• Events
bicentenary of the birth |Charles Baudelaire Online | Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
bicentenary of the birth |Charles Baudelaire Online | Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Film Series
New French Shorts Nationwide US Theaters and Virtual Cinemas

16th AFI New African Film Festival

Co-presented by AFI, Africa World Now Project and afrikafé, the 16th New African Film Festival showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and includes a dozen of French productions and co-productions.

  • BARKOMO [LA GROTTE] by Aboubacar Bablé Draba and Boucary Ombotimbé

Mali, 2019, color, 76 min. In Dogon and French with English subtitles.

North American Premiere.

Set in the 17th century in a small cave-dwelling village in northeastern Mali, BARKOMO is the first film made in the Dogon language. With a dazzling mix of magical-realist folklore, fairytale and ethnography, the film follows Yamio — a woman who, unable to conceive after 10 years of marriage and shamed by the fertility of her husband's second wife — throws herself off a cliff. When she miraculously lands without suffering any harm, she wanders in exile, finally taking refuge in Barkomo, a kingdom that has fallen on hard times. 

Sat, March 7, 2:45 p.m.

  • YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY by Amjad Abu Alala

Sudan/France/Egypt/Germany/Norway/Qatar, 2019, color, 103 min. In Arabic with English subtitles.

Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala's daring and visually stunning feature debut follows Muzamil (played first by Moatasem Rashid, then as a teen by Mustafa Shehata), a young man who lives in the shadow of impending death after having been prophesied during his naming ceremony as a newborn to die at the age of 20. Simultaneously a coming-of-age tale and coming-of-death fable, YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY explores the liminal space in which Muzamil's mother Sakina (Islam Mubark) must mourn her son before his death, while he begins to learn what it means to be alive, just as death seems only a few steps away.

Sat, March 7, 5:00 p.m.; Sun, March 8, 10:00 p.m.

  • ABOU LEILA, by Amin Sidi-Boumédiène

Algeria/France/Qatar, 2019, color, 135 min. In Arabic with English subtitles.

In 1994, amid the turmoil of the Algerian civil war, childhood friends and police officers S. (Slimane Benouari) and Lotfi (Lyès Salem) embark on an odyssey through the desert in the north of the country as they search for an elusive terrorist named Abou Leila, whom S. believes is responsible for a series of mysterious deaths across the region.Blending reality with surreal fantasy, Algerian filmmaker Amin Sidi-Boumédiène crafts a vivid picture of societal and psychological unraveling, with a seemingly unsolvable mystery at its center.

Sun, March 8, 7:15 p.m.

  • FLESH OUT by Michela Occhipinti Simona Coppini

Mauritania/Italy, 2019, color, 94 min. In Hassanya and French with English subtitles.

In keeping with the traditions of her Mauritanian home, the announcement of Verida's (Verida Beitta Ahmed Deiche) impending arranged marriage brings with it the beginning of gavage — the ritual of over-eating in order to attain a fuller figure more desirable to her future husband. As the obedient daughter of two loving parents, Verida at first accepts the intense physical strain of gavage. But as the ritual's requirements become increasingly all-consuming, Verida's resistance to the intense expectations of her culture grows, and she is pushed toward her breaking point. Portrayed with remarkable restraint and attention to detail by director Michela Occhipinti in her narrative feature debut, FLESH OUT is an intensely resonant look at one woman's struggle to find an identity for herself outside of the suffocating pressure to conform.

Sun, March 8, 3:15 p.m.; Wed, March 11, 5:15 p.m.

  • RÉSOLUTION by Boris Oué and Marcel Sagne

Ivory Coast/France, 2019, color, 105 min. In French with English subtitles.

North American Premiere. In this powerful drama, which earned two awards at the 2019 FESPACO Film Festival, Yenan (Evelyne Ily Juhen, who also produces) is a dynamic executive in her 30s, who has the perfect life to all outside observers — a happy marriage to her husband, Bruno (Marc Kassy), a well-respected prosecutor; a loving 16-year-old son; and a position leading a successful cocoa bean export business. But behind the scenes, Bruno is abusive, and his outbursts have been increasing as Yenan fails to become pregnant with a much-wanted second child.

Mon, March 9, 7:15 p.m.

  • TALKING ABOUT TREES by Suhaib Gasmelbari

Sudan/France/Chad/Germany/Qatar, 2019, color, 93 min. In English, Arabic and Russian with English subtitles.

Winner of two awards at last year's Berlinale, TALKING ABOUT TREES follows the journey of four retired Sudanese filmmakers — Ibrahim Shaddad, Suliman Ibrahim, Eltayeb Mahdi and Manar Al-Hilo — who are attempting to revive moviegoing in a country in which the oppressive regime has all but wiped out national film history and culture.

Tue, March 10, 7:15 p.m.

  • NOFINOFY [DREAM] by Michaël Andrianaly

Madagascar/France, 2019, color, 73 min. In French with English subtitles.

Q&A with filmmaker Michaël Andrianaly

When his high street salon in Madagascar is destroyed by the municipal authorities, hairdresser Romeo must search for a new space. He finds a ramshackle hut to use as a makeshift spot to continue practicing his craft and maintain his business while he looks for somewhere more permanent, but he still dreams of owning a salon, and he grows tired of waiting for things to change for the better. NOFINOFY follows Romeo as he and his friends discuss the news, their fears and their hopes for their country — presenting an intimate look at daily life in Madagascar and one man fighting for his dignity.

Wed, March 11, 7:15 p.m.


Morocco/France/Qatar, 2019, color, 100 min. In Arabic with English subtitles.

When a recently released bandit (Younes Bouab) returns to the place he buried the stolen loot, he is surprised to find a new shrine — that of the "Unknown Saint" — perched atop his once-ingenious hiding place. In the years since his arrest, a bustling village has grown next to the much-visited holy site, which is now a valuable tourist attraction relentlessly guarded by an array of quirky locals and a beloved guard dog. Searching desperately for a way to recover his buried treasure, the thief is forced to take up residence in the village and join forces with his former cellmate, "Ahmed the Brain" (Salah Ben Saleh). Alaa Eddine Aljem's darkly comic feature debut is a refreshingly original take on the heist genre and an astute reflection on the intersection of faith and commerce.

Thurs, March 12, 7:30 p.m.; Sat, March 14, 9:15 p.m.

  • DESRANCES by Apolline Traoré

Burkina Faso, 2019, color, 105 min. In French with English subtitles.

Burkinabé filmmaker Apolline Traoré's (BORDERS) assured fourth feature stars Haitian American superstar Jimmy Jean-Louis as Francis Desrances, a man who resettles in the Ivory Coast after the brutal massacre of his family in Haiti. Cementing her status as a bold voice in contemporary filmmaking, Traoré's domestic drama escalates into an intense thriller that mounts a passionate challenge to commonly held gender roles, while also highlighting the human cost of civil strife.

Fri, March 13, 7:30 p.m.; Tue, March 17, 9:20 p.m.

  • POISONOUS ROSES [WARADA MASMUM] by Ahmed Zaghloul Al-sheety

Egypt/France, 2018, color, 70 min. In Arabic with English subtitles.

North American Premiere. In this intriguing portrait of contemporary Egypt, 22-year-old Saqr (Ibrahim El-Nagari) wants to flee the downtrodden, noxious tanners' district where he lives and works. His older sister, Taheya (Koki), who has a job cleaning public restrooms, wants to prevent this at all costs.

2019 Oscar Selection. Winner, Special Jury Award, 2018 Cairo International Film Festival.

Fri, March 13, 9:30 p.m.; Thurs, March 19, 9:45 p.m.

  • CAMILLE by Boris Lojkine

France, 2019, color, 92 min. In English, French and Sango with English

US Premiere. In a rare look at the Central African Republic (CAR) on film, Boris Lojkine explores the last months in the life of French photojournalist Camille Lepage (Nina Meurisse), who was killed in 2014 at age 26 while covering the country's ongoing civil war. Eschewing and critiquing the white-savior-in-Africa cliché, CAMILLE weaves Lepage's photos into a fictional biopic structure, demonstrating the young journalist's burgeoning realization that her photos may well not effect change, but that she must bear witness, nevertheless. 2019 Locarno International Film Festival.

Sat, March 14, 5:00 p.m.; Mon, March 16, 5:15 p.m.

  • DHALINYARO [YOUTH] by Lula Ali Ismaïl

Djibouti, 2019, color, 85 min. In French and Somali with English subtitles.

With DHALINYARO, filmmaker Lula Ali Ismaïl has produced Djibouti's first feature film. An exuberant portrait of the day-to-day lives of three 18-year-old women — Asma, Hibo and Deka — the film sensitively chronicles their hopes and dreams as they stand at a crossroads in their lives. Bound by a deep friendship, despite coming from different social strata, they are still deeply rooted in their own culture and face the biggest decision of their lives: should they stay in Djibouti or go to France to study?

Official Selection, 2019 African Diaspora International Film Festival.

Sat, March 14, 11:30 a.m.

  • OUR LADY OF THE NILE [NOTRE-DAME DU NIL] by Atiq Rahimi and Ramata Sy

Rwanda/France/Belgium, 2019, color, 93 min. In French and Kinyarwanda with English subtitles.

This bewitching, visually lush adaptation of Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga's award-winning novel recounts the coming of age of a group of schoolgirls at a Belgian-run Catholic boarding school in Rwanda. Set in 1973, both the novel and the film take inspiration from true events that would come to foreshadow the 1994 genocide during the Rwandan Civil War.

Official Selection, 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

Sun, March 15, 1:00 p.m.; Tue, March 17, 5:15 p.m.


Tunisia/France, 1983, color/b&w, 95 min. In English and French with English subtitles.

Co-presented by the Center for African Studies at Howard University

Q&A with director Férid Boughedir

This new 2K restoration of Tunisian director Férid Boughedir's landmark survey of African cinema, which was first screened at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival, features rare footage and in-depth interviews with pioneering African filmmakers such as Sembene Ousmane, Safi Faye, Med Hondo, Djibril Diop-Mambety, Dikongue-Pipa and more. Exploring the rise of independent African cinema, Boughedir demonstrates how, despite a lack of funds and support, these filmmakers overcame many obstacles to bring inspiring African stories to the screen, after decades of Africa being used as an exotic backdrop for Western cinema.

Official Selection, 1983 Cannes and Toronto film festivals.

Thurs, March 19, 7:00 p.m.