WestConn celebrates Black History Month at 13th annual African Film festival

DANBURY, CONN. — A collection of artistic African cinema will be featured from Wednesday, Feb. 4, through Friday Feb. 27, in the Student Center Theater on the Midtown campus of Western Connecticut State University, 181 White Street in Danbury. The four films shown this year — “Mahaleo,” “Woubi Cheri,” “Finar o Destino,” and “Si-Gueriki’ (The Queen Mother) — give insight into the rich African culture and comment on several contemporary and relevant issues from education and women’s rights to African homosexuality.

Presented as a part of Black History Month activities at WestConn, the festival will offer a different film each week of February. Day and evening screenings will be free and open to the public. The coordinator of this annual event, Professor of Anthropology Dr. Robert Whittemore, will lead an open discussion following each screening.

Films scheduled during this year’s festival include:

Wednesday, Feb. 4, at noon and Friday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.: “Mahaleo”
A sumptuous portrait of contemporary Madagascar, this film explores the intimate relationship of “Mahaleo,” a musical group making preparations in 2002 for an anniversary concert, with the history of a new republic. While its members have continued work as doctors, a politician, a sociologist, and the head of an NGO, their music has celebrated and grieved over the prospects for Malagasy peoples and their struggle for just and compassionate lives for 30 years.

Wednesday, Feb. 11, at noon and Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m.: “Woubi Cheri”

A documentary of pioneers demanding their right to invent and live a distinct African homosexuality. “Yossis” are bisexual men, perhaps married, who accept their roles as husbands to “woubi” males, themselves choosing the role of “wives” to their male partners. Transvestites find out that being “out” inaugurates a “family” of a novel sort, fostering a consciousness for doing “battle” against mainstream gendered assumptions.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, at noon and Friday, Feb. 20, p.m.: “Finar o Destino”
Like Brando’s lament in “On the Waterfront,” “I could’ve been a contender,” Mane lives to regret choices he made that ended his chances for the big-time with a Portuguese soccer club. In this sports film with an African twist, bold dreams and limited opportunities not of his own choosing do battle in one man’s life, even as fellow citizens of an island archipelago state, 300 miles off the coast of West Africa, struggle to realize their own dreams.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, at noon and Friday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.: “Si-Gueriki” (The Queen Mother)
Idrissou Mora Kpai sets out to pay film tribute to the nobility of his late father, rediscovering instead the authority and resourcefulness of female kin. Modernity among the Borgu people of northern Benin calls for the reinvention of his mother’s position as queen mother, from a ritual actor to an activist struggling for women’s education, family planning, and AIDS education.

For more information, call (203) 837-8486.

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.



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