Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rise of African Film


Africa's interest in film is nothing new. From the Masterpieces of Sembene Ousmane of Senegal to second most productive film industry in the world in Nigeria called Nollywood, African cinema can be both artsy and accessible to the masses.

With the video recording technology getting cheaper and interest in African stories growing; on and off the continent, visual media entertainment has exploded in recent years. The usual major players are behind many of the movies (Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya), but other countries across Africa are stepping up their production quality and producing features that are entertaining and aesthetically pleasing. The FESPACO film festival held every 2 years in Burkina Faso has been a mainstay for decades now, but new festivals and awards ceremonies are now popping up as well like the African Movie Academy Awards held annually in Nigeria. As far as competing globally, South African film Tsotsi became the first African film to win an Oscar in 2005. Life, Above All is South Africa's entry for Best Foreign Film for the 2011 Oscars and it has a real chance. Other films released in the near future could be award winners as well. I'm betting Pumzi a Kenyan sci fi short, which played at Sundance this year will captivate audiences on a larger scale when it's rereleased as a full length feature. Another film about Kenya, The First Grader, a true story about an 84-year old war veteran who took advantage of free primary education in the country, is sure to be a touching tear-jerker. Even the film Inception, which I saw recently here in Maseru, has scenes in Mombasa.

Certainly film related to Africa is rising in popularity. Africa is becoming a major film locale with movies that are engaging to African audiences and those around the world. It's refreshing to see a diverse selection of African stories being told and I'm sure there will be many more to come. Film workshops like Film-Africa in Kenya are training the next generation of African Filmmakers to share their visions. Who knows, maybe someday I could work to bring more African stories to the screen.

Check out Kenyan Princess, an African film blog.
Released online, these trailers are creating a lot of buzz:




RELENTLESS from LluĂ­s Prieto on Vimeo.



I especially can't wait to see The First Grader. And I'm quite interested to see Relentless which features the fine fro-y raspy voiced singer Nneka. Hey if anyone knows how I can get the PUMZI short let me know, I've been searching everywhere!

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