The 2011 edition of the popular African Film Festival features films from eight countries ranging from Ivory Coast to Mali. It moves from the claustrophobic din of one Cape Town flat to the frenetic sprawl of African immigrant culture across Europe, from hair salons in Ghana and Nigeria to an imagined future of an East Africa without water, and even finds time for another visit with the crowd-pleasing, pint-sized animated star Kirikou, back for even more adventures.
This year, the series is complemented by three classics of African cinema from the World Cinema Foundation (see page 7): Djibril Diop-Mambéty’s legendary Touki Bouki (1973), whose African dreamers and hustlers are the cinematic predecessors of those found in Elaine de Latour’s raucous Beyond the Ocean; Shadi Abdel Salam’s Al Momia (1969), acclaimed as one of the greatest Egyptian films of all time; and Trances (1981), with extraordinary footage of the Moroccan music group Nass El Ghiwane.
New or classic, documentary or narrative, the films of the African Film Festival spotlight the changes, moods, and conflicts of a continent then, as now, in flux. While challenging and expanding our image of Africa, they also confirm the importance of self-representation.