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Washington Area Theater Screens African Films

The auditorium was full as the African Film Festival screened its first film -- by young Ethiopian director, Yihdego Abeselom. The movie, "13 Months of Sunshine," shows the lives of first-generation immigrants trying to adjust to a new way of life and the challenges of a new world.

Shot in California, the movie explores cultural and identity conflicts that arise in the pursuit of dreams and goals.

Ubang Sirius is a Nigerian who lives in America. He says the story of "13 Months of Sunshine" resonates with him. "I like the movie. It [reflects a commonality felt by] most African [immigrants to the US].

"The first generation of Africans are trying to find a way to navigate in this society and trying to hold on to some of [their] cultural esthetics, at the same time [they are] trying to develop and grow [their] own individuality."

Fana Maru Aragaw is an Ethiopian who lives in Washington, D.C. She says the movie captures the realities of the Ethiopian Diaspora community. "I thought it portrayed a lot of the realities that Ethiopians face here, especially the ones who have immigration issues," She said.

The audience also enjoyed "Shoot the Messenger," a political satire from Nigeria with a bold comic presentation. Also -- films from Senegal, Congo,Cape Verde, and Uganda.

The event was organized by Trans Africa Forum, Africafe and the AFI Silver Theater. Organizer Mwiza Munthali talked about the line-up:

"We also wanted to offer a selection of classic African films. There are films that have been reproduced by the World Cinema Foundation. Films like Tuki Bouki, Harvest 3000, and films like Tranzes to highlight great film makers like Haile Gerima and Djibril Diop Mambety."

The reception of the African community to the film festival has encouraged organizers to start planning another next year.