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Out of africa come film riches

A fascinating look into African history and fable comes to Portland Community College through 17 films from more than a dozen nations during Black History Month.

And with a couple of exceptions, you'd better get there on time, since the screenings will take place in a 110-seat hall.

'Our bond measure passed, so a new auditorium will be built and future festivals will be even bigger. But for now, be early,' said Mary Holmstrom, a PCC humanities instructor who lived in South Africa as a child.

Instead of being screened on campus, both 'T.G.V.,' which opens the series, and 'Sirga: The Lion Cub,' for Family Film Day later this month, will play at the nearby McMenamins Kennedy School auditorium, which can accommodate more than 600 people, Holmstrom said.

Festival organizers also plan to honor actor Ñ and adopted Portlander Ñ Danny Glover by showing two films he made in Africa. The first is 'Bopha!,' directed by Morgan Freeman, and the second 'Boesman and Lena,' which co-stars Angela Bassett.

'He's one of the rare American actors who have worked in African films,' Holmstrom said. 'We'd like to present him with something.'

Historic African subjects include 'Lumumba,' about Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, murdered in 1961, and 'Steve Bantu Biko,' about the leader of South Africa's Black Consciousness Party, who died in police custody in 1977.

Illustrating the films' cultural range, they are in nine languages, including Arabic, Wolof, Bambara, Baule, Afrikaans, French and Mandikan, with subtitles.

The final four films, made by women, also will serve to celebrate Women's History Month in March.

You can check the schedule at the festival's Web site, www.cfaf.net. Here are some highlights.

• 'T.G.V.' (1998): Jokingly named for the French bullet train, this Senegalese version of 'Stagecoach' packs a mix of passengers into an old bus. 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, McMenamins Kennedy School

• 'Bopha!' (1993): Morgan Freeman directs Danny Glover as a South African township cop who's upholding apartheid as his son joins an activist group against it. With Alfre Woodard and Malcolm McDowell. 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, Terrell Hall, Room 122, Cascade Campus

• 'Lumumba' (2000): Patrice Lumumba became the first president of the Congo when it achieved independence from Belgium in 1960. But he was no match for his enemies Ñ which included the CIA Ñ and was murdered a year later. Noon Thursday, Feb. 7, and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, Terrell Hall, Room 122, Cascade Campus

• 'Adanggaman' (2000): A disturbing background to the slave trade is that most Africans were captured and sold to Europeans by other Africans. Adanggaman was a slaver king who led a war against neighboring tribes. A banished aristocrat seeks his captured family, and the trail leads to Adanggaman. Noon Thursday, Feb. 14, and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, Terrell Hall, Room 122, Cascade Campus

• 'Out in Africa' (1994), 'Woubi Cheri' (1998): Two documentaries on gay life in Africa. 'Out in Africa' profiles gay men in Zimbabwe and South Africa, while 'Woubi Cheri' takes a look at the Ivory Coast. A view of what is generally a hidden world in Africa. 7:30 p.m. Thursday,

Feb. 21, Terrell Hall, Room 122, Cascade Campus

• 'Sirga: The Lion Child' (1993): A fable about a boy and a lion cub born at the same moment who are driven together when the world they know begins to disintegrate around them. 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, McMenamins Kennedy School