May 8, 2017

TAFF premieres a brand new trophy inspired by the World Cup

The brand new trophy was inspired by TAFF Executive Director's love for sports.
The African Film Festival is at its second inception this year. There will be at least 25 countries participating and 40 forty films according to the festival’s executive director, Mr. Kelechi Eke. Planning a film festival in not without it’s unique challenges, even more so, planning a festival that uniquely caters to films made by African independent filmmakers or filmmakers of the African decent. Be it as it may, Mr. Eke is beating the odds. Response has been outstanding across the continent of Africa as well as the USA, Europe and Australia. The film festival is now attracting the likes of Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett who Executive produced and narrated a film to be screened during the closing night on July 3, 2017 at Dallas City Performance Hall (DCPH). Oscar caliber films have also been selected to be screened during the festival. African Film Legend, Richard Mofe Damijo is slated to host this years festival awards gala.

The highlight of this year’s festival is the brand new trophy that filmmakers will covet, inspired by Mr. Eke’s love for soccer. The golden masterpiece is born out of the need to inspire African independent filmmakers to continue pursue cinematic excellence. To demonstrate just how they are doing that, award categories include “Best Poster” and “Best Trailer” to encourage putting more thought to the overall finished work. TAFF has opened a world stage for quality African films and now, the world is watching. In a recent interview, Mr. Eke shed some light on the making of the new trophy and what’s in store for this year’s festival.
Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Winner Angela Bassett's film Remand will screen on the closing night on July 3, 2017 at DCPH, Dallas Texas.

The African Film Festival is gaining momentum this year, how do you feel about that?
Great. Feels good. The excitement, the anticipation by filmmakers and film lovers is quite encouraging. All the work that we put in last year is paying off going into the second year—the quality of films, the caliber of filmmakers that we’re able to attract this year, makes it even more exciting.

This year, you have a brand new trophy, what’s the inspiration behind it?
Well, the direction we’re going with TAFF is to make it one of the biggest, (pure) African film festivals in the United States and in that effort, what comes to mind as the biggest and the best, as a sports aficionado is the World Cup or the Super Bowl. I dubbed the trophy as the World Cup of African films. As a soccer player, what really inspired that trophy is looking at the World Cup itself, I spent quite some time, lots of nights thinking of how to bring out Africa and film at the same time in that trophy, you know—like the World Cup. I was able to do that with a film strip at the base of the cup, then springing out the map of Africa. It was quite a unique concept. Finally, when the vision came to me, I drew it out back and forth with the manufacturers to make sure they got my design exactly as I envisioned it. After 2 months of trial and error, they got it right and once they got it I said “Yes, this is it. This is what I designed, this is what I was looking for” and you know, something to encourage filmmakers to work hard and anticipate lifting one of those trophies. That’s really the inspiration. 

Did you experience any challenges in the making of this year’s trophy?
One of the challenges is actually accepting the weight of the trophy, as the winners will find out. It’s weight is just like a dumbbell, you know, but Africans are strong and picking up a 5kg dumbbell wouldn’t be a big deal to them and of course when they’re holding on to it, they feel like they’re holding something. But, 5kg is roughly 10 pounds. It was kind of a challenge on whether to reduce the size or leave it as is. Its about 14 inches tall, so a little over a foot, you know, so it’s something that you wouldn’t put in your back pocket and move on. Once [filmmakers] fly into Dallas and take that trophy across the airport, everybody that sees them will stop and say “hey where did you get that trophy?” That was part of the motivation and will be, for the filmmakers to feel the same way and carry that good-sized trophy home. The challenge was the size decision and I don’t think I want to make it any smaller than it is.

Amazing story! So, what has been the response to this new trophy?
Overwhelmingly great, and I welcome constructive criticism but I’ve had none. A poll out of a thousand people and one hundred percent responded with two thumbs up. All the feedback has been positive, everybody is excited to see it. It was pretty much the same design as last year, but the difference was trying to bring out the cultural African roots, we actually had a sculptor carve each of those trophies by hand so those were pretty unique. This time around, in manufacturing this design, people actually said that we’ve upped our game, that’s the best film trophy that they’ve ever seen and that’s actually what I want out of it. So, it’s not about the trophy, it’s just one of the motivating factors for filmmakers to want to win one and when I heard one of the seasoned filmmakers actually make that comment that “hey, this trophy will motivate me to want to make a good film to get one” I said “yes, that’s exactly the purpose of this trophy.”


Very interesting. We can’t all wait to see who takes this trophy home this year. So tell me, what are the plans for this year’s festival, do you have any special guests or events?
Yes, we have a special guest, Richard Mofe Damijo will be hosting the show and we have filmmakers such as Lancelot Imasuen coming, and quite a few filmmakers from across the globe: Ghana. Gambia, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria etc. There are American filmmakers as well that are making African films that will be in the house. We have a couple of them here in Dallas, the makers of Cornerstone, for example with be here. The makers of Massai: 10th Tribe of Israel, a Kenyan story plan to be here. They are all Americans telling African stories, so we call them African filmmakers (laughs), so they’ll be here. There’s so much diversity, we have films from the Cape coast, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt. We have films from Senegal all the way to the horn of Africa—Tanzania. So, it cuts across the continent and that’s exactly our mission—to bring these films together and unite people and bridge cultures. It’s exciting, it’s hard to pinpoint any one of the filmmakers without mentioning the others because all of them are equally important to the organization. So we look forward to having a great time with those that finally get to make it.  

Any special events?
For the first time in film festivals history (I can boldly claim), instead of a workshop this year, we will actually do practical workshop to shoot a film. So, we’re looking forward to that from June 24th, before the festival opens to the general public on June 30th, we will be shooting a short film called “4” and “4” is only four minutes, and it dubs the question “what will you do if the world where to end in four minutes?” So, we’ll be carrying out an audition for that starting May 20th, that’s exactly 2 weeks from today and then on June 24th, we will shoot the short film leading to the festival. The short film covers our networking, seminars, workshop where seasoned filmmakers will be there early to actually guide budding filmmakers to accomplish this task and if we’re able to do that, that would be quite a feat. Now we’re taking it from just film screenings to practical filmmaking, so it’s a revolutionary effort in our second year, a great vision and we’re looking forward to pulling it off.

This is all amazing! And, I have say that now I can’t wait for this festival, we’re all anticipating it at this point. So how can one purchase tickets to this year’s festival?
The tickets are available at Ticket DFW. It is also available on our website. Another exciting thing coming up on the closing night is the showing of Remand, a short film executive produced and narrated by Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Angela Bassett. We’re hoping she can join us on the closing night to kind of see people’s excitement or reaction on the film the she was part of. That’s how far we’ve gone, when we’re getting the attention of the likes of Angela Bassett whom we all respect in the film world, it says a lot about the direction of where The African Film Festival is going. We’re quite excited.

And we are excited for you! We’re proud of what you’ve accomplished and we say keep it up! We look forward to what unfolds int he near future.
Thank you.


The African Film Festival is slated for June 30-July 3 2017. Don’t miss it. Get your tickets now.

April 27, 2017

RMD is hosting TAFF 2017!

Legendary actor Richard Mofe Damijo will host The African Film Festival in its second year.

The legendary actor is slated to grace the stage on the closing night on July 3, 2017 at the Dallas City Performance Hall (DCPH) in a black-tie/traditional event that will be marked by glitz and glamor and guaranteed to bring out the best in the film industry. The best in the African independent film industry will be awarded with a golden trophy reminiscent of a great Egyptian fortress. "The inspiration for this year's trophy is my love for soccer." TAFF Executive Director gushes excitedly, "I can't believe how wonderful it turned out." We share your love too Mr. E.D and we can't wait to see who takes home this golden trophy this year. For this year's selected films, click here

About Richard Mofe Damijo

Richard Mofe Damijo is from Warri, Delta State. He always had a penchant for acting right from childhood belonging to his school's drama club and majoring in Theatre Arts in the University of Benin. He would star in many popular films, theatre and TV shows. He gained major popularity in the highly acclaimed soap opera RipplesOut of BoundsScores to Settle, Private Sin, are just a few notable films under a long resume that spans over twenty years. Some of his latest work are The Wedding Party and 30 Days in Atlanta.

He dabbled into politics becoming the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State, Nigeria.

Get your tickets now. Go here.

December 5, 2016

An African bridal event

Houston's African wedding show & Exhibition

Date: November 4 2016
Venue: Ayva Center Houston Texas
Special performance by Cameroonian artist Chilli, Burundi Cultural dance troupe, TSU students and more. Showcase included traditional as well as formal bridal dressings by local African designers. Comedian MCPC was emcee for the event.

For event photos and video now on Facebook and YouTube.

November 19, 2016

The Trump story: The tale of two Americans

America is a die-hard hippie. America is also a conservative right-wing idealist.

America is at odds with itself since the Trump train crashed on its parade.

Like many of you this year, I paid close attention to this election cycle, well, sort of. If you were like me, you probably started paying very keen attention after the primaries, i.e for the entertainment value of Donald Trump. I mean, seriously, like many out there, this guy wasn't for real, right?

I have had no real interest in politics, until now. I've never been more intrigued by the USA's last two candidates, not even when the first black man ran for office in 2008 and 2012. This last election cycle was like a train wreck and you knew it but it was hard to look away. Where do I begin? The inflammatory rhetoric, the sometimes delusional surrogates on both sides, the scandals, the list goes on.


How did we get here? I'm still reeling from the reality of it all. How did "The Donald" do it? What does it all mean now to have a new President Trump (mind you, those words do not exactly roll easily off my lips). One thing is sure, America deeply underestimated him. While America joked, laughed and mocked him, America remained glued to his antics, couldn't get enough of him. You've gotta give  the guy some credit. While America thought they had him all figured out, America was merely a game piece. Mainstream media became interesting once again. What better reality show was on compared to "The Donald" show? It is estimated that he racked up billions in free advertising, while the politicians spent a comparable amount. There's something about him that we admired and wanted more. America was listening and paying close attention. America put him in the White House.

What did America see that America didn't?

In Trump, America saw a non-politician, a vehicle of radical change. A person not left wing or right wing, not-easily influenced, didn't read off a script. To America Trump was real, tangible, so when he said we are going to build a wall and protect our borders, that's exactly what he was going to do. When he said we are going to bring our jobs back, that's exactly what he was going to do. When he said "Let's make America great again!" he'd do it, only there's a problem. He echoed the voices of the majority of American people. He gave a voice to factions of America that have been long suppressed. They came out of the woodwork in droves and come-what-may, they stuck by him. Even I thought there was no way his supporters could be in the majority—so called "deplorables." I thought, when he looses they could just form a cumbaya village somewhere in remote America where they can be allowed to roam free. It turns out America wanted a person of Trump to help expel long suppressed convictions of anti-semitism, bigotry and intolerance. It also turns out America is tired of the establishment and wants change, they no longer believed it, it reflects in the diversity of people that voted for him.

In Trump, America was uncomfortable. Oh no! He didn't! "There was no way this man will have access to the keys to America's nuclear weapons—this unhinged individual with very thin skin and access to 140 characters that goes nuclear every time that he drops them."  "There was no way this guy is getting to the White house—the non-tax paying, pussy grabbing intolerant racist bigot whose namesake university is a sham, what example are we setting for our kids?!!!" (the kids! the kids!! Poor kids.) Let's not forget the women! ooh shucks! Trump could not exactly walk back his "locker room" statements even if it occurred 11 years ago. His opponent clearly won the election as it reflected in the polls and the popular vote.

Trump has shaken our belief systems and what it means to be American. To Trump. America was the untrained dog that has finally learned to heel. America is the one walking back on its standards, for those whose reputation could not be tainted by Trump are now all rallied behind him. For those with daughters, wives, mothers, sisters who have some explaining to do, please don't. It's okay to admit that you're now living in the 21st century and not in the era of our founding fathers.

Trump is now the 45th president of the United States (did that sink in yet?)


Trump's victory is nothing short of a Cinderella story. If Donald J. Trump can be president then:

Truly anything is possible

You've got to fake it until you make it

Have a ridiculous, unwavering belief in yourself

That's all it takes folks.
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