November 2020, arsenal cinema

Online Edition – AFRIKAMERA 2020: 
Urban Africa, Urban Movies: Politics & Revolution


The festival will take place online at Africa‘s societies are currently in the grip of change. Both in North Africa and various sub-Saharan metropoles, protest movements carried by civil society have emerged which are rebelling against the political circumstances in their countries. From the “Revolution of Smile” in Algiers via “Y’en a marre” in Dakar all the way to “Le Balai Citoyen” in Ouagadougou—artists are playing an essential role in these protest movements against corrupt and authoritarian regimes. Above all, the urban, digital cinema made by independent African filmmakers performs an important function here as a social seismograph. AFRIKAMERA 2020: Urban Africa, Urban Movies: Politics & Revolution presents a selection of current and historical features and documentaries about social upheaval and the ways in which the continent has come to terms with colonialism to coincide with the 60th anniversary of independence in numerous African states this year. The program also forms the start of a new, ongoing festival focus on contemporary urban cinema from Africa which is to last for a period of four years. In the coming years, the individual themes to this end are “Youth & Youth Cultures” (2021), “Migration und Diaspora” (2022), and “Future & Utopias” (2023).

THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT’S A RESURRECTION (Lesotho/Italy/South Africa 2019, 17. & 18.11.) by Lesothan director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese opens this year’s festival. Christmas in the mountain village of Nasaretha in Lesotho, where 80-year-old Manto lives alone. After finding out that her last living son has perished in a mining accident in neighboring South Africa, she has only one wish—she would like to die and be buried with him. But her plans for a peaceful demise are thwarted when she hears of a dam project that will eventually submerge the village and its churchyard under a reservoir. Mantoa decides to defend her community’s spiritual heritage. This visually stunning drama received the Special Prize of the Jury at the Sundance Film Festival. The director will be our guest at the Berlin premiere and at the repeat screening for a Q&A.

NARDJES A. (Karim Aïnouz, Algeria/France/Germany/Brazil/Qatar 2020, 18.11.) The Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker accompanies activist Nardjes over a period of 24 hours in Algiers on International Women’s Day, March 8th 2019. Filmed with a smartphone, Aïnouz successfully crafts a rousing cinematic document of the so-called “Revolution of Smile”. In the process, he creates a piercing portrait of an Algerian youth that shows remarkable self-confidence in taking to the streets to protest against corruption and for their country’s democratic future.

THE GHOST AND THE HOUSE OF TRUTH (Nigeria 2019, 19.11.) is set in the darkest corners of the Nigerian metropolis of Lagos. Bola Ogun is a committed counsellor, setting up reconciliation meetings between prisoners and the victims of their crimes. Yet her belief in forgiveness is put to the test in the harshest of fashions when her daughter Nike doesn’t come home from school one day. Pregnant police commissioner Folashade “Stainless” Adetola takes over the investigation, which leads into the pedophile milieu of Lagos. This Nollywood thriller by Nigerian director Akin Omotoso was awarded the Grand Jury Prize as “Best Narrative Feature Film” at the Urban World Film Festival 2019 in New York AFRIKAMERA is presenting the film as a German premiere.

FAHAVALO, MADAGASCAR 1947 (Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes, Madagascar/France/Belgium/Cape Verde/Qatar 2018, 20.11.) With the help of archive material and witness testimonies, this documentary traces the background to the so-called “Malagasy Uprising” (Insurrection malgache) against the French colonial occupation. The guerilla war conducted by the local “fahavalo” (“enemies of France”), who fought against the French occupiers with only spears and talismans, was only able to be put down in December 1948. To this day, the uprising forms a key event in the collective memory of Madagascar, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of independence this year.

AIR CONDITIONER (Angola 2020, 20.11.), the first feature by Angolan director and producer Mário Bastos a.k.a. Fradique, is a surreal trip through the Angolan metropole of Luanda. One day, air conditioning units attached to building facades start falling to ground en masse without discernible reason and hitting people on the street. The government has no idea what to do. Security guard Matacedo sets off through the city to repair the air conditioner belonging to his boss. On the way, he meets home help Zezinha and ends up in an electric store run by an enigmatic man named Mr. Mino. Carried by the jazz soundtrack by Angolan musician Aline Frazão, AIR CONDITIONER received a warm critical reception at its world premiere at the 2020 Rotterdam International Film Festival. A Berlin premiere.

REVOLUTIONARY SHORTS presents a selection of outstanding current short films from Africa, including INVISIBLES (KAUNAPAWA) by Joel Haikali (Namibia 2019, 21.11.), an ecstatic road movie in which a couple set off on a journey through the Namibian outback in order to reflect upon them themselves and their place in post-Apartheid society.

DAYS OF CANNIBALISM (Teboho Edkins, France/Netherlands/South Africa 2020, 21.11.) This ethnological docu-Western unfolds in the district of Thaba-Tseka in Lesotho. Globalization in the form of Chinese economic migrants has even made its way into the raw hinterlands of this enclave of the Republic of South Africa and is challenging traditional value systems. Edkins creates a portrait of the resultant parallel societies—Chinese traders on the one hand, the Basotho, traditional cattle breeders, on the other, without falling into simplistic dualisms. He thus succeeds in forging a piercing study of social power differences and latent violence. The director will attend the screening for a Q&A.

APRÈS TA RÉVOLTE, TON VOTE! (After Your Revolt, You Vote, Kiswendsida Parfait Kaboré, Burkina Faso/France 2019, 21.11.) Following a popular uprising in October 2014, Burkina Faso committed to a historical vote: the first change in government via democratic elections. Initiated by musicians Smockey und SamsK le Jah, the “Le Balai Citoyen” (The Citizens’ Broom) movement was the driving force behind the unrest and also a symbol of protest with which the country’s streets are supposed to be cleaned of corruption. This documentary accompanies the movement in its efforts to construct a new political system.

SOFTIE (Soko Sam, Kenya 2020, 21.11.) Political activist Boniface “Softie” Mwangi is the focus of this documentary. Following a long struggle against injustice as a political activist and photographer in his home country of Kenya, he decides in 2017 to stand as a candidate for Parliament at a regional election in Nairobi. The film accompanies Softie in his attempts to run a clean campaign against his corrupt opponents. Yet he and his entire family are placed under increasing pressure. SOFTIE celebrated its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival 2020 and received the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award there.

SARRAOUNIA (Med Hondo, Burkina Faso/France 1986, 22.11.) A classic by the French-Mauritanian filmmaker, who died in 2019: inspired by the novel of the same name by Nigerien writer Abdoulaye Mamani, this epic historical drama is an reenactment of the struggle of Sarraounia, legendary queen of the Azna, against a French colonial terror mission at the end of the 19th century.

BEST OF AFRICAN SHORTS (22.11.) In collaboration with the Festival cinémas d’Afrique Lausanne, AFRIKAMERA presents a selection of outstanding current short films, including conceptual film APOCALYPSE NOW NOW (South Africa/Canada 2017) by Michael Matthews, which is based on the urban fantasy novel by Charlie Human and sends 16-year-old Baxter on a crazy journey through the fantastical Cape Town underworld.

EGYPT´S MODERN PHARAOS (Jihan El-Tahri, Egypt/South Africa/France 2015, 22.11.) The Franco-Egyptian director traces the political development of her home country of Egypt since 1952. The result of archival work lasting many years, El-Tahri’s film is dedicated to the three central figures in Egyptian politics, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar As-Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak and explains why the course set by consecutive power regimes to anchor independence eventually led to the 2011 revolution on Tahir Square. A Q&A with the director follows the screening.

POPPIE NONGENA (South Africa 2019, 22.11.) An adaptation of the novel by South African writer Elsa Joubert by Christiaan Olwagen: Cape Town in the Apartheid era, in the mid-70s. Poppie Nongena works as a housekeeper for a rich white family. When her husband loses his job, an Apartheid law to exclude the Black majority population comes into force: Poppie is now regarded as illegal in her own country and is to be forcibly resettled to her husband’s homeland in the north of South Africa. When a school children’s uprising against the regime begins in Soweto in 1976, Poppie doesn’t just have to worry about her own life, but also that of her son. (fw)

Due to Corona, part of the 2020 AFRIKAMERA program will be presented online. For selected films, there will be a discussion with the filmmakers held via Zoom following the screenings. Current information can be found at www.afrikamera. The “” installation by artists Jochen Becker & Daniel Kötter is also on display in the Arsenal foyer to accompany the festival. AFRIKAMERA takes place under the patronage of Dr. Uschi Eid.