Lil’ Buck, Real Swan by Louis Wallecan
Lil’ Buck, Real Swan by Louis Wallecan

The African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) will celebrate its 28th anniversary virtually nationwide for the first time from November 27 to December 13 with 75 narratives and documentaries from 31 countries including 26 World, US and New York premieres.

Opening Night film, St. Louis Blues by Allen Resiner, is the 1958 classic film broadly based on the life of W. C. Handy and featuring Nat ‘King’ Cole, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey and Juano Hernandez. It is presented in the program Juano Hernandez, an Afro-Latino Actor in Hollywood that features five films with this Puerto Rican who became the first Afro-Latino actor to work in Hollywood. His career lasted 50 years. The other films in the program are Intruder in the Dust by Clarence Brown (1949), Something of Value by Richard Brooks (1957), Sergeant Rutledge by John Ford (1960), and the Pawnbroker by Sidney Lumet (1964).

Closing Night film Lil’ Buck, Real Swan by Louis Wallecan, is a comprehensive documentary about Charles “Lil Buck” Riley who learned the smooth art of Memphis jookin and transformed it through his experience in the ballet world to become one of the greatest contemporary dancers in the world. Celebrated for his innovative dance style, his dedication to elevating the art of street dance and his commitment to lifting the life of young people, Lil’ Buck is ADIFF 2020 Closing Night guest and will participate in a virtual Q&A focused on ADIFF’s Art, Resistance and Activism program, a selection of 19 films celebrating art as a force for social change.

Other highlights include Back of the Moon by Oscar nominated South African director Angus Gibson; the NY Premieres of a Son (Bik Eneich) by Tunisian director Mehdi M. Barsaoui and Kuessipan by Myriam Verreault; US Premieres of The Cuba-Mali Connection / Africa Mia by Richard Minier and Edouard Salieris, The Esmeraldas Beach by Patrice Raynal and documentary The Writer From A Country Without Bookstores by Marc Serena.

The NY Premiere of a Son (Bik Eneich), Tunisian director Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s intense family drama starring French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila, winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Actor, Venice Film Festival 2019. This film is about an 11-year-old who needs a liver transplant after being seriously injured during a terrorist attack. At the hospital, a family secret is revealed.

Best South African Film winner at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival Back of the Moon by Oscar nominated South African director Angus Gibson (Mandela) is a period drama set in 1958 Sophiatown that tells the story of a brief encounter between local gangster Badman and Eve, a beautiful singer, on the eve of his home being demolished by Apartheid police.

US Premiere screening of historical documentary Strike for Freedom by Parisa Urquhart, a short film about world-renowned author, orator and activist Frederick Douglass and his major impact on Scotland.

US Premiere screening of The Cuba-Mali Connection / Africa Mia by Richard Minier and Edouard Salieris, a musical documentary about ten young promising musicians from Mali sent to Cuba in 1964 to study music who developed a revolutionary new sound mixing Afro-Cuban rhythms with traditional African music.

US Premiere screening of The Esmeraldas Beach by Patrice Raynal, a documentary that sets out to expose the invisibility of Afro-Ecuadorians and rectify the narrative of the country’s history. Among other stories is that of the 1999 assassination of Prime Minister Jaime Hurtado, the first Black to hold that office.

NY Premiere screening of award-winning social drama Kuessipan by Myriam Verreault tells the story of two young women from the same Quebec Innu community find who they have less in common the older they become. Kuessipan, which had its world premiere in the Discovery category at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, is presented in the context of ADIFF 2020 First Nation program.

US Premiere screening of award-winning documentary The Writer From A Country Without Bookstores by Marc Serena about Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, the most translated writer from Equatorial Guinea who had to flee the country in 2011, after going on a hunger strike against Teodoro Obiang’s dictatorship, the longest lasting in the world. This film is part of the Art, Resistance and Activism program.

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