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Curtain to Open on PCC's 11th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films on Feb. 1
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – The month of February promises to be an exciting time for Portland Community College. A variety of cultural events will grace PCC’s campuses during the month to commemorate Black History Month. All events are free and open to the public, including the centerpiece of the celebration, the 11th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films, which will show more than 20 films.Festival organizers are bringing in Safi Faye of Senegal, one of Africa’s foremost women film directors, to open the festival with her film Mossane (1996, Senegal, 105 min.) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1 at the historic Hollywood Theatre, located at 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Last year, the opening of this event attracted more than 900 people. It is the first year that the kick-off event will be at the Hollywood Theatre, where organizers hope to draw even more filmgoers.Faye will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions for attendees. Six years in the making, Mossane is a work of passion and commitment from Faye, who is Africa’s best-known woman filmmaker. This is her 14th and most recent film. It is a contemporary story based on a West African mythical tale and was a critical success at Cannes, the Pan-African Film Festival. Mary Holmstrom, event organizer and Cascade Campus faculty member, says having Faye at the film festival is an honor because the director rarely attends events in the United States. "The main thing about this year’s festival is that we are honoring Africa’s best known woman film maker. It will be her first visit to the West Coast of the United States," added Holmstrom.The film festival will also pay tribute to the great Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety, who died in 1998. In a partial retrospective, the films are The Girl Who Sold The Sun, and two earlier festival favorites: Touki Bouki and Hyenas. There is a new element to the festival this year, on Thursday evenings a series of documentary films from Cameroon, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and South Africa are planned.As with the other evening film showings, a discussion will follow, generally by individuals from those countries. The film festival will continue to have Thursday afternoon matinees, beginning at noon. This will be a chance for the community to see the same films that will be shown on Friday and Saturday evenings. Finally, Kirikou and the Sorceress (now in English) will be shown for the Family Film Day at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17. Bring the children for a time of storytelling, film and more.McMenamins Kennedy School and the Oregon Council for the Humanities sponsor the 11th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. For more information, phone the information line at 503-244-6111 (extension 3630).In other Black History Month events, PCC will host Portland State University professor Darrell Millner at the Rock Creek Campus (located at 17705 N.W. Springville Road) for a noon presentation on Thursday, Jan. 25 in the Pioneer Room of Building 3. He will speak about the African American immigrant experience in Oregon and discuss the social, economic, and political contributions of African Americans to Oregon’s history. Millner will also appear from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14 in Room 122 of Terrell Hall. On Saturday, Feb. 17, the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located at 3725 N. Gantenbein Street, will host the Gospel Explosion at 6 p.m. This year’s theme is "The Making of an American Tapestry."Also, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, Mackin Rob (aka Young Fame) will discuss the origin of Oregon rappers from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Room 122 of Terrell Hall at the Cascade Campus.For information on Sylvania Campus (located at 12000 S.W. 49th Avenue) activities, contact Linda Hummer, student leadership coordinator, at 503-977-4923.###Eleventh Annual Cascade Festival of African Films ScheduleMOSSANE (1996, Senegal, 105 min.), directed by Safi Faye. In Sere with English subtitles. The most recent feature film by one of Africa’s foremost women film directors, Safi Faye of Senegal. Young Mossane, whose name comes from the word for "beauty" in the Sere language, is "The Pearl of Mbissel." Her heart belongs to a poor student, Fara, but her parents have promised her from birth to wealthy young Diogoye, so she must rebel. Six years in the making, Mossane is a work of passion and commitment from this admirable filmmaker, who will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions for us. Thursday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m., Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd.LE FRANC (1994, Senegal, 45 min.) / LA PETITE VENDEUSE DE SOLEIL /The Girl Who Sold the Sun (1999, Senegal, 45 min.), directed by Djibril Diop Mamb’ty. The Festival has chosen its first weekend to pay tribute to the memory of another of Senegal’s great directors, Mamb’ty, who died in 1998. Just before he died, he managed to complete one last film, La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil, which was the second in a planned trilogy of short films entitled Tales of Little People. It tells the story of a penniless, pitiful musician, a ludicrous fellow, whose only hope lies in the national lottery. The protagonist of La Petite Vendeuse is 12-year-old Sili Laam, who drags herself across Dakar on her withered legs and crutches, trying to sell The Sun, the daily newspaper. A charming, powerful film. In Wolof with English subtitles. Friday, Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus. TOUKI BOUKI/Journey of the Hyena (1973, Senegal, 86 min.), directed by Djibril Diop Mamb’ty. The tribute to Mamb’ty continues with this milestone in the history of African cinema. Touki Bouki tells a universal story – a pair of lovers who will do anything to escape their life in the slums of Dakar. The film captures the deep ambivalence about tradition and modernity that is seen in so many African films. In Wolof with English subtitles. Saturday, Feb. 3, 2 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.HYENAS (1992, Senegal, 113 min.), directed by Djibril Diop Mamb’ty. Mamb’ty’s greatest film, and one of the Festival’s all-time favorites, Hyenas tells the story of Lingu’re Ramatou, a poor young woman who is impregnated and then cast-off by a young man in search of a wealthy wife. Based on a play by the Swiss playwright Fredrich D’rrenmatt, Hyenas is a unique mix of traditional African morality and modernist style, blending tragedy, satire, and political critique. In Wolof with English subtitles. Saturday, Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.GENESIS (1999, Mali, 102 min.), directed by Cheick Oumar Sissoko. By the director of Finzan and Guimba the Tyrant (1995), Genesis features the great Malian singer, Salif Keita, in this African rendition of the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau, with its overtones of fratricide and ethnic violence. The director’s aim was "to return Africa to the center of consciousness and events, to build bridges between the concerns of Africans and of other people." A rich, fascinating film. In Bambara with English subtitles. Thursday, Feb. 8, noon, and Friday, Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.BYE BYE AFRICA (1998, Chad, 86 min.), directed by Mahamat Saleh Haroun. In this hybrid between documentary and work of fiction, director Mahamat Saleh Haroun returns to Chad after many years of exile in France. The country is in political turmoil, and the film industry is in total decline. He travels around N’Djam’na with his old friend, a former projectionist, in order to document this decline and perhaps prepare for a new film project. In French and Chadian Arabic with English subtitles. Thursday, Feb. 8, 2 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.JIM COMES TO JO’BURG/African Jim (1949, South Africa, 48 min.), directed by Donald Swanson. In English./ DOLLY AND THE INKSPOTS (1997, South Africa, 28 min.), directed by Peter Davis. In English. When it appeared in 1949, Jim Comes to Jo’Burg was billed as "the first full-length entertainment film to be made in South Africa with an all native cast." It is a simple, familiar story, that
of a young man who leaves his village to make it in the big city. It features a number of stars from the townships and was a sensation for Black audiences, who had never before seen their own heroes on screen. It is followed by a documentary by Peter Davis, which pays tribute to some of the stars of Jim: the great blues singer Dolly Rathebe and the African Inkspots. We see them forty years later and learn of their reliance on music to carry them through the worst days of Apartheid. Thursday, February 15, noon., and Friday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.FINTAR O DESTINO/Dribbling Fate (1998, Cape Verde/Portugal, 77 min.), directed by Fernando Vendrell. Set in the Cape Verde Islands, this is a film about foolish dreams, missed opportunities, and reluctant understanding. Like all the men on the island, Man’ dreamed of escaping to Portugal. He would do it through his prowess on the soccer field. But he gave up his dream in order to marry a local girl and settle down, and he has regretted it ever since. Fate, however, has some tricky moves in store for Man’. In Portuguese and Criolo with English subtitles. Thursday, Feb. 15, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS (1998, France/Belgium, 70 min.), directed by Michel Ocelot. For Family Film Day, there is 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. This is an English version to make it easier for young children to appreciate. Saturday, Feb. 17, 2 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.YELLOW CARD (2000, Zimbabwe, 90 min.), directed by John Riber. A product of Media For Development (MFD), and is another film from Zimbabwe that openly probes contemporary issues. Seventeen-year-old Tiyane is a bright young man from Highfields Township, a good student, a star striker for the Highfields Hyenas soccer team, very attractive to the young women, but his world comes crashing down on him when he discovers that he has somehow become a father. A big hit in Zimbabwe, the film has an infectious soundtrack and characters we can all relate to. In English. Thursday, Feb. 22, noon, and Friday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.HALFAOUINE/Child of the Terraces (1990, Tunisia, 98 min.), directed by Ferid Boughedir. Young Noura hates to go to the Turkish baths with his mother. He is too old for that, not far from puberty. But events transpire that make the baths suddenly more attractive to him, in this wonderful film about coming-of-age, gender identity, repression, and liberation. In Arabic. Thursday, Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.SAMBIZANGA (1972, Angola, 102 mins.), directed by Sarah Maldoror. This African film classic was made at the height of the Angolan struggle for independence from Portugal. Dimingos is a good worker, but he finds himself on a long, painful journey to prison and torture. His wife Maria, who knows little of his clandestine activities, embarks on a journey of her own, following him to the capital, trying to make sense of what has happened. Raw, powerful, a rare glimpse at an independence struggle from a woman’s point of view, this film tells her story. In Portuguese and Criolo with English subtitles. Thursday, March 1, noon, and Friday, March 2, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.BATTLE OF THE SACRED TREE (1995, Kenya, 82 min.), directed by Wanjiru Kinyanjui. This first feature by a young Kenyan woman, Wanjiru Kinyanjui. Mumbi, the daughter of a traditional healer, returns to her Kikuyu village after leaving her abusive husband. Eager to soak in the restorative powers of her tradition, she finds herself instead in the middle of a controversy. The local Christian Ladies Society has decided that it is time to cut down an ancient tree that has been venerated by the villagers for generations. In English and Kikuyu. Thursday, March 1, 1:45 p.m. and Saturday, March 3, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade CampusTHURSDAY EVENING DOCUMENTARY SERIESCHEF! /Chief! (1999, Cameroon, 61 min.), directed by Jean-Marie Teno./ LA TETE DANS LES NUAGES /Head in the Clouds (1994, Cameroon, 37 min.), directed by Jean-Marie Teno. Director of the excellent feature film Clando, Jean-Marie Teno is also an excellent documentarist. His film Afrique, je te plumerai/Africa, I Will Pluck You (1992) is a powerful presentation of the impact of colonialism on his country. Tonight’s films point to problems that have continued to plague Africa since independence: corruption, disastrous economies, cultural submission. In Chef! he demonstrates the connections between authoritarianism in the one-man government and in the patriarchal family. In French with English subtitles. Thursday, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade.KAFI’S STORY (1989, Sudan/United Kingdom, 53 min.), directed by Arthur Howes. In Nubian with English subtitles./ NUBA CONVERSATIONS, (1999, Sudan/United Kingdom, 55 min.) directed by Arthur Howes. In English and Nubian with English subtitles. The award-winning Kafi’s Story puts a tape recorder in the hands of a young man from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, who travels north to Khartoum in search of a job that will pay him enough to buy a wedding dress for his second wife. The film is followed by Nuba Conversations. At the time that he filmed Kafi’s Story, director Arthur Howes promised that he would return to Sudan to show his films. However, circumstances conspired to keep him from returning for ten years. This film begins with his narrating the story of his return. Thursday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade.FAMILY ACROSS THE SEA (1991, U.S. and Sierra Leone, 56 min.), directed by Tim Carrier./ THE LANGUAGE YOU CRY IN (1998, Sierra Leone/Spain, 52 min.), directed by Alvaro Toepke and Angel Serrano. These two films unveil the long-forgotten connections between the Gullah people of South Carolina’s Sea Islands and the people of Sierra Leone. Family Across the Sea presents the work of a pioneering black linguist, Lorenzo Turner, who in the 1930s discovered more than 3,000 words of African origin in the Gullah dialect, thereby revealing the deep continuities that managed to endure despite the tribulations of slavery. The Language You Cry In picks up where Family Across the Sea leaves off. It demonstrates the contribution of contemporary scholarship to restoring what narrator Vertamae Grosvenor calls the "non-history" imposed on African Americans by the institutions of slavery and racism. Thursday, Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade.LONG NIGHT’S JOURNEY INTO DAY (1999, South Africa/U.S., 95 min.), directed by Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffmann. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, Long Night’s Journey Into Day takes us into the world of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Under the influence and leadership of Bishop Desmond Tutu, the new South African government has chosen the path of restoring its damaged soul by telling and bearing witness to the truth. Powerful and painful, this film eschews easy finger-pointing and engages audiences directly in the process of witnessing, forgiving, and healing. Thursday, March 1, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade.