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Off-Campus Streaming Guide

Use this guide to find streaming alternatives to Media Services DVDs.

African Feature Films

Titles Available as of June 2021

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.

Explore the African Feature Films Map

Map of Africa with flags

Afrique, Je Te Plumerai

Examines how Cameroon's French colonizers have been replaced by a dictatorial indigenous regime which still plunders the land and silences the authentic expression of its people. A case study of the devastation of traditional African societies by imposed colonial cultures. 

aKasha

Adnan is a Sudanese revolutionary who is considered a war hero. His love for his AK47 rifle is equalled only by his feelings for Lina, his long-suffering sweetheart. When Adnan is late to return to his military unit after his leave, army commander Blues launches a kasha: the rounding up and arresting of truant soldiers. Adnan is caught-off guard and makes a run for it with pacifist Absi. The two unlikely friends plot ways to reunite Adnan with his gun - and with Lina - while avoiding their fellow soldiers. Through a series of wry and humorous incidents over 24 hours, we explore life and ideology in rebel-held areas of Sudan. 

Allah Tantou

Through home movies, old newsreels, letters and fictional reconstruction of imprisonment, this film examines the life of the filmmaker's father, a diplomat under the Sekou Toure regime, who later disappeared into the Guinean gulag. Film reevaluates the turbulent decade of African independence and discusses its relevance to the new political order on the continent.

Barcelona or Die

Thiaroye, Senegal was once a peaceful fishing village. But now, it's a prime location from which illegal boats to Europe depart. 

Black Girl 

A Senegalese woman is eager to find a better life abroad. She takes a job as a governess for a French family, but finds her duties reduced to those of a maid after the family moves from Dakar to the south of France. 

 Camp de Thiaroye, or The Camp at Thiaroye 

In this semi-autobiographical film, black soldiers help to defend France, but are detained in prison camp before being repatriated home. 

Chef! 

Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno looks for the roots of Africa's authoritarian regimes in the patriarchal family, reinforced by traditional kingship and the colonial experience. The documentary investigates the ties between unaccountable government and an unproductive economy.

Chinua Achebe: African Literature as Celebration

Writers don't give prescriptions, they give headaches. Uncompromising yet nonpartisan in his views on politics and writing, Chinua Achebe-author, editor, and literary critic-ceaselessly explores the collision of European and indigenous African cultures. In this classic lecture, the well-known ambassador of African literature delivers a thought-provoking introduction to the world-class writing that has come forth from Nigeria and other African countries during the latter half of the 20th century.

Concerning Violence

From the director of The Black Power Mixtape comes a bold and fresh visual narrative on Africa, based on newly discovered archive material covering the struggle for liberation from colonial rule in the late '60s and '70s, accompanied by text from Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. Director Goran Hugo Olsson gathers footage of anti-imperialist liberation movements from the 1970s onward, drawn from the Swedish Television archives, and crafts a powerful document that brings us face-to-face with the people for whom Fanon's writings were not just rhetoric, but a reality. 

Dakan

The first feature film on homosexuality from sub-Saharan Africa, Dakan (it means "destiny") was met with angry protests and heated debate when it was shot in the director's native Guinea. The film is a contemporary African reinterpretation of the age-old conflict between love and social convention, the story of two men who by coming out become invisible to their society. The men try to deny their sexual orientation to please their families, but eventually accept it, and each other, as their destiny. 

Dãoláe Money

he main character of the film, Mougler, seems almost to be a sociological study of a ghetto youth slipping into a life of petty crime with his friends. For people like Mougler living on the margins of the emerging global economy, a lottery can seem like their only hope for financial success. In Dãoláe we see how the media cynically collaborate with the lottery to divert desperate people's economic aspirations into a spectacle, a contemporary combination of 'bread and circus.' When the boys decide to up their odds by robbing the lottery kiosk, the gentle comedy turns tragic

Fathers

Each of these three films offers a critical look at the relationships between fathers and their children in contemporary Africa. In The father, the patriarch in question is ultimately the military dictatorship which terrorized Ethiopia in the '70s and '80s. Surrender shows the traditional face of paternal tyranny, a father controlling his son's life. A barber's wisdom shows a modern father who compromises his children in his relentless pursuit of money. 

Femmes Aux Yeux Ouverts = Women with open eyes

A film about African women is a rarity, even more, one made by an African woman. This film presents portraits of contemporary African women from four West African nations: Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Benin. 

Finzan = A Dance for the Heroes

A pathbreaking film on women's resistance in a traditional Malian village to forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Directed by Cheick Oumar Sissoko.  

Forgiveness

A white former South African policeman who tortured and killed a black anti-apartheid activists seeks forgiveness from the victim's family.  

Gaze of the Stars

A story from Mozambique about how machismo can destroy love. 

Giumba: The Tyrant

This feature "returns to the sources" to explore the struggle against autocratic rulers in pre-Colonial Africa with lessons for the present. 

Gun for Sale

Two brothers are at loggerheads with each other. One is a warrior-commander who worries that his tribe's new attachment to guns will bring death and destruction. The other is a young blood determined to trade his cattle for the gun that he believes will bring him wealth and status.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Upon returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the “revolutionary professor” Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests and surprises even herself when she falls in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life seem to loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire world. A sweeping romantic drama, Half of a Yellow Sun takes the sisters and their lovers on a journey through the war which is powerful and intensely emotional.

Head in the Clouds

Two college-educated young people, irene and Jackie, can only find paying jobs in the burgeoning informal sector which increasingly supplies the daily subsistence needs of most people.

Heart of the Congo

In the heart of the Congo, at the end of a war, a handful of aid workers help refugees who have lost everything. They mobilize villagers to dig wells for clean water, train health workers, and nurse children with acute malnutrition back to health. They are confronted with threats of violence from roving militias, systemic corruption, and a legacy of colonial dependency. And there are times when it is very clear that these workers exist apart from those they aim to help, benefiting from services and luxuries of the modern world that are beyond the reach of the rural Congolese. In spite of this the Congolese and European aid workers struggle to encourage the will of the people, and build the skills necessary, for a self-sufficient future. 

Hyènes

A woman who amasses a fortune returns to her hometown upon which she will bestow a great deal of money if someone there will murder her former lover who betrayed her, forcing her out of the village and into a life of prostitution. (To view complete subtitles watch this video full screen.)

Identity Pieces

A Congolese king searches for his daughter in Brussels where for a time he loses his royal fetishes, his identity, but finds a friend, a local cabdriver with a secret identity. With his help and a chain of coincidence (it must be destined), Mani Kongo is reunited with his daughter and his regalia and returns to Africa with a circle of friends. 

Karmen Geèi Euripide

Karmen escapes prison through her lesbian relationship with the warden. She then wrecks the marriage and career of a police corporal by making him her lover and co-conspirator in a smuggling ring. She abandons the corporal who, in a fit of jealous rage, stabs her. Contains much singing and dancing.

Keèita! l'hâeritage du griot, or The Heritage of the Griot 

Based on an important work of African oral literature, the Sundjata epic. When a djâeliba, a master griot or bard, arrives mysteriously at the home of Mabo Keèita to teach him "the meaning of his name," the boy and griot are inevitably brought into conflict with his Westernized mother and schoolteacher, who have rejected African tradition. The griot reveals to Mabo the story of his distant ancestor, Sundjata Keèita, the 13th century founder of the great Malian trading empire. 

La Chasse au Lion L'arc

Shot over a period of seven years (1958-1965), the film is a documentation of lion hunting, using bows and arrows, among the Fula and Songhay people of Niger, and the social structure that underlies it. 

The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun

Parable uses the struggles of a young crippled girl in Dakar trying to earn her living in the market place selling newspapers to mirror Africa's role in the international marketplace. 

Mali Blues

Four dynamic Malian musicians use their music to stand up to religious extremism. 

Mandabi or The Money Order

A money order from a relative in Paris throws the life of a Senegalese family man out of order. 

Mapantsula

This thriller exposing the conditions under apartheid which gave rise to criminality and resistance was banned by the South African government. 

Mortu Nega = Those Who Death Refused

Those Who Death Denied" depicts the challenges facing former freedom fighters in post-independence Guinea-Bissau.

Munyurangabo/Film Movement

After stealing a machete from a market in Kigali, Munyurangabo and his friend, Sangwa, leave the city on a journey tied to their pasts. 

Ntemi Piliso: African Jazz Pioneer

In this program, African jazz musician Edmund "Ntemi" Piliso traces the roots of African jazz from the days of apartheid in 1940s Alexandra Township. With musical performances throughout highlighting the various eras, Piliso moves through the days of pennywhistle jive groups hustling change on streetcorners, to the sounds of marabi-a bittersweet fusion of American jazz and the restless rhythm of an uprooted tribal culture. The latter sound, lost for a time amid the African pop music craze of the 1960s through the 1980s, is now being revived by Piliso and his musical group, the African Jazz Pioneers. In this program, we listen as they kick off that revival campaign in small township halls and jazz clubs. 

100% Arabica
In a housing project located on the outskirts of Paris renamed "100% Arabica" by its inhabitants, the African residents are united by their struggle for recognition in society.

Rostov-Luanda 

Sissako spent a year in Rostov on the Don and there became friends with a young man from Angola. This film chronicles the director' s search for a friend of the past. In this personal retrospective, Sissako encounters present-day Angola and traces the great lines of Africa's recent history. 

Sango Malo

A new high school teacher brings turmoil to a rural Cameroonian village when he introduces sex education and vocational training into the curriculum. He also starts agricultural and marketing cooperatives for villagers that the students work on as part of their education. The local authorities however, including the store owner and school's headmaster, are alarmed by the teacher's radical actions and have him imprisoned. 

Ta Dona

Ta Dona is the story of the quest for secret knowledge by a young Bambara man. While working in a peasant village, the hero, Sidy, searches for the "seventh canari", a forgotten, secret Bambara herbal remedy used in childbirth. Faced with a scorching drought and a corrupt government, Sidy manages to save the village and rediscover the seventh canari.  

Taafe Fanga / Skirt Power

This comedy mixes Dogon mythology with gender-bending politics to show as women fight to regain their proper place in the cosmic order. 

Tableau Ferraille 

Tells the story of an idealistic young politician's rise and fall. Daam, a well-intentioned but vacillating European-trained politician, must choose between two social paradigms exemplified by his two wives. The film offers a view of how modernization, as practiced in today's Africa, corrodes traditional communities and retards grassroots development. 

Taking Root

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells the inspiring story of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and its founder Wangari Maathai, the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The U.S.- educated Professor Maathai discovered her life's work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. Their lives had become intolerable: they were walking longer distances for firewood, clean water was scarce, the soil was disappearing from their farms, and their children were suffering from malnutrition. Maathai thought to herself, "Well, why not plant trees?" She soon discovered that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. Countering the devastating cultural effects of colonialism, Maathai began teaching communities about self-knowledge as a path to change and community action.

Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango

Tango Negro, The African Roots of Tango by Angolan filmmaker Dom Pedro explores the expression of Tango's Africanness and the contribution of African cultures in the creation of the tango. 

Timbuktu

Not too far from Timbuktu, now ruled by religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima, his daughter Tonya, and Issan, their shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family had been spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu, but when their destiny changes abruptly, Kidane must face the new laws of the foreign occupants.

A Tyrant in His Time

A tyrant throws his city into conflict and chaos when he allows his randy, dwarf son to reject an arranged marriage to the slim local beauty in order for him to pursue the girl's larger, married mother. The tyrant then sets his own eyes on the girl, making the situation even worse. An epic set in the legendary past of Mali (West Africa) to provide a biting allegory of present-day African politics. Through the story of the downfall of Guimba the tyrant, the filmmaker foretells a similar fate for the many dictators who still pillage the continent. He frames his film with the appearance of a griot, a traditional African storyteller who passes down the "wisdom of the ancestors", looking to the values and legends of the African past for inspiration and guidance in reconstructing well-governed, self-sufficient nations. 

Wend Kuuni, or God’s Gift 

This historic film marked the beginning of a "return to the sources" in African Cinema, a movement to adapt traditional oral story-telling technique and themes in order to make cinema more accessible to the masses; this film recounts a tale of two orphaned children who are gradually welcomed into a village. 

Xala or The Curse 

It is the dawn of Senegal's independence from France, but as the citizens celebrate in the streets, we soon become aware that only the faces have changed. 

Zan Boko Homeland 

Zan boko means "the place where the placenta is buried" and symbolizes the continuity between past and present in African village societies. Tells the story of one village swallowed up by one of Africa's large cities and the change from agrarian society to a mass media culture.