African Films to see in 2017
01 May 2017
Words and sentences can be used to construct images of places, events and even the continent of Africa. By playing with the human senses, one is left completely enchanted or with a deeper desire to seek for more and explore. The narrative of the African continent has built a conviction that Africa has a singular face, while others have perpetuated the story of Africa through the use of selective frames. ”Whilst each frame may hold true, bar the context, it is also equally true that there has recently been a growing need for complete stories from this vast continent.
Indeed there is now an understanding that Africa is more than just a passing glance and that in order to know the people and cultures of a place one must immerse themselves completely. In the age of ‘alternative facts’ there is now more than ever a need to get to contextualize people, culture, news, in order to evaluate for themselves this vast continent. Africa is a gateway to a new world and like any other continent it is full of wonders, dynamism and love. But like other parts of the world it is also full of contradictions. This is the point really, that no one place in the world can be one sided and neither are the countries in the African continent. For every war in some of the countries, there are also local groups(movements) that are combating this. For every forced marriage in some parts, are women groups fighting to get legislature in place to outlaw this. For every undemocratic government, there are local movements on the ground fighting for change. For every tear there is laughter, for every betrayal here is love. In the midst of chaos, there is also triumph. Indeed Africa is not one story. For HAFF this is what immersion looks like. Contextualising, seeing complete stories and this is what we hope the films we bring will continually showcase.
HAFF as always has once again brought to you great stories from this great continent! As we have always alluded to. The filmmakers have an open canvas to capture bits and pieces that collectively showcase the gems that are Africa
Artists for eons in cultures across the globalized world often function as seers of the society, and we at HAFF bring you these stories through the eyes of the filmmakers. We hope you enjoy this list as much as we did!
The African Who wanted to Fly:
First discovering Kung Fu after watching the film Big Boss, a young Gabonese child sets off for China at the age of just 15. Under the tutelage of Grand Master Meng Huifang, this child would eventually become number one in an artform which had previously never counted an African in its midst. Based on the incredible true story of Luc Bendza, this film follows his journey from a tiny Gabonese village all the way to China, where he would eventually become a world Kung Fu champion. Today he is a star of dozens of kung fu films and working behind the camera with Jackie Chan’s crew. How did Luc Bendza, born in a small Gabonese town, become a kung fu master?
The Preacher – MAWLANA
Few Arab films have dared to confront the sinister interplay between government and Islam as boldly as The Preacher (Mawlana). Capturing the dark atmosphere of the times, director Magdi Ahmed Ali brings Ibrahim Issa’s 2012 novel Mawlana/Our Master to the screen with verve, emotion and a welcome dose of humor. Its focused critique on the way politics manipulates religion for its own ends rings painfully true. The terrorist bombing of a Coptic church and the fire-bombing of a Sufi apartment building by an ultra-conservative mob are two scenes of shocking violence. Even the film’s message of religious tolerance seems daring and gives this clever, straight-talking film a modern edge.
LEJOE “you are who you are because of other people” is a ritual performed as a Passover/last word of ‘good bye’ at the grave. An African Actress comes to London and fight for a lead role in a British play, her life gets plagued by the guilt of missing her father’s funeral. When she admits her guilt and love for her father, her thoughts are redeemed by a ghost that almost got her career dream-role into the gutters
The film begins literally in the middle of nowhere, as Kaleche wanders lost and disoriented through the Kenyan grasslands. Dressed only in a hospital gown, she drifts aimlessly until she comes upon Kati Kati, a wilderness resort, the residents welcome here, with news, explaining to her that, just like the 20 inhabitants, she is dead.
Kaleche is amnesic and can’t remember anything about her 30 years of life or how she died. Kati Kati is a limbo land where souls linger until they’re able to pass on to the next stage of the journey. Residents give her counsel to remember her past before transition to the next stage. A suicide victim, takes an interest in Kaleche, but kills himself again, disappearing from Kati Kati. A clever story on afterlife.
Beauty in Darkness and in the obscure
“Le Clair obscure ” is a love story between a Mounir a blind young man nourishing the dream of becoming presenter and Nour a girl student in a cinema. Mounir is impulsive, egocentric loves in his ways, while Nour is a strong character devoted to love unconditionally. Nour is ardent to help the lover to fulfil inbuilt dreams, and goes in search of depths and secrets that shift her from her personal world. The film takes us to the perspective of the world of the blind a relationship that explores when the obscure faces the clear.
Ethiopian young woman on her way to Canada gets stuck in neighboring country Sudan. She is faced with brutality from the human traffickers, sexual abuse, and constant demand for more cash from her traffickers. The police think she an Ethiopian whore. Expectation from her family back home are high. Should she remain illegal or regain her identity and dignity?
Kayamandi is a suburb of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province of South Africa located off route R304. The name means “nice home” in Xhosa, – khaya meaning “home” and mnandi meaning “nice”. A group of kids and their BMX coach from Kayamandi are waiting for the competition day. They have been through a process of learning, but much more than just how to pedal.
After the marriage ritual Halima wakes up the next morning and says to one of her co-wives: “Uncle bit me. My body is paining me.” Halima gets pregnant, gives birth and suffers Vesico Vaginal Fistula. Everyone abandons her, throwing things at her in the market, she is thrown out by her husband and his mother. Dry explores a delicate topic, it drags you through the facades of beauty; it takes you on a walk through the surface of imperialism, presenting a hard truth about child marriage.
Rapid urbanisation is one of the most dramatic developments on the African continent, often yielding contrasting and shocking images of affluent business and residential districts alongside sprawling shantytowns or slums. Maputo is a young African capital city emerging at the frenetic rhythm of the global financial demand. Some say it’s not meant for everyone. “Each man for himself”. Maputo is colourful and brings a realism of a very hotly debated topic where the difference between haves and have-nots is unusually extreme. The film introduces different topics through different individuals and weaving stories of the real Maputo.
“Talibés” are West African children aged between 4 and 14 years old who have been given by their parents -usually farmers without resources- to Koranic school teachers, who enslave and force them to beg on the streets. Talibé” is an Arabic term for disciple. These Koranic schools, known as daaras, are no more than fragile buildings where atrocities are committed against children in Senegal, where will change come from?
Thirty Moroccan immigrants are on a roadtrip and forced to coexist within a single space – a bus. From the extremist to the prostitute, a revolutionary Marxist, musician, their experience becomes a laboratory of events. From northern Morocco down to the south the film gets you to absorb the aesthetics and the absurdity of a journey- this is the life we travel
The respected and beloved transgender residents lead the efforts of Cape Verde community’s Carnival preparations. Glue, glitter and feathers are at a premium in Tchindas, a beautifully shot vérité chronicle of the all-consuming Carnival preparations on São Vicente, Cape Verde’s second-most-populous island. A vivid sense of place, community and personalities comes through in a seamless fusion of tradition and open-hearted acceptance.
A poetic portrait of the moment that Beyong, a 30-year old transgender who was learned to suppress her true self growing up, gives in to her subconsciousness and starts her transformation to the woman she is today.
‘A naïve girl with dreams of stardom, marries a powerful man, who abuses her while running a foundation that protects abused women. After a personal tragedy, she begins to depend on him for everything – the smooth talking, emotionally distant fellow gradually transforms into a major douchebag. When Steve Reeds has Brenda just where he wants her, he begins to manipulate and abuse her, first emotionally and mentally, then the physical violence follows, what is worth dreaming for?
EVERYTHING BUT A MAN
She’s sexy, smart, successful… and still single. Everything But A Man follows the story of a successful but lonely career woman, who despite all her material success is a failure when it comes to love. The film explores the paradox modern career women face, having to think and act like a man in the work world, but still behave like “a lady” at home in order to keep a man.
SOMEBODY CLAP FOR ME
Poetry and hiphop in Uganda, meet poets that are practicing the craft, who hold weekly meetings to create provocative, bold and witty narratives weaving together crowds of young Ugandans for these open mic events, tackling hardIn Uganda, youth are re-inventing their ancestral tradition of storytelling into slam poetry nights to fight the silence imposed by an oppressive regime. Ugly Emcee, one of the freedom of speech activists, happens to be a grandson of former dictator Idi Amin Dada.
SECRET OF IYAS.
Alidou, a musician from Benin, wonders about the Gèlèdè rite. He goes to Sagon, a Voodooist village in Benin, to the heart of a society ordered by a woman called Iyalashè. Sharing the daily life of the villagers, he goes from meeting to meeting as he attempts to gain insight into these beliefs maintained by The Iyas. After his initiation he participates in a rare and exceptional ceremony and by the end of his quest comes to realise the guiding and unifying role of the Gèlèdè cult.
ORI INU: IN SEARCH OF SELF
Ori Inu: In Search of Self is a coming of age story about a young immigrant woman who must choose between conforming her identity and spirituality to the cultural norms of America or revisiting her roots in the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomble. What does it mean to be Black American or immigrant within the modern context of our society. The film stars Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins and feature the grammy nominated Afro-Pean duo Les Nubiens among others.
A tormented and impulsive young woman is pregnant with her first child. When Nomfundo is betrayed by the two people she holds dear to her heart, she makes an erratic decision that unleashes a tragic chain of events. She flees from the repercussions of her actions and has a transcendental encounter that changes the course of her life forever.
“Utopia” reveals the tale of two brothers who engage in atrocious crimes with the aim of journeying to the land flowing with milk and honey. Their exploits lead them to a point where their guts becomes their only liberator. Utopia has set the pace in modern film making in Ghana and the response so far has been overwhelming. The movie has so far yielded the expected results due to the dedication and commitment of the entire team who ensured that quality was not compromised.
Between April 6 and July 4, 1994, the genocide of the Tutsis and the massacres of moderate Hutus did about a million dead in Rwanda. While in the country massacres were committed on a large scale, at Ntarabana in northern Rwanda, Rugwiza Frodouald and Mukankundiye Anne-Marie hid and protected Tutsi risking their lives. Shortly after the end of the genocide, Murekaze Anastasia a genocide survivor, was able to find the strength to forgive and reconcile with those who had murdered her husband and children.
The word reality is always used in an intimidating way. We must constantly be worried about “reality”, we must obey “reality” as a kind of constant enslavement without exceptions. We live crushed by the dominating opinion that there exist elements of reality that are binding and conditioning, and that they are so to the point that we cannot imagine even just a small form of group action that is untouched by this coercion. And so then, does an eventual answer to the question “what is reality?”
SAUTI / VOICE
“Sauti” follows the personal journeys of 5 girl refugees past early marriage, subordination to male relatives, and the crisis of having generation after generation of refugees born into a life of exile and lack of possibility. The film witnesses their struggle to stay in secondary school, pass the country’s national exams. They navigate the tension between pursuing a life beyond the fences of the settlement and remaining tied to the community to support their families.
In Sweden a lot of vulnerable people are starting their new lives in places they have never heard of. But how can people who have lost everything find a way into their new society? Let’s hear their stories!
An ordinary weekend takes an unexpected turn for a group of cadets when a secret being harboured by one of them is inadvertently revealed. The era of don’t tell in the US Army.
NGO NOTHING GOING ON
Best friends are on a mission to set up an NGO to help people of a Jinja slum. Driven by different visions but by a singular desire to live big, they enlist a local expert to guide them on the cause. Money comes and life changes-until the day the financier announces an evaluation mission. How will they tell the story of their non existent project?
Jairo Zavala, a Spanish singer and songwriter with African and Latin-American roots strings together how African music genres went to America and returned home as soul, rock, rumba. In the land of Kings, through the life of a griot: Lamine Konté he sees the “afromandinga” band come back to life after 30 years of oblivion. The CASAMANCE soundtrack can be watched with eyes shut!
CALL ME THIEF
Call Me Thief, is about young man, “AB” who gets arrested for a petty crime and raises his status in prison by captivating the hardened gangsters with his knack for telling stories. He becomes the “prison cinema” whilst his childhood friend becomes the concubine of the gang boss. On their release from jail ‘AB’ finds romance and begins a new path in life as a writer but his friends rope him into a murder for which they all face the hang-man’s noose. The film is set near Cape Town, South Africa in the 1960’s and is based on the life-story of John W. Fredericks screenplay.
Matar, a Senegalese fisherman crosses paths with N’Zibou a crazy wise man who measures the clouds. N’Zibou questions Matar about his search for identity. Matar finds a Belgian passport on a beach in Dakar after which he disappears. The film explores the questions migration and identity in a comical and poetic manner.
A film by Jessie Chisi and Vatice Mushauko is a multiple award winning film focuses on life and growing up in a peri-urban community in Zambia. It tells the story of how children in a typical community imagine themselves on a film set. Ken and his small group of friends set out on a journey to tell an epic story of good versus evil in their innocent imaginative minds.
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Screenings 7-14 May
Tickets – 8 €