PORTLAND – Maine’s inaugural African Film Festival highlighting the state’s changing face and increased cultural diversity will be held April 17-24. Its lineup includes independent films, documentary features, short films, children’s animations, lectures, music and photography.

A series of panel discussions will examine the impact of oil on the environment, being African in Maine and the state of African music. Noel Bonam, director of the Maine Office of Multicultural Affairs, will moderate the panels.

“The Maine African Film Festival represents an incredible opportunity for Mainers to learn about African culture. The festival helps establish Maine as a state that is proud of its residents with African heritage and it helps recognize the vibrancy of diverse culture,” said Bonam.

The film portion of the festival will begin at the Nickelodeon Cinema with “Africa Unite,” a commemoration of Bob Marley’s 60th birthday, following the Marleys family trip to Ethiopia in 2005.

Here’s a sampling of the films to be screened:

• “Come Back to Sudan,” which follows three of Sudan’s “Lost Boys” as they journey to their ancestral homeland.

• “Sweet Crude,” a visceral and unblinking look at how the world’s greed for oil affects the peoples, environment and cultures of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Nigeria produces more than 10 percent of the U.S. oil supply, and this film illustrates how the events unfolding in the Niger Delta have global consequences.

• “Seeds of Change, Fresh Start Farms,” which examines the lives of East African immigrant farmers as they try to establish themselves as farmers in Maine. The farmers in this film are from Somalia, the Sudan and Kenya.

Films will be screened at the Nickelodeon Cinema, Children’s Museum of Maine and the Cumberland County jail.

For a full schedule of events and description of films, visit www.TMAFF.org.

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