The African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) is holding its 21st International Film Festival in New York from November 29th until December 15th. The festival will showcase 73 films from 35 different countries, which includes 35 world premieres. “The films in ADIFF-2013 follow an editorial line that is rich, thought provoking, inclusive and international,” festival founder Diarah N’Daw-Spech says about the films.
The films will be showcased in six venues in the New York City area.
N’Daw-Spech and her husband Reinaldo Barroso-Spech created the ADIFF on November of 1993, on the belief that education is power and that film is the truest medium for creating a fertile ground for education. “The future of our communities of color is directly tied to the expansion of our experiences, the depth and breadth of our reach and interaction with other communities and the framework from which our talent can stand front and center,” says N’Daw-Spech.
N’Daw-Spech is a financial consultant and University budget manager and her husband is a foreign languages and Black Literature educator. The couple shares a common belief and vision: “We want to see an informed and talented community coming together to exchange ideas and strategies for improving our respective worlds,” they say.
By viewing these films, N’Daw-Spech wants audiences to also see how rich the human experience is and how well some of artists have been able to create a movement of images and ideas of universal proportions. “We started ADIFF because we wanted, modestly, to contribute to the cultural landscape of a city that was lacking in diversity in terms of stories depicting the human experience of people of color in films,” she says.
When asked what she wants audiences to take away from viewing these films she replied, “Mostly, I want audiences to have a good time because these films are in a festival and a festival is a moment of celebration, among other things.” She added, “I want them to also see how rich our human experience is and how well some of our artists have been able to create a movement of images and ideas of universal proportions.”
N’Daw-Spech says her favorite film in this year’s festival is Nishan/Medal of Honor, a film directed by debut Ethiopian director Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn about a young Ethiopian businesswoman who dreams of leaving her native land to seek fortune abroad. Her father takes drastic measures in order to make it happen.
Here is a list of this year’s films:
La Playa D.C. is another favorite. It’s a Colombian drama directed by Juan Andres Arango about an Afro-Columbian teen who flees the country’s Pacific Coast and gets pushed out by the war where he faces difficulties and sets out to find his missing brother.
Legends of Madagascar is a drama and comedy directed by Haminiaina Ratovoarivony. The film addresses many contemporary issues of racial tensions in Madagascar between the native population and the Indian immigrants.
Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango is a film by Angolan filmmaker Dom Pedro who explores the expression of Tango’s “Africanness” and the contribution of African cultures in the creation of tango, which was a reflection of the social life of the slaves that were taken to South America.
N’Daw-Spech personally recommends Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth, a story of a woman’s journey from being born to sharecroppers in a paper-thin shack to making history as a prominent writer of the 20th century.
Spies of Mississippi tells the story of a secret, spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy.
Zabana is the researched account of the short-lived life of Algerian freedom fighter Ahmed Zabana who was executed by the French colonial authorities, which ignited the “Battle of Algiers”.
Race is a film about the absence of black Brazilians in power and in history books.
Fatal Assistance focuses on the two-year journey to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake.
Blue Caprice is inspired by true events of the Beltway’s sniper attacks from the point of view of the two killers.
Mother of George is about a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn who face difficulties conceiving a child, which defies cultural expectations.
Lastly, One People is an old classic from Surinam. N’Daw-Spech says that all the movies chosen were based on quality and prestige, and they also deal with cultural issues that have meaningful stories that show the nature of art. Many of her favorite films have been nominated for awards. The list includes La Playa D.C, which was nominated for both an Oscar in the Foreign Language category and an NAACP Image Awards; and The Pirogue which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
(Click here for a related story on ADIFF.)