African filmmakers also received global recognition for their films. Five Fingers for Marseilles, a western-inspired South African thriller that follows a group challenging their town’s brutal apartheid-era police force, was showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival. Similarly, in I am not a Witch, Zambian-Welsh director Rungano Nyoni uses humor to comment on women’s place in society after a young girl is accused of witchcraft. Kati Kati, Kenyan director Mbithi Masya’s debut feature, was also showcased in Kenyan cinemas. Set in the afterlife, this outstanding drama follows a young woman who doesn’t know where she came from, how she died, or how she got to where she was now.

And to set the record straight on Africa and its civilizations, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. released a six-hour series that takes us through 200,000 years of the continent’s history. The superbly produced documentary draws our attention to powerful kingdoms and communities, and how the so-called “dark continent” was the origin of art, writing, and agricultural production. Like many contemporary African directors, Gates said he wanted to bring out history that was “suppressed” and erased through slavery and colonialism.

“Africans were just as curious about what was on the other side of the proverbial other side of the mountain as anyone else was,” he said. “I want these stories, the stories of Africa and its Africans, to be woven into the story of the history of the development of civilization.”

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