The Film Society of Lincoln Center and African Film Festival presents the 24th New York African Film Festival, May 3-9.

The festival’s theme, “The Peoples’ Revolution,” taps into the pulse of protest and the calls for change bubbling up throughout the peoples of the world, a reform charge championed by a new wave of artists throughout Africa and its Diaspora.

“In Africa, as in most of the developing world, young people are the majority,” said AFF Executive Director and NYAFF founder Mahen Bonetti. “With this year’s theme ‘The People’s Revolution,’ we are looking at what is taking place globally in our world and also the societal transformations, and we are realizing we are all in this together. Young people, the generation that represents the future, are becoming engaged. Technology plays a big role in connecting this generation that is redefining what the notion of home means, what the notion of being the citizen of a particular space means and how they exist in that space.”

Bonetti continued, “Through the program, we talk about what is happening now but also we have to look at how it ties to the past. We are still having the same conversations 50 years later. What’s different? It’s important that we also have classic and contemporary works. There are people that are coming newly to the cinema or young people who just have the reference of here and now but don’t know what happened 50 years ago and on whose shoulders they are standing. Film is just a catalyst to spark the larger discussion in and about Africa and what happens to that information is what is important.”

Opening night will see the U.S. premiere of award-winning South African director Akin Omotoso’s “Vaya,” a moving film about three strangers on a train to the city whose lives eventually collide.

The film won the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Film at the 2016 Africa International Film Festival and took the Best Screenplay Prize at Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards in 2017.

Ethiopian filmmaker Sewmehon Yismaw’s drama “Ewir Amora Kelabi” will have its world premiere as the centerpiece selection Friday, May 5. Based on a true story, this remarkable tale is about one’s journey to find a better life and honor one’s family, highlighting the plight of displaced people worldwide.

Sudanese-American visual artist, director and editor Sarra Idris’ short film “Adam and Howa” explores the relationship between the Sudanese who fled the country after political turmoil and those who were left behind.

“My short film poses the question: What does it take for people who have become complacent or lost hope to ignite that inner drive to freedom?” said Idris. “For my character Adam, it was the fear of the past repeating itself and knowing he wasn’t alone in the fight.”

Idris continued, “I wanted to introduce new and modern stories that accurately portrayed who I am and who we are as Sudanese, Africans, Muslims, women, people of the Diaspora and immigrants. I think that right now if all you know about me is that my nation is war and famine, I can understand why it’s easy for people to not respect me and/or sign or co-sign on things like a Muslim ban or other policies, because you don’t have anything you can identify with. I think that films like mine introduces something that people have not seen, which is a very modern portrayal of young people in a continent or a country you’re not use to. I think it can help hopefully in combating

stereotypes and racism.”

Idris’ film will be screened May 8 at 6:45 p.m. at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theatre.

Other films taking up this theme include the Tunisian dramedy “Zizou,” set at the outset of the Arab Spring; the South African drama “Kalushi,” based on a true story during the Soweto uprisings; the South African documentary “Uprize!,” about a peaceful protest of the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1970s that turned into a slaughter; the documentary “Malcolm X: Struggle for Freedom,” a rarely screened repertory title chronicling the American leader as he took on global issues; “Footprints of Pan-Africanism,” a documentary on the role of Africans in the independence movement.

“My film is about African independence/civil rights movements in the Diaspora,” stated Skirikiana Gerima, director of “Footprints of Pan-Africanism.” “Those periods parallel in many ways. The way we understand the relationship between the two is a lot less than what that relationship actually represented. Most people don’t think about African independence when they think about the Civil Rights Movement. That relationship is important as a model to what can happen when we realize the importance of who we are to each other.”

“Footprints of Pan-Africanism” ultimately celebrates the challenges young generations continue to pose to those who have yet to pick up the baton of the great Pan-African dreamers.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center segment concludes with “Art and Activism: Personal Journeys,” a town hall event with artists of various disciplines discussing how their art serves as activism, at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center Amphitheater. It includes a digital art exhibition exploring dance and movement via virtual reality.

After its opening at Film Society of Lincoln Center, the NYAFF heads to other New York City institutions throughout May. May 10, the festival presents an evening of film and discussion at Lehman College in the Bronx, in conjunction with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media Entertainment’s inaugural One Book, One New York program.

May 19, the festival lands at Maysles Cinema in Harlem for a three-day program of documentaries. As is its tradition, the festival concludes over Memorial Day weekend (May 26-29) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAMcinématek) as part of its popular dance and music festival.

Tickets are $14 for single screenings, $11 for students and seniors (62+) and $9 for Film Society members. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package. Visit for more information and for a full lineup of films and screening dates.