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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.

 

 

     

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It is also directly as a result of the G8 Summit that took place in Scotland last summer, heightening an awareness of Africa, that to festival director, Lizelle Bisschoff, Edinburgh seemed like the right city from which to launch the festival.

 

The organisers feel that with its cosmopolitan outlook and an already internationally renowned International Film Festival taking place every August, that Edinburgh is already a well-primed home for a new film festival with an established sophisticated cinema-going audience.

 

Film screenings at AiM will be accompanied by a range of free complementary events including panel discussions, workshops and a symposium, presented by high-profile critics and theorists. And the festival is not limited solely to African film; throughout the ten days of AiM, African musicians, poets and artists will perform and exhibit their work in the Filmhouse Cinema café.

 

Film critic Mark Cousins has said of the festival: “At a time when mainstream American cinema is underperforming and undernourishing, and when so much film programming seems stuck in a loop, repeating the same "classics" over and over, Africa in Motion is a brilliant and long overdue window onto a world of auteurs, masterpieces, passionate polemics and gorgeous vistas.  Move over Scorsese - Sembene, Ouedraogo and Mambety are the filmmakers who are belatedly exciting us."

 

Africa in Motion (AiM)

Friday 20th-Sunday 29th October 2006

Filmhouse Cinema, Edinburgh

For more info, visit www.africa-in-motion.org.uk or www.filmhousecinema.com

 

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