Urban Africa, Urban Movies – Youth & Youth Culture
AFRIKAMERA: URBAN AFRICA, URBAN MOVIES places urban Africa and its cinematic reflection in contemporary African cinema at the center of a four-year program.
After the festival edition in 2020, which was realized digitally due to the pandemic, a selection of current and historical feature films and documentaries was presented under the motto “Politics & Revolution”, which dealt with social upheavals and colonial reappraisal on the continent on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the independence of numerous African states. In 2021 the focus will be on “Youth & Youth Culture”, i.e. productions that deal with current youth and pop cultural phenomena in Africa’s metropolises and make them the subject of their stories.
As part of its 14th edition, AFRIKAMERA is also presenting a program at the Humboldt Forum for the first time, combining screenings, audience discussions, intercultural film education, a VR lounge and, for the opening, a “Ciné-Slam” as a German premiere.
This year the festival opens at Kino Arsenal with the production THE GRAVEDIGGER`S WIFE (Djibouti / Finland / Germany / France 2021 I Nov. 15 & 17.) by the Finnish-Somali director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed. Guled and Nasra live together with their teenage son Mahad in an outskirt of Djibouti city. When Nasra needs an expensive operation due to a chronic kidney disease, the family faces the challenge of raising the necessary money without losing cohesion.
In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, AFRIKAMERA presents a special program on hip-hop culture in Senegal on Festival Tuesday (Nov. 16).
Writer and director Fatou Kandé Senghor has created a 30-part series that is currently premiering on the Senegalese platform WIDO. WALABOK (Senegal 2021) is about the talented Mossane, who aspires to a career as a rapper despite many obstacles. The screening of two selected episodes will be followed by a conversation with the director. Admission to the event is free.
Alex Moussa Sawadogo, artistic director of AFRIKAMERA, is also director of the film festival FESPACO in Burkina Faso, one of the most innovative film nations on the African continent. For the opening of the program of AFRIKAMERA at the Humboldt Forum, the slammer Doueslik together with two musicians will therefore present film sequences from 50 years of film art of Burkinabe cinema with live music and poetry in a new guise – a CINE-SLAM (Nov. 17) as a German premiere.
Afterwards, the documentary RUMBA RULES, NEW GENEALOGIES (DR Congo / Canada / Belgium 2020 I Nov. 17) by David N. Bernatchez and Sammy Baloji portrays the work of the Brigade Sarbati Orchestra, which consists of more than 30 musicians and is now in its fifth generation of bringing the nightlife in Kinshasa to a boil. German premiere.
On Festival Thursday, two programs will be presented at the Humboldt Forum: #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (Namibia 2019 I Nov. 18), a cop thriller by German-Namibian director Tim Huebschle follows police officer Meisie Willemse as she investigates a serial killer. In the process, she is confronted with a dark secret from her past that offers insights into the difficult coexistence in post-colonial society.
AFRIKAMERA SHORTS (Ethiopia / Kenya / Sudan 2020 I Nov. 18) will present three outstanding short film productions from Sudan, Egypt and Burkina Faso, including A JOURNEY TO KENYA by Ibrahim Ahmad, a documentary about a martial arts team’s adventurous bus trip from Khartoum to Nairobi, borne of the spirit of the Sudanese revolution.
Meanwhile, the Arsenal presents two outstanding documentaries and a feature film from Nigeria.
DOWNSTREAM TO KINSHASA (DR Congo / Belgium / France 2020 I Nov. 18) by Dieudo Hamadi depicts the struggle for justice by victims of the Six-Day War between the Ugandan and Rwandan armies in the Congolese town of Kisangani. Twenty years later, a group of nine women and men set out on a journey of several weeks to the capital city of Kinshasa to finally seek redress.
In JUJU STORIES (Nigeria 2021 I Nov. 18), Nigerian film collective Surreal 16 ironically explores juju’s supernatural powers in a three-part anthology film – beyond common witch doctor clichés. German premiere.
ZINDER (Niger / Germany / France 2021 / Nov. 18) is the second largest city in Niger and also the setting for this impressive documentary about violent gang and youth culture in the town. In her second feature film, director Aïcha Macky, herself born in Zinder, accompanies Siniya, Bawo and Ramsess, members of the local gang “Hitler” in their everyday life in the Kara-Kara district.
The program AFRICAN SHORTS – AFRICAN POP CULTURES (Ghana a.o. 2021 / Nov. 19) focuses on formats that deal with current trends in African pop cultures, including ADIKORO – WOMEN IN MUSIC: GHANA (Ghana / Germany 2021) by German-Ghanaian director Pamela Owusu-Brenyah, which deals with female empowerment in the pop music scene of Ghana. Followed by a panel discussion with the director and Fatou Kandé Senghor. An event in cooperation with Pop-Kultur Festival Berlin.
SOUAD, a 19-year-old medical student leads a double life. While she appears conservatively with a veil in the circle of her family and society, she develops a completely different image of herself on Facebook and Instagram. Gradually, reality intrudes into her wishful world – until a series of small incidents leads to a tragic event… The drama SOUAD (Egypt / Tunisia / Germany 2021 / Nov. 19) by Egyptian director Ayten Amin is representative of the search for identity of millions of young people in post-revolutionary Egypt between upheaval and Islamic conservatism.
In the abuse drama ENTERRES (BURIED) (Cameroon 2019 / Nov. 19) by Françoise Ellong, four people dressed in black get out of a taxi in the opening scene. Although friends since childhood, they have not met for many years since their time together in a church orphanage. They are all hiding something from each other. On a football field in the middle of nowhere, they dare to play a game that brings demons they thought forgotten back to life…
Ennock is one of three hundred orphans from rural Malawi who have been placed in a Chinese orphanage. The children and teenagers here must speak Mandarin, maintain Buddhist traditions, and are groomed to master the difficult art of Shaolin Kung Fu. The documentary BUDDHA IN AFRICA (South Africa / Sweden 2019 I Nov. 20) by South African director Nicole Schafer poses highly topical questions about the proportionality between the perception of educational opportunities and the surrender of one’s own identity in the sign of China’s growing influence on the continent.
Nearly 100 years old, Margaret Kamango is a gentle, ironic woman – and is threatened with death. When a Facebook message is leaked to her grandson Karisa, who lives in Mombasa, accusing his grandmother of witchcraft, he decides to return to his home village to get to the bottom of it… Without prejudice, directors Maia Lekow and Christopher King tackle the phenomenon of witchcraft in contemporary Kenya in THE LETTER (Kenya 2019 I Nov. 20). Recommended for ages 14+.
La Maca, Abidjan’s prison, located in the middle of the forest on the outskirts of the city, is one of the most overcrowded in West Africa. One of the inmates, the aging and ailing prisoner Blackbeard is an increasingly controversial “dangoro.” To maintain his power, he resumes the tradition of the “novel,” a ritual that consists of forcing a prisoner to tell stories throughout the night… The visually stunning epic LA NUIT DES ROIS (NIGHT OF THE KINGS) (Ivory Coast / Senegal / France / Canada 2020 I Nov. 20) by Philippe Lacôte oscillates intriguingly between griot history and fantasy tale.
At the center of Atef Ben Bouzid’s documentary CAIRO JAZZMAN (Germany 2017 I Nov. 20) is the charismatic Egyptian pianist Amr Salah. With few resources but all the more dedication, he has been organizing the Cairo Jazz Festival since 2009. The film, set to shimmering jazz sounds, provides rare insights behind the scenes of the festival and at the same time offers an unusual view of the Egyptian megacity Cairo and a young generation yearning for a cultural and political awakening.
The festival Sunday opens with a youth film at the Humboldt Forum: With PETIT JO, Enfant des Rues (Cameroon / South Africa 2019 I Nov. 21) by Daniel Kamwa, AFRIKAMERA offers an intercultural format for youth aged 13 and older in collaboration with artist and empowerment trainer Rebecca Korang. The film tells the story of a mixed-race orphan boy in search of his identity and impressively shows everyday life on the streets of the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé. A German premiere in the presence of the director.
The afternoon and evening program at the Arsenal starts with a long-term documentary made over a period of 12 years. In THE DISQUALIFIED (Tunisia / Qatar / France 2020 I Nov. 21), Tunisian director Hamza Ouni follows eccentric Mehrez in his hometown of El Mohammedia, who at the age of 25 decides to enlighten and challenge a community of unemployed, frustrated youth through the means of theater.
OLIVER BLACK (Morocco 2020 I Nov. 21), the feature debut of Moroccan director Tawfik Baba, tells the story of young Vendredi, who crosses the desert alone to realize his dream of working for a circus in Morocco. On the way, he meets an old man named “White Man”. The two develop a special relationship. At that point, however, Vendredi has no idea that he has fallen in with a human trafficker…
The festival closes with FREDA (Benin / Haïti / France 2021 I Nov. 21), a production from the African diaspora by Gessica Généus. Freda lives with her family in a popular neighborhood in increasingly troubled Port-au-Prince. She worries about her education and the future of her crumbling homeland. Her siblings and friends are toying with the idea of leaving Haiti. But Freda wants to stay, while at the same time fighting at school against the progressive erasure of Haitian culture by white influences. The impressive family drama premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in the “Un certain regard” series. German premiere as part of Afrikamera.
Accompanying the festival program, a virtual reality lounge with current productions from Dakar, Lagos, Accra, Nairobi and Johannesburg can be experienced in the foyer of the Humboldt Forum from November 17-21 with free admission: “Urban Africa, Urban Movies” in VR.