After a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Afro Film Series will return to the Harper Theater for a second run starting in February, spotlighting often-overlooked African and Caribbean cinema in the United States.
Malachy Okeke came up with the idea for the series after watching “Lionheart” in 2018, the first Nigerian film produced by Netflix.
“It just inspired me,” he said. “You know, it’s something cool, and it’s something that transcends the film industry for people of African descent.”
The series is free and will run for eight weeks – Okeke said he timed the first half to coincide with Black History Month.
The range of film projections by Senegalese artist Ousmane SembèNe’s “Black Girl” (1966), a pioneering work of postcolonial African cinema, to “The Price”, a 2017 film by Nigerian American director Anthony Onah which explores a Wall Street insider trading scandal, and includes other works from Jamaica, Mali and Mauritius.
Okeke said his favorite movie was “Lumumba,” Raoul Peck’s 2000 film about Patrice Lumumba, the prime minister of the independent Democratic Republic of Congo, who was overthrown and assassinated in 1961.
“It was a good opportunity for me to learn more about Congolese culture and what history has led to,” Okeke said. “Also, (the film) was directed by Idris Elba, so it’s also a good draw.”
“I think the stories that are told in these films are not being presented or being portrayed,” he continued. “I think a lot of movies that we normally see have some kind of struggle, some kind of story, some kind of love story, some kind of dramatic effect. And these films show the same things. Of course, different cultures are implemented in the films.
Afro Film Series, every Thursday from February 3 to March 31 at the Harper Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening starts at 7 p.m. Free. www.afrofilmseries.com