I have been trying to attend as many of The Future Weird’s (see here, as well) screenings as possible in recent months. The Future Weird is a monthly series focused on films by directors from Africa and the global south. The series foregrounds films which imagine the future from a non-Western perspective. It is organized by Okayafrica’s Derica Shields and Africa is a Country’s Megan Eardley. The most recent installment was entitled “Black Atlantis” and featured a number of shorts that were linked by the common theme of water. The short that stood out the most for me was British architect-turned-filmmaker, Kibwe Tavares’ Jonah.

“Jonah” explores the effects of tourism, globalization, and commercialization in Zanzibar. The synopsis is as follows:

Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn’t what he dreamed – and when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive. Jonah is a big fish story about the old and the new, and the links and the distances between them.

Here’s the film:

With solid cinematography, dazzling visual effects, and intermittent humor, “Jonah” shows us a Zanzibar of the near-future that has become a “seedy, capitalist tourist trap.” The short was in part inspired by Hemmingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” as well as a trip Tavares took to East Africa (the film was originally supposed to be set in Lamu, Kenya). The filmmaker’s previous short, “Robots of Brixton,” was about a similarly dystopic future and acts as a kind of re-contextualization of the 1981 Brixton Riots. The short film took home the Special Jury Award for Animation Direction from Sundance in 2012 and is certainly worth watching. Kibwe Tavares is one of the leaders of the UK-based film and animation studio, Factory Fifteen.

Further Reading

Detritus of revolution

Nthikeng Mohlele’s novel Small Things (2013) provides a rejoinder to J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999), depicting a black man’s perspective on the failures of South Africa’s transition.

At the edge of sight

Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History is one of very few books to have come out of the continent about photography where the majority of contributors are African scholars.

Music is the weapon

During Christmas 1980, Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba performed at a concert in Lesotho that deeply challenged and disturbed South Africa’s apartheid regime. The record of that concert is being reissued.

Carceral colonialism

On the United Kingdom’s attempts to finance the construction of large-scale prison facilities in former colonies, to where it wants to deport undocumented migrants.

Fanon’s mission

The works of Frantz Fanon can be read as architectural renderings of rights, futures, and generations toward a “very different Afro-futurism.”

History time

The historical novel is in vogue across the continent, challenging how we conceive of the nation, and how we write its histories.