Cinematheque Internationale of Philadelphia and the African American Museum in Philadelphia will launch a new film series, “Territories: Africa” on July 19, running through Dec. 20. Screenings will be held at the museum, 701 Arch St., the third Thursday of every month. Films will showcase themes of international social, political and economic issues while highlighting modern and historical representations of African people.
“We tend not to have access to foreign films,” said Ivan Henderson, curator of education at the museum. “And different countries in Africa can be foreign to African Americans. We wanted to make sure we hit a lot of different cultural groups, a lot of countries, and try not to overlap, to give ourselves a broader experience.”
The selected films are from Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the United States.
“It’s a great reflection of our combined mission: bring films, some of which have never been screened in Philadelphia, to a larger audience and open a discussion on the politics and issues at play, as well as the evolving cinematic values in African filmmaking and how they compare to the aesthetics that an American audience is accustomed to,” said Neal Dhand, programmer of Cinematheque Internationale, in a press release.
Kicking off the series is Ousmane Sembene’s “Black Girl” (1966). This film follows the story of a Senegalese woman in search of a better life. She travels abroad to find employment with a French family, only to find that her duties are reduced to those of a maid. During her experience, she is faced with the constant awareness of race, abuse by her employers and emotional turmoil.
In August, Moustapha Diop’s “The Doctor from Gafire” (1986) will screen. September brings Jean-Marie Teno’s 1993 political documentary “Africa, I Will Fleece You!”
Djibril Diop Mambety’s “Hyenas” (1992) and Issa Traore de Brahima’s “The World is a Ballet” (2006) will show in October and November, respectively.
The series ends with the only American film, “Night Catches Us,” starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington. The setting is 1976 and Marcus, played by Mackie, returns to his race-torn neighborhood in Philadelphia, where he is reminded of an emotional past growing up during the Black Panther movement.
Director Tanya Hamilton will be in attendance for a question-and-answer session following the film. Henderson said some screenings will incorporate talks with the directors via Skype.
“Any filmmakers that we ever worked with are always honored and excited for us to showcase their films, not just because their films are being seen, but because they respond well to the mission that we have,” said Amber Lauletta, founder of Cinematheque. “Most all of our film screenings [have] discussion. We really dove into the film, which I think to filmmakers is something that is a rare treat.”