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Saturday, 22 March 2014 19:01

The 9th African Film Festival offers diverse, first-rate selections + Video

The 9th African Film Festival offers diverse, first-rate selections
Written by Diane Carson
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For Washington University's 9th African Film Festival the theme "coming of age" defines the fest itself and its superb selections. In four programs, shorts and feature length, animated and live action films showcase the Ivory Coast and Nigeria, South Africa and the Sudan, and more. Technical quality and subject diversity distinguish the films available for preview.

Among the standouts is Friday, March 28th 's feature "Aya of Yop City." An Ivory Coast/French co-production, based on Marguerite Abouet's graphic novels, "Aya" features colorful, hand-drawn animation that cleverly includes three live-action commercials on television screens, something I've never seen done before. Nineteen-year-old Aya, determined to become a doctor despite her modest origins, narrates. Her two girlfriends seek rich husbands, but one becomes involved with a deceitful cad and another pregnant in this cautionary tale as an entire community comes to vivid life.

From South Africa, "Felix" follows fourteen-year-old Felix Xaba facing educational and cultural divides. A nurturing mother who doesn't want Felix to become a sax player, a supportive teacher, fellow schoolmates of various good and bad stripes, and some great music and musical talents bring this film to life. Featured in the Youth Matinee, it's a fable about following your dream.

The short films that begin each of the four programs present exceptional snapshots. In "Unspoken," a joint Nigeria/UK production, a maid of honor at an imminent wedding accidentally learns a monumental secret. Introducing the youth matinee with animation, "Money Tree" teaches a essay writer heart-warming lesson about what really matters, and it isn't money. "Imprint" uses dance to join generations with a colorful, energetic guide. From Ghana, "Bone Shaker" tells a strong story of attempts to drive out a child's problem. And "Faisal Goes West" presents a pointed snapshot of Sudanese teenager Faisal and his family facing hurdles to success in America.

Feature films not previewed include "Tey" from Senegal and "Alaskaland," a joint US/Nigerian production. All films have English subtitles when needed and screen in Washington University's Brown Hall, Room 100, March 28th through March 30th at 7 p.m. plus a Youth Matinee on Saturday at 1 p.m. For more complete information you may go to or you may call 314-935-7879.

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