November 2017, arsenal cinema

AFRIKAMERA 2017: Talking about Sahel


Within the course of just a few years, the Sahel has become a region marked by dangerous connections between fundamentalist religion, terrorism, and politics. Before this socio-political backdrop, the tenth edition of AFRIKAMERA – Current Cinema from Africa presents a selection of current features and documentaries that grapple with the political and social challenges which the Sahel faces. The festival opens with WÙLU, the feature debut by Franco-Malian director Daouda Coulibaly (Mali/France 2016, 13.11., screening attended by leading actor Ibrahim Koma & 17.11.). 20-year-old Ladji is a minibus driver in the Malian capital of Bamako and works hard to free his sister Aminata from prostitution. When he is denied a promotion, he decides to enter the more lucrative drug business and quickly becomes a big shot in regional drug dealing circles. Yet the price Ladji eventually pays is high.

OUAGADOUGOU SHORTS(Burkina Faso 2017, 14.11.) presents a selection of current short films from the Burkinan (cinema) capital, including PLACENTA by Bède Modeste Gnafe-Mofedog. The producer of the film, Moustapha Sawadogo, will be in attendance for this German premiere. The program is being presented in collaboration with the Festspielhaus Afrika GmbH.

Ousmane Sembène’s CEDDO (Senegal 1977, 14.11.) is a classic of 70s African cinema. The feature reflects upon the Christianization and Islamization of West Africa in the 17th century and its later consequences – a piercing work about the appropriation of power, the alienation caused by missionary work, and Africa spiritualism.

DEVOIR DE MÉMOIRE(Mali 2014, 15.11.) From March 2012 to January 2013, the north of Mail was under the yoke of different Islamist rebel groups. Mamadou Cissé’s impressive documentary shows how Mali’s civilian population defended itself against the Islamists.  

SUR LA PISTE DES MANUSCRITS DE TOMBOUCTOU(Jean Crépu, Mali/France 2014, 16.11.) also connects to the same theme. The documentary creates a memorial to the inhabitants of Timbuktu who protected the city’s centuries-old manuscripts from being destroyed by Islamist terrorist militias at the cost of their lives. Beforehand, we are showing TYNE SO, Daouda Coulibaly’s prize-winning short feature about a griot in Mali (Mali/France 2010).

HAMOU-BéYA, Sandfishers(Mali/France 2012, 16.11., screening attended by director Andrey Samoute Diarra) documents the laborious everyday life of the Bozo in Mali. As the traditional way of fishing no longer generates profit, many young men leave their villages to go into service as “sandfishers” in the capital Bamako – delivering raw materials for the booming construction sector. HAMOU-BéYA is a striking documentary about migration from the countryside to the town and the shift in values in Malian society that goes along with it.   

SAHEL SHORTS(16.11.) present a selection of current short films from the Sahel region (16.11.), including LE MARABOUT (Senegal 2016), which is about a group of street kids in Dakar. Director Alassane Sy will be on hand afterwards for a Q&A. 

L’ARBRE SANS FRUIT (The Fruitless Tree, Niger/France 2016, 17.11., screening attended by Aicha Macky) This feminist documentary by Nigerien director Aicha Macky grapples with unwanted childlessness in Niger and its consequences for those women affected. Beforehand, Macky presents her short film SAVOIR FAIRE LE LIT (Senegal/Niger 2013).

LIBYA IN MOTION(Libya 2015, 17.11.)shows a selection of short films from the post-Gadaffi era. Shot in the years 2012-2015 in Tripoli and Bengasi, the films take an intimate look at a country in the grip of a civil war. Two of the directors involved in the project, Naziha Arebi and Muhannad Lamin, will be our guests at the film screening.

L’ALLIANCE D’OR(The Wedding Ring, Niger/Burkina Faso/France 2016, 15.11. at the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Schumannstr. 8) Tiyaa is from an aristocratic family in the sultanate of Damagaran in Niger and studies in France, where she lives with her true love without her family’s knowledge. In the winter holidays, she returns home and awaits her fiancée’s visit –but he fails to turn up. Rahmatou Keïta’s feature dives deep into the culture of the Sahel to create a drama about a young woman’s love in moving fashion. The director will attend the screening.

WALLAY(Burkina Faso/France/Qatar 2017, 18.11.) by Bernie Goldblat already celebrated considerable success at the Generation Kplus section of this year’s Berlinale. 13-year-old Ady does whatever he wants and acts up around his father. When his father is at his wits’ end, he sends Ady to Burkina Faso. There, he leaves his pubescent son in the hands of his strict uncle, who is supposed to put him back on the right path. In an Africa village, among archaic fishermen, he is supposed to become a man…. The director and the leading actor will attend the screening. The film is also suitable for young audiences from 8 years upwards.

From the very beginning, AFRIKAMERA has worked with international festivals on the African continent. As part of its ten-year anniversary, AFRIKAMERA is presenting a best-of selection of this year’s edition of FESPACO in Ouagadougou as well as JCC in Carthage as a special program. (18.11.).

COMBOIO DE SAL E AÇUCAR (The Train of Salt and Sugar, Portugal/Mozambique /France/South Africa/Brazil 2016, 18.11.) Licínio Azevedo’s neo-Western recently enjoyed success at the Locarno Film Festival. Mozambique in the late 80s: the country is suffering under the civil war that has already been raging for years. The train between Nampula and neighboring Malawi, which only now runs at irregular intervals, offers many people the only chance to obtain valuable goods and bring them home. Under the leadership of a nameless, charismatic commandant, who unites Marxism with shamanism, a journey full of obstacles and dangers begins.

TANT QU’ON VIT (Burkina Faso/Sweden 2017, 19.11., screening attended by Dani Kouyaté) The festival presents the most recent work by Burkinan director Dani Kouyaté as a German premiere. Kandia, an African woman of around 50 years of age who has been living in Sweden for 30 years, decides to return to Gambia. Her son Ibbe dreams of a hip-hop career and is about to make his big breakthrough. Yet the encounter with the country of their origin doesn’t go in the way they were imagining it.

THE REVOLUTION WON’T BE TELEVISED (Senegal 2016, 19.11.) by Rama Thiaw is a gripping portrait of the young hip-hop protest movement “Y’en a marre” (“We’ve had it up to here”). When controversial president Abdoulaye Wade once again tried to stand for election in Senegal in 2011, resistance formed on the streets. Mauritanian filmmaker Rama Thiaw takes an inside look at the protest movement that was shot over several years, locating it at the place where pop culture and politics meet, a movement which was also ascribed the role of “kingmaker” at the last elections by independent observers.

I AM NOT A WITCH (Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/France 2017, 19.11.). One banal event leads to eight-year-old Shula being accused of witchcraft in her village and eventually being found guilty. As a result, she is sent to a witch camp in the middle of the desert, where she is forced to take part in an initiation ritual to internalize the rules of life as a witch. Just like all the other inhabitants of the camp, Schula is tied to a cord that leads to a large tree. She is told that she is cursed and will be turned into a goat should the cord ever be severed. (ams/fw)

Funded through the TURN fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
AFRIKAMERA takes place under the patronage of Dr. Uschi Eid. More information at

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