Fiche Structure
African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF)
Statut : Association, ASBL
Adresse : Mahen BONETTI
154 West 18th Street
Suite 2A NY 10011 NEW YORK
Pays concerné : États-Unis
Téléphone(s) : +1. 212. 352. 1720
Fax : +1. 212. 807. 9752


African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) is a New York non-profit 501(c)(3) arts organization. The organization, established in 1990, began as an ad hoc committee of African and American artists and scholars.

In the 1950s and 60s, African filmmakers began to create images of post-colonial Africa with nuanced understanding of Africa’s cultural diversity. Over the last half century, having sliced through stereotypes with exacting social critique, African cinema has become a unique blend of aesthetic experimentation, history and politics.

As African nations have constructed modern identities from traditional and colonial experiences, the role of visual culture in communicating these new transitional identities has immediacy for audiences around the world. The impetus for themes such as colonialism, post-independence corruption and chronicles of « tribal » customs often erupts from the ironies of contemporary life. But African filmmakers also draw from springs of myth, fantasy, humor and magic to nourish a narrative sensibility in which tradition and modernity encounter each other. The oral traditions, unique pacing and non-linear style of African story-telling have in fact become classifying characteristics of African filmmaking.

This kind of art is a powerful intellectual and emotional force for social change. As the twenty-first century begins, we are witnessing a great revolution in mass communications capabilities that drastically reduces the distances between cultures. Images, sounds and ideas are exchanged almost instantaneously, creating dynamic hybrid cultures. As Western consumer culture has influenced global society, so it has been invigorated by the differing sensibilities, traditions and styles of other cultures. Likewise, African film has evolved from its early exploration of colonialism into a new diasporic and international consciousness.

For almost twenty years, AFF has bridged the divide between post-colonial Africa and the American public through the medium of film. AFF’s unique place in the international arts community is distinguished not only by leadership in festival management but a comprehensive approach to the advocacy of African film and culture. We are particularly mindful of the many ways in which cinema is as much a medium of cultural exchange as an educational gate-way. << | >>


In 1990 AFF’s founders established goals that continue to enrich our mission and organizational development:

To use African cinema to promote and increase knowledge and understanding of African arts, literature and culture;

To develop a non-African audience for African films;

To expand the opportunities for the distribution of African films in the United States and abroad.


The funding, development and production of AFF programs are administrated from our New York offices.

New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) was established in 1993 with our festival co-organizer, the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This flagship program of screenings and panel discussions was presented bi-annually until 1998 and is now an annual spring event. Screenings feature critically acclaimed releases of feature- and short-format works by African directors of the global diaspora and their counterparts. The New York African Film Festival is presented annually at the Walter Reade Theater by African Film Festival, Inc. and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Subsequent screenings are held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and additional venues throughout New York City.

The Traveling Film Series is intended to make the unique experience of watching African cinema available throughout the country, and increasingly, around the world. Per request, AFF ships a comprehensive film program to cultural institutions, museums and universities in the US and abroad. This collection of feature films and shorts is augmented by promotional and AFF-designed educational material.

The Young Adult Education Program has been available since 1994 to New York City public high school educators. Selected films provide a fun and creative way to learn about African culture. Students are invited to matinée screenings followed by discussions with filmmakers and professionals in the field.

The Outreach programs are a public service initiative that nurtures grassroots appreciation of African cinema. Partnership with existing community-based cultural institutions makes screenings and cultural events in public venues and educational facilities accessible and affordable, if not free, for a broad base of viewers.

The panel discussion and post-screening events where filmmakers meet their audience as well as other media professionals foster interest in African culture and encourage the development of new channels of distribution for African film throughout the US and abroad.

While AFF functions primarily as a film and cultural events programmer, we continue to develop as an international resource center.

AFF Video/Film Archive holds over 500 African film titles on various stock, including 35mm, and it is growing. In addition, AFF continues to acquire and index documentation of African filmmakers and the history of the motion picture industry in Africa for research purposes. Only a portion of this valuable material is currently available through our Web site.

International Perspective

Since 1993, AFF has sent representatives to the Festival Pan-Africain de Cinéma Ouagadougou (FESPACO) held in Burkina Faso. FESPACO, the largest African film festival in the world, is a crossroads for filmmakers, producers and distributors. The selection and programming decisions for the NYAFF and the Traveling Film Series are made largely on the basis of scouting this biennial event. In 1997 AFF was honored with an invitation from FESPACO to have our executive director, Mahen Bonetti, serve on the jury of the feature film division. Ms. Bonetti was also appointed to the Technical Committee of the Board of Directors of FESPACO.

In the mid 1990s the Bob Marley Foundation hosted the African Film Festival at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica.

In 1996, AFF curated « Lights on Africa: A Program of African Film, » for the Solomon R. Guggenheim exhibition Africa: Art of a Contintent.

In 1997, AFF curated the African and African Diaspora Film Series for the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale.

From 1999 to 2001, we were proud to co-curate a Pan-African film festival with the Celebration of African Heritage in Bahia, Brazil.

As our reputation for quality programming grows, so does the community of individuals and organizations committed to cultural understanding. In 2007 AFF met with partners in Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Sudan, Brazil, St. Kitts and Nevins, as well as organizers from North Africa and the Middle East.

In 2006 and 2007, AFF curated the inaugural and 2nd annual Sydney African Film Festival in Sydney, Australia.

In 2007, we co-curated African CineFest Barbados, a component of the Bicentennial Global Dialogue, a Pan-African symposium hosted in Barbados.


Mahen Bonetti,
Executive Director

Rico Speight
Muriel Placet-Kouassi
Aba Taylor
Maguette Ndiaye

board of directors
Tracy « Binta » Austin
Francis Baffour
Patricia Blanchet
Jay Bernstein
Mahen Bonetti
Djibril Diallo
Manthia Diawara
Carol Davis Fiske
Pam Frank
BethAnn Hardison
Don McMicheal
Ira Moseley
Hillary Ney
Mamadou Niang
Michael Paul
Eric Robertson

advisory board
Grace Blake
David Byrne
Jonathan Demme
William Greaves
Gordon Parks
Nana Rawlings
Flora M’bugu-Schelling
Annabelle Thomas