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Film festival highlights African culture

Published: September 20, 2012, 1:30 am ET
Sports Editor

The eighth annual African Film Weekend will start Friday, Sept. 21, and will feature a post-film question and answer session with Akin Adesokan.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. in Ukrop Auditorim in the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business.

Adesokan, a comparative literature professor at Indiana University-Bloomington, said one of his primary research interests as a scholar had been African cinema and contemporary global cinema.

“It’s important to have someone with a good knowledge of African film studies for these events,” said Kasongo Kapanga, one of the screening organizers. “It’s not always very clear for an American or European audience to understand what is going on in these movies.”

Kapanga, a French professor, has helped put the screening together every year since it began in 2004. Each year, he said, he had tried to create a central theme for the weekend.

“The theme is ‘Coming to and leaving Africa,’” Kapanga said. “The focus, in a loose way, is on the relationship between Asia and Africa or Europe and Africa.”

It is a loose theme because it was difficult to obtain African movies at a reasonable price, Kapanga said, and most of the time, campuses did not have access to these movies until five years after their release.

Adesokan said he felt that his role would be to interpret whether the films fit or contradicted this theme.

“Cinema has always been about outsiders,” Adesokan said. “Much of African cinema is produced by people who have relationships with an outside world, who have been outside Africa and come back. The theme of the festival is very important in that regard.”

The first film shown will be “Pegasus” at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m, Friday. On Saturday, two films, “Kinshasa Symphony” and “Big Banana,” will be shown from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All three films show sociological issues present in Africa, including rape, violence and land exploitation, Kapanga said. The films received praise at film festivals in Africa, he said.

“African cinema is very different from the U.S.,” Kapanga said. “Here, we tend to have the Hollywood view. These films may not be as flamboyant with technology, but they’re still talking about human experiences that are important to us. It’s great exposure to the way Africans depict themselves.”

Adesokan said: “These festivals are important because films are a window into the world. They bring a wide variety of communities and people to come together over social and political representation and have a conversation about it.”

Contact staff writer Scott Himelein at scott.himelein@richmond.edu

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