Feature Films & Folktales

Video Title Call Number
*** African Story Magic

w/ narrator Brock Peters. 27:00. 1992

Elementary and Up

A 7-year-old boy steps from the streets of Los Angeles into the Africa of his ancestors. Storytellers share six stories of wisdom and courage.

IA FS 121

Rabbit Ears, Approx. 30 min., color

Age 5 & Up

Oscar-winner Denzel Washington narrates two hilarious stories from Jamaica where Anasi outsmarts the prideful snake. Reggae hit makers UB 40 provide the decidedly Jamaican score. An introductory animated segment shows the link between this Jamaican Anansi and his African origin.

IA FS 132
Guimba the Tyrant

Producer/Director: Cheick Oumar Sissoko. 1995. 94:00
In Bambara and Peul, with subtitles
An epic set in a legendary past that offers a biting allegory of present-day African politics. Through the story of the downfall of Guimba, the tyrant, this film foretells a similar fate for the many dictators who still pillage the continent.

IA FS 146

Director: Djibril Diop Mambety. 1992. 113:00
In Wolof, with subtitles
HS, Adult

A scorned lover returns to her village as the richest woman in the world and offers the villagers a trillion dollars to execute the man who betrayed her. An adaptation of the Swiss parable, “The Visit of the Old Woman,” this drama is a biting satire of today’s Africa—betraying the hopes of independence for the false promises of Western materialism.

IA FS 147

Director: Dani Kouyate. Burkina Faso. 1994.  94:00
In Jula and French, with subtitles
HS, Adult

This film introduces the viewer to one of the most important works of African oral literature, The Sundjata Epic. The film frames its dramatization of this legend within the story of a contemporary young African’s initiation into the history of his family. When a djeliba, a master griot or bard, arrives mysteriously at the home of Mabo Keita to teach him “the meaning of his name,” boy and griot are inevitably brought into conflict with his Westernized mother and schoolteacher, who have rejected African tradition.

IA FS 150

Producer: Max Motoechio. 1988. 90:00

In English, Zulu and Sotho, with subtitles

HS, Adult

The first anti-apartheid feature film told from the perspective of black South Africans. Banned by the apartheid government. The story of “Panic” (a petty criminal), his life in a black township, and his transformation into a man who takes a stand against apartheid.

IA FS 64
Once Upon a Time

This video captures the storytelling and healing traditions of Kenyans as they pass on their wisdom through the church in a fast-changing world.

IA FS 125
** Quartier Mozart

Producer/Director: Jean-Pierre Bekolo. Cameroon. 1992. 80:00
In French, with subtitles

A new sex farce, where women’s wisdom and “witchcraft” help them regain the balance of power in a sexist world. The star of the film is a young schoolgirl named Queen of the ‘Hood. The local “witch,” Maman Thekla, helps her take over the body of a young boy named My Guy so she can discover the sexual politics of her neighborhood. A completely different kind of African film, the sensibility crosses MTV and Hollywood with African folklore.

IA FS 127
Stories from the Black Tradition

Children’s Circle. 1992. 52:00 total, in short segments


IA FS 124
“A Story—A Story”

Anansi the Spider Man climbs up to the sky to buy stories from the Sky God.

“Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters”

Mufaro’s daughters are tested unknowingly to reveal which one is worthy enough to marry the King.

“Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”

A tall tale sets off a chain of mishaps through the jungle grapevine from Mosquito to Iguana to Rabbit to Owl in this traditional story.

“The Village of Round and Square Houses”

A young girl from the Cameroonian village of Tos movingly tells how the men came to live in square houses and the women in round ones.


Peter and his friend Archie call upon faithful dog Willie to help outsmart a gang of tough bullies who are after Peter’s motorcycle goggles.

** Three Tales from Senegal

Directors: Djibril Diop Mambety and Mansour Sora Wade. 1994. 82:00 (45:00; 20:00; 17:00)
In Wolof, with subtitles
HS, Adult
“Le Fanc” is the whimsical but sardonic parable about the plight of everyday Africans buffeted by the changing winds of the international monetary system. “Picc Mi” (Little Bird) is a touching fable revealing the exploitation of children in Africa’s teeming cities. “Fary l’Anesse” (Fary, the Donkey) is the tale of a man led into folly by his pursuit of the “perfect” woman.

IA FS 145
** Wend Kuuni (God’s Gift)

Producer/Director: Gaston Kaboré. Burkina Faso. 1982. 70:00
In Moré, with subtitles
HS, Adult
A feature film on a pastoral romance before the coming of Islam and Christianity. A mute, memoryless child is found under a tree and is adopted by the village and named Wend Kuuni. Through flashbacks, the audience learns about compassion through the medium of hate. The boy finds community and recovers his ability to communicate. This fable demonstrates how traditional Mossi values can heal and unify a modern African state beset by dislocation, refugees, and social conflict. Kabore adapted the measured rhythms and formal compositions of oral story telling to make this film accessible to people seeing a movie for the first time.

IA FS 130
** Yeelen (Brightness)

Producer/Director Souleymane Cissé. Mali. 1987. 105:00
In Bambara, with subtitles
An adaptation of one of the great oral epics of the Bambara people. Set in the Mali Empire of the 13th century, this is the story of Nianankoro: a young warrior destined to destroy a corrupt older elite, and with it his father and ultimately himself. The film follows his initiation quest across Bambara, Fulani, and Dogon lands—a cross-section of West African cultures and folklore.

IA FS 129
** Zan Boko (Homeland)

Producer/Director Gaston Kaboré. Burkina Faso. 1988. 94:00
In Moré, with subtitles.
This feature film explores in story form the transformation that occurs when an agrarian economy is swallowed up by a corrupt urban one. It is the drama of two men–a peasant farmer trying to hold onto his land and a wealthy businessman who wants it. Each man finds an ally: the farmer’s is a crusading TV journalist, while the businessman finds a friend in the government.

IA FS 126