In these sweltering August days in Washington, respite from the drenching heat and humidity is always welcome, but the opportunity to be educated and entertained at the same time about the history and culture of African Diaspora communities worldwide comes but once a year.
The 12th annual African Diaspora International Film Festival returns to George Washington University’s Marvin Center on Aug. 17, with a compelling mix of feature films and documentaries, including 14 D.C. premieres and eight films directed by women.
Opening night will feature a love story rooted in the 19th century history of the slave trade in Ghana while also addressing the present day problem of human trafficking. “Timeless” from the Virgin Islands is preceded by a VIP reception at 8 p.m. But by that time, the program of 16 films over three days will be well under way.
At 5 p.m., “Stambali” a film about enslaved people from Timbuktu, Mali brought to the North African country of Tunisia begins marathon of films, which includes themed groupings of offerings from Afro-Europe (“Josephine Baker: Black Diva in a White Man’s World” shown with “Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light,” and “Foreign Body” from France/Tunisia); Afro-Latino culture (“Revolutionary Medicine” about Honduras, “Invisible Color: Black is More Than a Color” about Black Cubans in South Florida and “Black Mexicans”) and the Caribbean (“Timeless” from the Virgin Islands).
Two films directed by women about their identities the United States will be screened, lending insight into the diasporic experiences of Eritreans and Ethiopians, and Haitian-Americans through the creative lens in “Life is Fare,” which will be followed by a Q & A after the film, and “La Belle Vie (The Good Life”).
Two documentaries looking back into the history of Africans in the diaspora will also be shown. “Boma Teruven: The Journey” is a realistic recounting of the human zoos in Europe, telling the story of 267 Congolese tragically brought to Brussels for the 1897 World’s Fair, and “Every Cook Can Govern: Documenting the Life, Impact & Works of C.LR. James,” the renowned Trinidadian historian who penned “The Black Jacobins,” among other important works.
The festival is augmented by several other films, including “Streetlight Melodies,” on the history of doo-wop music in the United States and Great Britain; “The Citizen,” a feature film about an African political refugee in Hungary; and the Closing Night feature, “No Shade” (also preceded by a catered reception) examining colorism in the United Kingdom through the vehicle of romantic comedy.
“These are films that explore the contribution to the USA of what we could call members of the historic diaspora,” said Diarah N’Daw Spech, who along with her husband Reinaldo Spech present the films in New York and D.C. annually. “We also have some films about members of the recent diaspora with ‘Life is Fare’ and ‘The Good Life.’ We also have a strong line up of films that explore the Afro-Latino experience, life in the Caribbean and Black life in the UK.
“Our goal is to expose to large audiences non commercial films with a strong artistic, cultural and societal value,” she said. “Those who attend ADIFF DC 2018 will really enjoy themselves.”
For information and tickets, go to www.NYADIFF.org. All films will be screened at George Washington University’s Marvin Center, 800 21st Street NW from Aug. 17-19. Individual tickets are available as well as specially priced senior and student tickets as well as group rates and festival passes.