PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The 33rd annual Cascade Festival of African Films kicks off on Friday, Feb. 3 at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus.

Starting in 1991 by four educators from PCC, the fest is now the longest-running non-profit African film festival in America, Festival Director Eugenie Jolivett Fontana told KOIN 6 News.

Jolivett Fontana explained that the festival “works to feature mainly the stories from folks that are in the continent of Africa and not so much of the diaspora aspect, but it includes diaspora.”

During Friday’s fest opening, Moroccan singer, Randa Z, will be performing at the Hollywood Theatre at 7 p.m. before a screening of “The Blue Caftan.” This year’s fest runs from Feb. 3 through March 4.

“I feel very honored that they asked me to perform this year. And I happen to be from Morocco. I came here when I was eight,” Z said. “I was asked to perform because the first movie is by a Moroccan director.”

For a film to make the cut for the fest, filmmakers from different countries like Morocco, Ghana and South Sudan submit their films before a committee watches them to see if any themes from the films align, Jolivett Fontana said.

In 2023, Jolivett Fontana says, they are showing around 19 films which encapsulate the theme of “the beauty and complexities of the human experience so, from trauma to adversity to joy.”