Though it's often overlooked on the repertory circuit, West African film has long been a rich and vital voice in global cinema. Mired in tragedy, the region's colonial history has inspired a volatile mix of African tradition and aesthetics, European cosmopolitanism, and fierce political awareness.

Throughout October, the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television and Film Independent at LACMA will offer Angelenos a chance to explore this cinema on the big screen. Must-see classics include the short, Borom Sarret (1969), which launched black African cinema and the career of legendary filmmaker Ousmane Sembene; the mystical-realist epic Yeelen (1987), which takes the audience on a journey with a Bambara warrior on a quest to battle his sorcerer father; and the lively Touki Bouki (1973), which follows the misadventures of two young lovers on a motorcycle trip to a dreamed utopian Paris.

The series also includes panels and recent titles, including the opening night Grigris, the latest work by acclaimed Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, whose Daratt (Dry Season, 2006) and A Screaming Man (2010) were memorable humanist dramas. In addition, Haroun and filmmakers Mama Kéïta (L'Absence, 2009) and Gaston Kaboré (Buud Yam, 1997) will make rare Los Angeles appearances.

“Caméras d'Afrique: The Films of West Africa” runs Oct. 3-28. More info at

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