Young filmmakers inspire African film fest

Weekend festival celebrates fifth year in Mountain View

For the fifth year, the Community School of Music and Arts will play host to the Silicon Valley African Film Festival from Friday, Oct. 17 to Sunday, Oct. 19. SVAFF is the only film festival in California which presents films exclusively produced by African filmmakers.

Over the duration of the weekend festival, 25 films will be presented, there will be an "African Women in Technology" forum, an art exhibition, a youth forum, and several performances.

When the event was founded five years ago, one of the goals was to provide a greater understanding of African culture and heritage, according to event director Chike C. Nwoffiah, who came to the United States from Nigeria in 1989.

Nwoffiah said the film festival uses performing arts as a window into the real Africa.

"The entire festival weekend has been designed to offer unique social and artistic visions from around the African continent that will engage our audience in thought-provoking dialogue," he said.

SVAFF is presented by Oriki Theatre and some of this year's featured films include "Gold is Here" from Ghana, "A Culture of Silence" from Sierra Leone, "Horizon Beautiful" from Ethiopia, "Soko Sonka" from Kenya, and "B'ella" from Malawi.

Nwoffiah said young filmmakers provided the inspiration behind the founding of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival.

"I began to find amazing work filmed by really young people. I said to myself. 'Wow ... If we could create a platform for the filmmakers, then we are getting the story from the mouth of the storyteller to the public,'" Nwoffiah said.

Every year, the event attracts a diverse audience of international visitors, Silicon Valley technology executives, cinema buffs, academics, government officials and a variety of community supporters, he said.

There will be several additions to the film festival this year, including a visual arts exhibition by 21 year-old Nigerian-Canadian artist Kosi Nnebe on themes of beauty and identity.

"For me, art has always been a tool of self-discovery and has truly forced me to re-imagine the manner in which I perceive myself and the world around me," Nnebe said.

This will be the first year that the Stanford a cappella group Talisman will be performing. There will also be a red carpet reception and opening ceremony on Fri., Oct. 17 and closing awards ceremony on Sun., Oct. 19.

"We will have a couple of surprises to celebrate the fifth anniversary that we will reveal," said Nwoffiah.

A one-day pass to the festival is $25, and a two-day pass costs $35, with $5 discounts for students and seniors. Opening night ceremonies are free with a pass, or $15 to attend without a pass. For the schedule and more information about the Silicon Valley African Film Festival at CSMA, located at 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View, go to svaff.org.

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