Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent and diaspora.
Established in 2011 with the remit of promoting a better understanding of Africa through film, every year Film Africa brings diverse London audiences a high quality and wide-ranging film programme accompanied by a vibrant series of events, including director Q&As, talks and discussions; professional workshops and master classes; school screenings and family activities; and Film Africa LIVE! Music nights.
The festival launches on Friday 2 November at BFI Southbank with the UK premiere of Blitz Bazawule’s (aka Blitz the Ambassador) The Burial of Kojo, an assured debut feature by Ghana’s foremost hip-hop artist turned filmmaker. The UK premiere of Kasala! by emerging director Ema Edosio points to the future direction of Nigerian cinema and will close the festival on Sunday 11 November at Rich Mix.
This year Film Africa will showcase burgeoning cinema from two major creative hotspots on the continent, Kenya and Nigeria, through Afrobubblegum: Kenya’s Movie Mavericks and The Naija New Wave. From coming-of-age and first-love stories, to documentary accounts of intersex and transgender communities, through experimental, immersive and psychological thrillers – these special strands showcase the expansive imaginations and storytelling prowess of young filmmakers living and working across Africa and the diaspora today. Key titles include Wanuri Kahiu’s daring feature Rafiki; Tristan Aitchison’s observational documentary Sidney and Friends; and the UK premiere of Akin Omotoso’s latest film, A Hotel Called Memory – Nigeria’s first silent movie!
Other strands, Young Rebels and [Up]Rooted, are underpinned by the universal themes of youth, rebellion and the precariousness of migration, including: aKasha, from award-winning Sudanese director Hajooj Kuka, which satirically explores village life and the ideology of rebel-held Sudan; Lost Warrior, co-directed by Nasib Farah and Søren Steen Jespersen, which documents the life of a deported ex-London immigrant now hiding from Al-Shabaab in Somalia; Cédric Ido and Modi Barry’s Chateau, set in the vibrant Afro-Parisian neighbourhood of the same name; and A Season in France, the latest work by celebrated Chadian auteur Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, offering a dark yet compassionate portrait of the struggling immigrant under-class living in Paris.
Back by popular demand is the festival’s foodie strand, Dine & View, with two screenings of the powerful documentary Deltas, Back to Shores (UK premiere), which explores tales of global migration; and Film Africa LIVE!, which celebrates the rich musical cultures of the continent both on-screen and through live performances and party nights. The latter strand includes the world premiere of Humanimals, Emmanuel Owusu Bonsu’s (aka Romanian-Ghanaian musician Wanlov the Kubolor) tragi-comic musical on the trials and tribulations of African artists trying to get visas to visit the UK; and The Ancestors (EU premiere) co-directed by Amil Shivji and Rebecca Corey, documenting the rebirth of Tanzania’s Zilipendwa music.
Film Africa will also present two British Sign Language interpreted screenings to enhance the cinema experience for audiences with hearing loss or deafness.
Film Africa 2018 once again presents an exciting programme of innovative shorts in competition for the annual Baobab Award for Best Short Film, judged by a panel of industry experts. The Film Africa Audience Award for Best Feature Film also returns to give festival audiences a vote. Both awards carry a cash prize of £1,000 and will be announced at the Closing Gala ceremony on Sunday 11 November.
Film Africa: Young Audiences, the festival’s annual programme of schools and family screenings, will run during Black History Month and this year’s Film Africa Family Day (Sunday 11 November) will take children and parents on an interactive journey of discovery following a special free screening of Thomas and Friends: Big World, Big Adventures! in partnership with Mattel. The Royal African Society worked closely with Mattel earlier in 2018 to bring to life the new character of Nia, a steam engine from Kenya! Nia is Thomas’s co-protagonist in this new film and will move on to form part of the steam team living on the imaginary island of Sodor.
Film Africa 2018 has been made possible through the financial support and partnership of the BFI Audience Fund, the Miles Morland Foundation and the British Council.