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Chicago African Diaspora Film Festival

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The fourth annual Chicago African Diaspora Film Festival runs June 16 through 22 at Facets Cinematheque. Tickets are $9, $7 for students and seniors; for more information call 773-281-9075 or visit www.facets.org.

The festival opens with Boy Called Twist (2004, 110 min.), in which writer-director Tim Greene convincingly transposes Oliver Twist to contemporary South Africa. A resourceful orphan (Jarrid Geduld) escapes from cruel rural taskmasters and hitches to Cape Town, where he falls in with the Rastafarian Fagin (Lesley Fong) and his light-fingered youths. Social commentary often takes a backseat to action, but this is still a good yarn. a Fri 6/16 and Wed 6/21, 7 PM

Also from South Africa, Red Dust (2004, 106 min.) is a sluggish thriller starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) as a victim of apartheid torture whose promising political career is threatened during a racist cop's Truth and Reconciliation hearings. Hilary Swank, miscast as the politician's lawyer, mistakes opacity for solemnity. Tom Hooper directed. a Sat 6/17, 5 PM; Tue 6/20, 9 PM

J.R. Jones called Lars von Trier's Manderlay (2005, 139 min.) "a pointed critique of establishing self-rule at gunpoint. . . . This Danish feature picks up where his brilliant Dogville left off, with the young heroine (Bryce Dallas Howard, replacing Nicole Kidman) and her gangster father (Willem Dafoe, no substitute for James Caan) driving across the Depression-era U.S. in a heavily fortified auto caravan. After they stumble on an Alabama plantation with black slaves, the daughter uses daddy's muscle to free them, then installs herself as a Great White Mother bringing the fruits of democracy." a Sun 6/18, 5:30 PM; Thu 6/22, 6 PM

Sex, race, and politics intersect in the work of Haitian-Canadian writer Dany Lafarriere, whose nostalgic script for On the Verge of a Fever (2004, 81 min.) details a teen's coming-of-age following the 1971 death of Haitian dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. John L'Ecuyer directed. In French with subtitles. a Sat 6/17, 9 PM; Wed 6/21, 9 PM

Swiss documentarian Allesandra Muller profiles Cuba's first female director in Where Is Sara Gomez? (2005, 78 min.), which throws more light on racial discrimination under Castro than on the late filmmaker's oeuvre but serves as a rallying cry for marginalized artists everywhere. In Spanish with subtitles. a Fri 6/16, 9 PM

ALSO SHOWING:

Bezness a Sun 6/18, 8:30 PM

Catch a Fire and Frantz Fanon: His Life, His Struggle, His Work a Mon 6/19 and Tue 6/20, 6:30 PM

Faces of Change a Sun 6/18, 3 PM; Thu 6/22, 9 PM

Following Bliss a Sat 6/17, 7 PM

The Great Bazaar and Colobane Express a Mon 6/19, 8:30 PM

Masai: The Rain Warriors a Sat 6/17, 3 PM

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