Urban Africa, Urban Movies – Migration & Diaspora
Since 2020, the thematic focus URBAN AFRICA, URBAN MOVIES has placed urban Africa and its cinematic reflection in current cinema from the African Continent at the center of a four-year program. In 2022, the focus will be on productions that deal with issues of migration and life in the (African) diaspora.
Escpae and migration are among the dominant topics of the present. The political and artistic discourse is dominated by European perspectives, while African perspectives are largely ignored.
In current cinema from the African Continent, the question of “cultural identity,” the confrontation with the relationship between the “own” and the “foreign,” is no longer addressed solely from the perspective of the immigrants, but also, as it were, from the perspective of those returning to the African Continent from the diaspora and is thus rebalanced.
In its 15th edition, the program of AFRIKAMERA – CURRENT CINEMA FROM AFRICA covers four venues for the first time: While at the Arsenal the majority of the film formats on the thematic focus “Migration & Diaspora” will be shown, in addition to the opening and closing events, we will present at the Humboldt Forum special formats such as a theater performance and current virtual reality formats from the continent, in addition to selected films. A special event on the topic of “Escape and Migration” will be held on Festival Wednesday on the premises of our long-time festival partner Heinrich Böll Foundation. A new venue is the Kino in der Brotfabrik, where a selection of highlights from the program will be repeated. A small selection of films will be available online at Indiekinoclub as part of AFRIKAMERA.
This year’s festival edition opens with Adolf El Assal’s tragicomedy SAWAH. (Egypt/ Luxembourg/ Belgium 2020 / 8.11.) The movie portrays the odyssey of the young Egyptian DJ Samir, whose plane lands in Luxembourg due to a strike on the journey to a DJ festival from Cairo to Brussels. As if that isn’t enough, his luggage is lost along with his passport and music recordings, and he is mistaken for a refugee… Afterwards, a film discussion with the director follows.
José Miguel Ribeiro’s mythical animated film NAYOLA (Portugal/ Belgium/ France/ Netherlands 2022 / 9.11.) tells the story of the Angolan civil war in the form of a three-generation portrait: in the stories of Lelena (grandmother), Nayola (daughter) and Yara (granddaughter), the past and the present intertwine. While Nayola goes in search of her missing husband at the height of the war and never returns, Yara, now a rebellious teenager, rebels against the still repressive state with subversive rap music, while Lelena tries to protect herself from police persecution.
In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, AFRIKAMERA presents the documentary FATI’S CHOICE (Ghana/ South Africa 2021 / 9.11.) by Ghanaian filmmaker Fatimah Dadzie. Pregnant Fatima fled across the Mediterranean sea to Italy, but then decides to return to her family and her four children after six months of disillusionment – a decision that is met with great incomprehension in Fatima’s hometown… The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director. Admission to the event on the premises of the Heinrich Böll Foundation is free.
The AFRIKAMERA program at the Humboldt Forum opens with a theater performance by the Burkinabe actress Roukiata Ouédraogo. In her solo JE DEMANDE LA ROUTE (10.11.) she lets the audience participate in her adventurous journey from the suburbs of Ouagadougou to the Château-Rouge district in Paris and tells with much humor and self-irony about her life in the French diaspora, which led her from odd jobs as a cashier and hairdresser to the stage of the Théâtre de l’Œuvre.
In LE MALI 70 (Germany 2021 / 10.11.), director and editor Markus CM Schmidt accompanies the Berlin-based big band project Omniversal Earkestra on a musical research trip to Mali to meet – in the footsteps of the vibrant Malian big band scene of the 1960s and 70s – legendary musical veterans such as Cheick Tidiane Seck, Sory Bamba, Abdoulaye Diabaté and Salif Keita. Director Markus CM Schmidt will be present for the screening.
A car accident brings ex-rocker Larsen and sex worker Rajae together. Besides experienced traumas, they share their love for rock’n’roll. Driven by sadistic policemen, a shotgun-wielding gangster and poisonous snakes, only one chance remains to save their amour fou: Escape from Casablanca’s underworld – and their shared passion for music.
Ismael El Iraqi’s movie ZANKA CONTACT (BURNING CASABLANCA) (Morocco/ France/ Belgium 2020 / 10.11.) is a wild homage to Casablanca’s 1970s rock ‘n’ roll scene and the Italian Western.
FATHER’S DAY (Rwanda 2022 / 10.11.) by Kivu Ruhorahoza tells three interwoven stories set in the East African country against the backdrop of genocide, but without naming it. A mother tries to cope with the loss of her only son, who died in an accident, and becomes estranged from her husband. A young woman cares for her bedridden father, a former military man she never really loved, yet prepares for an organ donation that could save his life. A young boy wanders the city with his father, a petty criminal with poor impulse control, who teaches him how to collect metal parts from cars or steal pets to sell on the street. The intimate drama, Ruhorahoza’s third feature, is on the one hand a bitter indictment of patriarchal power, and on the other a document of hope, sustained by its strong female characters. In the presence of co-producer Innocent Munyeshuri.
In the program AFRIKAMERA SHORTS – MIGRATION & DIASPORA (Algeria/ Rwanda/ Senegal a.o. 2019-2021 / 11.11. ) will focus on current short formats that address this year’s thematic focus on “Migration & Diaspora,” including ETHEREALITY (Rwanda/ Switzerland 2020), by Kantarama Gahigiri, a poetic reflection on migration and the sense of belonging, and EXILÉES (EXILED) by Ager Oueslati (Algeria 2019), which, in the character of young Priska, traces the fate of women who have made their way from sub-Saharan countries to Europe, only to become stranded in the desert city of Agadez in Niger. Directors Kantarama Gahigiri and Ager Oueslati will be present for the screening.
In current cinema from the African Continent, comedic works have so far received little attention. As a cultural technique, humor and mockery in particular – also of folkloric origin – unfold their identity-forming power, strengthen social cohesion and become the object of artistic production.
The short film reel AFRICAN SHORTS – LAUGH IS POSSIBLE (Nigeria/ Egypt/ DR Congo/ Kenya among others from 2016-2021/ 11.11) is a compilation of four comedic formats from Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Keni Ogunlola’s LODGERS (Nigeria/ UK 2016 / 23 min / OmeU), two Nigerian professionals decide to move to England. Being ambitious and a bit arrogant, the believe that their domestic diplomas will open up a great professional future for them in their new place of residence. However, the reality turns out to be a bit more complicated. In NIGHT SHIFT (Egypt 2020 / 14 min / OmeU), a short film by Egyptian director Karim Shabaan, a late-night caller completely upsets 20-year-old call center employee Zain. Directors Keni Ogunlola and Karim Shabaan will be on hand for Q&As.
The Caritas-run House of Migrants near the Malian city of Gao offers refuge to weary and stranded travelers on their way north, for whom there is no return to their homes. Ousmane Samassékou’s documentary LE DERNIER REFUGE (THE LAST SHELTER) (Mali/ South Africa/ France 2021 / 11.11.) sensitively accompanies the everyday life of the people and thus allows moving insights into their spiritual lives. The director will be present for the screening.
Africans have been second-class refugees throughout Europe during the large refugee movements since 2012. In Berlin, too, they had no access to state support and integration services and drew attention to these grievances, for example, with the occupation of Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg. Since then, unfortunately, little has changed; only with the help of volunteer initiatives and NGOs have necessary measures for residence and care been organized. 2022 shows a similar picture: African students who flee from the war in Ukraine to other European countries also fall through all the cracks in Germany. Already discriminated against as they flee Ukraine and at the borders, they do not have equal access to the government’s comprehensive assistance services and must be supported by volunteer organizations.
In the panel NARRATIVES OF ESCAPE (11.11.), the aspects of this unequal treatment and the reception of the images, which are now part of everyday life in Europe, will be discussed with Berlin activists. The question of what influence documentary films can have on socio-political developments will also be examined. Free admission.
With the polygamy comedy BAL POUSSIERE (Ivory Coast/ France 1988, 11.11.) by Henri Duparc, AFRIKAMERA presents a classic of the genre at the Humboldt Forum. Demi-dieu (demigod) is a wealthy farmer and village chief with five wives. When he decides to marry a sixth wife, young Binta, in order to have a spouse for every day of the week (except Sunday, the day of rest), his five other wives become dissatisfied. However, Binta, a modern, self-confident woman, does not want to be subordinated. Henriette Duparc, film producer and member of the Fondation Henri Duparc, will be present for the screening.
Soula, a young single mother, is disowned by her family in the name of honor. She doesn’t know where to go when her father throws her out of the house and asks friends and relatives for help. To save her young daughter, she embarks on a 14-hour dystopian road trip from Batna to Annaba in eastern Algeria, heading towards her inevitable fate. Lead actress Soula Bahri not only co-wrote the script for the film, but also embodies herself in this semi-autobiographical story. AFRIKAMERA is screening the Algerian independent production as a Germany premiere.
In the discourse format “THE ART OF COLLABORATION – Migration & Diaspora” (12.11.), African and European filmmakers and multipliers will address questions around (Afro)-diasporic filmmaking in various discussion rounds and a roundtable. Questions about identities, narratives and backgrounds and the mutual influence of the diasporic community and the majority society on the film language will be raised and the cooperation and networks for transnational filmmaking will be highlighted.
In the documentary SUR LES TRACES D’UN MIGRANT (FOOTSTEPS OF A MIGRANT) (Burkina Faso/ South Africa 2021 / 12.11.) by Burkinabe director Delphine Yerbanga, twin sisters Adama and Awa embark on a journey with their uncle through Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso to find their father, who abandoned the family when the children were only eight years old. On their search, they not only meet their father’s family, but are also confronted for the first time with the Mossi culture. The director will be present for the Germany premiere.
With his documentary debut NO U-TURN (Nigeria/ South Africa/ France/ Germany 2022 / 12.11.), Nigerian Nollywood director Ike Nnaebue embarks on a journey into his own past. More than 20 years ago, he made his way to Europe from Benin, but then decided to turn back in Morocco, eventually studying film in Lagos. In his impressive essayistic as well as self-reflexive cinematic travelogue, Nnaebue tries to fathom what motivates young people in West Africa today to embark on the dangerous path to an uncertain future.
In NEPTUNE FROST (USA/ Rwanda 2021 / 12.11.), a group of escaped coltan miners and hackers form an anti-colonialist collective in an inhospitable mountainous region in Central Africa to overthrow the authoritarian-dictatorial regime that exploits the region’s natural resources – and its people. With hypnotic imagery staged as a queer Afrofuturist fantasy, Neptune Frost oscillates between musical, science-fiction parable and ecofeminist hacker manifesto. The joint directorial effort of US spoken word artist and musician Saul Williams and Rwandan filmmaker and actress Anisia Uzeyman, has caused an international sensation since its premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and has since then been nominated for numerous awards.
The program AFRIKAMERA SHORTS – AFRODIASPORIC PERSPECTIVES (Guinea/ Kenya/ Germany 2018-21 / 13.11.) presents one short film and two mid-length current formats by Afro-diasporic filmmakers, including IN DEUTSCHLAND (Guinea/ Germany 2020) by Rwandan-German director Christoph Mushayija Rath.
In the subsequent panel at Kino Arsenal on THE ART OF COLLABORATION (PT. 2) (Nov. 13), filmmakers will talk about identities, belonging, transit and (im)mobility, their personal migration experience and life in the diaspora.
With AFRICA RIDING (France 2018 / 13.11.) AFRIKAMERA presents for the second time a youth program with guests at the Humboldt Forum. The documentary series by Liz Gomis and Aurélien Biette – from which a selection of five episodes will be shown – follows different communities of riders – skateboarders, roller skaters, bikers – in Accra (Ghana), Kigali (Rwanda), Dakar (Senegal) and Kampala (Uganda).
The documentary MAKONGO (CATERPILLARS) (Central African Republic/ Argentina/ Italy 2020 / 13.11.) by director Elvis Sabin Ngaibino, who comes from the Central African Republic, follows Andre and Albert, two young Aka-Pygmies who insist on their right to education and protest against the ongoing discrimination against their people. Their goal: to enable other children to learn to read and write aswell. To finance this with the sale of caterpillars (Makongo), they set out for the capital Bangui…
The festival closes with SALOUM (Senegal 2021), the latest feature film by Congolese director Jean Luc Herbulot, a work that oscillates between action, mystery thriller and Italo-Western, defies any genre attributions: The “Bangui Hyenas,” a notorious trio of mercenaries together with a Mexican drug trafficker, flee Guinea-Bissau, that is rocked by a coup d’état. But their plane crashes on the way to Dakar, and the group fights their way out, eventually landing at a run-down resort in the middle of the Saloum Delta in Senegal. There they meet creepy guests who seem to know more about the “Bangui Hyneas” than they would like…
Accompanying the festival program, a 360° Virtual Reality Lounge with current productions on the thematic focus “MIGRATION & DIASPORA” can once again be experienced in the foyer of the Humboldt Forum from 10.-13.11. with free admission.