Educational Programs


At AFF we understand that film is a powerful educational tool, able to engage children emotionally and intellectually. It allows them to make connections between their own lives and those lived in different countries and cultures depicted onscreen.

AFF’s educational programming brings the unique educational power of film to New York City students by integrating African cinema into existing curricula at participating schools, illustrating aspects of African culture that students might not otherwise encounter. The program also helps to balance one-dimensional representations of Africans that are often presented in mainstream media, by providing students with dynamic films and videos created by emerging, mid-career and veteran African filmmakers.

Students participating in AFF’s education programs gain a sense of pride, learn that Africa’s culture remains vital, and make connections between their personal history and Africa’s history. In addition to providing students with a window into contemporary and historical Africa, students learn about storytelling in the medium of film. By having filmmakers participate, students can learn firsthand about the artists’ intentions, helping students gain competence in visual literacy and an understanding of how filmmakers’ choices shape how stories are told.

Youth Matinee Program

AFF’s Youth Matinee Program brings together New York City middle and high school students to a special matinee program during the annual New York African Film Festival. An age appropriate selection of one feature length or two to three short films are screened with themes relevant to African history, geography, politics, and culture. AFF provides the participating teachers with materials for student orientation before the screenings, and then facilitates a discussion afterward with the filmmakers. For each screening, AFF will curate the packet of teaching materials based upon the desired learning outcomes for the experience, as well as themes and issues addressed in the film. These materials may include an overview of African history, culture and cinema, program notes on the films, maps, articles, and extensive bibliographies.  Discussion topics after the film often include how African folklore and traditional storytelling techniques were used in films, the relationship of traditional African values to contemporary African and Western culture, as well as the similarities and differences between African and American culture. The programming continues back in the classroom, where frequently teachers will ask students to write critical essays. Occasionally, AFF will ask students to fill out a questionnaire to aid evaluation of the program.

Young Adults Education Program (YAEP)

Established in 2000, AFF’s Young Adult Education Program integrated African films and visiting African artists and scholars into school-wide presentations and classroom workshops. In 2012 we expanded the curriculum to use African cinema as a spark for learning and artistic expression. Through the expanded vision of the curriculum:

– Students are led in historical and cultural investigations of works produced by or about people of African heritage through guided conversations and inquiry-based lesson plans that equip them with tools for evaluating works based on discipline-specific criteria.

– Students are taught concepts of form, style and technique, as well as terminology, which allow them to understand and express the ways in which artistic works communicate certain ideas and operate within specific cultural and historical contexts.

– Students are challenged to channel the newly acquired information and ideas into expressing personal viewpoints and producing a relevant work inspired by the experience. Examples include critical and creative writing, drawings, autobiographical and biographical storytelling and performance, and filmmaking.

YAEP’s mission is to facilitate a multifaceted understanding of and appreciation for Africa and its Diaspora in New York City youth through personal experience, uniting students with important culture makers, artists, filmmakers, performers, and producers through in-school presentations of significant historic and contemporary cultural works of art, film, and performance.

YAEP provides opportunities for young adults to experience African art and film, think creatively and participate in critical discussion, collaborate with working artists, and build connections between the presented artworks and their own lives to make art, films, and creative writing inspired by the exchange. Working collaboratively with New York City teachers and schools, YAEP adapts to meet the specific needs of each classroom and student body through a dynamic range of subject matter, theme, and media curating personally meaningful encounters with the AFF collection.

YAEP Short Films

The following short films were made in collaboration with students from diverse after-school programs, as part of AFF’s Young Adult Education Program (YAEP).

AFF Inc.’s Young Adult Education Program is made possible by the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bradley Family Foundation, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Domenico Paulon Foundation, Lambent Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, New York Community Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, Open Society Initiative for West Africa.


“Une Nouvelle Vie” (A New Life) is a short film about a first-generation African immigrant adapting to new American settings. The film won the Special Prize of the Jury at the Lycée Français’ Film Competition.


“The Star Footballer: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again” is a film about an injured player’s fall from grace and about teamwork. This short film was made in collaboration with the students in the after-school program at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island (Cornerstone Mentoring Workshop), as part of AFF’s Young Adult Education Program.


“The New Girl” is a short film about bullying. This short film was made in collaboration with the students in the after-school program at the Johnson Center at Harlem (Cornerstone Mentoring Workshop), as part of AFF’s Young Adult Education Program.

“How to Teach Africa” Teacher Lecture Series


The third component of the AFF educational programming is the innovative “How To Teach Africa” educator lecture series, which began in 2011. The program involves the participation of key authorities in African scholarship and education to work with a small group of educators around issues of cultural sensitivity, addressing the lack of resources of African scholarship for youths in our current public school system, and making the representation of Africa and the Diaspora more visible in the classroom as a whole. Its participants endeavor to address issues of identity and culture between instructors and students when discussing the continent in both historical and contemporary terms. The program is meant to augment the educational offerings of AFF by providing instructors with the proper tools needs to address the complexities involved in giving a comprehensive overview of African history and culture.

In-School Program

AFF is in its eleventh year of bringing African film and culture into New York City middle and high schools. The program continues to bring filmmakers and film scholars from all over the world into the classroom to provide intimate and in-depth instruction in film theory, the historical context of each film, as well as the technical aspects involved in the production of the works presented. This is unique for students to not only learn about film (and the ever-changing technology that makes production more accessible), but also gain exposure to topics related to African history, culture and society through the artistic expression of media. Some of the special guests that have participated in the In-school Program include: renowned Malian musician Salif Keita; Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Madison Davis Lacy; African art scholar and curator, Dr. Carol Thompson; and Fode Bangoura, a prominent member of Guinea’s leading ballet company who led a hands-on drumming workshop. Since our initial partnership with East Harlem School at Exodus House (EHSEH), in 2000, AFF has had the privilege of partnering with other schools and youth organizations, including, Harlem Children’s Zone, Groundwork. Additionally, AFF works with the Global Kids Network at the following locations—Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, International High School at Prospect Heights, and Long Island City High School. AFF is pleased to offer the In-School Program to other educational facilities, which we can tailor to meet the education goals of the individual schools as well as the age-level of the students. A curricular consultant will conduct two 2-hour curricular development sessions with teachers from your school to ensure that the program complements the students’ regular coursework and reading assignments. For more information, contact Dara Ojugbele at or call (212) 352-1720.

Recent Education Programs

Department of Youth and Community Development and Young Men’s Initiative:

In the Spring of 2013 AFF brought the Young Adult Education Program to Cornerstone Mentoring, a program of former Mayor Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative.

Cornerstone Mentoring (CM) serves young men in grades 5 through 9 in NYCHA community centers throughout the city. The program is structured to offer mentoring opportunities to Black and Latino youth living in NYC public housing developments to provide positive role models and develop relationships with caring adults. CM aims to offer its mentees a successful transition from middle school to high school by inspiring positive changes in attitude toward self and others, developing positive leadership skills, and cultivating an ethic of service.

Teaching artists Nikyatu Jusu, and Ekwa Msangi-Omari conducted the YAEP workshop at three Cornerstone Mentoring sites:

–    Brooklyn Ingersoll Center
–    Gerard Carter Community Center, Staten Island
–    Harlem Johnson Center

Generation NOW! Youth Film Summit, a screening and celebration of the students’ accomplishments was held at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center Amphitheater on June 17th, 2013.

French Heritage Language Program Film Workshop:

The French Heritage Language Program is a program of the non-profit foundation FACE, in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States. Since 2005, it has helped over 2,500 children students and adults from underserved communities of francophone background enrich their knowledge of the French language and maintain strong bonds with their respective cultures and identities.

The French Heritage Language Program aims to help its students enrich their knowledge of the French language and maintain strong bonds with their respective cultures and identities while developing the necessary educational tools to succeed in the United States, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds. The African Film Festival’s YAEP brought its collaborative efforts to the French Heritage Language Program through a two-month workshop that addressed these objectives. This was carried out through the themes Culture & Society; Literature & Story-telling, which were the driving force of the workshop.

African Film Festival at Global Kids:

On February 20th, 2014, African Film Festival, Inc. participated in the Winter African Film Festival at the Global Kids Headquarters. African Film Festival, Inc. screened a coming-of-age film, Alaskaland, to a classroom of approximately forty students. The filmmaker of Alaskaland, Chinonye Chukwu, was present for an engaging post-screening discussion. Global Kids, Inc. is a nonprofit educational organization that works to ensure that urban youth have the knowledge, skills, experiences and values they need to succeed in school, participate effectively in the democratic process, and achieve leadership in their communities and on the global stage.

African Film Festival at John F. Kennedy Jr. School:

On February 25th, 2014, African Film Festival, Inc. organized a screening session of short films followed by a post-screening discussion about North African “madrassas” at John F. Kennedy Jr. School’s Multi Culture Celebration Day. The John F. Kennedy Jr. School is a special education school that currently serves four hundred and fifty (450) high school age students (14-21 years), who have a broad range of abilities and challenges, which may include students on the autism spectrum, students with severe to profound cognitive challenges and students with multiple disabilities.

Participating Schools

Crotona International High School 2474 Crotona Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

John F. Kennedy Jr. School 57-12 94th Street, Elmhurst, NY 11373

Global Kids, Inc. 137 E 25th St, New York, NY 10010