Rev. Desmond Tutu (90917)

The Harlem International Film Festival (HI) kicks off Wednesday, with an eclectic and timely mix of movies, including a documentary about Desmond Tutu, several Harlem-based movies and panel discussions with top indy-filmmakers. Films will be screened from September 10-14 at venues all over Harlem, including The Maysles Documentary Center, City College and Columbia University.

For the past eight years, HI has presented nearly 500 films from all over the world and hosted well-known dignitaries from actress Susan Sarandon to Grand Master Flash. Emerging writers and filmmakers also compete for awards. The organizers say they created the event “to celebrate the art of cinema in the home of the Harlem Renaissance while integrating the best that Harlem has to offer – great restaurants, unique boutiques, world-class music venues, prestigious universities and cultural institutions, and a long history of excellence in the arts.”

Opening night on Wednesday begins with the U.S. premiere of Children of the Light which focuses on Rev. Tutu, the 82-year-old moral icon of South Africa. Narrated by his daughter, the film by Dawn Gifford Engle, and Ivan Suvanjieff, is the first to chronicle Tutu’s life and also shines the light on young activists who have been inspired by his work. The 90-minute doc screens at Columbia University’s Miller Theater on 116th.

Click here to watch the trailer.

For a complete line up of events, tickets and prices ($11 per event or $25 for all-day pass), visit the Harlem festival website and click on “2014 lineup.”