Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa region is best known for its armed conflicts and political, social and humanitarian crises, not so much for its cinema culture, while the cinema in the region looks back on a long tradition.
Addis Ababa proudly recalls that Ethiopia was the first African country to introduce cinema. Emperor Menelik II imported a projector in 1897 to watch a movie about the miracles of Jesus. Only a year later the first cinema opened in Ethiopia near the Hotel de France, called by the Ethiopians “saytan bet” (Devil’s House).
Although the early arrival of cinema culture in Ethiopia has kept the number of local cinema productions relatively small compared to, for example, the continent’s francophone countries over the following decades, the Horn of Africa has recently seen a brisk film scene.
AFRIKAMERA 2018 – Horn of Africa presents a selection of current feature and documentary films from and about the region as well as from neighboring East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, dealing with current developments in the region and the everyday lives of people in the culturally diverse and volatil region.
The festival opens with THE MERCY OF THE JUNGLE (Rwanda / Belgium / France 2018 I 13.11 I Repetition. 16.11.) by Joël Karekezi. Sergeant Xavier (Marc Zinga) and Private Faustin (Stéphane Bak) are soldiers in a Rwandan army unit, which is to detect a group of Hutu rebels in 1998 during the Second Congo War. One night they lose contact with their comrades and are left alone in the jungle. Joël Karekezi and the actor Stéphane Bak will be on location for the German premiere.
With an HOMMAGE ON IDRISSA OUEDRAOGO (14.11.), AFRIKAMERA commemorates the influential Burkinabe director, who died in February this year. Shown is a selection of early short films from the years 1981-86. In the presence of Salam Zampaligré (Burkina Faso / AFRIKAMERA Residency).
In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Festival presents THANK YOU FOR THE RAIN by Julia Dahr & Kisilu Musya (UK / Norway 2017) (14.11.) Over a period of five years, the enlightenment documentary follows the path of the Kenyan farmer Kisilu Musya to an environmental activists against climate change. Musya will be on site for a podium discussion.
MUSIC IS OUR WEAPON (Kenya / Tanzania / Denmark / Hungary 2016) (14.11.) by Taye Balogun portrays the Kenyan band Sarabi and their struggle for justice – a documentary about the inspirational power of music and its potential as a weapon of change.
The Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka spent over 18 months in refugee camps in the Blue Nile region and the Nuba Mountains, where people hide from the Antonov aircraft of the capital Khartoum. His documentary BEATS OF THE ANTONOV (Sudan / South Africa 2014) (15.11.) tells in emotional pictures how people can succeed in surviving civil war with the help of local music traditions. The director Hajooj Kuka will be present for the screening.
BLACK JEWS, THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE (Senegal / France 2016) (15.11.) is one of several contributions to the program dealing with the history and present of Judaism in Sub-Saharan Africa. The documentary by Laurence Gavron portrays the Jewish community of Saa in Cameroon. The director will be on location for a film talk.
In the interlude, TRANSITIONS (Ethiopia / Israel 2016) by Aäläm-Wärqe & Kobi Davidian will be led, in which 18-year-old Mimi reconstructs her immigration history from Ethiopia to Israel.
RED LEAVES (Ethiopia / Israel 2014) (15.11.) is about the 74-year-old Meseganio, who fled from Ethiopia to Israel 28 years ago. After the death of his wife, he is forced to deal with his traditional ideas of Ethiopian-Jewish culture. In his sensitive, documentary debut film, Ethiopian-Israeli director Bazi Gete combines motifs from Shakespeare’s King Lear with experiences from his own family history. The director is present for the screening.
With the program HORN OF AFRICA – BEST OF SHORTS (16.11.) AFRIKAMERA presents a selection of outstanding short films from the region, including LAAN (Djibouti 2012) by Lula Ali Ismaïl on the everyday life of three childhood friends in Djibouti city. The director Lula Ali Ismaïl and Abraham Haile Biru, president of the Colors of the Nile Festival (Ethiopia), will be on-site for a film talk.
The festival Friday concludes with a tragicomedy. In SHEIKH JACKSON (Egypt 2017) by Amr Salama, conservative Imam Sheikh Khaled Hani is shaken by the sudden death of Michael Jackson. Reminiscent of his youth as a passionate fan of the King of Pop, the Islamic cleric falls into a crisis of faith.
SUPA MODO (Kenya / Germany 2018) (17.11.) by Likarion Wainaina is a story about the power of imagination and community that pulls together in difficult times. Nine-year-old Jo is terminally ill and loves action movies. She dreams of being a superhero herself. Jos’s sister and the inhabitants of her home village are eager to fulfill her last wish. Suitable for spectators aged 9 and over.
The program TUNISIA FACTORY (Tunisia / France 2018) (17.11.) consists of a selection of four 15-minute short films, which were realized in just five weeks. In addition to the four Tunisian directors Mariam Al Ferjani, Ismail Louati, Rafik Omrani and Anissa Daoud, four filmmakers from Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka participated in the realization.
With the SUDAN SHORTS (17.11.), AFRIKAMERA presents a selection of medium-length and two short films from Sudan, including IMAN (Sudan 2017), the latest film by the Lebanese-Sudanese director and producer Mia Bittar. With the involvement of amateur actors and based on 400 interviews conducted in various regions of Sudan, four intimate stories about radicalization and extremism are told. Mia Bittar is expected as a guest to the screening.
The feature film debut of South African director Michael Matthews breaks Western codes to subtly narrate the country’s colonial history. In FIVE FINGERS FOR MARSEILLES (South Africa 2017) (17.11.) Tau, a former member of the resistance band Five Fingers, returns to his home town of Marseilles after 20 years. Instead of making peace, Tau sees the city threatened by a gang. Reluctantly, he has to resume the fight for freedom …
THE BODA BODA THIEVES (Uganda / South Africa / Kenya / Germany 2015) (18.11.), a production of the directing collective Yes! That’s Us, is playing in the world of motorcycle taxis in Uganda’s capital Kampala. It tells the story of 15-year-old Abel, who takes over Boda Boda after his father’s accident. When he gets involved with a gang that needs a motorcycle for their raids, the vehicle is stolen. Abel is facing a real existence test. A neo-real urban portrait of Kampala with reference to Vittorio De Sicas LADRI DI BICICLETTE, full of zest for life.
In a double feature AFRIKAMERA presents two recent documentary films from Gabon and Ivory Coast. While the presidential election campaign is raging in Gabon in 2016, the young boxer Christ Mickala leads his personal struggle for survival: During the day he is doing his training – at night he works as a doorman. Amédée Pacôme Nkoulous BOXING LIBREVILLE (Gabon 2017) (18.11.) provides an intense insight into the realities of life of young adults in today’s Western Africa. VIVRE RICHE (Burkina Faso / France / Belgium 2017) by Joël Akafou portrays young men in Ivory Coast. Using the Internet, “Rolex the Portuguese” and his friends ensnare white ladies looking for love or sex in Africa … The film screening will be foloowed by a conversation with Joël Akafou.
The festival concludes with the feature film debut by Ethiopian director Yared Zeleke. LAMB (Ethiopia 2015) (18.11.) draws an unusual portrait of nine-year-old Ephraim. After the death of his mother, his father brings him to his relatives. But the boy can hardly make friends with the lifestyle of the mountain farmers. His best friend Chuni, a lamb, gives him comfort … The Coming Of Age movie was the first Ethiopian production to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.