Celebrating African film
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
Film Africa, London’s biggest celebration of African and African diaspora cinema presented by the Royal African Society, returns for its 9th edition on Friday 30 October to Sunday 8 November 2020. Showcasing 46 titles from 14 African countries, including 25 UK, European and World premieres, Film Africa will host 12 socially-distanced screenings at BFI Southbank and Rich Mix as well as featuring a selection of 8 narrative and documentary films on BFI Player – the festival’s first online collaboration with a streaming platform in its 10-year history.
Click here to watch the Film Africa 2020 trailer.
This year’s selection of films mirrors the combined minds and sensibilities of three curators, based in three corners of Africa - Aseye Tamakloe in Accra, Ghana (West); Nyambura M. Waruingi in Nairobi, Kenya (East); and Katarina Hedrén in Johannesburg, South Africa. The films – feature-length and shorts, fiction and documentary – reflect a multitude of experiences, subject matters and styles, with stories unfolding on the African continent as well as in its Diaspora.
Sheila Ruiz, deputy director at the Royal African Society and Film Africa director, said: “The Royal African Society is delighted to present this year’s Film Africa - an eclectic collection of films, to be screened in cinemas and online. COVID-19 has disrupted the entire world and the film festival space is no exception. We hope and trust that this year’s festival experience will be one of community and sharing, in the cinema and online, at home with friends and family. We are also very excited to announce our partnership with BFI Player for this year’s festival. This new online access will enable audiences anywhere in the UK to enjoy Film Africa for the first time from the comfort of their own homes.”
Stuart Brown, BFI head of programme and acquisition said: “We’re pleased to see Film Africa back at venues including BFI Southbank for this year’s festival, and to celebrate and showcase work by and about African people and the African diaspora in our cultural programme. With the pandemic having challenged all of us in film exhibition to think in new and innovative ways, and online screenings and events being a big part of the viewing experience at the moment, we’re also delighted that this year’s festival will be presented online on BFI Player, and that support from the BFI Audience Fund will also help the festival reach new audiences right across the UK.”
The festival launches on Friday 30 October at BFI Southbank with the European premiere of award-winning Nigerian director Akin Omotoso’s The Ghost and the House of Truth. Set in Lagos, Nigeria, the film follows Bola Ogun, a dedicated counsellor who brokers reconciliation sessions between convicts and their victims. The film recently won Best World Narrative Feature at the Urban World Film Festival in New York. The European premiere of Barakat, by emerging director Amy Jephta, is the first Afrikaaps Muslim film to be produced in South Africa, and will close the festival on Sunday 8 November at BFI Southbank. The opening and closing films will also be available on BFI Player and audiences will be able to join live director Q&As on Facebook, which will be British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreted, as part of the films’ planned watch parties.
The filmmakers represented in the Film Africa 2020 selection address new and old concerns, each in their own distinct and unique voice, with empathy, and in ways that both reflect and stimulate boundless imagination. There are films that speak of secrets, taboos, of painful memories and unhealed wounds, at individual, family and community levels.
Thanks to a BFI Audience Fund Award, using funds from the National Lottery, Film Africa will reach more audiences across the UK than ever before.
Special strands this year include BEYOND NOLLYWOOD, presented by guest curator Nadia Denton and celebrating new wave audio-visual content from Nigeria; and HERE / NOT HERE, presented in partnership with Deaffest, the UK's leading Deaf-led Film & Arts Festival.
At Rich Mix in East London, Film Africa will screen a selection of features and documentaries including a Double Screening of Kenyan documentaries I am Samuel and Kenyan, Christian, Queer (UK Premiere) with live Director’s Q&A.
Filmed over five years, I am Samuel follows the story of a young man who struggles with his new life in Nairobi, while Kenyan, Christian, Queer introduces us to the first LGBT church in Nairobi, the Cosmopolitan Affirming Community, which seeks to promote an inclusive and progressive form of Christianity, in a rather conservative society.
In addition to the core film programme, Film Africa will host a series of virtual events - including live Director Q&As, panel debates and a masterclass on curating African cinema - which anyone in the world will be able to access and enjoy. As part of the online festival experience, there will be Watch Parties and at-home Dine & View screenings, which will bring a sense of community to all those involved.
Film Africa’s mission remains the same - to offer a platform to showcase and celebrate the best contemporary African cinema in London and the UK. As in previous years, the festival will once again present a programme of innovative shorts in competition for the annual Baobab Award for Best Short Film, judged by a panel of industry experts. The Film Africa Audience Award for Best Feature Film also returns to give festival audiences a vote. Both awards carry a cash prize of £1,000 and will be announced on Sunday 8 November.
Film Africa 2020 has been made possible thanks to the support of the BFI Audience Fund, awarding funds from the National Lottery, and the Miles Morland Foundation. For full programme information and online booking, please visit: filmafrica.org.
Book tickets to physical screenings at the BFI Southbank at bfi.org.uk and Rich Mix richmix.org.uk. Watch online screenings on BFI Player player.bfi.org.uk/.