One of the largest African film festivals on the West Coast is exploring unchartered territory.
This year, the 16th annual PortlandCommunity College Cascade Festival of African Films — featuring 28 films from the African continent — will spotlight films exploring the untapped subject of the African legacy in Mexico. The festival, held in honor of Black History MonthandWomen's History Month on PCC's Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St., and at other sites around North Portland, runs from Feb. 3 through March 4. It is organized entirely by volunteers and is free and open to the public.
The festival will offer five weeks of films from the African continent and the Diaspora. Most of the films will be followed with discussions led by visiting film directors and local individuals from the film's featured country. For complete listings of the films and events of this year's festival, visit www.africanfilmfestival.org.
At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, Mexican film director Rafael Rebollar Corona will present and discuss his film, "The Forgotten Root," which focuses on the rarely noted history of the African presenceinMexico. Corona's Afro-Mexican trilogy, "The Forgotten Root," "From Florida to Coahuila" and his work in progress, "Incursions into the Hills," will be shown at the symposium on the African legacy in Mexico and community conversation from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.
In the afternoon the director and other experts in the field will speak on the Afro-Mexican identity, followed by a "community conversation" with local activists and audience members. Both events will be held in the new Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building auditorium (room 104) at the Cascade Campus.
"In fact, each of these communities is itself a complex mix, and, as these films reveal, there is a great deal of unacknowledged overlap betweenthem,"said Michael Dembrow, film festival committee co-chair. "With the help of director Rafael Rebollar Corona and other experts, the symposium will explore the history of this overlap and then the communityconversation will allow us to bring the subject home to Portland."
The festival will open with the acclaimed Angolan film, "The Hero/O Heroi" directed by Zézé Gamboa on Friday,Feb.3,at McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. Screenings are planned at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. "The Hero" won the Grand Prize in WorldDramatic Competition at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
Family Film Day will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, at McMenamins Kennedy School Theatre, with two films by local directors set in Mali — "Welcome to Mali" and "Kofalen/The Gift Exchange" — and a third film, "Coming to England," a BBC adaptation of Floella Benjamin's popular children's book about her journey as a young girl from Trinidad to Britain in the 1960s.
Another focus of the Festivalwillbe "Remembering Rwanda." On Feb. 16, Director Eric Kabera will introduce and discuss his film "Keepers of Memory," which focuses on the lives of survivors of the massacres of 1994.
Women Filmmakers Week will be held from March 2 through 4. Film director Sara Rachad will introduce and discuss her film "Tahara" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3, in the MoriartyArtsand Humanities Building auditorium. The festival will close at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, with a second new film from Angola, "Hollow City," directed by Maria João Ganga, at 7:30 p.m. in the Arts and Humanities Building.
"The festival will again be a mix of hard-hitting documentary and powerful, deeply moving human stories from all over the African continent," Dembrow said.
"We're especially pleased to be able to open the festival and close the festival with films from Angola — one by a man and the second by a woman. For a country struggling to recover from the after-effects of a long civil war, it's remarkable that Angola should be able to produce films of this caliber. We are proud to share them with the public."