The New Orleans Black Roots Cinema Club kicks off a series of arts and film festivals on Wednesday. In honor of Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, the club is presenting acclaimed South African filmmaker Zola Maseko and six of his feature and documentary films at theaters throughout New Orleans. Dr. Jean Montes and his eclectic chamber ensemble Molto kick off Wednesday night's event at the Prytania Theater. Following the screening of the award-winning Drum, Maseko will attend a reception in the lobby. Set in the 1950's in Sophiatown, South Africa, the story depicts the clash between brutal policies of apartheid and a group of black journalists who wrote hard-hitting stories in tune with their motto 'Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse." Thursday night's lineup includes three films whose poignant themes center on human rights in South Africa. The Foreigner, A Drink in the Passage and The Return of Sara Baartman will be screened at The Porch and The 7th Ward Neighborhood Center, followed by a reception with the director. Films also screen on July 18 at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center (www.ashecac.org) and on July 19 at Holy Faith Temple Baptist Church (www.holyfaithtemple.org). Free admission. — Mollie Day
7 p.m. Wed., July 16
Prytania Theater, 5339 Prytania St.; www.theprytania.com
Films of Zola Maseko
8 p.m. Thu., July 17
The Porch, 1943 Pauger St.