With Film Africa 2015 just around the corner, we’ve created a list of the 10 must- see films to watch across 10 days of vibrant and diverse African cinema Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual London film festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent and diaspora. Established in 2011, 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.
The Opening Gala kicks off at The Picturehouse Central with the screening of “Run”. View the complete screening schedule here.
The feature film showing at the Opening Gala of Film Africa 2015 is “Run”. Run is running away. He has just killed his country’s Prime Minister. To escape, he had to take the face and clothes of a madman, wandering through the town in disguise. His life returns to him in flashes: a childhood with master Tourou, when he dreamt of becoming a rain-maker; his incredible adventures with Greedy Gladys; and his militia past as a Young Patriot in Ivory Coast’s turbulent conflicts. Run has not chosen all of these lives. He stumbled upon them, escaping from one existence to another. This is why he is called Run. Fresh from its Cannes Un Certain Regard screening – the first time an Ivorian film has featured at the festival – and after winning the Jury Prize at FESPACO earlier this year, Philippe Lacôte’s captivating coming-of-age drama Run takes centre stage at Film Africa 2015. In his debute feature, Lacôte draws a critical eye on his country’s decades-long political and military conflicts, which have claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people, producing an extraordinarily cinematic and original work of singular vision.
Director: Philippe Lacôte Country: Ivory Coast Year: 2014 Running time: 102 mins Language: French with English subtitles Colour
2. Things of the Aimless Wanderers
This thought provoking film takes its title from Bantu accounts of European explorers renowned for getting lost in their wanderings, in this highly creative, original and arresting work. A white man meets a black girl. Then the girl disappears. The white man tries to understand what happened to her and eventually finish a travelogue. Against a haunting score and intricate sound design, story fragments portray an African woman as an object of lust, surveillance, fascination, or violence.
Director: Kivu Ruhorahoza Country: Rwanda/UK Year: 2015 Running time: 77 mins Colour: Colour Language: English
3. La Belle at the Movies
Imagine living without cinema? DRC’s capital Kinshasa is a city of 10 million people without a single cinema theatre. This intriguing documentary charts the disappearance over the past decade of the city’s entire film industry through interviews with filmmakers, cinema owners and government officials. The result is a powerful and poetic image of a city and a population nostalgic for the magic and social tissue that cinema once provided. At the same time, La Belle celebrates the Kinshasa cowboys who found their identity in the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s, and the vibrant commitment of many Kinshasans today to the memory and future of their cinema.
Director: Cecilia Zoppelletto Country: UK Year: 2015 Running time: 66 mins Colour: Colour Language: French with English subtitles
Damaru is a 17-year-old village girl who is constantly marginalised for daring to be a deaf woman with ambitions. Her relentless desire to gain an education leads the local school teacher, Mr Patrick, to teach her sign language with hopes of securing her a scholarship. When the time comes to leave the village, Damaru’s life changes forever. A story of hope and survival, Damaru embodies the life of a female character of formidable vulnerability and strength.
Agbor Obed Agbor is a Cameroonian filmmaker and TV producer. Agbor directed his first short film Cold Feet in 2012 and was selected to participate in the 2013 One Fine Day workshop in Nairobi. Damaru is his second short.
Director: Agbor Obed Agbor Country: Cameroon Year: 2014 Running time: 23 mins Language: English/ Pidgin with English subtitles
12 year¬old Adama lives in a remote village in West Africa, sheltered by cliffs. Out beyond lies “the land of breaths”, the kingdom of wicked spirits hungry for war. When Samba, his elder brother, suddenly vanishes, Adama sets off in search of him. Accompanied first by Abdou, a tragically lucid griot, then by a street urchin named Maximin, he crosses a Europe in the grip of war. We’re in 1914. Borne by the energy of desperation and the poetry of childhood, Adama travels to the hell of the frontline to find his brother. In the wake of the WW1 centennial, this beautiful and entrancing animation with echoes of Waltz With Bashir brings the long-overdue theme of African participation in the war effort to the forefront.
Director: Simon Rouby Country: France Year: 2015 Running time: 85 mins Colour: Animation Language: French with English subtitles Cert 10+
6. Necktie Youth
On the anniversary of the violent Soweto Youth Uprising of June 16 1976, an affluent group of Johannesburg youths are shocked by the live-streamed suicide of one of their friends. A year later and the aftershocks of the tragedy are still evident. In this first feature from 23-year old Shongwe-La Mer, the director plays Jabz, a directionless youth who passes the time rummaging through the city’s sleepy manicured northern suburbs with his buddy September in search of drugs, distraction and salvation. Beautifully and starkly shot in black and white, this revealing exploration of the generation born after the fall of Apartheid presents a side of South Africa not often seen. Winner of the Best South African Film and Best Director at Durban International Film Festival, Shongwe-La Mer is one to watch.
Director: Sibs Shongwe-La Mer Country: South Africa Year: 2015 Running time: 91 mins Colour: B&W Language: Afrikaans/ English/Zulu with English subtitles
7. The Dream of Sharazard
We all know at least some of the stories from the nights – those of Aladdin and his lamp, or Sinbad the sailor, for example. Within the Maghreb and Middle East region the famous princess, Shahrazad, who saves lives by telling stories to the murderous Sultan night after night, has a much deeper resonance: she is an archetypal female (and protofeminist) saviour of lives through creativity. Filmed around the Arab Spring events, The Dream of Shahrazad weaves together music, oral storytelling and politics to produce an experience that is insightful, magical and deeply moving, capturing the ways in which human beings turn important and difficult realities into art, and how art in turn impacts on reality. Winner of best documentary at the Durban International Film Festival.
Director: Francois Verster Country: South Africa/Egypt/Jordan/France/ Netherlands Year: 2014 Running time:107 mins Colour: Colour Language: Arabic/ English/Turkish with English subtitles
8. The Cursed Ones
A series of misfortunes lead a Ghanaian village to accuse a young girl of witchcraft. The Pastor’s (Fred Amugi) compelling rhetoric incites fear into the people as he insists that salvation lies in her exorcism and death. Disillusioned reporter Godwin (Oris Erhuero) is unexpectedly swept up in the witch-hunt, fighting back against a false prophet (Jimmy Jean-Louis) in a brave attempt to save the girl. Based on true events, this gripping drama, featuring an all-star cast including Ama K. Abebrese and Rama Brew, poignantly addresses the problem of child witch accusations, which are still widespread throughout the African continent.
Director: Nana Obiri Yeboah Country: UK/Ghana Year: 2014 Running time: 100 mins Colour: Colour Language: English
9. Love the One you Love
Love the One you Love is a feature at the BFI’S From Africa with Love. Phone sex operator Terri might be comfortable voicing the most intimate of thoughts over the phone with strangers. However, words don’t come so easily when it comes to communicating her feelings towards Sandile, her attentive boyfriend who spends his time looking after animals. In another corner of Cape Town, a computer technician struggles to let go of a lost love, rubbing self-indulgent salt in his wounds by insisting on spending time with his ex’s younger brother. As fate would have it, their parallel paths intersect and they begin to suspect that their love is a peculiar conspiracy – setting in motion an intimate, funny and bittersweet exploration of some of the more sacred ideals of young life in contemporary South Africa.
Dir. Jenna Cato Bass South Africa. 2014. 105 mins. Colour. English
10. The Man from Oran
The Man from Oran is the feature film to be screened at the festival’s closing gala event on the 8th of November.
It’s 1962. Basking in the euphoric glory of the Algerian Revolution two friends, Hamid and Jaffar, face a bright and promising future. Both members of the National Liberation Army, the men are soon rewarded for their bravery, landing positions of power amid the political shake up. With newfound independence comes choice and, over the next 30 years, as each man finds his place within Algeria’s new era, their actions and motives will test this friendship to its very core. Six years after the critically-acclaimed Masquerade, director Lyès Salem, who also stars as Jaffar, has helmed an epic exposé of Algeria’s turbulent political history and fight against colonialism. Yet the film’s revelation is in fact more universal – in the ongoing tug-of-war between integrity and corruption and empathy and selfish desires, it’s clear that the actions of the few can change the course and history of a nation.
Director: Lyès Salem Country: France/Algeria Year: 2014 Running time: 128 mins Language: French/Arabic with English subtitles Colour