As most cinephiles of southern California are aware, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) hosts weekly year-round film series in conjunction with Film Independent. The program, Film Independent at LACMA, seeks to provide LA residents with a refreshing alternative to the often limiting, and incessantly pervasive, cinematic content provided by mainstream Hollywood by showcasing varying forms of both contemporary and classic filmmaking “in an artistic and historical context.”
This month, from October 3-28, the program is teaming up with Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television to present CAMÉRAS D’AFRIQUE: THE FILMS OF WEST AFRICA. According to lacma.org, “The series will feature over twenty fiction and non-fiction films curated by Elvis Mitchell, offering audiences a rare look at the wealth of cinematic talent that has emerged from West Africa in the last 50 years.”
For many of the filmmakers, the showcase will provide the first opportunity for their films to be screened in the United States. Acknowledging the cultural and political significance of such an event, programmers and filmmakers alike are making it a point to hold Q&A sessions following the screening of the majority of the films.
To kick off the affair, Bye Bye Africa and Grigris screened on Thursday in commemoration of renowned West African filmmaker, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. Additional must-attend events include the screening of Tey (Today), directed by Alain Gomis and starring Saul Williams (both of whom will be hosting a Q&A after the screening), and winner of the 2013 FESPACO Golden Stallion award, as well as a panel discussion with a number of prominent West African filmmakers concerning cinema’s place in present-day West Africa.
In an interview with Indiewire, Mitchell excitedly declares, “The series brings me much joy… Primarily because there’s nothing more exhilarating to me than to expose people to exciting new filmmakers and films, let alone bring attention to the art of an area that deserves more attention than it’s received in America. The works we’re playing demonstrate the film at its best, like any other art form, is idiosyncratic and universal.”