Tag Archives: African FIlm

‘Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction’ at Bristol’s Arnolfini

An exhibit at the Arnolfini in Bristol has been exploring how Africa is expressed in science fiction with films, photography, visual art, and other media.  The exhibit’s stated aim is to explore the “recent tendency for artists and filmmakers to apply the forms and concerns of science fiction to narratives situated in the African continent.”

Since being tipped off by Africa Is A Country’s great coverage, I’ve been working on schemes to get to the southwest of England, where the exhibit is running until July the 4th.  My schemes have not panned out, so I’ve scrounged up what I can on the internet about the exhibit.

For everyone else not in Bristol, here’s a bit of what there is to share about the exhibit.  The individual parts of the exhibit (like Kiluanji Kia Henda’s photos from Icarus 13, pictured above) are referenced in the content of the following pieces:

  • Notes From the Sun: Representations of Africa in Science Fiction, the exhibition book put together by Nav Haq and Al Cameron. The phrase ‘future as disruption,’ invoked by Haq & Cameron to explore how science fiction causes an examination of the present, has been floating around in my head since reading their essay.
  • Curating Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction, a great interview with curators Nav Haq and Al Cameron in the aforementioned blog Africa Is A Country.  I enjoyed the section plotting the similarities and divergences of African Science Fiction and Afro-Futurism.
  • Africa as Science Fiction, also in AIAC, that works through some of the exhibit’s pieces, including this 1976 conversation (testing out early U.S. Department of Defense instant messaging technology (?!)) with Steven Biko, Samir Amin, Francis Fukuyama, and Minoru Yamasaki about the Soweto Riots.
  • Luis Dourado’s  maps, who’s cut/put back together maps of Africa are part of the exhibit.
  • And here’s the trailer for Wanuri Kahui’s Pumzi – a great short science fiction film, and part of Focus Feature’s Africa First project:

‘The Boda Boda Thieves’ Collects More Accolades and Funding

The Boda Boda Thieves, a film project by producers James Tayler and Wanjiku Sarah Muhoho with director Donald Mugisha, has turned heads at the Berlin International Film Festival’s Talent Campus.

The film project, which will go into production in the coming months, won the Highlight Pitch Award at the festival’s Talent Project Market.  Additionally, the film received special mention for the International Relations ARTE Prize for excellence in script writing. 

The recognition is only the most recent in a string of various accolades and funding commitments for the film; South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation, the World Cinema Fund, the Hubert Bals Fund, and the Global Film Initiative have all given the film significant funding, and the film project has won accolades at Durban FilmMart and the International Film Festival of Rotterdam.

The film is the story of a poor family in Kampala, Uganda who scrape by on earnings from the son’s job as a motorbike taxi driver[1]. From the film’s synopsis:

When Goodman stakes his last source of livelihood and his reputation with his old friend, Bujagali, to get a job for his son Abel as driver of a motorbike taxi or “Boda-Boda”, he feels like things are maybe finally going his way, that is, until a gang of thieves robs Abel of the treasured motorbike.  We follow Goodman and his son Abel on their quest through the city to find their “Boda Boda” and in the process gain an insider’s view of urban Africa, its underworld and the generation gap between urban migrants and their first generation children.

The film is freely inspired by and is an African homage to the classic Italian neo-realist film “Bicycle Thieves” (1948) by Vittorio De Sica.

The international collaboration between the producers and director (Muhoho is Kenyan, Tayler is South African, and Mugisha is Ugandan) has won accolades for ‘distinctive and innovative’ African storyline. The film they have set out to make is seen by many as a pioneering effort, defining itself against other archetypes of African Cinema.

Producer James Tayler & Director Donald Mugisha

In an interview at the Festival Cine Africano de Tarifa, Tayler commented that the film “is about bridging the gap between these so called ‘embassy films,’ which get shown at the embassy during festivals, and the films that are relayed to the public and are popular.  I doesn’t need to be either/or – there’s really a market that people are hungry for – a thinking person’s film.”

“Nollywood  usually includes very stereotyped characters, with very melodramatic acting.  We like to think about films from a more socio-realistic perspective, with more subtle stories,” said Tayler.

That charter comes with its own challenges.  “On top of pioneering a different genre of films, we’re also working on pioneering a different distribution model,” said Mugisha in the same interview.

Producer Wanjiku Sarah Muhoho

Mugisha and Tayler are founding members of Yes! That’s UsFilm Collective, in which Muhoho is also involved.

“We hope to bring to life a great African story and also be part of impacting the local industry by sharing our skills as a collective from different countries and by sharing our vibrant and unique narrative voice,” said Muhoho.

More on this story from:

[1] ‘Boda boda,’ meaning motorbike, is a derivation from the English ‘border to border,’ when bicycles, and later, motorbikes, were used to transport people across the no man’s land of the Kenya-Uganda border.

Congolese Film VIVA RIVA! Opens Today

image courtesy: Music Box Films

Africa Movie Academy Awards winner Viva Riva! begins its U.S. theatrical release in Los Angeles and New York today.

Here’s an IFC interview with the film’s director Djo Tunda Wa Munga.