Go Continental Explore Africa over the weekend at Festival Africa, a two-day cinematic excursion through Kenya, Zimbabwe, Togo, Egypt, and points beyond. Documentaries make up the bulk of these films and videos made by or about women, although the selection of stories, real or fictional, is thematically and geographically broad, and includes: Stepping Out, about a teen-age contestant in the "Miss Gay Transvaal" competition and his relationship with his mother (noon Saturday); Days of Democracy, a documentary on female candidates in the 1995 Egyptian assembly elections (6:30 p.m. Saturday); Mizeke Mama, a portrait of Zairian-Belgian a cappella quintet Zap Mama (8:15 p.m. Saturday); and Penalty Area, about a soccer game between the Orlando Pirates and a South African team created in the Baviaanspoort maximum security prison (noon Sunday). The controversy over genital mutilation gets screen time as well, in Monday's Girls, which follows two Nigerian young women whose opinions over the rite of passage are split, and Fire Eyes, Somalian filmmaker Soraya Mire's interviews with people who've experienced the procedure, coupled with her own experience (4:30 p.m. Saturday). Fans of Venue 9's Reel Women series will recognize some of these films, which showed at last year's series in the city. Screenings begin at noon (also Sunday) at the Fine Arts Cinema, 2451 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $4-6; call (510) 848-1143.
The Children's Hour Along with sex and God, kids will eventually hear about the Holocaust and will want to know what happened, and along with the sex and God questions, adults will want to supply some kind of thoughtful answers without scaring the poor things. The interactive exhibit "Remember the Children, Daniel's Story," which begins its four-year national tour here, takes some of the pressure off by creating a 9-year-old composite child based on the journals and photo albums of real kids, then leading youngsters through the historical events of the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945, using Daniel's story as a guide. With the help of photos, video, historical artifacts, and interactive activities, kids can follow Daniel's journey from his home in Germany to the Lodz ghetto and up to the gates of Auschwitz. The show, suited to kids ages 8 and older and their families, opens at 11 a.m. at the Herbst International Exhibition Hall, the Presidio, Main Post, S.F. Admission is free; call 487-4398.
The Second Act Expect a sharp increase in Stockard Channing sightings this week, when the actress hosts "Classical Action: A Heartfelt Tribute to San Francisco Performances." Channing is hardly the only known quantity on the bill, but the general public has seen more of her, in movies like Grease and Smoke, than they've seen of the scheduled performers, although they may have heard of pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the Portrait of a Lady soundtrack, or soprano Dawn Upshaw on her briskly moving recording of Gorecki's Third Symphony. The Alexander String Quartet plays Schubert and Gershwin, jazz pianist Fred Hersch performs his own work, Thibaudet does Chopin, Upshaw offers some Canteluobe, and dancer/choreographer Stephen Petronio, who returns later this spring for a full-length show, dances his solo #3. This is the second local Classical Action show, which benefits the S.F. AIDS Foundation and honors S.F. Performances founder Ruth Felt, who helped initiate Classical Action. Sighting tip: While Channing's in town, she might want to visit David Binder, her producer on The Normal Heart, who's doing 2.5 Minute Ride locally (see Tuesday). The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $75-200; call 392-4400.
Family Ties Lisa Kron, a member of New York comic theater troupe the Five Lesbian Brothers, takes time off from her adopted siblings to revisit San Francisco alone and talk frankly about her actual family in her one-woman show 2.5 Minute Ride. Like her previous solo outing, 101 Humiliating Stories, Ride offsets the general hilarity with heart-rending intervals, as Kron recalls her family's annual pilgrimage to a local amusement park, the time she accompanied her aging father on his own personal pilgrimage back to his homeland, and the wedding between her brother and a gal he met online in a Jewish chat room, showing as she goes why family matters, even when the family is, well, a tad exasperating. Producer David Binder, whose off-Broadway credits include David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries, tries his hand at another witty monologue with this show, which is technically a 90-minute ride. It opens at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through March 21) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $16; call 646-0880.