Africa World film festival (Feb. 26-Mar. 1)

February 23, 2009

For the second year, St. Louis hosts a documentary film festival where the moviemakers turn their lenses to stories from Africa. Many of the 58 films focus on the continent itself; others follow Africans who’ve left their homelands and are scattered to the South Pacific, India, the Caribbean, Brazil or New York.

Most of the documentaries run less than an hour, so several have been grouped together for screenings that last roughly three hours, in most cases, and cost $10. (There are different rates available, depending on how many screenings you want to see. The festival homepage has times and prices.) The venues are the Missouri History Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, the cultural center Belas Artes and Barbados (yes, the country); the organizer is the Center for International Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

One of the very first films, on Thursday (Feb. 26) in the 1 p.m. session, caught my eye because it was filmed in the only African country where I’ve spent any time, Sao Tome & Principe. It’s a remote island nation intensely defined by the sea, and I wasn’t at all surprised to see that the documentary is called “The Lost Wave: An African Surf Story.”  The range of topics is amazingly broad: “Nollywood,” the Nigerian film industry; human rights in war-stricken countries like Rwanda and regions like Darfur;  soccer superstitions; nappy hair; and family relationships.  Teenagers who’re curious about current events and the world outside their neighborhood have a great opportunity in this festival — movies like these don’t come to town often.

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