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Africa and the Movies

Africa and the Movies

Today there is a great interest throughout the world in Africa. Its cinema is slowly entering the world’s film markets and the festivals. In the U.S., though not made by Africans, still “of African interest”, this week’s release of Claire Denis’s ♀White Material has garnered a strong review by Kenneth Turan in the L.A. Times.

Simultaneously poetic, dramatic and realistic, “White Material” is an altogether stunning work. Directed by Claire Denis and starring Isabelle Huppert in a bravura performance as a woman confronting armed chaos in Africa, this is filmmaking that is at once exhilarating and chilling, powerful and powerfully disturbing.

White Material: IFC has U.S. and Wild Bunch is the international sales agent.

Initiatives fostering filmmaking by Africans follow here.
Focus Features sponsors a special program, Africa First, to assist emerging filmmakers in their first short film. It awards five emerging African filmmakers $10,000.00 each towards pre-production, production, or post-production of their short film.

Sundance‘s 2010 lineup featured a new wave of filmmaking talent emerging from sub-Saharan Africa. The young filmmakers, exploring both new directions and traditional storytelling genres—both African and from other cultures—to tell modern African stories with a fresh sense of style and meaning had three films in Sundance. South African filmmaker Jenna Bass ♀ draws from ancient mythological storytelling traditions to create a kind of historical magical realism in relating a modern-day tale of warfare in Zimbabwe in her film The Tunnel. Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu ♀ creates a brightly original science-fiction vision in her film Pumzi, a story of a botanist who risks everything to nurture a plant 35 years after the “Water War.” And Senegalese filmmaker Dyana Gaye ♀ draws from the fifties- and sixties-style French musicals to breathe fresh air into Saint Louis Blues, a buoyant road-trip tale set in the clogged urban streets and dusty roads of Senegal.

The European community, however, seems to be taking the lead in bringing African films and filmmaking into the international market place. Rotterdam Film Festival’s Hubert Bals Fund, IDFA’s Jan Vrijman Fund,the Berlinale and Gotheborg all have programs to bring Africa to the world cinema. Read more about African initiatives which have taken place this year including initiatives of Rotterdam, Berlinale, Cannes and others.

The Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) and Jan Vrijman Fund (JVF) and the Cinema Mondial Tour.
These two Dutch funds, which provide support to filmmakers in developing countries, have set up a joint film program, the Cinema Mondial Tour, to tour film festivals in Africa until March 2011. Working together for the first time, they have created a program of films from various African countries, as well as other regions where the HBF and JVF are active. HBF films are from Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Argentina and Malaysia while the JVF-supported documentaries come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Iran and Russia. All participating festivals make their own selection from the films chosen by the HBF and JVF. The film program consists of a total of 12 fiction films and documentaries.

Launching with a special advance screening at the beginning of June during the Ecrans Noir festival in Cameroon, the official starting signal for the tour of Africa was given on 10 July during the opening of the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Tanzania. A day later, on 11 July, the Rwanda Film Festival began and also screened the program, followed by the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa. The Cinema Mondial Tour will run until mid-2011 and will visit film festivals in other African countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Benin. Hubert Bals Fund and Jan Vrijman Fund worked together with the aim of stimulating an independent film culture in developing countries. As part of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), the HBF focuses specifically on the realisation of fiction films. The JVF, which is part of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), is geared to offering support to creative documentaries. The policy of both funds is twofold: firstly to provide support to filmmakers in developing countries. Secondly, the financial resources made available must be spent in a developing country and both HBF and JVF stimulate the screening of the films in their countries of origin. The aim is for the Cinema Mondial Tour to be organized in other parts of the world, such as in the Middle East and Central Asia, in the future. The Hubert Bals Fund and The Jan Vrijman Fund are both supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hivos-NCDO Culture Foundation, the DOEN Foundation, with further aid for HBF coming from Dioraphte Foundation and Dutch public broadcasting network NPS.

The Hubert Bals Fund films:
Love Conquers All by Tan Chui Mui (Malaysia, 2006)
Soul Boy by Hawa Essuman (Kenya, 2010)
Un matin bonne heure by Gahité Fofana (Guinea, 2006)
Una semana solos by Celina Murga ♀ (Argentina, 2006)
Le jardin de papa by Zeka Laplaine (DR Congo, 2003)

The Jan Vrijman Fund films:
Congo in Four Acts by Dieudo Hamadi, Divita Wa Lusala and Kiripi Katembo Siku (DR Congo, South Africa, 2010)
Glimpse by Dan Jawitz and Alberto Iannuzzi (South Africa, 2005)
Santos by Rupinder Jagdev (Kenya, 2008)
Sea Point Days by Francois Verster (South Africa, 2008)
Shungu, the Resilience of a People by Saki Mafundikwa (Zimbabwe, 2009)
Tehran has no more Pomegrenates by Massoud Bakhshi (Iran, 2006)
Tishe! by Victor Kossakovsky (Russia, 2002)

Berlinale / Durban: Africa in Motion (AiM)
For the third year, the Africa in Motion (AiM), the U.K. largest African film festival invited African filmmakers to submit short films of up to 30 minutes for the festival’s short film competition. In order to target the competition specifically towards young and emerging African film talent, filmmakers who enter a film for consideration must not have completed a feature-length film previously. Films entered must have been completed in 2007 or after. A shortlist from all the entries was selected and announced by the end of August 2010. From this shortlist, the competition winner was chosen by a high profile jury and announced at an awards ceremony at the Africa in Motion festival in October 2010. The jury consisted of local and international film specialists and established African filmmakers. All shortlisted films will be screened at the festival. In addition to the overall first prize selected by the jury, an audience choice award was selected by the audience at the screenings and announced at the end of the festival. The deadline for short film competition entries has been extended to 14 June 2010. See their website for full submission guidelines and to download the entry form, read carefully through the submission guidelines and email the festival co-directors Lizelle Bisschoff ♀ and Stefanie van de Peer ♀ with further enquires at: submissions AT

And Deeper in Africa…

FilmAfrica! has been developed from an initiative of One Fine Day Films’, Tom Tykwer and Marie Steinmann ♀. The company joined forces with the Deutsche Welle Akademie to launch a new initiative that will offer hands-on training to budding African filmmakers. FilmAfrica! which ran the production company along with U.K.-based charity Anno’s Africa in Nairobi in autumn 2008, made the film Soul Boy by Ghanaian-Kenyan debutant Hawa Essuman. The initiative now receives $1.4m (€1m) in support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) over the next two years and will also receive support from the Goethe Institut in Nairobi. In addition, the Filmstiftung NRW has awarded $136,137 (€100,000) towards the production costs the next film, which will be shot this autumn. Guy and Siobhain “Ginger” Wilson’s Nairobi-based production house Ginger Ink, which was a co-producer of Soul Boy, will serve as the local partner for FilmAfrica!

Speaking to ScreenDaily, Tykwer said:

“This year’s project will be more structured than the pilot project of Soul Boy. There will be a series of workshops over a number of months before the actual shoot, and we will have 10-15 participants in six or seven department workshops. Out of a total of 60-100 people, we will then generate the crew which will be trained before we actually start shooting the movie. On Soul Boy, the film was the workshop. Therefore, we will know better what the particular skills and knowledge are of the individual people.”

Tykwer added some of the participants in the workshops may come from other East African countries such as Sudan or Ethiopia, but the focus will remain on Kenya. Screenwriting workshops have been already been held in preparation for the next film project, with more than 35 screenplays having been involved and developed.

“Out of these, ten major candidates are in the running, and we will then come down to three or four after the other training workshops in the summer. The final choice of screenplay should then be made with the director who is chosen from the workshops,”

Meanwhile, FilmAfrica! plans to continue the collaboration with German camera manufacturer and distributor ARRI, which provided equipment and post-production facilities to Soul Boy, and Tykwer suggested that the second film might be able to use ARRI’s new “Blue” digital camera. Soul Boy had its world premiere at the Rotterdam and Gothenberg International Film Festivals before being screened as a Generation Special presentation at the Berlinale last weekend. The film will be shown to the local Kenyan cast and crew in the Nairobi district of Kibera – where Soul Boy is set – on March 4.

Africa in Cannes
This year there was a huge increase in the number of films concerning Africa. Even the Cannes Classics is showing The African Queen.:) It seems almost every sales agent and organization was showing or offering a film about some part of Africa and its poverty, violence or redeeming factors such as art or music. This is just a sampling of some initiatives and films.

For the first time in 13 years an African feature competes for the top award at Cannes.The Screaming Man, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, a chronicle of life between a father and son evokes daily life in modern Chad, a country not at peace.

The International Emerging Film Talent Association and the Ethiopian Film Initiative joined forces to bring a group of young filmmakers from Ethiopia to Cannes for the first time.

Bavaria Film International showcased the South African film Life, Above All by Olivier Schmitz in Un Certain Regard which is currently South Africa’s submission for Academy Award snomination for Best Foreign Language.It was produced by Dreamer Joint Venture Filmproduktion/ Berlin in co-production with Senator Film Produktion/Berlin, Niama Film/Stuttgart and Wizard/Cologne.

Life, Above All

E1 has Bang Bang Club about a war photographer in South African townships now undergoing violent protests. It was recently picked up by Tribeca Distribution.
Pathé’s $6m Africa United, an ambitious U.K.-South Africa-Rwanda co-production filmed across three countries tells the story of three Rwandan children — Dudu, his sister Beatrice and his friend Fabrice — who embark on an epic journey across seven African countries to attend the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa. Along the way they encounter everything from hippos to heists, find new friends and face up to issues such as Aids and child prostitution.The U.K./ Rwanda/ South African co-production is the directorial debut of Debs Gardner-Paterson. It is produced by Mark Blaney and Jackie Sheppard for U.K.-based production company Footprint Films, with Rwandan producer Eric Kabera for Link Media alongside co- producer Lance Samuels for Out Of Africa Entertainment and Mark Hubbard. The film was financed by Pathe, along with BBC Films, the U.K. Film Council and the Rwanda Film Commission. also writes about:

Nigeria’s Nollywood eclipsing Hollywood in Africa
May 18, 2010
As cinemas close across Africa, homegrown blockbusters are actually eclipsing Hollywood on the African market. Armed with a few thousand dollars, a digital camera, and a couple of lights, Nigerian directors have created a $236 million industry and is the world’s third largest producer of feature films. The films are now also available online at

Ugandan film producers challenged by distributors
March 24, 2010
The film industry in Uganda and the east African region is growing, but film producers are still challenged by distributors.

Zimbabwean film industry in limbo
February 4, 2010
Zimbabwean film industry in limbo 4 February, 2010 A good number of Zimbabweans who enjoy watching Nigerian films not only fell in love with the actors and actresses, but also learnt how to speak English with an accent. From Ramsey Noah to Desmond Elliot, Ifeanyi Azodo to Genevieve Njaji, Mercy Johnson to Rita Dominic, Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde to Patience Ozwokor, these are some of Nigerian actors and actresses that have captured the interest of Zimbabweans.

Call to revamp film industry in Ghana
December 30, 2009
A Ghanaian playwright, James Ebo-White has emphasized the need for Ghanaians to attach great importance to the film industry in order to develop the country’s culture. He said culture is the life blood of every economy and developing it will project the country both home and abroad. According to him culture sharpens and influences the way of life of a people.

Despite rebate, Kenyan biz still struggles
December 30, 2009
The Kenya Film Commission has tabled an ambitious slate of incentives for foreign film crews, with a proposed 25% rebate for pics that can claim at least half of their principal shooting in the country. by Christopher Vourlias But with the proposals failing to gain traction in a government bogged down by other fiscal priorities, the financial climate hasn’t improved for filmmakers this year.

South Africa 2008 Co-Productions Analysis Summary
December 13, 2009
To date, South Africa has entered into four audiovisual co-production treaties with Canada (1997), Italy (2003), Germany (2004) and the United Kingdom (2007). The purpose of this analysis is to identify the real value added by co-production projects to the local economy, asses if co-production treaty objectives are being achieved and to also identify existing trends. Co-productions analysis will be done on an annual basis to…

From Africa No. 1 (Each day, Eugenie and her guests invite you to discuss major topics of interest to Africans living in Europe: Tradition and integration, discrimination, representation of black people in French society, education of children and also fashion, beauty, black, cooking , Business Africa , major events.) But watch out, it’s in French!

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