedicated champion of PCC’s Cascade Campus and believed strongly in the festival’s mission of connecting members of Portland’s African-American community with their African heritage,” said Michael Dembrow, one of the festival’s founders and current State Representative for North Portland. “We will miss him deeply.”

Film Festival Highlights:

The Cascade Festival of African Films opens with “Toussaint Louverture” at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, in the Hollywood Theatre. The film’s director, Philippe Niang, will be on hand to share his film, which is based on the accounts of Louverture’s personal life, military genius, and how he led the slave rebellion that sparked the Haitian Revolution. The Jefferson Dancers will perform prior to the screening.

Eliaichi Kimaro

Eliaichi Kimaro

The final week of the festival is Women’s Filmmakers Week to coincide with Women’s History Month and features films from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mali, Kenya and Ghana. At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Penda Diakité will present her documentary, “Tanti and The Neighborhood Kids: Winter Vacation,” which highlights the everyday life of five-year-old Tanti Belo and friends in a suburb of Bamako, Mali. The film will be shown at PCC’s Cascade Campus.

On March 2, director Eliaichi Kimaro visits the Moriarty Auditorium for a special matinee of her film, “A Lot Like You,” at 2 p.m. This self-reflective documentary shows the director on her personal journey in search of her African roots, the part of her complex multiracial identity that she barely knows, but which she learns to love.

Another popular attraction is Family Film Day on Saturday, Feb. 23, which focuses on adventure films that appeal to younger audiences (ages 5 and up). Screenings include “Mwansa the Great,” a short narrative about an eight-year-old Zambian boy on an adventure with his young friends, and “Zarafa,” a feature-length animated film about Zarafa, the first giraffe to travel to France and has adventures along the way. Family Film Day starts at 2 p.m. in the Moriarty Arts & Humanities Building Auditorium, Cascade Campus.

Other highlights include the festival’s centerpiece film “Microphone,” which is a love letter to the vibrant underground arts scene in Alexandria (noon, Thursday, Feb. 14 at Cascade Campus and 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 at the Hollywood Theatre). A special matinee of  “The Black Mozart in Cuba” and “Le Mozart Noir,” which both focus on the life and music of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, will be shown at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Cascade Campus venue.

Publicity stills from this year’s film collection
  • The Cascade Festival of African Films opens with “Toussaint Louverture” at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, in the Hollywood Theatre.
  • Scene from 'Toussaint Louverture.'
  • Eliaichi Kimaro
  • The film 'Microphone.'
  • The film 'Otelo Burning.'
  • Penda Diakite
  • Philippe Niang
  • Still from 'Zarafa.'


About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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x by Dr. Dapo 4 years ago

I want to be careful not to be too negative to what might be considered an education, but depicted Africans as non-entities, nusance. I’m not to sure about what is here. When Africans look like Africans that are different, and of course appeared different in appearance, I’m fine with it. Anyway-I hope I’m making myself a little clear. I want to see Africans that are different, culture, accent and please dance for me with great music. I love African way of life. Bias, I grew up there.

x by Razzaq Qabeel 4 years ago

Is this festival in celebration of Black History month? An if so, why arent there any films that are about African Americans? Blacks that are the descendents of slaves. This is what Carter G. Woodson wanted when he created Black History month. Only Oregon, pdx and PCC would think that this AFRICAN film festival has anything to do with Black History Month and the struggle of black people in America. I’ve seen the display at PCC sylvania last year that was to commemorate Black History Month. It was filled with anything but Black Americans.

x by Filbert 4 years ago

I don’t see anyone claiming that the festival was set up only to celebrate Black History month.

And to say it has nothing to do with African Americans… have you seen Toussaint Louverture?
“…is based on the life of Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), who led the only successful slave rebellion in the history of the Americas”

This is the longest running and best African film festival in the states. It is awesome. I hope you choose to attend.

x by Grace 4 years ago

Hello. Is there an archive list of all the films screened (with description would be great)? I’d love to be able to look up films I’ve seen in past years, or get an idea for films to locate to try to track down to see. Amazing festival! Thank you! Grace

x by James Hill 4 years ago

@Grace. Yes, it’s all at the festival’s website:

x by Donna Reed 4 years ago

@ Grace, You can check out films from past festivals from the PCC Library. They live at Cascade Library but can be borrowed and shipped to other locations. To see the films, go to Special Collections ( on the library website and click on African Film Festival. Click on browse the collection to see a list of films and their availability.

x by PCC to present 23rd Cascade Festival of African Films this February | allafricancinema 4 years ago

[…] The Portland Community College is hosting its 23rd Cascade Festival of African Films and many will screen at Northeast Portland’s Hollywood Theatre. […]

x by Lennor, MSW 4 years ago

Interesting comment Razzaq. Very interesting indeed. Sadly, I wouldn’t red line Oregon, Pdx, and PCC as we (African Americans) have just began our struggle for equal distribution of resources in the United States. Factually, this battle will never truly be over. After all, we are discussing one month out of an entire twelve, aren’t we? The KEY is a celebratory lifestyle that celebrates you, the person, the man. Come to think of it…aren’t you that really “hot” guy with the locs? ;-)

x by Public Affairs media and website report for February 2013 | PCC News 4 years ago

[…] Cascade Festival of African Films lifts curtain on 23rd year […]


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