Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. > calendar
November 2018, arsenal cinema

AFRIKAMERA 2018: The Horn of Africa


The Horn of Africa region is more known for its armed conflicts and political, social, and humanitarian crises than for its cinema culture. Even if the number of local productions is far more modest than that of the continent’s Francophone countries, a lively film scene has sprung up in recent years. AFRIKAMERA 2018 – The Horn of Africa presents a selection of current features and documentaries from and about the region as well as from neighboring East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Ruanda.

The festival opens with THE MERCY OF THE JUNGLE (Ruanda/Belgium/France 2018,| 13. & 16.11.) by Joël Karekezi. Soldiers Sergeant Xavier and Private Faustin are part of a Rwandan army unit supposed to track down a group of Hutu rebels during the Second Congo War in 1998. One night, they get separated from their comrades and must now fend for themselves in the jungle. Joël Karekezi will be our guest at the German premiere.

HOMMAGE AN IDRISSA OUÉDRAOGO (14.11.) AFRIKAMERA remembers the influential Burkinan director, who died in February this year. A selection of his early shorts from the years 1981-86 will be shown.

THANK YOU FOR THE RAIN (Julia Dahr, United Kingdom/Norway 2017, 14.11.) This educational documentary accompanies how Kenyan small farmer Kisilu Musya becomes an environmental activist fighting climate change over a period of five years. Kisilu Musya will be in attendance for a panel discussion. In collaboration with the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

MUSIC IS OUR WEAPON (Kenya/Tanzania/Denmark/Hungary 2016, 14.11.) by Taye Balogun and Nick Reding is a portrait of Kenyan band Sarabi and their battle for justice – a documentary about the inspirational power of music and its potential as a weapon for change.

BEATS OF THE ANTONOV (Hajooj Kuka, Sudan/South Africa 2014, 15.11.) In emotional images, this documentary gives an account of how people can succeed in surviving the civil war with the help of local music traditions. Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka spent over 18 months in refugee camps in the Blue Nile region and Nuba mountains, where people hide from the Antonov planes despatched from the capital Khartoum.

BLACK JEWS, THE ROOTS OF THE OLIVE TREE (Laurence Gavron, Senegal/France 2016, 15.11.) is one of several films in the program to explore the history and present of Jewish life in sub-Saharan Africa. The documentary is a portrait of the Jewish community of Saa in Cameroon. The director will be in attendance for a Q&A. TRANSITIONS (Ethiopia/Israel 2016) by Aäläm-Wärqe and Kobi Davidian will be shown beforehand, in which 18-year-old Mimi reconstructs the story of how she emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel.

RED LEAVES (Ethiopia/Israel 2014, 15.11.) is about 74-year-old Meseganio, who fled to Israel from Ethiopia 28 years ago. Following the death of his wife, he is forced to grapple with the traditional ideas of Ethiopian Jewish culture. In his sensitive, documentary-tinged debut film, director Bazi Gete pairs motifs from Shakespeare’s “King Lear” with experiences from his own family history. The director will attend the screening.

HORN OF AFRICA – BEST OF SHORTS (16.11.) With this program, AFRIKAMERA presents a selection of outstanding short films from the region, including LAAN (Djibouti 2012) by Lula Ali Ismaïl about the everyday lives of three childhood friends in Djibouti City. Director Lula Ali Ismaïl and Abraham Haile Biru, President of the Colours of the Nile Festival (Ethiopia), will be at the screening for a Q&A.

SHEIKH JACKSON (Amr Salama, Egypt 2017, 16.11.) In this tragicomedy, conservative imam sheikh Khaled Hani is shaken by the sudden death of Michael Jackson. Reminded of his youth as a passionate fan of the King of Pop, the Islamic cleric is plunged into a crisis of faith.

SUPA MODO (Likarion Wainaina, Kenya/Germany 2018, 17.11.) is a story about the power of imagination and of a community coming together in difficult times. Nine-year-old Jo is terminally ill and loves action films. She dreams of becoming a superhero herself. Jo’s sister and the inhabitants of her home village do everything in their power to fulfill her final wish. Suitable for viewers aged 9 and over.

The TUNISIA FACTORY (Tunesia/France 2018, 17.11.) program consists of a selection of four 15-minute short films made in just five weeks. Alongside the four Tunisian directors Mariam Al Ferjani, Ismail Louati, Rafik Omrani, and Anissa Daoud, four filmmakers from Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka were involved in making the films.

SUDAN SHORTS (17.11.) AFRIKAMERA presents a selection of one medium-length and two short films from Sudan, including IMAN (Sudan 2017), the current film by Lebanese-Sudanese director and producer Mia Bittar. Incorporating non-professional actors and based on 400 interviews conducted in different regions of the Sudan, four intimate stories of radicalization and extremism are told.

FIVE FINGERS FOR MARSEILLES (Michael Matthews, South Africa 2017, 17.11.) Tau, a former member of the Five Fingers resistance group, returns to his small home town of Marseilles after 20 years away. Instead of being able to make peace, he sees the town being threatened by a gang. Against his will, he must now take up the fight for freedom once again… This feature debut by the South African director breaks with the codes of the Western to give a subtle account of the country’s colonial history.

THE BODA BODA THIEVES (Uganda/South Africa/Kenya/Germany 2015, 18.11.) This production by the directorial collective Yes! That’s Us is set in the world of motorcycle taxis in the Ugandan capital of Kamala. The film tells the story of the 15-year-old Abel, who takes on his father’s boda boda following an accident. When he gets involved with a gang who need a motorcycle for their robbery trips, the vehicle is stolen and Abel’s existence is put to the test. A neo-realistic portrait of the city of Kampala that references Vittorio De Sica’s Ladri di biciclette, full of joie de vivre.

In a double program, AFRIKAMERA presents two current documentaries from Gabon and Côte d'Ivoire. While the presidential election campaign rages in Gabon in 2016, young boxer Christ Mickala is engaged in his own personal battle for survival, training during the day and working as a bouncer by night. Amédée Pacôme Nkoulou’s BOXING LIBREVILLE (Gabon 2017, 18.11.) offers an intense look at the realities of life for young adults in today’s West Africa. VIVRE RICHE (Burkina Faso/France/Belgium 2017) by Joël Akafou is a portrait of young men living in Côte d'Ivoire. With the help of the Internet, “Rolex, the Portuguese” and his friends woo white woman looking for love or sex in Africa…

LAMB (Ethiopia 2015, 18.11.) The feature debut by Ethiopian director Yared Zeleke crafts an unusual portrait of nine-year-old Ephraim. After the death of his mother, his father takes him to live with relatives. But the boy has trouble adjusting to the life of the miners and only finds comfort from his best friend Chuni, a lamb… The coming-of-age film was the first Ethiopian production to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.