Film showcase to highlight African beauty, culture

By Tessa Brubaker, Campus Reporter

Calisto Lemashon Ololngojine, second year graduate student in the Cinema and Television Arts Department, said he was shown the same few African films repeatedly in his classes at Columbia, and it frustrated him not to see a broader spectrum of work. That motivated him to help organize the African Film Showcase, he said.

The showcase, which will run Feb. 20–24 at 1104 S. Wabash Ave., will highlight African films that show the unique landscape and tell realistic stories of its countries, according to the event page.

Ololngojine, who grew up in Kenya, said the U.S. has many misconceptions about Africa.

“We wanted to show different stories of actual people in Africa and their own stories in their own environments and not motivated by politics,” Ololngojine said. “Normal stories from people who have grown up in this environment [who] can make films, and they can continue to tell African stories.”

Bridget Botchway Bradley, first year graduate student in the Cinema and Television Arts Department, started working on the showcase with Ololngojine at the end of 2017 and said their goals are to expand students’ knowledge of African cinema and to combat negative media.

“Everyone has a different kind of viewpoint of Africa and so what we wanted to do with this showcase is to expand the knowledge of African cinema to our student body,” Botchway Bradley said. “Since we are in film school, we know what films students are studying, and there’s not a lot of African cinema that’s even showcased and there’s not a lot of education behind it.”

Some of the films that will be featured include “Lamb,” directed by Yared Zeleke from Ethiopia, “Katikati,” directed by Mbith Masya from Kenya; and “A Place for Myself,” directed by Marie Clémentine from Rwanda. The showcase has a mix of feature- length and short films over its five-day run.

Carolina Posse, an assistant professor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department, is the faculty adviser for the showcase event and said she is proud and excited to see how the showcase has come together.

Posse added that she is already planning to do a similar film showcase this fall with other graduate students highlighting other international areas such as the Middle East and South Asia.

Because February is Black History Month, Posse said it was a perfect time to highlight the important stories from these African countries.

“This is obviously a school [that is] so diverse. We have students and faculty and staff from so many different backgrounds,” Posse said. “Any opportunity that we have to sit down and learn from each other, we have to facilitate. I think as an instructor, it’s one of my duties.”

Botchway Bradley said it is important to feature these films and bring to light the beauty in these African countries, especially considerating the nation’s current political climate.

“It’s so important, more so in this era, where often times the rhetoric in media is anti-immigrant and international affairs,” Botchway Bradley said. “All these countries know this is the time for us to come together. This is the time for us to learn from one and other and African cinema is beautiful.”