Film Africa takes African stories to the world

28 October 2016

The Film Africa film festival, hosted by the Royal African Society, is considered the premier global film event for showcasing African filmmaking. Held this year in London from 28 October to 6 November, Film Africa will feature 52 features, short films and documentaries from 22 African countries.

The selection of African-produced and African-themed films will be supplemented with a series of discussions by actors and filmmakers as well as with exhibitions by African production companies. Professional workshops, live music events and industry seminars will also all highlight film, art and culture from the continent and its diaspora.

The festival culminates in an awards ceremony recognising the best of the festival’s acting and filmmaking talents. It includes the Baobab Award for Best Short Film and the Audience Award for Best Feature Film.

One of the topical themes at the festival this year is: Why I’m Here: Stories of Migration. It comprises a collection of personal film narratives that reflect the intricacies of migration, political asylum and other challenges faced by Africans living outside Africa.

Another predominant theme, one specifically focused on South Africa, is the cost of attaining and retaining freedom.

The film biography of struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu, titled Kalushi will open the festival. The film looks at Mahlangu’s life during the 1976 Soweto student uprising, as a soldier in Umkhonto we Sizwe and the influence he had on the fight against apartheid. A post-screening discussion with director Mandla Dube and star Thabo Rametsi will also unpack his influence on contemporary protests such as Fees Must Fall.

There will also be a screening of the 1994 film about the Soweto student uprising, Sarafina, starring Leleti Khumalo and Whoopi Goldberg. It will be shown along with a companion piece, a new documentary called Soweto: Times of Wrath, which looks at the influence of the 1976 generation on young Sowetans today.

The screenings will be followed by a discussion, led by the six young filmmakers involved in the documentary, on the state of human rights in post- apartheid South Africa and how communities are taking action to have their voices heard.

Also on at the festival is British director Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom, a film about the love affair between Botswana’s first democratic leader, Seretse Khama, and British office worker Ruth Williams. The film is courting a lot of 2017 Oscar buzz, thanks to powerful performances by stars David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, as well as meticulous cinematography that convincingly captures Africa and its people.

The festival ends with the world premiere of Wùlu, a Mali-France co-production. A political thriller set amidst the 2012 Mali political rebellion, the film blends elements of traditional African storytelling with fast-paced action.

International critics have hailed the film and its director, Daouda Coulibaly, as Africa’s answer to atmospheric action auteur Michael Mann. It is being touted for selection for a Best Foreign Language Academy Award in 2017.

Source: Film Africa festival 2016

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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