Courtesy of Uzo Njoku

On Feb. 19, The Council on African Studies will host its third annual Yale Africa Film Festival. The festival’s films offer a wide range of voices from the African continent and its diaspora. 

The festival, which will take place during the afternoon, is divided into three sessions. These sessions are centered around different themes: “Fashioning the Self and Community,” “Community and Care” and “Black Creativity and Community Organizing.” The themes span experimental, animated and fashion-related topics. The festival’s films, while featuring innovative aesthetics, were also chosen to bring people together. Although registration is required, the festival is free to attend.

“This year is a lot about community, building community and having care for each other during these strange and difficult times,” said member of the YAFF Planning Committee Leslie Rose, GRD ’21.

The festival includes six films, four of which are short films, which will be streamed live and followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and moderators. Attendees will receive a link for the two remaining full-length films which can be watched at the viewer’s discretion.

Rose said the festival includes live virtual screening because the organizing committee wanted to keep alive the “spirit of a film festival” while also respecting this year’s unique circumstances.

Each film will highlight a different facet of African culture and African experiences. For example, “Air Conditioner” follows Matacedo and Zezinha, two characters living in a world where air conditioners begin “mysteriously falling” in Luanda. Another film, Ayo Akingbade’s “Street 66,” documents people in the diaspora. The piece follows the life and work of Ghanaian housing activist Dora Boatemah in Brixton, South London.

Thomas Allen Harris, a filmmaker and senior lecturer in African American Studies and Film and Media Studies, said that an essential part of filmmaking is “giving voice to the voiceless.”

“Film, both in the production and distribution, is essential in terms of building community around a narrative, theme or group of people,” said Harris. “Particularly for people who are a part of a diaspora, there is a real desire to see representations of themselves, the complexity of their identities and different dimensionalities of their identities.” 

In the festival’s third session, “Lights, Camera, Activism: Black Creativity & Community Organizing,” Harris, Akingbade and moderator Alexandra Thomas GRD ’24 will hold a conversation around “Street 66” and its historical context. Akingbade, who directed the film, primarily works on subjects of power and urbanism. 

“The online festival is unusual in that we don’t get to enjoy the cinematic coming together of a live audience, but otherwise, it’s more accessible in that folks can enjoy the feature films on their own schedule and in their own homes,” YAFF Planning Committee member Ed Hendrickson GRD ’22 said.

The festival requires preregistration and will begin at 1 p.m. on Friday. 

Maia Decker |