Film festival explores ‘the real Wakanda’ through contemporary African cinema | St. Louis Public Radio

Film festival explores ‘the real Wakanda’ through contemporary African cinema

Mar 22, 2018

This weekend’s African Film Festival at Washington University comes on the heels of the wildly successful blockbuster “Black Panther” and is billed as a showcase of “the real Wakanda.”

Seven films comprise the 2018 iteration of the annual festival, which features filmmakers and stories depicting the rich diversity of the African continent.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the films with the festival’s founder, Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, an assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences and senior lecturer in African and African-American Studies.

Also joining the conversation was French filmmaker and activist Rokhaya Diallo, who will be on hand Sunday evening for the festival’s screening of her documentary “From Paris to Ferguson.”

Both women touched on the connections they see between recent depictions of Africa and blackness in the Marvel universe and in reality – as well as common misconceptions about the African continent.

French filmmaker and activist Rokhaya Diallo discussed her documentary “From Paris to Ferguson,” one of seven films in the spotlight this weekend.
Credit Photo courtesy of Washington University

Toliver-Diallo responded to a question about whether contemporary images of Africa can help challenge sentiments like those conveyed in President Donald Trump’s recent derogatory remarks about certain countries.

“[The films are] definitely designed to show African realities, and so that is why we really do pay attention to try to have diverse countries represented, diverse landscapes represented, and then also show the humanity and relationships, because that’s something that’s universal,” she said. “We hope that through the films we’re able to show that, and that definitely does combat [Trump’s] comment.”

Diallo, who is traveling from her home in Paris to the festival, said that participating in the events this weekend is particularly meaningful for her as it includes the first screening of “From Paris to Ferguson” in the Gateway region. Several of the Ferguson residents featured in her documentary will be in attendance on Sunday.

Diallo added that she learned a lot from watching #BlackLivesMatter organizers transform into strong activists in the wake of Michael Brown’s death and sees a need for similar organizing toward a “minority lives matter” movement in France.

“We tend in France to focus [on] what happens in the U.S., on the black communities in the U.S. … We need to produce our own images and we need to raise our own voices regarding our own concerns and issues,” Diallo said.

Related Event:

What: 13th Annual African Film Festival
When: March 23-25, 2018
Where: Washington University, 1 Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.