The 17th annual New York African Film Festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary of 17 African nations’ independence from colonial rule when it kicks off on April 7.

Among the line-up are four football films in honour of the first time the continent will host the World Cup, the marquee sporting event set to take place this summer in South Africa

The festival, presented by The Film Society Of Lincoln Center and African Film Festival, includes 13 features, 25 shorts, an animated short programme, Focus Features’ Africa First short programme and an environmental entry.

Among the films commemorating independence is the US premiere of Mama Keita’s opening night thriller The Absence (Senegal/France).

Screening alongside it is Daouda Coulibaly’s A History Of Independence (Benin), winner of Le Python Pygmee award at Festival Quintessence.

The four football films include Between The Cup And The Electionby Monique Mbeka Phoba and Guy Kabeya Muya, which tells the story of the Leopards of Zaire, the first sub-Saharan soccer team to qualify for the World Cup in 1974, and Demetrius Wren’s Streetball, which follows the Homeless World Cup.

The festival will run from April 7-13.