By Benjamin Njoku
History was made again in the beautiful city of Dallas, Texas, in the United States, after African films took the centre stage at this year’s edition of the African Film Festival,TAFF, which held at Dallas City Hall, from June 27, through 30.
The festival, in its fourth edition showcased films made by Africans, as well as a few made by non-Africans about issues important to different regions of the continent.
City officials were said to have hailed the festival as an expression of the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity in Texas’ second-largest city.
Regina Hill Onyeibe, the Africa Liaison for the City of Dallas praised the film festival’s organizer and founder, filmmaker Kelechi Eke, not only for bringing this event to Dallas, but for providing an audience for Africans making movies.
She said he had created “a portal in which other Africans can follow their dreams of telling their stories.”
Speaking in an interview with Voice of America,VOA, Kelechi, said his idea was to encourage African filmmakers and to present a true picture of Africa and Africans to counter the distorted image often created in mainstream commercial films.”We wanted to incorporate our culture and our films and share it with the rest of the world and why not Dallas?” he said.
Speaking further, Kelechi said other Africa film festivals in the United States tended to either showcase Hollywood films about Africa or films made by African Americans. This festival, he said, is centered on Africa, with films that tell deeply rooted cultural stories, as well as spotlighting problems facing many parts of the continent.
“The African culture has witnessed a high level of global exposure practically through motion pictures that celebrates the continent’s heritage and address most of its challenges. In the quest to keep uplifting and celebrating the African Cultural heritage via motion pictures, the The African Film Festival,TAFF, took many steps, recording new/huge successes as it celebrated the 2019 edition of the Festival,” Kelechi added. The award-winning film maker expressed satisfaction for attaining his goal this year. He was pleased by the number of film makers that attended the festival from across Africa and beyond.
The festival, according to him, did not only award outstanding African motion picture stories but also led to the birth of ROOTFLIX – a movie streaming platform that is entirely African, providing independent African filmmakers the available platform to showcase and distribute their work on a global scale. More than 40 films were screened during the festival, most of which were narrative films concerning such things as domestic discord, women’s rights and the troubles of migrant workers. Most films came from sub-Saharan Africa, but there was also a film from Egypt and films with connections to Spain, Australia and the United States. Nigeria, the best represented nation had 12 films screened during the festival. Just as Cameroon also well represented, with nine films being screened.
Ethiopia’s four films includes “Two Zions,” which is about the country’s connection with Judaism.
Other African countries represented in the festival included Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, Uganda and Burkina Faso. Hosted by Patience Ozokwo a.k.a ‘Mama G’ who received the 2016 African Film Legend Award at the festival climaxed with an award night. ‘Nogochi’, a film from Mali, won the Best Narrative Film, while “Golden Fish, African Fish”, a film from Senegal also won Best Documentary Film.