AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

10 African films to watch out for, N°11
Tom Devriendt | November 15th, 2012

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And by ‘African’ we mean — made by African or diaspora directors, Africa-themed, or set in Africa. Don’t spend too much time pondering about that definition though. First up this week is Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria, a documentary film (trailer above) by Jeff L. Lieberman about Nigerian Igbos who have adopted Judaism. (William Miles wrote a book about the same topic: Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey; here’s an interview with Williams about his work.) Not unrelated to the film above, I came across this headline recently: “Moroccan film on Jewish Berbers sparks debate.” The film, Tinghir-Jersusalem: Echoes from the Mellah, is a documentary by French-Moroccan director Kamal Hachkar about the history of the Jewish Berbers of the small Moroccan mountain town of Tinghir who left during the 1950s and 1960s to resettle in Israel. The film is available in full (with French subtitles) on YouTube but here’s the English trailer:



Next up, Les Mécréants (“The Infidels”) is a Swiss-Moroccan production, directed by Mohcine Besri. The trailer is puzzling, and so is the synopsis: “On the order of their spiritual leader, three young Islamists kidnap a group of actors who are about to go on tour with their latest show. When the kidnappers arrive at the place of detention, they find themselves cut off from their base. A 7-day no exit situation [ensues], in which both sides are forced to live together, confront each other and challenge their mutual prejudices.” We’ll have to watch it:

There’s a couple of interesting film events happening this week. One of them this weekend in Namibia. Details here. Among the films that will be screened is Try, a short directed by Joel Haikali. Synopsis: 8 hours in Windhoek:

Showing at the Afrikamera festival in Berlin this week (which has a focus on ‘African women on and behind the screen’) is Ramata, the first feature film by Congolese director Léandre-Alain Baker. The film is set in Dakar (Senegal). No English trailer yet:

Ici on Noie les Algériens (“We drown Algerians here”) — also showing at Afrikamera — revisits October 17, 1961, the day when thousands of Algerians marched through Paris against the curfew imposed on them; a demonstration that saw a brutal crackdown by the French police leaving many demonstrators killed. Combining narrative and unpublished archives, the film traces the different stages of events, revealing the strategies and methods implemented at the highest level of the State (manipulation of public opinion, the systematic challenging of all charges, etc). Here’s a trailer (in French):

Remember François Hollande only recently became the first French president to recognize the State’s involvement, 51 years after the facts. (More and longer fragments here and here.)

Have You Heard From Johannesburg dates from 2010 but just last month won the Primetime Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. It is a series of seven documentaries, produced and directed by Connie Field, chronicling the history of the global anti-apartheid movement, that took on South Africa’s apartheid state and its international supporters who at the time considered South Africa an ally in the Cold War. The film’s website has a wide-ranging gallery of photos, profiles and links. The trailer:

The Dream of Shahrazad is a documentary film by South African director Francois Verster (remember his excellent ‘Sea Point Days’, which you can watch here if you haven’t), “[locating] political expression before, during and after the Egyptian revolution – and also within recent times in Turkey and Lebanon – within a broader historical and cultural framework: that of storytelling and music.” The film has recently been accepted for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam’s co-production and co-financing Forum which hopefully means the production can be brought to a succesful end. There are more fragments on its website, but here’s the trailer:

Clara di Sabura is a film directed by Guinean José Lopes, inspired by Mussá Baldé’s famous poem with the same title — a comment on the lives of youth in (the streets of) Bissau. The opening scenes:

There’s no English subtitled version available yet, but if your Kriol (or Portuguese) is up to standard, you can watch the next parts of the film here.

And finally, another documentary. L’horizon cassé (“The broken horizon”) is a film by Anaïs Charles-Dominique and Laurent Médéa about the 1991 riots that broke out in the Cauldron, a neighbourhood of Saint Denis (La Réunion), after the popular TV channel Télé Freedom was shut down by the state and its founder, Camille Sudre, was taken to court. There’s no trailer yet, but here’s an interview with both the directors (in French), including some archival footage from the film:

In other festival news, there are encouraging reports from Amsterdam, where the Africa in the Picture film festival gets to keep some of its subsidies. And kicking off today in Nairobi is the OUT Film Festival, with a screening of I Am Mary, a documentary film about Mary, a volunteer with one of the GALCK member groups, Minority Women in Action, and an active participant in the fight for human rights for LGBTI persons in Kenya.


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