Organized by Goethe Institute and curated by Katarina Hedren from the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg African Film Week featured 5 films by African filmmakers. The week opened with Hermon Hailay’s Price of Love (2015), a 99-minute long well-made drama about a young taxi driver Teddy’s happenstance meeting with sex-worker Fere leading to the loss of his cab and the adventure to retrieve it. The film was previously screened at FESPACO, Burkina Faso, Zanzibar International Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival and Stockholm Film Festival.
It was followed the next day by the Namibian Perivi Katjavivi The Unseen (2016) on Tuesday, a genre-bending film in three marvelously shot vignettes, half-improvised, half-scripted. The story follows Sara, Anu and Marcus as they attempt to be successful in their chosen careers and become better humans.
The Boda Boda Thieves (Uganda, 2015) by Director Dondald Mugisha aired on Thursday, features the increasingly common means of transportation in African cities the ‘boda boda’ locally known as bajaj.
Director Anisia Uzeyman’s Afro-Punk Dreamstates (Rwanda, 2016) was shown on Friday and follows the story of two artists falling in love. The Director Uzeyman stars in the lead role Indigo and her husband Saul Williams plays the role of Spoonie. The film was shot using two iPhones over 42 days.
The Algerian Director’s Rayhana’s I still Hide to Smoke (Algeria, 2016) confronts gender issues in 1995 Algeria amid civil war and fear of terrorist attacks. Fatima creates a safe haven for all women in a hammam (Turkish bath) in a time of escalating control over women’s lives and international pressures. Rayhana won the award for Best Debut Feature at Raindance Film Festival in 2017 and the audience award at Thessaloniki Film Festival the year before.
According to Tenagne Tadesse, Program Assistant at the Institute, the films were selected on the basis of having been released less than 3 years ago, their coverage of social issues and documenting African realities, as well as the awards they had won and acclaim they had gained thus far.
The aim of the film week is to showcase successful African films and encourage local filmmakers. This is the second installment of African Film Week, the first launched in 2016 with the African Union Culture Department. The Film Week hopes to bring African countries closer by showcasing each other’s works, forming a shared experience and creating opportunities for storytellers.
Leul Shoaferaw, local filmmaker and founder of Eerie Productions Inc., states the week is a tremendous platform to introduce the best of African films to the Ethiopian audience and filmmakers. “I believe this festival will expand my regional and international professional outlooks, nurture my creative capacity and inspire to contribute to the African cinema portfolio.”
Contributed by Hiwot Abebe