New film series at Harper Theater celebrates African and Caribbean filmmakers (Hyde Park, Chicago)

A report by Samantha Smylie for The Hyde Park Herald.

A new film series, called the Afro Film Series, will showcase seven films that are directed and led by African and Caribbean filmmakers and actors at Harper Theater, 5238 S Harper Ave.

Malachy Okeke, the creator of the film series, wanted to see films that reflect the beauty and complexities of African and Caribbean history and culture.

Okeke, a Nigerian-American who was raised in Uptown and Rogers Park on the North Side, was inspired to create the series after Netflix’s first Nigerian original film, “Lionheart,” appeared on the streaming platform earlier in the year.

“When [Lionheart] came out I was like ‘oh wow’. I was excited to see it and show everybody, so everyone can see how Nigeria looks and how the culture is,” Okeke said. “Let’s think of something else to do with this.”

Okeke researched more African films and wanted to show the films he discovered to as many people as possible. After hearing his vision for a film series, a friend recommended that Okeke reach out to the Harper Theater and try to work out a partnership.

The theater was excited to work with Okeke on the project, and they curated a diverse list of films to show the public. “All the films that we are going to see, I’ve never seen before. So, I’m excited to see them as well,” Okeke said.

When asked about what he hopes people will take away from the participating in the series, Okeke said, “I think it is important because it gives people a chance to be seen, especially these directors. Africa has a negative narrative [in the media], I think that these films will bring a positive perspective on how Africa is.

“Giving people an idea of what a certain country looks like or what a certain culture looks like will be educational.”

The Afro Film Series will take place from April 11 to May 23 on Thursday nights. Entry is free. There will be a reception at 6 p.m., and screenings will start at 7 p.m.

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