West African Cinema Series presents vivid histories of the region

Featuring recent award-winning films from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, and the United States, the West African Cinema Series is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Lina Iris Viktor: A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred.

  • Saturday, September 29, 2 pm: Sembene! (2015)
  • Saturday, October 13, 2 pm: Green White Green (2017)
  • Saturday, December 8, 2 pm: Borders (2017)
  • Saturday, December 15, 2 pm: Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2008)


This film by co-directors co-directed by Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman explores the life and career of Ousmane Sembene, the “father of African film,” who blended styles to create films that challenged existing power structures and promoted new visions of the African continent. In a career spanning forty years, Sembene (1923–2007) tasted the highs and the lows, only to re-invent himself with a powerful blend of documentary, French New Wave, and Realism, creating films that shocked the sociopolitical power structures of the day. Classics like Xala, Black Girl, and Moolaade established his cinematic vision and made him an international emissary who presented the inner lives of his people on film. Told by those who knew him best and with fascinating archival interviews, Sembene! constructs a revealing portrait of a curious, cantankerous, and deeply intellectual artist. (Senegal | Not rated | 2015 | 1 hour, 29 minutes)

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A group of young bohemian artists hang out and search for direction in their lives in the stagnant months leading up to the beginning of their university studies, in this richly textured and frequently funny look at a new generation in Lagos, Nigeria.Uzoma (Ifeanyi Dike) and his friends are on the cusp of adulthood, feeling directionless in those stagnant months before the beginning of their college lives. They spend their days playing video games or competing in impromptu yab-offs, improvised insult matches where the quip that gets the most laughs determines the winner. They’re conscious of the varied cultures of Nigeria’s Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba ethnic groups, but they’re as likely to play those for laughs as for irritation.
(Nigeria | Rated PG | 2016 | 1 hour, 42 minutes)

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Burkinabe director Apolline Traoré poignantly explores the developing friendships among four women from different regions as they travel by bus across a gorgeous West African landscape in an everyday journey that is nonetheless fraught with nerve-wracking peril, especially for women. Adjara, Emma, Sali and Micha, meet on a bus while travelling through five countries in seven days, wherein they endure injustices from sexual assault, harassment, and extortion from men and governments who control the borders that they must cross to make a living trading goods. They risk their lives, but will not stop for the survival of their family.(Burkina Faso | Not rated | 2017 | 1 hour, 30 minutes)

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Pray the Devil Back to Hell chronicles the remarkable story of the Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country.

Thousands of women—ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim—came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.

A story of sacrifice, unity and transcendence, Pray the Devil Back to Hell honors the strength and perseverance of the women of Liberia. Inspiring, uplifting, and most of all motivating, it is a compelling testimony of how grassroots activism can alter the history of nations. (Liberia | Not rated | 2008 | 1 hour, 12 minutes)

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