The African Diaspora International Film Festival

"Mama Africa"

“Mama Africa”

The “most
program to date
in the Windy City”
will light up
Facets Cinematheque
June 8-14, 2018

New York — 14 May 2018 To celebrate its 16th Anniversary in Chicago, the African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) — hosted by Facets Cinematheque and presented by ArtMattan Productionsts from June 8 to 14 — will present its most thought-provoking program to date in the Windy City.

With 19 documentaries and fiction films set in The United States, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Haiti, Barbados, Nigeria, Brazil, The UK, Malawi, Cuba, Honduras, Tunisia, Hungary, the Virgin Islands and France, ADIFF Chicago will celebrate 16 years of great cinema and great talks with new films, special events and revealing stories!

Screenings take place at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. For tickets and a complete schedule, click here.

Opening Night Film Bigger Than Africa by Toyin Ibrahim Adekeye (2018, 90min, USA, Chicago Premiere) is a fascinating documentary that follows the impact of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the USA, Nigeria, Brazil, Republic of Benin, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba to explore and find reasons for the survival of the Yoruba culture in the New World. Nigerian director Toyin Ibrahim Adekeye will be on hand to talk about his research in trying to understand why, of all cultures of Africa, the Yoruba culture is the one that has survived for centuries in the Americas.

Streetlight Harmonies by Brent Wilson (2017, 84min, USA, Chicago Premiere) is about Doo-wop and features stellar vocal harmonies sung a cappella, born on street corners in the 1950s. In Streetlight Harmonies, a who’s who of musicians trace the evolution of American pop music from doo wop and Phil Spector’s legendary ‘wall of sound’ up through Motown, surf music and the British Invasion. It’s a toe-tapping stroll down memory lane for music lovers of all ages.

In Foreign Body by Raja Amari, (2016, 92min, France/Tunisia, TIFF Official Selection, Chicago Premiere) a young woman (Sarra Hannachi) flees from Tunisia to France after informing on her brother, an Islamist radical. Adrift in a new country, she seizes on an opportunity to work for a glamorous widow (Hiam Abbass), and is uncertain how to respond when one of her brother’s friends (Salim Kechiouche) shows a romantic interest in her.

The Citizen (Az Állampolgár) – Winner of the 2018 Chicago European Film Festival Audience Award for Best Film (2016, 109 min, Hungary) – is a timely narrative about a middle-aged African immigrant Wilson (first-time actor Cake-Baly, who brings breathtaking grace and nuance to the role) wanting to become a Hungarian Citizen. This touching humanist drama exposes the unwelcoming climate that greets many immigrants to Europe, as Wilson finds a sympathetic teacher and prospective lover in lonely abused wife Mari (Máhr).

Exquisite award-wining animation Kirikou and the Sorceress by Michel Ocelot (1998, 74min, France) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Kirikou and the Sorceress tells the tale of tiny Kirikou, born in an African village in which Karaba the Sorceress has placed a terrible curse.

Back by popular demand, Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba by Mika Kaurismäki (2011, 90 min, South Africa/Germany) is a powerful documentary that retraces the life, music and activism of international star Miriam Makeba, one of the first African musicians to win international stardom.

Closing Night screening of local documentary 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green by Ronit Bezalel (2014, 53min, USA) — the story of a community displaced when their neighborhood is torn down in the name of progress — will be followed by a Q&A with the director and a reception.

Several films in ADIFF Chicago 2018 spotlight the talent and diversity of the Caribbean region.

Sponsored by the Dusable Heritage Association is the special screening of When the Drum is Beating by Whitney Dow that celebrates the resilience of one Haitian band that has seen it all: Septentrional.

For six decades this 20-piece band has been making passionate, beautiful music — a fusion of Cuban big band and Haitian voodoo beats — through dictatorships, natural disasters, coup d’etats and chaos, navigating the ups and downs, the glory and the tragedy that is Haiti’s history. The screening will be followed by a reception.

Timeless by Ed La Borde, Jr. is a love story that transcends time from 19th Century Ghana to the modern day Caribbean. It explores the idea that hurricanes are really the souls of people that suffered in the “Middle Passage.” It is a story that highlights history and promotes the culture of the Virgin Islands with rich imagery and complex subject matter through unexpected twists and turns. The director will be in attendance to participate in a discussion after the screening.

Sweet Bottom by Gladstone Yearwood is a fiction film that explores a young man’s struggle to make a new life in Barbados — his mother’s home — after he is deported for a minor offence from the place where he grew up, Brooklyn, NY.

Every Cook Can Govern: Documenting The Life, Impact & Works of C.L.R. James by Ceri Dingle and Rob Harris is a historical tour-de-force that interweaves never-before-seen footage of C.L.R. James with personal contributions from those who knew him. This documentary presents an astute historical and political analysis from leading scholars of his work.

The CENTERPIECE screening of MULTICULTURAL SHORTS The Exception and the Rule by Joel Zito Araujo about an Afro-Brazilian who won a discrimination lawsuit against his employer in 1992; Jimmy Jean-Louis Visits Tijuana by Todd Kellstein which follows Haitian actor and activist Jimmy Jean-Louis visiting Haitian immigrants in Mexico and Scattered Africa by Sheila Walker a documentary about scholars focusing on issues related to the African Diaspora. The screenings will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Sheila Walker, Ph.D, cultural anthropologist, filmmaker and Executive Director of Afrodiaspora, Inc. who will talk about the history and concept of the African Diaspora as presented in the films. The program will close with a reception.

THE AFRO-LATINO PROGRAM includes two films. Revolutionary Medicine by Jesse Freeston & Beth Geglia is an inspiring documentary that shows how a hospital’s alternative health model is not only transforming communities on Honduras’ Northern Coast, but also standing as an alternative to an increasingly privatized national health system. The Invisible Color: Black Is More Than a Color by veteran Afro-Cuban filmmaker Sergio Giral investigates the black Cuban exile community in South Florida, since the first wave of political refugees in the 1959 revolutionary aftermath, to today.

The Road to Sunshine by Shemu Joyah is a women-centered drama set in Malawi about two young women who struggle to survive and attempt to maintain their humanity in the rough, unforgiving townships of Blantyre, Malawi. This leads to a major, tragic confrontation. As a result their inner emancipation grows and blossoms.

Rosa Chumbe by Jonatan Relayze – Peru’s 2018 official foreign language Oscar submission – is about Rosa Chumbe, a mature police officer with both a gambling and a drinking problem who needs a miracle to save herself and her grandchild.

Never Came Back by Jeremiah Jahi, a carefully observed debut, shot in bleary, melancholy black and white that chronicles the return of a long absent patriarch to the arms of his ambivalent family after a period of twenty-five years. This timely, emotionally resonant narrative feature grapples with the lasting repercussions of incarceration on the African-American consciousness.

Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago (773-281-4114).

Tickets are $15 for Opening Night, $12 for the Centerpiece, the Special Presentations and Closing Night, $10 and $8 for students and seniors for general admission for regular screenings and $5 for Facets members. The Festival Pass is $80, Weekend Pass $60, Sat Day Pass: $30, Sun Day Pass: $25. Advance ticket sales are available here.

Friday, June 8
6:30pm Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba
7:30pm to 8:30pm reception
8:30pm Bigger Than Africa

Saturday, June 9
2 pm Kirikou and the Sorceress 20-year anniversary Screening
3:30 pm The Road to Sunshine
6 pm Multicultural Shorts
   The Exception and the Rule
   Jimmy Jean-Louis Visits Tijuana
   Scattered Africa
      Q&A followed by reception
8:30pm Sweet Bottom

Sunday, June 10
2 pm Afro-Latino Shorts
   Revolutionary Medicine: A Story of the First Garifuna Hospital
   The Invisible Color: Black Is More Than A Color
4 pm When the Drum is Beating
6:30 pm Bigger Than Africa

Monday, June 11
6:30pm Every Cook Can Govern:
Documenting The Life, Impact & Works Of C.L.R. James
9:00pm Rosa Chumbe

Tuesday, June 12
6:30pm Foreign Body
8:30pm The Citizen

Wednesday, June 13
6:30pm Street Light Harmonies
8:30pm Never Came Back

Thursday, June 14
6:30pm Timeless – Q&A
8:00pm to 9:00pm Reception
9:00pm 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green

The 16th Annual African Diaspora Film Festival-Chicago is made possible thanks to the generous support of the following institutions: Facets Cinemateque, ArtMattan Productions, the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University, Spotlight Cinema Networks and The Dusable Heritage Association. The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

Send your festival news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,