Africa Film Trinidad and Tobago back in 'full force'

A scene from the film  Xale, directed by Moussa Sene Absa. -
A scene from the film Xale, directed by Moussa Sene Absa. -

Africa Film TT (AFTT), the only film festival of its kind in the region, will begin on May 24 and end on May 28 in Trinidad, followed by its debut in Tobago from June 1-3.

“We are finally be making our way to Tobago, thanks to sponsorship by Shell. It’s will be a condensed version of the Trinidad festival and we hope to make it an annual event,” festival founder and director Asha Lovelace said.

The festival, now in its ninth year, was held virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of the covid19 pandemic.

“We came back out last year on a smaller scale, and this year we are out in full force, with opening night being an evening of film, fashion and festivities at the Central Bank Auditorium,” and all other screenings taking place at the at Big Black Box in Woodbrook.

"Opening night in Tobago will take place at Shaw Park Cultural Centre on June 1, and screenings and workshops at the Scarborough library."

The festival in both in Trinidad and Tobago will open with the screening of much-touted Senegalese film Xalé, by director Moussa Sène Absa. The film was selected as Senegal's first Oscar submission in the Best International Feature category and tells the story of 15-year-old schoolgirl Awa who is happily living her teenage years with her twin brother Adama who dreams of Europe. When their grandmother dies, her aunt Fatou and her uncle Atoumane promise to marry in order to preserve the family union. But Fatou does not love Atoumane and the latter, tired of waiting to consummate his marriage, commits an act from which there is no going back.

AFTT founder and director Asha Lovelace, left, with festival co-ordinator Melanie Jones-Powell. -

"This film has been making waves in festivals," Lovelace said.

The festival will close with the screening of Walter Rodney: What they don't want you to know, an original 72-minute documentary featuring a murder, Cold War conspiracies, Black Power, the end of Empire, and how that connects to the policing, surveillance practices and social movements of today. Rodney was a Guyanese historian, political activist and academic who was assassinated in Guyana, in 1980.

"I decided to close with this film because I always look to make a link with Caribbean content to promote and boost our own regional input."

She said the films curated for the festival are among the most highly-rated, award-winning productions from the continent and the diaspora, with a strong focus on TT and Caribbean films, and the entire programme will feature a wide range of genres and will include workshops, presentations, and events featuring visiting filmmakers.

For its first installation of a workshop, the Bridge Session, Lovelace said AFTT continues its partnership with FilmTT.

“This connection with Africa and the diaspora creates a valuable opportunity for collaboration and exchange. It can help facilitate co-productions as well as a huge distribution channel for our local filmmakers.”

The three-part workshop will be facilitated by UK-based talent agent and seasoned media, entertainment, sports and lifestyle entrepreneur and producer Fela Oke, a creative industry executive, deal-maker and facilitator of culture.

Oke has served as a consultant at MTV Africa, vice-president of media, events, content and business development at Spinlet, Africa’s first music streaming platform. He was also the commercial director at Trace TV Africa and managing director at Brights Africa – a premier rights management agency for Warner Bros’ content and consumer products.

Lovelace said, “This has led to Oke’s advice being sought by some of the top talent, brands and organisations across the continent, in various capacities as a talent manager, brand builder, value creator and producer. ”

The AFTT festival will close with the screening of Walter Rodney: What they don't want you to know. -

The sessions will be held on May 25 and 26 at the Academy of the Performing Arts, UTT, and on May 27 at the Big Black Box.

They will focus on investments, connecting and inspiring creative-industry custodians in the diaspora and the continent to enable opportunities, capacity-building, partnerships, cultural exchanges and conversations for development, with an underlying celebratory feel.

A workshop on Demystifying Representation will explore the world of talent representation, the fundamentals of film finance and ways bridges may be built to connect the creative industries of Africa to those of the Caribbean and the rest of the African diaspora.

Another session, Agency Lab, will focus on technical facets of film such as self-taping fundamentals, audition preparation and working through the text. Session three, Industry One-on-One, will delve into best practices in exploring co-production opportunities and an extended financing fundamentals presentation.

Lovelace said, “This focus on actors will help strengthen the pool of talent that we have and will help prepare and expose them to work in productions both local and overseas.

“We look forward to sharing with and hearing from creative expressionists, filmmakers, producers, directors, actors, industry influencers and tastemakers.”

Looking back at the festival, she said, "AFTT has been consistent in its efforts to contribute to the development of our society through educational and industry programmes. We remain steadfast in our mission of rediscovery and reconnection with the African continent through the most modern means of storytelling – cinema.”

In collaboration with the Black Consciousness Festival, AFTT will also host a conversation around the theme of roots, routes, and belonging.

Other festival features are its art exhibition, the AFTT Artisan Market, AFTT Junior, the Afrovive art exhibition in Tobago, community outreach events and its annual Afrobeats party – Fever.

Festival co-ordinator Melanie Jones-Powell said this is the third time the festival will include an exhibition. Curated by Shinelle Ambris, it will feature the work of young and emerging artists from the Caribbean, mainly TT. The exhibit opens in Trinidad on World Africa Day, May 25, at the Big Black Box, and on June 1 in Tobago, at the Scarborough Public Library.

For more information about the festival and event schedule visit the website: or e-mail


"Africa Film Trinidad and Tobago back in ‘full force’"

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