John Trengove’s The Wound, winner of the Sutherland Award for best first feature at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, opens Film Africa 2017 at BFI Southbank this week. Trengove’s electric debut about manhood, sexuality and tradition in South Africa’s Xhosa community inaugurates the seventh edition of the festival, the biggest celebration of African and African diaspora cinema in London.
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Taking place over 10 days at six venues – Rich Mix, BFI Southbank, Ritzy Brixton, Ciné Lumière, Bernie Grant Arts Centre and the South London Gallery – Film Africa 2017 celebrates brave new voices with the latest and best feature, documentary, experimental and short films from 21 African countries. The festival will close with the London premiere of Raja Amari’s fourth feature, Foreign Body, boasting a luminous cast including Sarra Hannachi and Hiam Abbass.
Packed with 19 European and world premieres highlighting a vibrant growth period in African cinema, the programme this year also has a bold focus on women’s stories and the growing presence of female voice. Highlights include Alain Gomis’ Berlin Silver Bear-winning feature Félicité, a compelling tale of a single mother in Kinshasa (also previewed at this year’s BFI London Film Festival), and Pascale Lamche’s documentary Winnie, a powerful portrait of the complex figure of Winnie Mandela, whose activism in South Africa was consistently demonised by the propaganda of Strategic Communications (STRATCOM).
Lead actor in The Wound and award-winning musician Nakhane will perform live at Rich Mix, bringing his beautiful vocal harmonies to London audiences for the first time. Alongside Nakhane’s performance, the Rich Mix will also stage an African electronic dance music event with the first UK gig by REDRED, the exciting Ghanaian-Hungarian duo comprising M3NSA from the FOKN Bois and Elo Morton. REDRED’s performance is part of the festival’s Ghana @ 60 strand, which marks the country’s 60 years of independence from British rule.
Ghana @ 60 champions post-colonial features from Africa’s most vivid and rapidly expanding film industries. The strand includes the European premiere of Peter Sedufia’s debut, Keteke, featuring a soundtrack by Accra-based band Worlasi, and the screening of one of Ghana’s most celebrated works, King Ampaw’s Kukurantumi – Road to Accra (1983), at which the director will be present.
Film Africa this year continues its collaboration with the five African film festivals in the UK with screenings of previously banned, lost and forgotten classics across the country. The Africa’s Lost Classics programme includes restored films by pioneering women filmmakers, such as the first non-fiction work directed by a Tunisian woman, Selma Baccar’s Fatma 75 (1976). Screenings will take place at Film Africa, Africa in Motion in Scotland, Africa Eye in Bristol, CAFF in Cambridge and Watch Africa in Wales. It will also include Newton Aduaka’s Peckham-set film Rage (1999) and the first fiction feature from independent Mozambique, Ruy Guerra’s Mueda, Memory and Massacre (1979) – a landmark film of anti-colonial memory, and an essential work of the Cinema Novo genre.
Film Africa 2017 runs from 27 Oct – 5 Nov.
For details of the full programme see Film Africa’s website.