ADIFF Presents “Great Stories Are Timeless” At Columbia University In Harlem

April 19, 2019

In collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs at Teachers College, Columbia University, the African Diaspora International Film Festival presents a monthly program entitled Films In The class. This program is meant to highlight on the big screen films with a strong cultural and educational input. For the month of April, ADIFF presents “Great Stories Are Timeless” with a selection of eight award-winning narrative films with meaningful stories that have inspired and delighted thousands of moviegoers over time. With this series, ADIFF invites the audience to enjoy a carefully curated line up of great stories in an environment that stimulates reflection and meditation, with enriching dialogues and a convivial and warm atmosphere.

Highlighting the program are two African-American productions. 1982 drama Losing Ground by Kathleen Collins, one of the first features directed by an African-American woman “astonishes with its assurance, subtlety, and style” writes Peter Keough of the Boston Globe. This universal story of love and jalousie reflects on the nature of relationships and aesthetics. “It’s by no means an exaggeration to say that Losing Ground is one of the most important and original American films of the second half of the 20th century. You really must watch it, for it is nothing but a criminal that a work of this kind of genius is practically unknown.” ~ Charles Mudede, The Stranger

Emma Mae (1976) is by Jamaa Fanaka, one of the filmmakers of The L.A. Rebellion film movement represented by a new generation of young African and African-American filmmakers who studied at the UCLA Film School in the late-1960s to the late-1980s and have created a quality Black Cinema. Brandon Wilson of Indiewire writes: “Emma Mae covers two of the key themes in the L.A. Rebellion: migration and personal transformation. Emma Mae tells the story of a country girl from Mississippi (where Fanaka hails from), who has come to Los Angeles to live with family members. Emma is so country she reacts with bewilderment at the sight of her first taco. But if you think she’s a mere rube that is exactly what Fanaka wants you to think. It makes Emma’s subsequent journey and transformation all the more surprising and riveting. That the catalyst for this change is a man is both conventional and (by the time Fanaka is done with the story) radical.”

Another woman-centered story in the series is the 2011 production Women of Cairo / Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story by award-winning Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah. Released before the #METOO movement, “Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story is a powerful indictment of misogyny that overturns stereotypes about Egypt through the dramatic stories women recount on a television show.” ~ Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

2001 release Sia, The Dream of the Python is “timeless” according to New York Times critic Dave Kehr. “Colorful and deceptively buoyant until it suddenly pulls the rug out from under you, Burkinabe filmmaker Dani Kouyate’s reworking of a folk story whose roots go back to 7th-century oral traditions is also a pointed political allegory,” writes Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide. “The subtitled costume drama is set in a remote African empire before cell phones, guns, and the internal combustion engine, but the politics that thump through it are as timely as tomorrow.” ~ Elizabeth Zimmer, Village Voice.

“An engrossing study of race and history in Australia” (Ernest Hardy, L.A. Weekly) the 2003 epic award-winning drama The Tracker by Rolf de Heer “is one of those rare films that deserves to be called haunting.” ~ Roger Ebert – Chicago Sun-Times

Described by Patrick Peters of Empire Magazine as “a welcome antidote to anodyne Hollywood cartooning,” Kirikou and the Sorceress by Michel Ocelot (1998) is “an enchanting, life-affirming animation of love and redemption, made with no small measure of maturity and care — along with an all too rare respect for the art of storytelling.” ~ Ali Catterall, Film4 “The soundtrack, by well-known African composer Youssou N’Dour, using only traditional instruments, lends to the film’s timeless feel, like an age-old fable come to life.” ~ Steve Tilley, Jam! Movies

Official Cannes Film Festival selection, the 2013 coming of age story La Playa DC by Juan Andres Arango Garcia is only the second film centered on Afro-Latino life to be submitted to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. “This story signals something we need more of: it portrays people who have existed and survived in a country where their stories, like the Afro-Colombian soundtrack, ring loud and distinct.” ~ Nijla Mu’min, Shadow and Act

ADIFF program GREAT STORIES ARE TIMELESS will open on April 26 with a FREE screening of The Pirogue by Moussa Toure. This 2013 official Cannes Film Festival selection is an immigration drama that reflects the always-powerful aspiration of people who look elsewhere for a better life. “Every moment feels human and true, from the naive optimism of the trip’s sendoff to its unsparingly realistic conclusion, which trades reckless hope for quiet honor.” ~ Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News


Friday, April 26

  • 6:30pm – FREE Screening La Pirogue

Saturday, April 27

  • 1 pm – Sia, The Dream of the Python
  • 3 pm – Women of Cairo – Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story
  • 5:30 pm – La Playa DC
  • 7:30 pm – Losing Ground

Sunday, April 28

  • 2 pm – Kirikou and the Sorceress
  • 4 pm – The Tracker
  • 6 pm – Emma Mae

ADIFF program Great Stories Are Timeless will be at Teachers College, Columbia University – 525 W 120th St. room 408 Zankel. Tickets are $11 and $13. Weekend Pass is $40.


The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

The African Diaspora International Film Festival GREAT STORIES ARE TIMELESS is made possible thanks to the support of the following institutions and individuals: ArtMattan Productions; the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, Teachers College, Columbia University; the New York City Council in the Arts; the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation administered by LMCC; and WBAI.

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