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 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 wupa.wustl.edu/africanfilm or you may call 314-935-7879.