The curtains of Góngora Theatre were raised on the 11th for one of the most important platforms in Europe showcasing cinema of Africa and the Middle East. Over six hundred people gathered together at 8.30 pm to join the beginning of the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the African Film Festival of Cordoba. The ceremony included the screening of the making of the FCAT poster, in the presence of its artist, the young Sudanese Dar Al Naim Mubarak-Carmona, the interpretation of the Malagasy musician, Kilema, the awards for the winners of the children’s drawing competition and the screening of the African masterpiece, La vie sur terre (Life of Earth, 1998) by one of the fathers of African cinemas, Abderrahmane Sissako.
The ceremony was presented by acclaimed journalist Marta Jiménez, a Córdoba native. After a friendly chat with the director of the festival, Mane Cisneros, Marta Jiménez and the Delegate Comptroller for Citizen Participation of the Council of Cordoba, Blanca Córdoba, invited Dar Al Naim Mubarak-Carmona on stage for the presentation of the awards to the winning children. The artist, originally from Khartoum (Sudan), but with a multicultural professional and personal career, has been responsible for the creation of the image of the poster of the festival, filmed by Julio Castaño, from Yunaki Films, and whose Director of Photography has been the graphic designer of the FCAT, José Wela. Dar Al Naim joked about the ‘African hot weather’ at the terrace where she painted the poster at Cordoba, implying how similar these two lands are.
Another highlight of the ceremony was the live music played by the Malagasy musician, Kilema, a marovany player (a suitcase shaped, wooden, type of box zither from his country) and who has shared his talent from New York to Madagascar, Spain and many other European countries. The performance finished with the way of clapping in Madagascar, that cheered up the audience, who joined perfectly in rhythm.
The mayor of Cordoba, José Antonio Nieto, who has been supporting the festival since its first edition in Cordoba last year, was also invited on stage, sharing his commitment on making this unique cultural activity possible, enjoying the very rich heritage of the history of Cordoba. This was followed by Mane Cisneros, who was grateful to count on a very large number of people believing in a project that is making Africa a bit closer to Spain, and specially, seen by the eyes of Africa, where boundaries become a very elusive notion.
A tribute to Sissako for a tribute to African Films
The event concluded with the screening of La vie sur terre (1998), a film that embodies the spirit of the celebration of the ten years of love for African films. In fact, Abderrahmane Sissako has witnessed the consolidation of this festival, the only one in Spain showcasing African cinemas, as he has actively participated in most of the editions of the festival. Born in Kiffa (Mauritania) in 1961, but brought up in Mali, trained in Moscow and based in Paris since the early 1990s, Sissako is recognised as the archetypal filmmaker as exile. Throughout his career, he has been using his own situation and experience at the basis of his work, leading to a sort of autobiography. Sissako has always highlighted the role of cinema in the search for construction of the self, and displacement has played an important part, as his films reflect. In fact, La vie sur terre begins with the questioning words of a letter to his father: ‘Is what I am learning far from you worth what I am forgetting about us?’ On a way, this interest in knowing Africa from the voices and spaces of the people on the ground is precisely what this festival has been aiming at since its foundation in 2004.
The film, whose poetic photography and low path reminds of Fellini’s La Strada, or Antonioni’s The Passenger, was made as part of a ten-episode international series on the impact of the new millennium on people throughout the world. However, shot in four weeks, the film inspires a sense of timelessness, where passers-by repeat the same actions over and over again, some try unsuccessfully to get in touch with outsiders in a post office, etc. The only indication of the change of millennium is accidentally overhead from a French radio programme. The film suggests an attentive gaze, accented by the harmony of Salif Keita’s music, ‘Folon’, in Malinka (‘In the past’), heard at his arrival, and when he is with his father in the fields at the end. It adopts an epistolary shape, with a letter written by Drahmane, based in Paris, to his father in Sokolo (Mali), announcing his wish to visit and film there. And it closes in a circular way, as Sissako takes back to Paris, a letter from a person in Sokolo, to his brother in exile in Paris.
The film was extremely welcomed by the audience, now with great expectations for a week that suggests precisely a trip to Africa through its very wide range of films.
FCAT Cordoba, organised by the NGOD Al Tarab with the sponsorship of the City Council of Cordoba, Magtel Corp. and Halal Institute, will screen, from the 11th to the 19th of October, 70 films from or on Africa from 32 different countries. This will be complemented by a series of activities for all audiences and professionals, spread across the city.