Bama Theatre to host African film fest

Bama Theatre to host African film fest
Photo courtesy of Bill Foster

By Olivia Stover | Contributing Writer 

Viewers will go on a journey through the African continent and the larger African diaspora during the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival. Four feature films will tell a story about African culture in Africa and around the world. 

The Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival will take place this Saturday, Feb. 3 at the Bama Theatre as part of the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival. The films will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 11 p.m. The children and youth program of dance and film will begin at 2 p.m. and show the animated film “Liyana” from 3 to 4 p.m. General admission tickets are $15 and student tickets are $8. 

“In the past five years we have picked films solely from Africa, but this year we have been looking more broadly around and wanted to expand the genre to anywhere that there is a black diaspora,” said Dr. Thad Ulzen, co-founder of the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival.

This is the sixth year for the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival, which has been renamed from the 6th Annual Evening of African Films. The name change has occurred because the festival now includes films from the larger African diaspora. 

Two Tuscaloosa filmmakers will help represent this culture at the festival. The first short film will be the winner of the Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy’s Film & Digital Media Program’s Film Competition.  

“Moving On” is the second short film by local filmmaker, Santo Moss.  

“We picked this short because it seemed to be interesting as an educational piece,” said Bill Foster, co-founder of the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival. “We thought it would be interesting to show it because Moss addresses some of the issues surrounding African American studies in universities.”

The third short film is “90 Days.” This film features actors Teyonah Parris and Nic Few in a story about love and what challenges a couple may face after 90 days of dating.

The feature film in this year’s festival is “The African Who Wanted to Fly” by Samantha Biffot. For viewers who may not be interested in the romance of “90 Days,” this film is about a young boy who learns Kung Fu at the Shaolin temple in 1985. 

These films were chosen from among the traveling series created by the New York Film Festival each year. When looking at the traveling series, the films are ranked by six people who help run the Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival. The top three films are then chosen for the festival. 

“Bill and I were both interested in black art and we saw that there wasn’t any representation of African films in Tuscaloosa,” Ulzen said. “Now what has happened over the years is it's helped people develop a different view of Africa because it’s Africans telling you about Africa and not an outsider looking in.”

The Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival is presented by the Edward A. Ulzen Memorial Foundation and Afram South Inc. These two non-profit organizations support education and public health initiatives in Ghana, West Africa and West Alabama. Tuscaloosa is also a sister city of Sunyani-Techiman in Ghana. 

“The festival allows people to look through a window into Africa that is created by Africans,” said Ulzen. 

Tickets for the festival are available the day of the festival at the Bama Theatre box office, or at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3223711. 

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