Broadcasting African documentaries to Africa

22 July 2014

South Africa’s Durban International Film Festival initiated a world first on Monday as it began broadcasting a full week of African documentary films to television audiences across sub-Saharan Africa.

The AfriDocs Film Week connects the largest film festival in Africa to TV viewers in 49 African countries through a “film festival on your screen” featuring documentary films from the DRC, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The week-long film event is a project of AfriDocs, the first weekly prime-time documentary strand broadcasting across the continent. AfriDocs broadcasts top African documentaries to 49 countries every Tuesday night by satellite on ED (DStv channel 190) and GOtv (channel 65), and terrestrially to an additional 100 cities in eight countries.

AfriDocs is an initiative of Cape Town-based documentary production and distribution company Steps in partnership with the Bertha Foundation.

“So many documentary films have been shot in Africa, but very few have been seen by African audiences,” AfriDocs executive producer Don Edkins said in a statement on the weekend. “This heralds a new era of distribution for the continent.”

Films by African filmmakers Sani Elhadj Magori, Licinio Azevedo, Rehad Desai, Judy Kibinge, Andrey Samoute Diarra, Annalet Steenkamp and Mandy Jacobson – together with filmmakers Mika Karismaki, Thierry Michel, Roger Ross Williams, Abby Ginzberg and Goran Olsson, among others – will be seen for the first time by a wide audience as a result of this collaboration.

Seven of the films screening at the Durban International Film Festival, which is currently under way, will also be part of the programme, including the award-winning Miners Shot Down, Concerning Violence, I Afrikaner, The Irresistible Rise of Moise Katumbi and Soft Vengeance.

These documentaries tell a wide range of stories, including films about African artists such as singer Miriam Makeba and Malian photographer Malik Sibide, films about political leaders Patrice Lumumba and Liberian President Sirleaf Johnson, and films dealing with revolutionaries, farmers, gangsters, musicians and evangelists.

Rebecca Lichtenfeld, director of social impact media at Bertha Philanthropies, said the Bertha Foundation was proud to partner with Steps in bringing great documentary films to audiences across Africa. “Connecting documentary film to African audiences is something we have been hoping to do for some time now, and this is an ideal platform for that,” she said.

For the full programme schedule and synopses of the films, visit www.afridocs.net or www.facebook.com/AfriDocs.

SAinfo reporter