By Samantha Ofole-Prince
From a transatlantic romcom, a political charged drama to a heroic biopic, the most crowd-pleasing films coming out of PAFF are helmed by female directors. Just weeks after the Oscars came under fire for its failure to nominate prominent films directed by women, the 28th Annual Pan African Film Festival is showcasing more works than ever from female filmmakers and it’s that sea change many have been waiting for. Check out our favorite female helmed flicks screening at PAFF.
Arguably the most talked-about film is Frances-Anne Solomon’s drama-documentary “Hero,” a film which pays tribute to Ulric Cross, the Trinidadian who became the most decorated of the RAF’s West Indian recruits – the Caribbean version of the Tuskegee Airmen. A remarkable film about a righteous man, “Hero” serves as a history lesson on Colonialism as Solomon brilliantly crafts a biopic which not only delivers drama and emotion but touches on an important historical era. The film also marked the festival’s opening night film.
Una Great Movie
Jennifer Sharp’s colorful comedy about a black American woman traveling to Mexico is a must see. Fun and humorous with a unique storytelling style that incorporates a professional cast mixed with local Mexican non-actors, it’s a cute comedy. Along with single handedly producing this movie in two countries and two languages, Sharp, an avid filmmaker, wrote and directed this film and self-documented her entire journey on her cell phone.
Directed by Lineo Sekeleoane, this film follows a South African woman living in America who discovers that she’s been traditionally engaged since birth to a Zulu king after taking her current beau back to the Motherland. It’s a formulaic love story which offers plenty of laughs along the way as she ends up being caught up in a transatlantic love triangle between two men, two families, and two countries. The film stars Nondumiso Tembe, Kelly Khumalo and Darrin Henson.
Tense and tragic, Apolline Traoré’s powerful drama follows Jimmy Jean-Louis in the lead role as a troubled father who joins forces with his savvy 12-year-old daughter in search of his wife and newborn son after a civil war breaks out in Côte d’Ivoire. Exploring several themes such as fatherhood and familial strife, Traoré’s focus is on the unshakeable bond between a father and daughter and the real standout is the drama’s bright young star Naomi Nemlin who makes an impressive screen debut.
Kings of Mulberry Street
Set in the early ’80s, Judy Naidoo’s Bollywood comedy follows two nine-year-old boys who set a plan in motion to rid their community of an evil local crime boss. A cute drama with universal themes that will appeal to the whole family, the humor is infectious and it offers a dose of relatable fun.
2 Weeks in Lagos
Kathryn Fasegha enjoys making movies which focus on complex and often conflict-filled interactions between generations and her latest offering doesn’t disappoint. There’s plenty of drama in this film which follows a meddling mother who opposes her son’s new suitor and causes plenty of havoc in her quest to halt their union. Mawuli Gavor, Jide Kosoko, Beverly Naya, Joke Silva star.
Marcia Weekes weaves an intricate web of personal and family connections in this self-exploratory and engaging drama about a wealthy Jamaican doctor who was raised to follow in his physician father’s footsteps, but compelled by the natural, herbal approach to healing heads off to West Africa much to his family’s chagrin. Kevoy Burton, Christopher MacFarlane, Alison Hinds, Shontelle Layne, Mawuli Gavor star in this moving drama, which tackles prejudice and discrimination.
PAFF leads festival season with several female directed films
By Samantha Ofole-Prince