As part of its commitment to present African cinema, this
year the 49th Annual Chicago
International Film Festival will be screening a series of 13 films from African
filmmakers throughout the festival, that they call Spotlight Africa, of which several of the films being screened we
have profiled extensively before on S & A.
Some of the African films to screened are:
Of Tabatô (Guinea Bissau and Portugal)
After years of European exile, Imatur returns to his
native village of Tabatô to attend his daughter’s wedding, his head still
saturated with horrific visions of a war he fought long ago. When tragedy
strikes on the road to Tabatô, the entire village must come together in this
entrancing, surreal film that blends music and magic with the lingering effects
of Guinea-Bisseau’s history.(pictured above)
South-Easter (South Africa)
When a body washes up on a Cape Town beach, ambitious
township cop Sizwe seizes the opportunity to prove himself and earn the
promotion he desperately needs. But when the investigation leads him to a black
market smuggling ring, Sizwe is caught in the middle of a deadly power play
orchestrated by an old friend. With no one left to trust, Sizwe must take the
law into his own hands in this gritty crime drama.
It Up Djassa (France / Ivory Coast)
Shot on a miniscule budget but positively bursting with
style and energy, this hugely inventive DIY crime thriller follows Tony, a
young cigarette seller in an Abidjan ghetto. Ignoring the pleas of his
policeman brother to stay on the right side of the law, Tony gets increasingly
mixed up in local gambling and criminal activities until a moment of violence
puts him on the run from the law.
An inspiring portrait of Mozambique’s founding president,
Comrade President traces the life and legacy of revolutionary leader Samora
Moisés Machel. At the forefront of a popular uprising, Machel helped establish
a fledgling government and continued fighting for justice until his suspicious
death in 1986. With candid interviews from those who knew Machel best –
including his opponents – this documentary examines the indelible legacy of a
Despite a paralyzed leg that keeps him on the fringes of
society, Grigris comes alive at the local nightclub, tearing up the dance floor
every night. When a relative’s hospital bills start piling up, Grigris must
turn to the black market for work. After double-crossing his new boss in a
desperate attempt at fast money, Grigris finds himself on the run in this
sensitive depiction of a desperate, marginalized man by one of Africa’s most
The Pardon (Rwanda)
Best friends Manzi and Karemera find themselves on
opposing sides in Rwanda’s ethnic civil war, with Tutsi Karemera’s family
paying a horrific price for Manzi’s allegiance to his Hutu heritage. When Manzi
is released from prison fifteen years later, his return re-opens old wounds.
Filmmaker Joel Karekezi draws from his own experience as a survivor of Rwanda’s
violence in creating this moving account of two former friends who must contend
with the unimaginable horrors in their past.
When 16-year-old Malak discovers that she’s pregnant, she
quickly finds herself alone in a community that marginalizes and mistreats
single mothers. Abandoned by the baby’s father, shunned by her family, and in
dire need of cash, Malak is forced to take desperate measures. An
elegantly-photographed portrait of a young woman’s struggles, Malak garnered
major awards at Morocco’s National Film Festival, including the Jury Prize,
Best Screenplay, and Best Actress for its young star Chaimae Ben Acha.
Good Report (South Africa)
Jahmil X.T. Qubeka
This modern day film noir tracks Parker, a shy high
school teacher arriving at a new school. While he is earnest in his passion for
teaching, his extra-curricular attentions are drawn to a gorgeous young woman.
When he realizes she is a student at his very school – and forbidden fruit – he
grows increasingly obsessed. When the girl goes missing, a female detective
comes snooping around, fueling Parker’s unstable, even dangerous, behavior as
she gets closer to the shocking truth.
Anne struggles to rebuild her life after Kenya’s civil
unrest has killed her husband, gravely injured her son, and left her isolated
farm in ruins. Joseph, a quiet and troubled young gang member who took part in
the countrywide violence, is drawn to Anne and her farm, seemingly in search of
connection and redemption. This powerful story of forgiveness and
reconciliation presents an intimate look at the aftermath of violence on both
perpetrators and victims.
Welt (Netherlands and Tunisia
In the summer of 2011, Tunisia is finally free of its
dictatorial shackles, but 23-year-old Abdallah is still a slave to his mundane
life, dreaming of an escape to Europe – or “die Welt” – to fulfill his dormant
ambitions. Following a chance encounter with Dutch tourist Anna, Abdallah’s
passion to reach the other side of the Mediterranean burns brighter than ever
before, prompting a desperate gamble for escape in this at turns comic and
(Algeria / France)
In an isolated house on a drought-stricken mountainside,
Ouardia must bury the body of her son Tarik, a victim of the civil conflict
waging between the government and the fundamentalists. She suspects her other
son, Ali, a mujahedeen fighter, has had a hand in the killing. And their mutual
distrust is evidenced in the young soldier that Ali has sent to guard her.
Beautifully capturing the expansive Algerian countryside this minimalist tale
of a single family’s tragedy takes on mythic proportions.
In addition, several of the directors of these films, such
as João Viana and Jahmil X.T. Quebeka, will participate in a directors panel and
an informal get together called Meet the Filmmakers, which will take place at the
Black Cinema House located on 6901
S. Dorchester Ave Sunday Oct. 13 starting at 12 noon. The event is free. No ticket required.
Go HERE to find out more about all the films being shown
at Spotlight Africa at CIFF, including the shorts and the music video