On Edinburgh's Africa in Motion
By Leo Wood
Despite the depth and breadth of filmmaking on the African continent, African cinema remains one of the most underrepresented cinemas worldwide.
Opportunities to see African films in British cinemas are very rare, yet some of the most evocative and imaginatively original films have been created on the African continent since the 1950s. Now a new African film festival, Africa in Motion (AiM), taking place from 20-29 October this year, will offer audiences in Scotland the chance to view some of the best and most hard-to-find of African films.
AiM is the creation of Stop and Stir Arts, a not-for-profit arts company operating from Edinburgh. The extensive programme includes some of the most significant African classics, feature films, documentaries and shorts as well as showcasing a number of contemporary groundbreaking films - 25 films in total from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Egypt, Chad, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and other African countries.
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Africa in Motion 2006 will also unearth a number of ‘lost classics’ from the early work of pioneering African filmmakers. For some of these films there is only one print still in existence and original English subtitles have been created especially for the screenings at AiM. Many of the films featuring at AiM have never been seen in Scotland, or indeed the UK before, and the festival will be unprecedented in its scope and diversity.
Directors whose work will be featured include veteran Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, widely regarded as the ‘father of African cinema’; Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine, who received a lifetime achievement award at Cannes in 1997; Senegalese filmmaker Safe Faye, the first sub-Saharan African women to direct a feature-length film, Kaddu Beykat in 1975 (to be screened at AiM); and Malian director Souleymane Cissé, who won the Prix du Jury at Cannes in 1987 for his stunning film Yeelen, which will be the opening film at AiM.
Drawing on the prevalence of Africa and African issues highlighted over the last year and following events such as the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, AiM gives Scottish audiences unprecedented access to artistic representations of the complexities and diversities of African cultures, through the eyes of Africa's best directors.
Ousmane Sembene: Doyen of African cinema