Film festival looks to change perception of Africa
Seeking to dispel stereotypes about Africa and its culture, Washington University will host the third annual African Film Festival this weekend.
The festival will feature eight films this year, four shorts and four full-length features, which all have won international awards. The films will address a wide variety of topics including identity, immigration and AIDS, with a focus on how these issues affect the family structure.
According to Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, assistant dean of Arts & Sciences and the coordinator of the festival, one of the goals of the festival is to broaden students’ views of and interests in Africa, and to show the cultural texture of the continent.
“[We want] to counter a lot of the prevalent images and myths about Africa,” said Tolliver-Diallo. “It is such a diverse continent with so many nations, ethnicities and cultures that it is hard to speak of Africa. The festival helps us by showcasing eight different countries so the audience gets an opportunity to see the diversity of the continent.”
The festival will also give students a glimpse into the nature of African cinema and the voices of African filmmakers.
“There is definitely a unique African film industry that mixes oral traditions, oral storytelling, and community dialogue, in contrast to the one-on-one dialogue you tend to see in Hollywood,” said Tolliver-Diallo.
Another common practice of African filmmakers is the use of both professional and nonprofessional actors and an informal script.
“The filmmaker will talk about his concept to his actors and let them naturally use the vocabulary, intonation and reactions that are natural,” said Tolliver-Diallo.
A discussion led by the African Students of Social Work that will take place after the films on Sunday night has been added to this year’s festival. Students will have a chance to discuss the films shown Sunday as well as those shown on previous nights of the Festival.
This year, the Festival has collaborated with the Saint Louis Art Museum (S.L.A.M.) and University alum Rhonda Brossard of La CrÅ che-a francophone society in St. Louis-to present a Youth Festival. Films will be shown at S.L.A.M. Wednesday and Thursday for nearly 200 elementary, middle and high school students.
Tolliver-Diallo noted the importance of developing not only knowledge of African issues in younger students, but also a “visual vocabulary that will enable them to discuss cinema in a sophisticated manner.”
The African Film Festival is sponsored by grants from the Washington University Women’s Society and the Missouri Arts Council and will be held in Brown Hall, Room 100 at 7 p.m. with free admission.
Popularity: 1% [?]