The 30th edition of the New York African Film Festival runs May 10 to 16 at Film at Lincoln Center, with a showcase that spans the historic past and the vital present of cinema from Africa. Last weekend, the festival hosted a special conversation in tribute to the great filmmaker Safi Faye, who passed away in February. Faye is best known as the first woman from Sub-Saharan Africa to ever direct a commercial feature film—1976’s Kaddu Beykat—but the Senegalese pioneer’s accomplishments and groundbreaking influence extend far beyond that landmark. Introduced to the world of cinema via an acting role in Jean Rouch’s Petit à petit (1971), Faye went on to create a monumental body of work that includes award-winning shorts and features, including Selbe: One Among Many (1983), and Mossane, which won the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997. Through both documentary and fiction modes, Faye sought to capture the agency, subjectivity, and beauty of African women, and bring to vivid life the everyday realities of rural Senegal. 

To explore Faye’s legacy and lasting influence on African women’s cinema today, NYAFF brought together the filmmakers Nuotama Bodomo, Jessica Beshir, Akosua Adoma Owusu, and Johanna Makabi for a roundtable led by the scholar and critic Yasmina Price. Film Comment is thrilled to share the conversation on today’s episode in collaboration with the festival. Find out more about the NYAFF30 lineup here.

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