AFRIFF 2011 brought to Lagos an engaging and exciting programme of over 80 films from across the African continent, the African diaspora and beyond. This programme provided a showcase for some of the recent impulses in cinema from these regions.

In addition to its regular competition sections of Feature films; Documentaries; Shorts and Animation from around the world all competing for the winning cash price in each category, we had a number of out of competition features films that at one end of the spectrum provided a place in the programme for some of the recent films that have been popular in their domestic and international commercial markets (eg. Havana Eva/Chica and Rita/Viva Riva); and at the other end, the work of emerging feature filmmakers still shaping their storytelling skills (eg. Rumbi katedza ‘Playing Warriors’ from Zimbabwe and Craig Leihan’s ’Crazy Love’ from the Bahamas). In between, we had a panorama offering contemporary Indian Cinema; contemporary Nigerian Cinema; A Passion for Documentary; Nigeria in Focus; Planet Short Cuts; the ‘AnimaeCaribes’ showcase of recent Caribbean animation presented by Camille Abrahams; and 4 films from the Master of Classic India cinema SatajitRay. Phew! Within such a mixed programme there is sure to be a lot for audience to discover and enjoy.

Variety is not the only characteristic feature of the AFRIFF 2011 programme. The programme inevitablely showcased some of the most recent features from its prolific Nigerian industry both in and out of competition, from its filmmakers based both at home and abroad. However, the AFRIFF 2011 programme also had a theme that presented itself from the films submitted that indicated an aspect of the African and Caribbean history and present cultural experience that filmmakers from those countries were engaging with the cultural link between Africa and Asia. Among those selected are the Senegalese documentary ‘Dakar Bombay’; the Trinidadian Documentary ‘Chinee Girl’; ‘Firefly’ the short film made in China by Uganda Director Caroline Kamya; and ‘Naijastani’ made in Indian by son of the Nigerian soil Tope Alake. Another theme which is sure to please Audiences is music and its has a strong impulse in the films that came through in fiction and documentary, Africa and Caribbean: films such as ‘Hit Me with Music’ profiling the Jamaican Dancehall Genre and featuring Yellow man and the other key artists; ‘Calypso Rose’ profiling the queen of Trinidadian genre by Cameroun director Pascale Obolo; ‘Lovers Rock’ revealing the magic of the UK genre of reggae by Menelik Shabazz. West Indian music is a strong features that weaves together the story of West Indies Cricket ‘Fire in Baylon’ by Uk director Steven Riley: not to mention the Cuban Jazz basis of the ‘Chico and Rita’ story and the Emperor of Nigerian Afro Beat presented by E. Jaheed ASHLEY’S American film Fela NYC. In yet another theme woman directors profile women achievers : Nigerian Branwen Okpako gives us ‘the Education of Auma Obama’; South African Theresa Hill gives us ‘Mama Africa’ on the life of Miriam Makeba; and Kenyan Jane Muene, profile Human rights Activist Monica Wangu.

Feature films in competition offer stunning films with stories of tender love, such as the Indian film from Arpana Sen, ‘The Japanese Wife’; Two gritty urban period dramas set in the most turbulent eras of ‘70s Jamaican party politics – Chris Brawne’s ‘Ghetta Life’ and Storm Saulter’s ‘Better Mus Come’ from Jamaica. Stories of contemporary political issues of corruption, repression and xenophobia in high drama features; these include Carlos Gaviria’s ‘Portraits in the Sea of Lies’ from Columbia; ‘State Research Bureau’ by Matt Bish from Uganda’; ‘ and from South Africa, Nigeria’s own Akin Omotoso brought us the long – awaited ‘Man on Ground’ Coming of age stories of humour and pathos are provided by two women directors presenting their frist features Mariette Monpirre’s ‘Elza’s Happiness’ from Guadeloupe and Jacqueline Kalimunda’s ‘High Life’ from Rwanda.

The Caribbean has been inspired by the achievements in film of the Africa continent and of the Commercial approach of Nigeria in particular, so it was no surprise that there was such a good response to AFRIFF2011’s international call for entries, which captured the imagination of many in the region. From the region AFRIFF 2011 also included two films in competition from the lesser known (in terms of African Cinema) Cape Verde with the hunting features of Alexis Tsafas ’A Menina Dos Oihos Grandes’ and Daniel Balufkus’ Documentary features about cinema in Cape Verde ’Eden’.

The feature film line up at AFRIFF 2011 includes films in and out of completion that reminded the world that Nigerian Cinema has a wide range of genres, style and stories: they included the finely historical epics of Lancelot Oduwa lmasuen’s ‘Adesuwa’ and Niji Akanni’s ‘Aramatou’; The slick moody contemporary features ‘Tango with Me’ from Mahmood Ali-Balogun; the intensely dramatic film ‘Eletan’; and the drama exploring visual story telling style from Udaka Oyeka, ‘Red House Seven’.

The numerous short films submitted, indicated a high level of talent waiting on the wings many of which we will no doubt see in the future line ups of the big screen. There was a good response and of the 25 short films in and out of competition three sources were significant. Firstly films from the National Film School in Jos, Nigeria, 4 of which are selected; 4 of the focus feature Africa first shorts from Uganada/Mali/Zambia/South Africa; 5 Shorts from 4 different countries of the Caribbean region (Trinidad/Jamaica/Guyana/Guadeloupe). Of the rest, two are from Senegal, two are from Indian; and others from Nigeria, Namibian, Italy, UK, Rwanda, Uganda.

Last and by no means least, the festival was honoured that Ghanaian filmmaker Leila Djansi chose AFRIFF 2011 for the African Premiere of her film ‘THE TIES THAT BIND’. The film opened the festival with a Gala screening. The internationally acclaimed Cuban animated feature film for adults set in the pre-revolutionary Cuba of in 1948, ‘Chico and Rita’ by Tono Errando and Javier Mariscal, closed the 2011 AFRIFF.

(A big thank you to the following for their help: Annabelle Ove & Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival/Alessandra Speciale/Rosa Carillo/Bina Venugopaul)

Download 2011 official Selection

June Givanni
Programmer/Film Curator

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