Award winning movie, ‘The man who mends women: the wrath of Hippocrates‘ is one of several titles screening at this year’s, African Diaspora Film Festival (ADFF) in New York City.
The film tells the story of three time Nobel piece prize nominee and human rights advocate, Dr. Denis Mukwege who has dedicated his life to treating victims of gang rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
When Dr. Reinaldo Barroso–Spech and his wife, Diarah N’Daw Spech, started ADFF in 1993, they wanted to give people an insight on African Diaspora cinema by highlighting stories like Dr. Mukweges.
Dr. Barosso-Spech who worked as a public school teacher said he used foreign films to educate his students about language, culture and diversity.
Having been successful using these movies as a teaching method, he and his wife started ADFF to celebrate the work and achievements of African diaspora filmmakers while showcasing a different side of Black cinema.
“Films helped me in my work to teach structure, to teach culture, to teach how to interact in different cultures. In the classroom, that was a reason for joy for many students, a moment of discovery for other and always a source to do research and advance in the understanding of all the people” – Dr. Barosso-Spech
The films are meant to entertain as well as educate audiences and are carefully selected by organizers to promote an alternative image of Africans and people of African descent said Dr. Barosso-Spech,
“If you take for instance, the opening night film, it’s a very strong film about the work of Dr. Mukwege, it is important for the biggest number of people to watch because it is a film that humanizes Africa and Africans because we tend to see many films about Africa in which there’s a certain degree of brutality and violence that has accustomed people to that notion that this is what Africa is about.”
This year’s categories range from Black British programs, the Arab Spring, an evening for LGBT people, African women ‘on the move’, and even an animated film for younger audiences.
From November 27th through December 13th, ADFF will screen over a dozen titles at MIST Harlem, Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas and Columbia University’s Teachers College. Organizers said they are once again expecting a large number of attendees this year, “we might get between six to seven thousand people. We have three venues and we move from uptown to downtown so that helps us reach out to different neighborhoods and constituencies.”
Since its first year, the festival has expanded to other cities around the world and Dr. Barosso-Spech said he hopes to reach even larger audiences as the festival continues to grow, “the festival began in 1993 in New York City but is now an event that takes place in Chicago. In Chicago we have been there for thirteen years, it is also held in Washington, D.C., and the youngest of our festivals is the one in Paris, that we finished in September and celebrated our fifth anniversary. We also worked for six or seven years in Curacao”.
Twenty-two years since it began, the festival has welcomed over one hundred thousand viewers and has featured films from the United States, all across Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and New Zealand. While the husband and wife team has faced many challenges while organizing the festival, they continue to work toward making it an annual success,
“Wherever we go, we get great support, because the festival has this editorial line that is, a line of building bridges between people, we are very inclusive we find films that people could not imagine to have a connection with” – Dr. Barosso-Spech
More on this year’s African Diaspora Film Festival