A summer film festival is bringing authentic African stories to Dallas in the hopes to change the narrative of African culture in the Western world.
With submissions from local and international independent filmmakers, The African Film Festival, which runs June 30-July 3, is set to deliver 40 original projects.
The films are set in locations ranging from Dallas to Nigeria and are told from African perspectives. The genres include family, documentaries, dramas, and comedies.
Screenings will be held at the Texas Theatre for the first night and move over to the African American Museum in Dallas for the remainder of the festival.
Founder Kelechi Eke, brought the event to life in 2016 as a response to a lack of African arts available in America.
His Dallas-based nonprofit, founded to create the festival, hopes to provide filmmakers with the opportunity to contend with well-funded producers and directors.
Eke said Hollywood-made films about the continent are often diluted with drugs and violence. He has made it his mission with TAFF to highlight the positive and meaningful tales of Africana and American life.
“[I] wanted to create this presence in Dallas whereby we are sharing our culture and stories without any restriction,” Eke told Dallas Innovates.
Oak Cliff’s Caring for the World Films’ Cornerstone, is among many African-centric films to be screened at this year’s festival.
The filmmaking nonprofit covers humanitarian stories from across the globe and has been active for more than 10 years.
“[I] wanted to create this presence in Dallas whereby we are sharing our culture and stories without any restriction.”
“What we do is we look for organizations or people and nonprofits that are doing work that is making a tangible difference, Founder Debi Lang said. “Not just people that are going off and doing good work, but they have to show benchmarks and proof in making a difference.”
Lang, who is also the director and producer of Caring for the World Films, traveled to Uganda with a team that included several Dallas locals to film Cornerstone.
The documentary, which makes its Dallas debut July 1, tells the story of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, which helps orphans who have been affected by HIV/AIDS in rural Uganda. The project originates from an immigrant Columbia University student who traveled home to Uganda to care for his dying brother and ended up founding a school for children who were made orphans by the disease.
“The film is completely from their perspective and it’s completely in their words,” Lang said of Cornerstone.
Her nonprofit works to capture acts of humanitarianism by encouraging people to tell stories from their own perspective.
“Part of our deal is we earn the trust of the local people and the population first so that we can get the real story,” Lang said.
TAFF will also feature Gary Martin’s Singleton Boulevard, another film with Dallas ties. Screening July 1, the story takes place in 1963 at a small West Dallas bar.
Since TAFF’s debut in 2016, the festival has gained more attention and recognition leading Eke to anticipate a larger audience turnout this year.
“We want to reach Americans, Latinos, [and] non-Africans to share in our stories,” Eke said.