Urban Africa, Urban Movies: Politics & Revolution
The societies of Africa are in a state of change. In North Africa, as in various sub-Saharan metropolises, civil society-based protest movements have sprung up to protest against the political circumstances in their countries.
Movements such as the “Revolution of Smile” in Algiers, “Y en a marre” in Dakar / Senegal, “Balai citoyen” in Ouagadougou / Burkina Faso, the “Lucha” in Kinshasa / Democratic Republic of Congo, or the current protests in Nigeria – the protest movements against corrupt and authoritarian regimes are largely supported by artists.
Musicians, comedians, dramaturgists, poets, poets, video artists and directors use artistic forms of expression to show their civic engagement and to change societies. Hand in hand with the urban youth of the cities, they are carriers of social change and an essential motor for increasing resistance against corrupt and authoritarian regimes. The urban, digital cinema of independent African filmmakers in particular plays an important role as a social seismograph.
AFRIKAMERA 2020: Urban Africa, Urban Movies: Politics & Revolution presents a selection of current and historical feature films and documentaries on social upheaval and colonial reappraisal on the continent on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the independence of numerous African states. The program also marks the beginning of a four-year festival focus on contemporary urban cinema from Africa. In the following years, the thematic complexes “Youth & Youth Cultures” (2021), “Migration and Diaspora” (2022) and “Future & Utopias” (2023) will be brought into focus.
This year’s festival opens with the production THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT’S A RESURRECTION (Lesotho / Italy / South Africa 2019 I 17.11. ) by the director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese from Lesotho. After the single 80-year-old Mantoa has learned that her last surviving son died in a mine accident in neighboring South Africa, she has only one wish left – to die and be buried together with her son. But plans for her peaceful demise are thwarted when she learns of a dam project that will bury her village and cemetery under a reservoir. Mantoa decides to defend the spiritual heritage of her community… The visually stunning drama was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival, among other events.
In NARDJES A. (Algeria / France / Germany / Brazil / Qatar 2020 I 18.11.) the Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz accompanies the activist Nardjes over a period of 24 hours on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019 in Algiers. Filmed with a smartphone, Aïnouz creates a stirring cinematic document of the so-called “Revolution of Smile”.
THE GHOST AND THE HOUSE OF TRUTH (Nigeria 2019 I 18.11.) takes place in the darkest corners of the Nigerian metropolis Lagos. Bola Ogun is a dedicated consultant who facilitates reconciliation sessions between convicts and the victims of their crimes. Her belief in forgiveness is put to the test when her daughter Nike does not return home from school. The pregnant Commissioner Folashade “Stainless” Adetola takes over the investigation. The traces lead into the pedocriminal milieu of Lagos…
In cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation AFRIKAMERA presents a special program on the current political situation in Ethiopia on Thursday (19.11.). The autobiographical documentary FINDING SALLY (Ethiopia / Canada 2020) by Canadian-Ethiopian director Tamara Dawit tells the story of a 23-year-old woman from an upper class family and her mysterious disappearance after joining the Ethiopian Revolutionary People’s Party.
Following the screening, director Tamara Dawit, human rights expert Fisseha Tekle (Amnesty International Ethiopia) and Ulf Terlinden (Heinrich Böll Foundation Kenya) will discuss the film, its genesis and the political events in Ethiopia with a special focus on the human rights situation there. The event will take place online at calendar.boell.de/en/event/finding-sally.
To kick off the festival Friday, AFRIKAMERA will present the launch of the CINEMA SPACES NETWORK pilot project initiated by the Humboldt Forum (20.11.)
Starting from the question what cinema can mean in the 21st century, five African film collectives are invited to exchange their experiences in researching markets and needs assessment, forms of film presentation and the development of new audience segments in an open discourse.
The presentation will be online on Zoom and streamed on Facebook by AFRIKAMERA. Active participation requires a pre-registration at email@example.com.
The festival will then present the documentary FAHAVALO, MADAGASCAR 1947 (Madagascar / France / Belgium / Cape Verde / Qatar 2018 I 20.11.) by the French-Madagascan director Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes. Using archive material and eyewitness accounts, she traces the background of the so-called “Madagascar uprising” (Insurrection malgache) against the French colonial occupation. The guerilla fight of the local “Fahavalo” (“enemies of France”), who fought against the French occupiers armed only with spears and talismans, could only be put down in December 1948. To this day, the uprising remains a central event in Madagascar’s collective memory, celebrating the 60th anniversary of its independence this year.
AIR CONDITIONER (Angola 2020 I 20.11.), the first feature-length film by Angolan director and producer Mário Bastos a.k.a. Fradique, is a surreal trip through the Angolan metropolis of Luanda. For no apparent reason, the air conditioners attached to the facades fall out of their anchors en masse, killing people in the open street. The government is at a loss. Matacedo, a security guard, sets off at his boss’s behest to have his air conditioning system repaired. On the way he meets the maid Zezinha and ends up in an electrical store run by an enigmatic man named Mr. Mino.
The festival Saturday opens with a series of short screenings & a discourse event based on them. In cooperation with Weltfilme e.V., filmmakers and festival directors will discuss questions about ART AND CULTURE IN TIMES OF CORONA – FILM-MAKING IN AFRICA DURING THE PANDEMIC. The discussion is based on the contributions of five African filmmakers and festival directors from different countries, who describe their current situation in Corona statements. Young filmmakers from the African countries, who are able to further their education in media projects of Weltfilme e.V. on site, have in turn processed their view of the pandemic in current short films. The discussion takes place online at Zoom & is streamed live on Facebook. For active participation in the discussion on Zoom, registration at firstname.lastname@example.org is required.
With the program REVOLUTIONARY SHORTS AFRIKAMERA presents a selection of outstanding current short films from Africa for this year’s festival focus, including INVISIBLES (KAUNAPAWA) by Joel Haikali (Namibia 2019 I 21.11.), an ecstatic road movie in which a couple embarks on a journey through the Namibian outback to reflect on themselves and their place in post-apartheid society.
The ethnological documentary DAYS OF CANNIBALISM (France / Netherlands / South Africa 2020 I 21.11.) by Teboho Edkins is set in Lesotho in the district of Thaba-Tseka. Globalization in the form of Chinese economic migrants has meanwhile penetrated into the harsh hinterland of the enclave in the Republic of South Africa and challenges traditional value systems. Edkins thereby portrays the parallel societies that have emerged – Chinese traders on the one hand, the Basotho, traditional cattle breeders, on the other, without falling into simple dualism. He thus succeeds in an impressive study of social power differentials and latent violence.
After a popular uprising in October 2014, Burkina Faso committed itself to a historic vote: The first change of government through democratic elections. The documentary APRÈS TA RÉVOLTE, TON VOTE! (AFTER YOUR REVOLT, YOUR VOTE (Burkina Faso / France 2019 I 21.11.) by the Burkinabe director Kiswendsida Parfait Kaboré accompanies the movement “Le Balai Citoyen” in the construction of a new political system.
The political activist Boniface “Softie” Mwangi is at the center of the documentary film SOFTIE (Kenya 2020 I 21.11.) directed by Sam Soko . After a long struggle as a political activist and photographer against the injustices in his native Kenya, he decides to run for parliament in a regional election in Nairobi in 2017. The film accompanies Softie in his attempts to lead a clean campaign against his corrupt opponents. In the process he and his family come under increasing pressure…
The festival opens on Sunday with a classic by the French-Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo, who died in 2019. Inspired by the novel of the same name by the Nigerian writer Abdoulaye Mamani, the epic history film SARRAOUNIA (Burkina Faso / France 1986 I 22.11.) shows the battle of Sarraounia, the legendary Queen of the Azna against a colonial terror mission of France at the end of the 19th century as a reenactment.
In cooperation with the FESTIVAL CINÉMAS D’AFRIQUE LAUSANNE, AFRIKAMERA presents with the program BEST OF AFRICAN SHORTS (22.11.) a selection of outstanding current short films, including the concept film APOCALYPSE NOW NOW (South Africa / Canada 2017) by Michael Matthews, based on the urban fantasy novel by Charlie Human, which sends the 16-year-old Baxter on an insane journey through the fantastic underworld of Cape Town.
In EGYPT’S MODERN PHARAOHS (Egypt / South Africa / France 2015 I 22.11.) the French-Egyptian director Jihan El-Tahri traces the political development of her home country Egypt since 1952. As a result of several years of archive work, El-Tahri dedicates her film to the three central figures of Egyptian politics: Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar As-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, and explains why the course set by successive power regimes for consolidated independence culminated in the 2011 revolution in Tahir Square.
The festival closes with POPPIE NONGENA (South Africa 2019 I 22.11.), a film adaptation of the novel by South African writer Elsa Joubert by Christiaan Olwagen. Cape Town at the time of apartheid, mid-1970s. Poppie Nongena works as a housekeeper for a rich white family. When her husband loses his job, an apartheid law takes effect to exclude the black majority population: Poppie is now considered an illegal in her own country and is to be forcibly resettled with her children into her husband’s homeland in northern South Africa. At the same time, when the student uprising in Soweto against the regime broke out in 1976, Poppie had to fear not only for her own life, but also for that of her son …
Due to Covid-19 the program of AFRIKAMERA 2020 will be presented online, on www.afrikamera.de. For selected films there will also be Q&As with the filmmakers via Zoom after the screenings.
During the festival, the online-installation CHINAFRIKA.MOBILE can be viewed online at www.afrikamera.de. Since 2013, curator and urbanist Jochen Becker and filmmaker and director Daniel Kötter have been researching the cultural effects of economic and political relations between China and the African continent. A documentary film by Daniel Kötter traces the life cycle of a cell phone, from its “birth” in the mines of the Congo to its production in Chinese factories, to its use and “death” in the markets and recycling dumps in Nigeria.
Filmed by mine workers, factory workers, dealers and electro-waste collectors at the original sites in Congo, China and Nigeria.
The installation is accompanied online by an artist talk with the filmmaker and Juana Awad, curator/cultural scientist.