Film Africa, London’s biggest celebration of African and African diaspora cinema presented by the Royal African Society, returns to London cinemas for its seventh edition from Friday 27 October to Sunday 5 November.
Taking place at six venues – Rich Mix, BFI Southbank, Ritzy Brixton, Ciné Lumière, Bernie Grant Arts Centre and the South London Gallery – Film Africa 2017 will showcase the latest and best feature, documentary, experimental and short films with 38 titles from 21 African countries, including 19 UK, European or World premieres.
A total of 12 filmmakers, onscreen talent and musicians will present their latest work and take part in Q&As, discussions and live music events. This year’s programme gives particular focus to women’s stories and new debut features, a testament to the continued proliferation of African cinema.
Opening Film Africa 2017 at the BFI Southbank on 27 October is South African director John Trengove’s debut feature The Wound, a daring exploration of sexuality, masculinity and the clash between traditional and contemporary values in modern-day South Africa. Lead actor and award-winning musician Nakhane – one of South Africa’s most exciting new talents – will attend the screening and perform live at Rich Mix on 29 October, bringing his melancholic, languid guitars and beautiful soaring vocal harmonies to London audiences for the first time.
Film Africa 2017 is delighted to close at Ciné Lumière on 5 November, with the London premiere of Foreign Body, director Raja Amari’s (Satin Rouge) audacious and visceral fourth feature, which boasts a terrific cast including Sarra Hannachi (Child of the Sun) and Hiam Abbass (The Lemon Tree).
To mark 60 years of independence, Film Africa 2017 will spotlight Ghana with three post-colonial features that capture the spirit of one of Africa’s most vivid and rapidly expanding film industries.
The Ghana @ 60 strand features the European premiere of Keteke, the debut feature from Peter Sedufia, a kinetic road trip with a killer soundtrack from Accra-based band, Worlasi. The UK premiere of Leila Djansi’s epic tale about the Atlantic slave trade, I Sing of a Well. A rare chance to catch one of Ghana’s most celebrated works, Kukurantumi – Road to Accra by King Ampaw, who will be in attendance.
Ghana @ 60 will also include an exclusive live performance from RedRed, the exciting collaboration between Budapest based DJ/Producer Elo Morton, of the Hungarian reggae collective Irie Maffia, and MOBO nominated musician, filmmaker and pioneer of Ghana’s contemporary Hiplife music genre, M3NSA, also one half of enigmatic rap duo FOKN BOIS. Performing at Rich Mix on 31 October, this will be the duo’s highly-anticipated first UK gig.
Film Africa continues its close partnership with the consortium of the five UK African Film Festivals with Africa’s Lost Classics, bringing to UK screens some of the greatest African films that have been banned, censored, lost or forgotten, including the restoration of some important African women’s films.
Screenings will take place at Film Africa, Africa in Motion in Scotland, Africa Eye in Bristol, CAFF in Cambridge and Watch Africa in Wales. Film Africa will screen Fatma 75, a pioneering film and the first non-fiction work by a woman from Tunisia, Selma Baccar; Rage, an early work from celebrated Nigerian director Newton Aduaka and set in Peckham; and Mueda, Memory and Massacre, a central work of Cinema Novo, generally considered to be the first fiction feature from independent Mozambique and a masterpiece of anti-colonial memory.
Film Africa 2017 presents several debut features that highlight the exciting period of growth that African cinema is currently enjoying: the UK premiere from South African filmmaker Daryne Joshua, Call Me Thief, a portrait of life on the mean streets of 1960s Cape Town; the European premiere of Abraham Gezahagne’s I Will Not Bear Tomorrow, which delves head first into one of Ethiopia’s darkest moments; and in I Still Hide to Smoke a Turkish bath is the backdrop for director Rayhana’s bold exploration of the woman’s role in present-day Algeria.
The UK premiere of Jordain Olivier’s documentary Sacred Water explores female sexuality in Rwanda; A Day for Women from Kamla Abou Zekri reflects on community, co-existence and freedom for women in Egyptian society; Alain Gomis’ sensual Berlin Silver Bear winning fourth feature Félicité is a fascinating portrait of a single mother; and Pascale Lamache’s seminal documentary Winnie depicts the complex figure of Winnie Mandela, exploring why history habitually silences strong female leaders.
Other highlights include the world premiere of Maria Khan’s documentary Di Journey, a comprehensive historical exploration of immigration and race relations in the UK’s African-Caribbean community; the latest from prolific Ghanaian director Shirley Frimpong Manson, Potato Potahto; and the UK premiere of Samantha Biffot’s documentary The African Who Wanted to Fly, the extraordinary story of a young boy from Gabon who went on to become a Kung Fu master in China.
This year also sees the launch of Film Africa Young Audiences – an educational programme of screenings of features films, animation and documentaries for schools, university students and youth groups, which aims to provide educational tools, enhance film literacy and inspire critical thinking. The programme includes a focus on African nations’ involvement in WW1 in Simon Rouby’s striking animation Adama; Alexander Abela’s Makibefo, a near wordless retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, relocated to Madagascar; and Disney’s Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair, the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi.
The short film programme features eight shorts from seven African countries, all vying for the 7th Baobab Award for Best Short Film, supported by What We Seee and judged by a panel of industry experts. The Film Africa Audience Award for Best Feature Film also returns for its third consecutive year, giving festival audiences their say.
Film Africa has extended its reach beyond the silver screen through Film Africa OnDemand. In partnership with Lagos-based VOD platform Okiki and London-based consultancy De Charles, the festival team has curated a collection of the most popular titles screened throughout Film Africa’s six year history, opening up African cinema to global audiences. Anyone any with an iOS, Android or desktop device will be able to access the selected films on the Okiki App.
Film Africa runs from Friday 27th October – Sunday 5th November 2017. Find out more and book tickets here.
Visiting filmmakers and festival guests for Film Africa 2017:
- Abraham Gezahegne, Director, I Will Not Bear Tomorrow
- Bogdan Hirstov, Producer, Di Journey
- Daryne Joshua, Director, Call Me Thief
- Maria Khan, Director, Di Journey
- Nakhane, Actor and Musician, The Wound
- Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, Actor, Félicité
- Rayhana, Director, I Still Hide to Smoke
- Peter Sedufia, Director, Keteke
- Shirley Frimpong Manson, Director, Potato Potahto (TBC)
- Raja Amari, Director, Foreign Body (TBC)
Ghana @ 60 filmmakers and guests:
- King Ampaw, Director, Kukurantumi – Road to Accra
- Osmo Kwame Addo, Founder Accra International Film Festival
- Honorable Katherine Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts
- Kenneth Amankwah, Ghana @ 60 planning committee chairman
- David Dontoh, Actor, Kukurantumi – Road to Accra
- Mark Okraku Mantey, President of Ghana Creative Arts Council
- RedRed, Band