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Tribute to Actor Danny Glover Headlines 12th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films
Photos and Story by James Hill
NORTH PORTLAND – Portland Community College will celebrate Black History Month with a dynamic film festival. The Twelfth Annual Cascade Festival of African Films will feature 17 films and pay tribute to actor Danny Glover with two of his African features. The month-long event is free and open to the public.This year’s festival runs from the first week of February through the first week of March. Feature films will be shown on Friday and Saturday evenings (with matinees on Thursday afternoons), documentary films on Thursday evenings, and this year the college will have three Saturday afternoon programs.In conjunction with the film festival, PCC will co-sponsor the 18th annual Gospel Explosion, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 18 at the New Song Community Church, 2511 N.E. Martin Luther King Blvd. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s film festival:On Friday, Feb. 1, the film festival will open its season with the film "T.G.V.,"directed by Moussa Tour’ of Senegal at McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. There will be screenings of the film at 7:30 and 9 p.m. The festival will honor actor Danny Glover for his contributions to African cinema on Saturday, Feb. 2. Two of his films that are set in apartheid South Africa will be showcased. "Bopha!,"a Zulu word meaning either "arrest"or "detention,"will be at 2 p.m. "Boesman and Lena,"with co-star Angela Bassett, will show at 7:30 p.m. Both films will be screened in Room 122 of Terrell Hall at the Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St."T.G.V. is going to be a real crowd pleaser,"said Mary Holmstrom, part-time humanities instructor and member of the Cascade Festival of African Films committee. "It’s humorous and has lots of insight. We’re all really excited about our program this year with a very broad program of really big films. Many of the films have broken through and are of interest to a wider public, which is exciting.""Sirga: The Lion Child,"a visually stunning fable of an unbreakable bond between a boy and a lion cub, will be featured during the festival’s "Family Film Day"at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at McMenamins Kennedy School. Children and adults of all ages will enjoy this extraordinary full-length feature children’s film. In addition, there will be storytelling by Baba Wagu’ Diakit’ of Mali, and other fun activities.The film festival’s "Women Filmmakers Week"will showcase four films, two features and two documentaries. Portland director Jan Haaken, a Portland State University professor, will be on hand to show her film, "Diamonds, Guns, and Rice,"at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. The two feature films are both compelling stories by North African women. The Thursday evening documentary is a fascinating study of women’s use of space in West Africa.The Thursday night documentary series will open with Steve Bantu Biko: Beacon of Hope, a film by Nkosinathi Biko about his father, the slain South African leader, Steve Biko, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7. In subsequent weeks, PCC will feature films that explore the global economy, homosexuality in Africa, and the above-mentioned study of living spaces.The complete listing and descriptions of films are on the festival Web site at www.cfaf.net. ####Twelfth Annual Cascade Festival of African Films ScheduleOpening NightT.G.V. (1998, Senegal, 88 min.), directed by Moussa Tour’.Most people know the TGV as the super-fast "bullet"train that goes from Paris to Marseilles. This film is about another TGV – it is the name for a bus that goes from Dakar, Senegal, to Conakry, Guinea – and it’s anything but fast. But it is full of interesting types – traditional healers, a couple of hapless French anthropologists, even a former finance minister on the run – all under the able hand of Rambo, TGV’s driver. The trip is normally uneventful, but this time a rebel group is active on the border, and Rambo has his hands full. In French and Wolof with English subtitles.Friday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Avenue.Danny Glover SpotlightBOPHA! (1993, South Africa/USA, 120 min.), directed by Morgan Freeman.A tribute to actor Danny Glover – a passionate supporter of Africa – begins with this 1993 film, which is set in a fictitious South African township, called Moroka in 1980. Glover plays Micah Mangena, a black master sergeant in the South African Police. He is proud, capable, and blind to his role in maintaining the apartheid system. Unfortunately for him, his son Zweli joins a university student group opposed to apartheid, and events force this tragic fool to confront his responsibilities. Also starring Alfre Woodard, and Malcolm McDowell. In English and Afrikaans.Saturday, Feb. 2, 2 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Danny Glover SpotlightBOESMAN AND LENA (2000, South Africa/USA, 88 min.), directed by John Berry.This screen adaptation of South African playwright Athol Fugard’s play features powerful performances by Danny Glover and Angela Bassett, set in a symbolic shantytown that for them is the culmination of years of displacement, oppression, and confrontation. Their new home is a shaky assemblage of scraps and recycled refuse, and so is their relationship, increasingly illuminated through memory flashes and painful, poetry-laden speeches reproduced faithfully from the play. In English and Afrikaans.Saturday, Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.LUMUMBA (2000, Congo/Haiti, 115 min.), directed by Raoul Peck.Patrice Lumumba was a key figure in the liberation of the Congo from Belgian colonial rule in the late 1950s. Intelligent, passionate, and popular, he became the first elected prime minister of newly independent Congo in June 1960, but was no match for those determined to oust him: a coalition of multi-nationals, colonialists, the CIA, and self-serving Congolese. This film, one of the most highly acclaimed to come out of Africa in recent years, shows Lumumba’s rise and fall in brutally realistic fashion, with emotionally compelling performances by Eriq Ebouaney and by Alex Descas as Joseph Mobutu, later known as Mobutu Sese Seko, the man who would replace him. Insightful and illuminating as history, the film is very much a document for our own time as well. In French and Lingala with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 7, noon, and Friday, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.THUNDERBOLT (2000, Nigeria, 110 min.), directed by Tunde Kelani.One of the most exciting develop.m.ents in contemporary African cinema has been the rise of the video film industry in Ghana and Nigeria. These melodramas are made quickly and inexpensively and are enormously popular. Thunderbolt is one of the best of the breed. Middle-class modernism clashes with traditional healing when ethnic tensions within a couple (he’s Yoruba, she’s Igbo) lead to jealousy, which leads to a curse, which leads to a diagnosis of "African AIDS,"which leads to the search for a cure, which leads to ironic retribution and a happy ending. In English.Thursday, Feb. 7, 2 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Thursday Evening Documentary SeriesSTEVE BANTU BIKO: BEACON OF HOPE (1999, South Africa, 52 min.), directed by Nkosinathi Biko.Using rare television interviews and the personal insights of his wife, family, and friends, this film offers an intimate portrait of the South African Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, killed in police custody at the age of 30 in 1977. The director, Nkosinathi Biko, is Steve Biko’s son. His goal here "is to give people who never knew Steve an idea of the kind of person he was; looking at the influence he had over the community not only as a political figure but also Steve the neighbor, the father, the husband. It’s a film about a friend, a celebration of life."Interwoven with the poetry of Don Mattera and a haunting score by Moses Molelekwa, the film presents a Steve Biko entirely relevant to our own time. In English.Thursday, Feb. 7, 7:30
p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.ADANGGAMAN (2000, Ivory Coast, 90 min.), directed by Roger Gnoan M’Bala.This film, set in 17th century West Africa, has as its backdrop a disturbing reality of the African slave trade: most of those shipped to the Americas had been captured and sold to Europeans by other Africans. King Adanggaman is one such "slaver-king,"raiding neighboring villages with an army led by Amazon warriors who had themselves been enslaved. Adanggaman tells the story of a young aristocrat whose banishment ironically spares him from the cruel alternatives that befall his family and fellow villagers: death or enslavement. In an effort to liberate his mother, he tracks the slavers to Adanggaman’s kingdom, where the strongest await eventual passage to servitude overseas. In Bambara and Baule with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 14, noon, and Friday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.FAAT KINE (2000, Senegal, 110 min.), directed by Ousmane Semb’ne. The latest film by the remarkable 78-year-old "Father of African Cinema,"Faat Kine takes the director’s ongoing interest in the liberation and empowerment of African women to a new level. The title heroine is a woman who has found economic and psychological self-sufficiency as the owner/operator of a gas station in the capital city of Dakar. It would be hard to imagine a more unlikely role for a Senegalese woman, and not surprisingly a number of men would like a piece of the action. In this political allegory disguised as domestic drama, Faat Kine has a very different vision of the future for herself and for her family. In Wolof and French with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 14, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Thursday Evening Documentary SeriesOUR FRIENDS AT THE BANK (1997, Uganda/France, 90 min.), directed by Peter Chappell.Few international institutions affect Africans today more than does the World Bank.Now fifty years old, the Bank influences (perhaps dictates) the socio-economic programs of most countries through its lending and debt-restructuring decisions. This film shows the Bank in action, with a focus on contemporary Uganda. Director Chappell has exceptional access to both sides in negotiations between the Ugandan government and Bank agents, following deliberations on both sides of the Atlantic. In English.Thursday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.DAKAN/DESTINY (1997, Guinea, 87 min.), directed by Mohamed Camara.One of the most controversial films to emerge from Africa, Dakan is the story of a forbidden love between two young men. They live in a society that does not even acknowledge the existence of gay love. It is also a society which instills an ethic of filial obedience and respect for one’s elders. Young Manga and Sori are caught in the middle of their twin allegiances: to each other and to their families (and the larger society). We see the results of their families’ attempts to "cure"them, through traditional healing and arranged marriage, and the sons’ attempts to comply. The subject of heated debate in Africa and among Africans and Africanists here in the U.S., Dakan is also a beautiful film in many ways, a thoughtful inquiry into the meaning of family and tradition in contemporary Africa. In French and Mandikan with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 21, noon, and Friday, Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.ENDURANCE (1998, Ethiopia/USA, 83 min.), directed by Leslie Woodhead.This film, a blend of documentary and "recreated,"staged documentary, features the story of Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, the extraordinary young man who set a new record at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and whom Runner’s World described as "the greatest distance runner of all time."Although made by Western filmmakers, the setting and actors are African; in fact, Gebrselassie’s father, brother and wife play themselves and, at times, so does the runner himself. Endurance tells an uplifting, compelling story about thepower of individual determination and group support. In Amharic with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 21, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Thursday Evening Documentary SeriesOUT IN AFRICA (1994, Zimbabwe/South Africa/USA. 17 min.), directed by Johnny Symons, and WOUBI CHERI (1998, Ivory Coast/France, 62 min.), directed by Philip Brooks and Laurent Bocahut.In conjunction with our screening of Dakan this week, PCC presents these two documentaries on gay life in Africa. Out in Africa is a video documentary that profiles the lives of a number of openly gay men in Zimbabwe and South Africa. These men speak of their personal, social, and political struggles; of their work as activists, hairdressers, and prostitutes; of racial dynamics; and of their future as individuals and as members of a global gay community. Woubi Cheri introduces us to relationships within the gay male, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gender communities of Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast. We get to know Laurent, Barbara, Tatiana, Bibiche, Vincent, and other members of this generally hidden world. In English and in French with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Family Film DaySIRGA: THE LION CHILD (1993, Ivory Coast/Mali/Zimbabwe/France, 86 min.), directed by Patrick Grandperret.For Family Film Day, PCC is delighted to present this visually stunning fable of an unbreakable bond between a boy and a lion cub born at the same moment. In the village of Pama, in the land of the Baoul’, men and lions live in perfect harmony. When this harmonious world is shattered, young Oul’ must use his ability to communicate with animals (particularly with his friend Sirga) and with the spirit world in order to recreate it. In a remarkable feat of training and directing, this film uses real animals and humans to tell its story. In French with English subtitles. Saturday, Feb. 23, 2 p.m., McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd Avenue.Women Filmmakers WeekA DOOR TO THE SKY (1989, Morocco, 107 min.), directed by Farida Ben Lyzaid.We open our series of films by women directors with this film by a Moroccan director committed to showing women as active agents in their destinies. Nadia, a young woman studying in France, returns to Fez to visit her dying father, a wealthy aristocrat. Upon his death, she forms a powerful friendship with an older woman, who is a devout Muslim. Through this relationship, Nadia begins to rediscover her spiritual heritage and to rethink her status as an ‘migr’. She and Karina eventually decide to turn the father’s palace into a zawiyah, or hospice for needy women, creating a new, vibrant existence for herself and her family home. In Arabic with English subtitles. Thursday, Feb. 28, noon, and Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Women Filmmakers WeekTHE SEASON OF MEN (2000, Tunisia, 124 min.), directed by Moufida Tlatli. Moufida Tlatli is the director of the stunning film, The Silences of the Palace, which played in the 1997 festival. As she did in Silences, Tlatli again structures her film around a juxtaposition of past and present, this time focusing on a mother, Aicha, and her two daughters. Ten or fifteen years ago, most of the young men would leave the island of Djerba, and their wives, to work in Tunis; when they returned each year for a few weeks, this "season of men"was a time for the wives to become pregnant, fulfilling a wife’s supreme obligation: producing a male heir. But this time of expected joy was also a time of great tension, frustration, and even shame. By shifting between past and present, Tlatli is able to compare Aicha’s situation with that of her daughters, showing us what has changed and what has not. In Arabic and French with English subtitles.Thursday, Feb. 28, 2 p.m., and Saturday, March 2, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Women Filmmakers Week/Thursday Evening Documentary SeriesNAKED SPACES: LIVING IS ROUND (198
5, West Africa/USA, 135 min.), directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha. This exceptional documentary by U.C. Berkeley’s Trinh T. Minh-ha (author of Woman, Native Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism and Drawn from African Dwellings) is a non-linear exploration of living spaces in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, and Senegal. In poetic fashion it shows the intimate interrelationship between the dwellings of traditional rural West Africa and the everyday life rhythms of those who inhabit these spaces. Suffused with stunning imagery, Naked Spaces is a meditation on a traditional way of life that is both distant and hauntingly appropriate.Thursday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.Women Filmmakers WeekDIAMONDS, GUNS AND RICE: SIERRA LEONE AND THE WOMEN’S PEACE MOVEMENT (2000, Sierra Leone/USA, 58 min.), directed by Jan Haaken with Emma Fofanah.As is usually the case, women have been hard-hit by the civil war that struck Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Yet it would be wrong to see them simply as victims. In this film by PSU psychology professor Jan Haaken and Emma Fofanah, we learn of the horrors and hardships, but also of efforts by women to move the country to a new paradigm. Through interviews and testimonials by women in refugee camps along the border of Sierra Leone, the film examines the experience of the Sierra Leone Women’s Peace Movement, founded in Freetown in 1996. Director Jan Haaken, Emma Fofanah, and other Sierra Leonean women involved in its creation will be on hand for post-screening discussion. Saturday, March 2, 2 p.m., Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.