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When will we start taking African cinema seriously?


Out of Africa … Ousmane Sembene directing Fatoumata Coulibaly in Mooladé.

Photograph: Artificial Eye

The view:

Only a handful of films from Africa have enjoyed British theatrical release in the last decade.

It feels a little quaint to be writing about African cinema at the height of another long blockbuster summer, with the studios’ big beasts hoovering up attention and everything smaller than Harry Potter parched for an audience. There again, it would feel much the same to be writing about African cinema at any point of the year. Even by the standards of the arthouse, its status as a niche interest is so pronounced that its very mention is enough, I’m sure, to have a certain section of readers rolling their eyes and muttering about the kind of thing the Guardian likes to bang on about. Continue reading


September 16, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , | Leave a comment

The Nollywood Phenomenon – Africa’s Popular cinema

The cinema of Nigeria is an underdeveloped but nascent film industry. Although Nigerian films have been produced since the 1960s, the rise of digital cinema has resulted in a growing video film industry. The Nigerian video feature film industry is often referred to as Nollywood. The term is of uncertain date and origin, but is derived from Hollywood in the same manner as Bollywood.  According to Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange formerly of CNN, Nigeria has a US$250 million movie industry, churning out some 200 home videos every month to become the third-largest in the world after the United States and India. In just 16 years, however, Nollywood has grown from nothing into an industry that employs thousands of people.

Nollywood Babylon is a feature documentary about the explosive popularity of Nigeria’s movie industry.

The film drops viewers into the chaos of Lagos’ Idumota market. Here, among the bustling stalls, films are sold and unlikely stars are born.

Unfazed by low budgets, enterprising filmmakers create a brash, inventive and wildly popular form of B-Movie that has Nigerians Nollywood-obsessed. In these films, voodoo and magic infuse urban stories, reflecting the collision of traditional mysticism and modern culture that Nigerians experience every day.

Nollywood Babylon presents an electric vision of a modern African metropolis and a revealing look at the powerhouse that is Nigerian cinema. Co-directed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal, produced by AM Pictures and National Film Board of Canada in association with the Documentary Channel. Nollywood Babylon also participated in the Official Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.  Continue reading

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , | Leave a comment

Africa in Motion 2009 – Edinburgh 22 Oct to 1 Nov 2009

Africa In Motion

Edinburgh Film Festival

 This year is the United Nations International Year of Reconciliation, and the festival is taking as its main theme issues of trauma, conflict and reconciliation in a pan-African context. A number of films from across the continent will address these issues, screened over the first weekend of the festival, with the film screenings accompanied by panel and audience discussions. Our symposium on the first Saturday of the festival will explore how artistic representation is used in Africa as a way to overcome trauma and find ways towards peace-making and reconciliation. As our audiences have become accustomed to, the festival will further include a wide range of brilliant feature films, old and new, and thought-provoking documentaries.

For the second year, we are hosting a short film competition for emerging African filmmakers with the winner announced at the festival and the audience getting an opportunity to vote for their favourite too. A number of African filmmakers will be in attendance to talk to audiences about their work. Performances by African musicians and a photography and painting exhibition by two South African artists will further contribute to our diverse programme.

The full programme  for 2009 will be announced in mid-September.

 Films  including Animations, short stories and feature films will be shown.  A sample of the films shown in 2008 are @  AiM Youtube channel –

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Africa Focus for International Rotterdam festival 27 Jan – 7 Feb 2010


‘Where is Africa?’ program to look at indie African filmmaking

By Stuart Kemp Sept 10, 2009, 10:00 AM ET

LONDON — The next edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam will include a major focus on African cinema, organizers said Thursday. Entitled “Where is Africa?,” organizers plan to unspool “the most extensive program devoted to independent African filmmaking at any Western film festival in recent years.” The 39th edition of the Dutch festival takes places Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 2010. Festival programmer Gertjan Zuilhof said: “There is no real reason to do it now other than that we maybe should have done it much earlier. It is obvious that Africa is not represented at international film festivals or if so only by one or two token films.”

September 15, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , | Leave a comment

Abouna (2002) Review



Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Cast: Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar Aguid, Liamza Moctar Agud, Zara Haroun


Review (Spoilers)

Peter Bradshaw The Guardian, Friday 22 November 2002


This is a beautifully gentle and lucid film from the Chadian writer-director Mahamet Saleh Haroun; it rises head and shoulders above the rest of the week’s new releases. Rich in understated humanity, Abouna is a film about love and loss, imbued with the most profound tenderness towards children and childhood. It manages, in the most remarkable way, to get extraordinarily dramatic life events in the lives of two young boys into just 81 minutes of screen time, while always maintaining its unhurried walking-pace narrative. It never harasses or hectors its audience; the performances are calm and deeply felt, and so is the way they are shaped and photographed.

Tahir (Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa) and Amine (Hamza Moctar Aguid) are the two young leads, boys of 15 and eight years old. Just before the opening credits we see a man wandering the desert in an ambiguous, semi-hallucinatory sequence; he finally looks directly into the camera, at us, an unreadable expression on his face. Wistfulness? Excitement? Regret? It is only when the film is under way that we realise that he is the boys’ father who has just deserted the family home, having been unemployed for years before that and going through a pretence of heading off for work every day. He never appears on screen after this initial moment, and thus Haroun has brilliantly and compassionately found a way to approximate the pathos of memory: throughout the picture, we remember what the father looks like – but like the boys, we are never to see him again.

Rest here:


This film is readily available on DVD with English subtitles in the US  and UK

September 4, 2009 Posted by | 1, africa, african, world cinema, film festival | , , , | 1 Comment

Must watch – Guelwaar (1993)



Title: Guelwaar
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Status: Released
Country: Senegal
Genre: Drama, Comedy

A beautiful movie written and directed by Ousmane Sembene one of Africa’s best film makers. Set in Senegal, this murder mystery unfolds around the death of a district leader whose family gathers for the funeral.

Sambene influenced a lot of West African film makers, if you’ve seen the excellent recent movie Bamako you’ll recognize his style of story-telling immediately.

New York Times Review (spoilers) 4/5

This powerful, pointed and multi-layered political satire from Senegal’s great director Ousman Sembene will provide considerable food for thought; especially amongst those who consider foreign charity a beneficial humanitarian action. It also provides insight into Sembene’s thoughts on cultural genocide, AIDS, and corruption. The story centers around the funeral services of the outspoken Pierre Henri Thioune or Guelwaar (meaning Noble One) as his friends and family call him. Guelwaar was a prominent Catholic, the holdover religion from the now ousted French colonialists, who believed that most of his country’s problems stem not from racism, nor even from colonialism, but from losing their self-respect by willingly accepting the food and supplies donated to impoverished Senegal by richer countries for the past three decades. Guelwaar maintained that these hand-outs have enslaved his people by causing corruption amongst those who exploit the international good-will for their own gain. It is something that destroyed the country’s economy and has kept corrupt officials involved promote continued tension between Muslims and Catholics to keep the people fighting. Guelwaar’s inflammatory opinions may well have caused his mysterious death. Afterward many important people come to visit the deceased’s surviving family which is comprised of Nogoy Marie, his wife, Sophie, his daughter who sells her body in Dakar, and Barthelemy, his eldest son who loves the French and lives in Paris. His second son, Aloys is crippled and lives with his mother. All gather to mourn Guelwaar’s death. The trouble begins when his corpse suddenly disappears from the town funeral home. Barthalemy calls the police and Officer Gora, a Muslim is sent to investigate. Gora is no fan of Guelwaar and his suspicious activities, but he always respected him. He despises Barthelemy because he has abandoned his culture in favor of French to the point that he refuses to speak anything but French. Tensions in town mount as rumors fly about the reason for the corpse’s disappearance. But then Gora discovers that Guelwaar’s body was accidentally buried in a Muslim cemetery and had nothing to do with ideological differences. Still, this is not the end, for now the Catholics want his body back for a proper burial while the Muslims refuse to defile their sacred burial ground by digging up the corpse.

Rest here:

September 4, 2009 Posted by | 1, africa, african, world cinema, film festival | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment