New African Film Festival 2019 spotlights South African cinema

N w in its 15th year, the New African Film Festival is presented by AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Centre, Africa World Now Project and afrikafé, and showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora, bringing the best in contemporary African cinema to the Washington, D.C., area.

This year’s festival includes 37 films from 22 countries, more than 40% of which are directed by women and eight of which are U.S. premieres. South African cinema is particularly well represented in this year’s line-up, with seven films set and produced in South Africa featured in the programme, as well as two South African co-productions – Sudanese festival favourite Akasha and South African filmmaker Vincent Moloi’s powerful documentary about the Herero tribe’s fight for reparations in Namibia, Skulls of My People.

The South African titles included in this year’s New African Film Festival represent a broad
spectrum of genres and topics selected to engage various communities in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Reflective of the diversity and strength of South Africa’s film industry at large, these titles cover material touching upon timely and political issues, as well as interpersonal, inter-generational stories and ambitious historical narratives. Mirroring the overall gender parity of this year’s New African Film Festival line-up, five of the seven films selected to represent South Africa are directed by women.

“Over the course of 15 years, it has been remarkable to witness the trajectory of South African film through the lens of the New African Film Festival,” says festival New African Film Festival co-founder Kishere Mbuya. “We’ve seen the industry move from predominantly Apartheid-themed features, transitioning to life post-Apartheid and towards increasingly diverse stories emerging to include the full-spectrum of life in South Africa. The three U.S. premieres this year (Deep End, Mayfair, Farewell Ella Bella) are a microcosm of what we’d hoped for when we founded the festival 15 years ago: a vehicle for African filmmakers depicting all facets of life on the continent.”

A complete list of all South Africa productions and co-productions included in this year’s line-up is below.

South African productions:

Deep End, directed by Eubulus Timothy.

Mayfair, directed by Sara Blecher.

Baby Mamas, directed by Stephina Zwane.

Nommer 37, directed by Nosipho Dumisa.

Farewell Ella Bella, directed by Lwazi Mvusi.

Whispering Truth to Power, directed by Shameela Seedat.

Sew the Winter To My Skin, directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka.

South African co-productions:

Akasha (Sudan), directed by Hajooj Kuka.

Skulls of My People (Namibia), directed by Vincent Moloi.