By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire August 18, 2006 at 5:9AM
The 31st Toronto International Film Festival has unveiled ten films from 12 countries will be a part of the event's line up of African and African Diaspora cinema. With topics ranging form the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to a black female messiah superhero, the newly announced titles include six world and two North American premieres. Among the films set to screen are "Rabbit-Proof-Fence" director Phillip Noyce's "Catch a Fire" (world premiere) with Derek Luke and Tim Robbins, as well as "The Last King of Scotland" (world premiere) by Kevin Macdonald, set in Idi Amin's Uganda, starring Forrest Whitaker. Both films will screen as Special Presentations in Toronto.
Rachid Bouchareb's "Indigenes" (France/Morocco/Algeria/Belgium) is the story of three Africans recruited to fight for France against the Nazi occupation in 1943. The film, which won the best actor award from this year's Festival de Cannes, is a North American debut and will screen in Toronto's Contemporary World Cinema section. The world premiere of Zeka Laplaine's "Kinshasa Palace" (DR Congo/France), according to a festival release, "playfully blurs the line between fiction and memoir with Laplaine playing Kaze, a man in desparate search of his missing brother Max (Visions section). The North American debut of Tunde Kelani's Nigerian/Benini production "Abeni" (Contemporary World Cinema) centers on Abeni, the daughter of a wealthy business mogul and Akanni, a Beninoise from a modest background who are childhood lovers and meet again.
Spike Lee joins the group with his HBO look at the lives of those faced with the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts." The film, screening in the Masters section, is a four-hour doc assembled in four parts, each focusing on a different aspect of the tragedy. From the U.S and Jamaica. is Perry Henzell's "No Place Like Home" (world premiere, Visions). The film is the story of a New York producer who travels to Jamaica for a commercial shoot and experiences a series of unforeseen circumstances that causes her to drift away from the world she knows.
From Trinidad and Tobago is "Sistagod," by Yao Ramesar (Visions section), the first feature in a trilogy about the coming of a black female messiah in the future, during a period known as the Apocalypso-a-global holocaust that she alone survives. Tata Amarai' "Antonia" (world premiere, Contemporary World Cinema) centers on three friends who are backup singers in a rap group fronted by a gang of testosterone-filled men, performing to huge audiences in Brazil's favelas. And from South Africa comes Akim Omotoso's "Gathering the Scatter Cousins" (Visions section). The short, which is screening with "Sistagod," is an intimate glimpse of the director's life as he surveys his shared Nigerian and Barbadian ancestry.
"This year we'll bring audiences the stories of Idi Amin, Hurricane Katrina and South African freedom fighter Patrick Chamusso," commented Toronto international programmer Cameron Bailey in a statement. "The African experience is vast and diverse, extending far beyond African borders to include both Chad and Trinidad, both Nigeria and Brazil, and we'll have films from all of these countries."
The films will join previously announced titles focusing on the worldwide African experience, including Tahani Rached's "These Girls," Abderrahmane Sissako's "Bamako," Asger Leth's "Ghosts of Cite Soleil," Jerome Laperrousaz's "Made in Jamaica," John Barker's "Bunny Chow," Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's "Daratt," and Teboho Mahlatsi's "Moekgo and the Stickfighter."
[For more coverage of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, please visit indieWIRE's special section.]