November 2012, arsenal cinema

AFRIKAMERA 2012: African Women On and Behind the Screen


In recent years, women have been taking an increasingly active and important role in African filmmaking behind the camera, with the work by these female filmmakers taking an unusual cinematic look at the subjects, questions and challenges faced by Africa societies. For its fifth edition, the AFRIKAMERA – CURRENT AFRICA CINEMA festival organized by the non-profit cultural association toucouleur presents a selection of current feature and documentary films made by African directors, producers and scriptwriters.

The festival opens with SUR LA PLANCHE(On the Edge), the feature debut of Morrocan director Leila Kilani (Morocco/France/Germany 2011, 13.11.). The film tells of the everyday lives of the two young women Badia and Imane, who keep their heads above water with monotonous factory jobs and theft. Driven by an insatiable desire for freedom, they finally dare to break out of their restrictive world.

OTELO BURNING (South Africa 2012, 14.11.), the debut film by South African filmmaker Sara Blecher, is set in the Lamontville township in 1989. When 16-year-old Otelo discovers surfing, he is able to flee everyday life in the ghetto, which is marked by gang warfare. But when Nelson Mandela is released from prison, Otelo is confronted with questions of freedom and justice on a whole other level. This impressive coming of age story portrays the hugely significant end of Apartheid era from the point of view of an adolescent.

INDOCHINE SUR LES TRACES D'UNE MERE(Indochina, Traces of a Mother, France/Benin/Vietnam 2010, 14.11.)tells the story of 58-year-old Afro-Vietnamese Christophe and thus also the largely unheard story of the African soldiers from the French colonies who were sent to fight in the Indochina War. The film by Idrissou Mora Kpais shows in impressive fashion how colonialized peoples were themselves used to put down other peoples’ strivings for independence.

With the MOZAMBIQUE SHORTS(15.11.), AFRIKAMERA follows a tradition established in previous years of presenting the film scenes of hitherto less well-known African states. Mozambican director and producer Dario "Mickey" Fonseca introduces a program consisting of 4 short and medium length films that are being shown for the first time in Germany. 

Filmmaker Caroline Kamya's IMANI(Uganda/Sweden 2010, 15.11.) covers a day in the life of housemaid Mary, former child soldier Olweny and hip-hopper Armstrong. Even if the paths of these three protagonists in the Ugandan capital of Kampala do not end up crossing, this day ends up demanding an unusual amount of strength from all three of them.

AFRIKAMERA is presenting ROBERT MUGABE – WHAT HAPPENED? (Zimbabwe/South Africa/United Kingdom 2011, 16.11.) as a special screening in collaboration with the Evangelisches Zentrum für entwicklungsbezogene Filmarbeit (EZEF). The documentary weaves together the biography of Zimbabwe's controversial head of state and the colonial history of the former Rhodesia. At the same time, the film tells the story of the anti-colonial fight for liberation in the region. Director Simon Bright will be attending the screening.

AFRIKAMERA is presenting AFRICAN SISTERS OF THE SCREEN (16.11.) in collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a selection of short films by African women about women – from Kenya, Cameroon, Tunisia, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal. Directors Nadia Rais (Tunisia) und Angèle Diabang (Senegal) as well as film scholar Beti Ellerson (USA) will be present at the film screening.

The Saturday (17.11.) opens with a panel of experts discussing the topic of "Female Screens – Female Filmmakers in Africa", exploring the realities of and perspectives for female filmmakers in the African film and creative industries. In collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Yaba Badoe's documentary WITCHES OF GAMBAGA(Ghana 2010, 17.11.) is a portrait of the life of a community of women who were expelled from their villages for alleged witchcraft. The film was shot over a period of five years and was supported by a women's rights group in Ghana which has fought against the inhumane stigmatization of these women.

The feature film RAMATA by Senegalese director Léandre-Alain Baker (Senegal 2011, 17.11.) tells the story of the impossible affair between the small-time crook and taxi driver Ngor Ndong and the attractive 50-year-old Ramara from the Dakar upper class.

In ICI ON NOIE LES ALGERIENS(Here We Drown Algerians, October 17th, 1961, Algeria/France 2011, 18.11.), Senegalese documentary filmmaker Yasmina Adi reconstructs the security forces' brutal suppression of the Algerian independence movement's anti-colonial protests and exposes the repressive strategies employed by the French colonial power in the process.  

In a double feature, filmmaker Remi Vaughan-Richards presents two films from Nigeria. In CHARISMATIC AREA FROM LAGOS: ONE SMALL STEPand SCENT OF THE STREET (Nigeria 2010, 18.11.), hairdresser Grace Fidelis fights against the corrupt city council and the infrastructural grievances in her city. Scent of the Street(Nigeria 2010, 18.11.)transports the viewer to the world of the girl gangs in the Ajegunle slum in Lagos.

As its closing film, AFRIKAMERA is showing UNE FEMME PAS COMME LES AUTRES(An Uncommon Woman, Burkina Faso 2008, 18.11.) by Abdoulaye Dao. Businessman Mina decides that she will no longer tolerate her husband's affairs and has a lover of her own move into the house. A tragicomedy about modern African women's fight for equal rights. The film's leading actress, Georgette Paré, will be attending the screening. (Alex Moussa Sawadogo, Florian Wachinger, Natalie Kronast).

AFRIKAMERA take place under the patronage of Dr. Uschi Eid.