MARCH 7, 2012 -- Washington University's annual African Film Festival will pay tribute to independent women and focus on the power of youth. The free festival, held March 23-25 will present eight film showings and features the work of award-winning director, writer and animator Cilia Sawadogo. Showings begin nightly at 7 p.m. at Washington University's Danforth Campus, Brown Hall, room 100.
"The aim of the film festival is really to showcase talent of African filmmakers but more importantly to eliminate stereotypes," said Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, assistant dean of Washington University's College of Arts and Sciences and coordinator of African Studies. "We are excited about offering the animation because they entertain as well as educate. In the subconscious, this also helps break down cultural barriers amongst our youth globally. Youth can see that others living in a big city in Nigeria or somewhere in Burkina Faso, have values very similar to them."
A special youth matinee is being offered at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. The matinee begins with the short "Bino and Fino — Nigeria's Birthday Party & Mama Mama's Soup" by Adama Waziri. Bino and Fino is a cartoon series about a brother and sister who live with their grandparents in a modern-day city in Africa.
A showing of "L'Arbre aux Esprits" or "Tree of Spirits" a feature film by Sawadogo follows the short. The film is for all ages and integrates West African and North American storytelling. In the film, Kodou and Tano meet Ayoka, the spirit of a tree that is soon to be cut by an entrepreneur. The children seek help from the ancestors in order to save the tree. The film is in French with subtitles. "We will not have a dubbed version of the film but I love that you can follow the story because the images tell a convincing story so that those under 5 can also follow," Toliver-Diallo said.
Immediately following the two films, Sawadogo will talk about the film and animation. She has received numerous awards for films she directed at the National Film Board of Canada or independently, including "L'Arbre aux Esprits." Sawadogo also has produced animated clips for "Sesame Street." She is director of animation at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University, in Montreal.
St. Louis Art Museum is supplying take-home craft bags for children who attend the matinee.
For the complete schedule, visit the Washington University website or call 314-935-7879.
Top: "Bino and Fino" by Adama Waziri
Middle: "L'Arber aux Esprits" by Cilia Sawadogo
Pictures courtesy of Washington University.