A Ton of New African Films Screening at The International Film Festival Rotterdam

This year’s International Film Festival of Rotterdam has a big selection of new African films scheduled. The festival runs until next weekend so if you’re anywhere near, go check it out. I’ve embedded the trailers and clips I could find, plus the screening dates. Thankfully, most of the films (documentary, short, long fiction) have more than one screening date. The introductory blurbs come courtesy of the festival’s website.

Walk With Me (Johan Oettinger and Peter Tukei Muhumuza). Uganda, Denmark. “This complex, sometimes dark short film skilfully combines animation and feature film techniques. The two directors were brought together as part of the Copenhagen documentary festival’s Dox:Lab project. Walk with Me was shot in Uganda and completed in Denmark. A young girl in Uganda dreams of being a ballerina…” Thu 30 Jan, 19:00.


Shoeshine (Amil Shivji). Tanzania. “A colourful and light like a comedy, but the maker also provides social commentary on Dar-es-Salaam’s society and his country, Tanzania. The story is set in a street where a shoeshine man and a bar owner symbolise the rest of the world.” Sun 26, 22:15 / Mon 27 Jan, 14:15.

Salvation Army (Abdellah Taïa). Morocco, France. “A young Moroccan writer filmed his own book, telling his life’s story. About a boy in Casablanca who finds out you can earn money through homosexuality and about a student who, poor, cold and alone, knocks on the door of the Salvation Army in Europe.” Tue 28 Jan, 19:00 / Wed 29 Jan, 21:45 / Thu 30 Jan, 12:45 / Fri 31 Jan, 21:45.

B For Boy (Chika Anadu). Nigeria. “A drama that bucks the familiar Nollywood trend. A contemporary, detailed narrative about a woman who takes extreme measures to give her husband a son.” Sun 26 Jan, 12:30 / Mon 27 Jan, 19:30 / Thu 30 Jan, 21:45.

Berea (Vincent Moloi). South Africa. “Long after friends and family have moved away from a notorious Johannesburg suburb, Jewish retiree Aaron Zukerman lives there in his ever smaller, darkening world. An unexpected visit on Friday breaks Aaron’s routine and sets off cautious assimilation.” Sun 26 Jan, 14:15 / Tue 28 Jan, 17:00 / Sat 1 Feb, 12:00.

Chigger Ale (Fanta Ananas). Ethiopia, Spain. “People are dancing at the neighbourhood bar Fendika in Addis Ababa, but it goes quiet when Hitler walks in. Only briefly, mind you, as it’s soon time to play a practical joke, like pulling the fake moustache off the little guy in uniform. He’s not amused.” Yes, that sounds far-out. The trailer doesn’t reveal much more. Sun 26 Jan, 16:45 / Mon 27 Jan, 17:30 / Sat 1 Feb, 14:15.

A Hole in the Sky (Antonio Tibaldi and Alex Lora). Somalia, France. “A document providing insight into the mind of a rural Somali girl. She accepts that tradition demands that she has to make a great sacrifice. The boundary between fact and fiction dissolves thanks to the poetic voice-over.” Sun 26 Jan, 22:15 / Mon 27 Jan, 14:15.

A Letter to Mohamed (Christine Moderbacher). Tunisia, Austria, Belgium. “A Personal report from Tunisia two years after the revolution. Many people are disappointed, but they still hope that they will gain freedom and justice and that the tourists will return. What is freedom actually like? Traces of revolutionary zeal about to ignite against this background.” Sun 26 Jan, 19:30.

Rags and Tatters (Ahmad Abdalla). Egypt. “January 2011: Egypt is in the grip of revolution. Asser Yassin escapes from jail only to end up in a country he no longer recognises. Rags and Tatters does not feature mass protests on Tahrir Square, but rather a general sense of threat.” Mon 27 Jan, 18:30 / Wed 29 Jan, 13:00 / Fri 31 Jan, 10:00.

It’s Us (Nick Reding). Kenya. “Convincing proof that an educational, political film made in Africa (Kenya) can also be good fun. Even comical. A nonchalant mix of film and theatre, inspired by the election riots of 2007: on mistrust in a fragile community.” Sun 26 Jan, 15:30 / Mon 27 Jan, 09:15 / Thu 30 Jan, 13:00 / Sat 1 Feb, 13:45.

There’s many more, including some older ones that haven’t been shown all that often in the Low Countries. Check the full programme (neatly sorted per continent).

Further Reading

Take it to the house

On this month’s AIAC Radio, Boima celebrates all things basketball, looking at its historical relationships with music and race, then focusing on Africa’s biggest names in the sport.

El maestro siempre

Maky Madiba Sylla is a militant filmmaker excavating iconic Africans whose legacies he believes need to be known widely—like the singer Laba Sosseh.

Madiba and Mali

There is a remarkable connection between Mali and South Africa, dating back to the liberation struggle, and actively encouraged by the author’s work.

A devil’s deal

Rwanda’s proposed refugee deal with Britain is another strike against President Paul Kagame’s claim that he is an authentic and fearless pan-Africanist who advocates for the less fortunate.

Red and Black

Yunxiang Gao’s new book takes a fresh look at connected lives of African American and Chinese leftist activists, artists and intellectuals after World War II.

The Dar es Salaam years

In the early 1970s, Walter Rodney, expelled from Jamaica, took a post in Tanzania. In Leo Zeilig’s new book, he captures those exciting, but also difficult years and how it formed Rodney.

Rushing to boycott

The cultural boycott of Russia turns to the flawed precedent of apartheid South Africa for inspiration, while ignoring the much more carefully considered boycott of official Israeli culture by the BDS Movement.

The party question

Marcel Paret’s book, “Fragmented Militancy: Precarious Resistance in South Africa after Racial Inclusion,” tries to make sense of politics in South African urban informal settlements.

The missing pieces

Between melancholy, terror, and disillusion, Petit Pays is a groundbreaking and eye-opening take on one of the darkest pages of African history, one that is often misunderstood in the West.