Our Mission

African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) is dedicated to advancing an enhanced understanding of African culture through the moving image. It offers diverse platforms for the wide distribution of African media through its flagship annual film festival and complementary year-round programming. AFF is committed to increasing visibility and recognition for African media artists by introducing African film and culture to a broad range of audiences in the United States and abroad, bypassing economic, class and racial barriers. In 1990, AFF’s founders established goals that continue to enrich the organization mission and organizational development: To use African cinema to promote and increase knowledge and understanding of African arts, literature and culture; To develop an audience for African films; To expand the opportunities for the distribution of African films in the United States and abroad.

Our History

Based in New York, the African Film Festival, Inc. is a registered nonprofit 501(c)(3), founded in 1990 as a dynamic platform dedicated to increasing exposure to African arts and culture through the screening of cinematic works made by and about the people of Africa and the African Diaspora. AFF offerings include year-round programs in order to provide our growing audiences with greater access to African films and culture.

Our flagship program, the New York African Film Festival, was launched in 1993, with leading support from the Ford Foundation. AFF organized the inaugural festival in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center (now Film at Lincoln Center) and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, going beyond showcasing African cinema to include live performances, art exhibitions, panel discussions, master classes, and workshops intended to provide greater context for the films being screened. In 1995 and 1997, to expand the breadth of our activities, we experimented with a traveling film series, in addition to community and international programming.

Through the visionary leadership of Mahen Bonetti, Founding Executive Director, AFF continues to be a trailblazing force in the film world. In our thirty years of operation, we have advanced the critical discourse on African film, raising awareness of and fostering conversations about Africa and her people. Moreover, AFF has built a reputation for our ability to identify new talent, thereby providing emerging and under-recognized filmmakers—including women and members of the LGBTQ+ community—with critical exposure and access to important professional opportunities. AFF has launched the international careers of countless filmmakers, many of whom have gone on to become well known in the field, while simultaneously introducing diverse audiences worldwide to the histories, stories, and most pressing issues affecting the people of Africa and the African Diaspora.

As a network organization, AFF has a long history of partnering with a diverse group of institutions that range from mainstream to local, national, and international grassroots organizations. As one of the leading experts and distributors of African cinema, we also offer consultation to other institutions, festivals, scholars, filmmakers and programmers, who come to us for advice, film recommendations, and curatorial guidance. Our partnerships have enabled us to extend our reach and introduce a plethora of film and filmmakers to the world.



Mahen Bonetti — Founder & Executive Director

Born in Sierra Leone, Bonetti is a film/media consultant, community organizer, and former print editor. Prior to founding AFF, Bonetti worked at Young and Rubicam and at Newsweek’s editorial and advertising division. As the founder of African Film Festival, Inc. and the Executive Director of the New York African Film Festival, she curates and facilitates all AFF programming in conjunction with AFF staff and participating partners. She has served on panels for the PanAfrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council of the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, several United States universities, Africa’s U.S. diplomatic offices, among many others. Bonetti is the recipient of France’s Chevalier De L’Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres and she is also a Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Tisa Chigaga — Program Manager

Devin Powell — Program Associate

Zamzam Dirieh Ali — Marketing & Administrative Manager

Kirk Mudle — Archive Manager

Jean A. Fall — Program Affiliate - Fullbright NGO Leaders Fellow

Advisors and Consultants

Francoise Bouffault, Program Advisor

Ekwa Msangi, Education Consultant

Rico Speight, Community Programs Consultant

Rumbi Bwerinofa-Petrozzello, Development Advisor

Board of Directors

Francis Baffour

Mahen Bonetti

Rudolf Gedeon

Angelique Kidjo

Mamadou Niang

Danielle Nicholson

Wendy Pelle-Beer

Neal Pilzer

Carol Thompson

Advisory Board

Grace Blake

Patricia Blanchet

David Byrne

Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings

Flora M’mbugu-Schelling

Annabelle Thomas


The programs of African Film Festival, Inc. are made possible by the support of the Bradley Family Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, The New York Community Trust, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Domenico Paulon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Motion Picture Enterprises, Inc.



African Film Festival, Inc., 154 West 18th Street, Suite 2A, New York, New York 10011

Office Hours

10am – 6pm, Mon – Fri *by appointment only





About Our Website

Our website was designed, built and is maintained by Zainab Aliyu.