Chike Nwoffiah — Silicon Valley African Film Fest founder — to get San Jose’s Cornerstone of Arts Award

“I’m truly humbled and for what it represents,” said Nigerian-born Nwoffiah. 

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Chike Nwoffiah, founder of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, will receive the Cornerstone of the Arts Award from the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs next week.

“I’m truly humbled and for what it represents,” said Nigerian-born Nwoffiah in a statement, the East Bay Times reported. 

“Everything I’ve always done has been carrying the identity of my people with me. Being in Silicon Valley, oftentimes, because of numbers and whatever else, we are often not seen and recognized,” he added. 

Nwoffiah said the call from Kerry Adams Hapner, San Jose’s director of cultural affairs, informing him that he would be this year’s honoree further validated him. “You feel seen, you feel affirmed, you feel you belong.” 

The award recognition comes just as Nwoffiah is wrapping up the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, now in its 13th year. The event runs from Thursday through Sunday at the Historic Hoover Theatre in San Jose.

This 2022 festival lineup includes more than 100 movies from 33 countries, as well as panel discussions, a fashion show and an African marketplace. Attendees can also explore a plethora of African culinary delights. About 30 filmmakers are expected to attend the festival. “We are able to create a sense of Africanness in that space,” said Nwoffiah.

He was initially inspired to create this festival because of the misrepresentation of his homeland in cinema and media.  “There was this perception of Africa that I call the ‘Tarzan Africa’ or the ‘National Geographic Africa’,” he explained. “This conception of this entire continent that is seen as less than. These stories about this place where I grew up were strange to me.”

Nwoffiah said the festival is more than just a presentation of films, “but an invitation to see, to touch, to encounter Africa differently.”

The Cornerstone of the Arts Award ceremony is planned for Oct. 21 at the Hammer Theatre Center.

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