British filmmaker Roy Agyemang’s documentary on Robert Mugabe, “Villain on Hero?”, intended to be a three-month mission but turned into a three-year mission. “Roy and his UK based Zimbabwean fixer, Garikayi, worked their way through the corridors of power, probing the cultural, economical and historical factors at the heart of the “Zimbabwean crisis”. In their quest to interview Mugabe, Roy and Garikayi were mistaken for the British Secret Service” (film notes). Trailer tells us they got the interview, but not how it ended. Next, Rêve Kakudji is a documentary film by Ibbe Daniëls and Koen Vidal about Congolese opera singer Serge Kakudji. Kakudji is introduced as “the first African to sing arias in the predominately white world of opera music” — is that so? “Bridging the gap between Europe and Africa”:

Operation Vula is a documentary by Naäma Palfrey about Conny Braam who, in the mid-eighties, in addition to her chairmanship of the anti-apartheid movement, is secretly in charge of more than 70 Dutch volunteers over the course of 5 years. Together with the ANC leadership, Conny and these volunteers pursue an operation to support and manage South African ANC exiles that are being disguised in Amsterdam to infiltrate South Africa with false identities to continue and intensify the underground resistance from within. A good additional read on this is Bart Luirink’s recent book Zwart Goud (“Black Gold”):

Director Kaizer Matsumunyane (born in Lesotho) explains the idea behind his upcoming documentary The Smiling Pirate (6 minutes into the video below): “In October 2013, Sony Pictures will release a Tom Hanks motion picture purporting to tell the story of the Maersk Alabama’s hijacking in 2009 by a band of Somali Pirates. This narrative is told from the vantage point of its captain, Richard Phillips, played by Tom Hanks. My documentary, however, tells the story and more but from the vantage point of the one surviving Pirate, a teenager named Abduwale Abdukhad Muse. With three other Somali teenagers, Muse took the ship’s captain Richard Phillips hostage. During the rescue by US Navy Seals, Muse’s three compatriots were killed but he survived to become the first person to be charged of piracy in the United States in more than a century. The documentary will tell the story of Muse growing up in Somalia, the girl he was working to marry, the recruitment into piracy at the age of 16, the piracy training he undertook, the three ships he hijacked, being captured and held hostage by the Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab in Somalia, the hijacking of the American flagged ship, the trial in the U.S, experience of solitary confinement for more than a year, life in prison and his fight for a retrial.”

Penny Woolcock’s documentary One Mile Away is portrayed as a “riveting portrait of the complex, contentious reality of the streets, and the courage it takes to make a difference…it could well be this year’s most important British film” (Time Out). The film charts the attempts by two warring gangs in inner city Birmingham, the Burger Bar Boys (B21) and the Johnson Crew (B6), to bring peace to their neighbourhoods. Some background: here and here. The trailer:

And here’s a bonus: register your interest in seeing “One Mile Away”, and watch it: here. Or here (H/T Duma).

Further Reading

A ditch to climb

In South Africa, the political class use foreign nationals as scapegoats to obfuscate their role in reproducing inequality. But immigrants are part of the excluded.