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PCC's 10th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films
Photos and Story by James Hill
HERITAGE AFRICA (1989, Ghana, 110 min.), directed by Kwaw P. Ansah. In celebration of our tenth anniversary, the Cascade Festival of African Films has invited the renowned Ghanaian film director, Kwaw P. Ansah, to be our guest during the festival’s first weekend. We open the festival with his celebrated film, Heritage Africa, which won the grand prize at FESPACO, the Pan-African film festival in Burkina Faso, in 1989. The film is a riveting exploration of the impact of colonialism in the Gold Coast (the colonial name for present-day Ghana) through its central character, a man named Kwesi ("Sunday-born") Atta ("a twin") Bosomefi ("an illustrious ancestor has been reborn"), who prefers to be called Quincy Arthur Bosomfield. The perfect product of colonial education, Bosomfield embraces English culture in all forms, rising within the colonial administration to become an African district commissioner (a rarity) and member of the black educated "elite." In the process, he abandons his African heritage and all that has real meaning to him. Only after a series of humiliating encounters, peppered with vivid recollections of his past and a frightening and revealing dream, does he reclaim his true identity and heritage. In English.
Friday, February 4, 7:30 p.m., Jefferson High School Auditorium, 5210 N. Kerby. Music by Obo Addy and 0kropong.
SYMPOSIUM ON AFRICAN FILMMAKING. Thisspecial event features Ghanaian filmmaker Kwaw P. Ansah as the main speaker. His documentary film, Crossroads of People, Crossroads of Trade, will be shown at this time. Cornelius Moore, director of the African Film Library at California Newsreel, will participate in the symposium.
Saturday, February 5, 2:00 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
LOVE BREWED IN THE AFRICAN POT (1981, Ghana, 125 min.), directed by Kwaw P. Ansah. Immensely popular throughout English-speaking Africa, Love Brewed in the African Pot is Mr. Ansah’s first feature-length film. Combining satire, comedy and melodrama, the film is an African love story that addresses a serious issue: the clash between indigenous traditions and European influences in 1951 pre-independent Ghana. Love collides with social class and colonialism when Aba Appiah, born to privilege, falls in love with Joe Quansah, son of a fisherman. Her father, retired civil servant Kofi Appiah, has other plans for her, and seeks to block their marriage. The resulting conflict has complex and unexpected consequences. In English.
Saturday, February 5, 7.30 p. m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
LIFE ON EARTH (1998, Mali, 61 min.), directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. This film had its roots in a European television series entitled 2000 Vue Par (The Year 2000 Seen By …), for which ten exemplary international directors were asked to imagine the last day of the new millennium in their own countries. Sissako chose to do something unique. He imagined himself going back to his father’s village in Mali for the new year, in a fictional documentary laced with the poetry of Aim’ C’saire and the music of Salif Ke’ta. In so doing, he has created a deceptively simple film, which is in fact an ambiguous meditation upon the fate of Africa in this century and the next. In French and Bambara with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 10, 12:00 p.m., and Friday, February 11, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
THE LAST ANGEL OF HISTORY (1996, United Kingdom/Ghana, 45 min.), directed by John Akomfrah. In his film the Ghanaian-born director uses science fiction as a metaphor for the Pan-African experience. Film becomes literally a vehicle for exploration. This idiosyncratic documentary features musicians Sun Ra and George Clinton, science fiction writers Samual R. Delaney and Octavia Butler, author Ishmael Reed, and a number of others, intertwined with images of Pan-African life at different points in history, jumping back and forth from past to future. Akomfrah, who directed Seven Songs for Malcolm X, is one of a number of exciting young black filmmakers now working in England. In English.
Thursday, February 10, 1:00 p.m., and Friday, February 11, 8:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
TUMULT / GIR-GIR (1996, Ethiopia/U.S., 117 min.), directed by Yemane I. Demissie. This film by a young Ethiopian currently living in the United States is set during a failed coup d”tat against the Emperor Haile Selassie in 1960. It tells its story from the point of view of the coup participants, focusing on a young aristocrat who is forced into hiding and, eventually, self-confrontation. Its beautiful images and powerful story have earned it a variety of awards in Africa and the U. S. In Amharic with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 10, 2:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 12, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
MAANGAMIZI – THE ANCIENT ONE (1997, Tanzania, 106 min.), directed by Ron Mulvihill and Martin Mhando. [Video version / work in progress]. Asira (played by BarbaraO, who has starred in a number of independent films by African-American directors, including Daughters of the Dust), an African-American doctor, takes a position with the National Institute of Psychiatric Medicine in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, near Mt. Kilimanjaro. There, she finds herself drawn to the case of Samehe, a woman who has not spoken in 20 years. As she strives to unlock the painful memories that have caused Samehe’s muteness, Asira finds herself drawn to the traditional spirituality of the area. She begins to enter a spirit world, where she meets "the grandmother of all grandmothers," who will guide her to new connections and self-awareness. A stunning exploration of the ongoing relevance of traditional wisdom, Maangamizi won the grand
prize for Best Feature Film at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in 1998. In English and Swahili with English subtitles.
Co-Director Ron Mulvihill and Screenwriter Queenae Taylor Mulvihill will be at the Friday screening to introduce the film and answer questions.
Thursday, February l7, 12:00 p.m., and Friday, February 18, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
BAB EL-OUED CITY (1994, Algeria, 93 min.), directed by Merzak Allouache. Boualem, a young apprentice baker living in Bab El-Oued, a working class quarter in the heart of Algiers, has the misfortune of having a loudspeaker placed outside his window, incessantly blasting out fundamentalist propaganda. Maddened by the constant noise, he tears it down, setting off a chain of events that become increasingly complicated and dangerous for him and the neighborhood.
The film offers a fascinating, troubling look at life in the midst of renascent fundamentalism. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 17, 2:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 19, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
FOOLS (1997, South Africa, 90 min.), directed by Ramadan Suleman. We are proud to bring to Portland the long-awaited, much-anticipated first feature film by a black South African director. Adapted from Njabulo S. Ndebele’s novella of the same name but set a decade later during the final years of the apartheid regime, Fools tells the story of a disgraced middle-aged schoolteacher who is confronted by an 18-year-old activist whose sister he raped. According to Mr. Suleman, the film is "not about the eternal conflict between the ‘white devil’ and the ‘noble black,’ but simply the black people of South Africa ? the state of their consciences, education, their brutal oppression by the Afrikaners, sexual violence, and the place of women in the South African community." In Zulu and Afrikaans with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 17, 7.30 p.m., McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Avenue.
The Festival thanks McMenamins for their ongoing commitment and generosity.
KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS (1998, France/Belgium, 70 min.), directed by Michel Ocelot. For Family Film Day, we offer this charming animated children’s film based on a Congolese folk tale. It tells the story of Kirikou, a child born in a village upon which Karaba the sorceress has placed a terrible curse. Kirikou sets out on a quest to free his village of the curse and to find out the secret of why Karaba is so wicked. In French with English subtitles.
Saturday, February 19, 2:30 p.m., McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Avenue.
PI’CES D’IDENTIT’S / I.D. (1998, Congo/Belgium, 94 min.), directed by Mweze Ngangura. By the director of the crowd-pleasing La Vie Est Belle (1987), which we showed at our first festival in 1991, this film won the grand prize at FESPACO in 1999. In it, Mani Kongo, elderly king of the Bakongo people, sets off for Brussels in search of his daughter. He has not heard from her in years, but is optimistic that he can find her. He is also eager to rediscover the wondrous Belgium of his youth, when he was greeted by King Baudoin himself. Things of course turn out to be more complicated than he’d anticipated, and the results are deeply illuminating. In French with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 24,12:00 p.m., and Friday, February 25, 7.30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus
DESTINY (1997, Egypt, 135 min.), directed by Youssef Chahine. This film by the great Egyptian director (whose classic epic The Land was shown at last year’s festival), is an odd, compelling mix of history, philosophy, poetry, politics, and music. Set in 12th-century Spain, in Andalusia, during what is often called the Golden Age of Islamic Arab thought, the film focuses on Abu ibn Rushd, the great Arab philosopher known throughout Christian Europe as Averro’s. Averro’s’ attempts to apply the illuminations of logic and reason to the teachings of the Koran bring down the wrath of fundamentalists and Islamic inquisitors, and the political opportunists begin to circle.
A prizewinner at Cannes, Destiny is another powerful, deeply-humanistic, vibrant piece of art from Chahine. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 24,1:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 26, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
SAIKATI THE ENKABAANI / SAIKATI THE FLYING DOCTOR (1998, Kenya, 90 min.), directed by Anne G. Mungai. We begin our annual tribute to Women’s History Month with this film by the Kenyan director Anne Mungai. A sequel to her earlier film, Saikati, this film continues the story of a young Maasai woman’s efforts to find a place for herself in the modern world. Refusing the expected arranged marriage, she dreams of flight ? literally – as a nurse in a team of Flying Doctors, a crucial institution in East Africa. She moves to Nairobi, pursues a training course, and in the midst of the realities of modern urban life, struggles to hold on to her naive dream. In English.
Thursday, March 2, 12:00 p.m., and Friday, March 3, 7.30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
HONEY and ASHES (1996, Tunisia, 80 min.), directed by Nadia Fares. Three women of varying ages, modern, talented and vital, find themselves in a struggle with tradition’s constraining expectations. Inevitably, that struggle involves the men in their lives and leads to bitter choices. A fascinating, haunting entry into a world in which the literal veil has been lifted, but a metaphorical veil remains ever-present, Honey and Ashes won the prize for Best First Feature Film at the 1997 San Francisco International Film Festival. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Thursday, March 2, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.