African Film Festival begins April 6 in Portland

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PORTLAND — The  second Maine African Film Festival takes place April 6-10, and in addition to films will feature art exhibits, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers.

The event kicks off with an opening-night reception and art exhibit at Mayo Street Arts. Paintings by Nigerian artist Lemi Ghariokwu, whose work is on permanent exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, will be on display. Ghariokwu has designed more than 2,000 album covers, including for such artists as Bob Marley, Antibalas and Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. He is known as the inventor of “Lagos Afro Pop Art.”

In addition to the opening night exhibit, Ghariokwu will conduct art workshops during the week for children living in East Bayside and also will offer workshops at Maine College of Art and the University of Southern Maine.

The opening night film this year is “Sex, Okra & Salted Butter,” a comedy about love, relationships and family.

This year’s festival also features panel discussions.

Police Chief James Craig will lead a discussion April 7 titled, “Being African in Maine: Youth in Transition.” The discussion takes place after the 5:30 p.m. screening of the short films “Bronx Princess” and “Coming of Age” at the Nickelodeon on Temple Street.

Several directors plan to attend the festival and will be on hand following screenings of their films to answer questions. For a complete list of speakers, films and other events, go to

All films are open to the public and tickets are available through the Nickelodeon, either in advance or prior to screenings. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.

The festival wraps up April 10 with a closing party at Empire Dine and Dance on Congress Street. The party features DJ Rich Medina, the band Funk’n Jump and Ghariokwu. For tickets, visit the film festival Web site.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or