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The programmers who book the annual New African Films Festival face a monumental task. Considering movie-mad Nigeria alone releases more than 2,400 flicks annually, Africa’s cinematic pool is Olympic-sized times a million, and narrowing those choices down to the 11 pictures in this year’s festival likely requires gold-medal endurance. The ninth edition of New African Films opens with Nairobi Half Life , a drama about a young Kenyan man determined to become an actor. The rest of the films are predominantly dramas and represent countries as far north as Egypt and as far south as South Africa, which provides the festival’s lone documentary. Breathe Again tells the story of swimmer Derek Orderson, who was unable to compete in the Olympics in the 1980s due to the apartheid boycott against South Africa. Considering the African continent covers 20.3 percent of all the land on Earth, and more than a billion people live in 55 recognized countries, this must be one powerful documentary to paddle all the way to Silver Spring.

The festival runs to March 12 at the AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. See showtimes at washingtoncitypaper.com/movies. $7–$12. (301) 495-6700. afi.com/silver.