Africa in Motion 2014: Looking Back, Reaching Forward

Africa in Motion is back to showcase the vibrancy and diversity of African film, past and present.

The ninth edition of the Africa in Motion Film Festival will return to Edinburgh and Glasgow from 24 October to 9 November.

This year’s theme looking back and reaching forward, draws inspiration from the Adinkra symbol of the Sankofa bird, which means “reach back and get it”.

The festival programme focuses on retrospectives of the past and explorations of the present and the future of African cinema, including contemporary and classic feature films, insightful documentaries and stunning animation.

With a focus on lost classic gems from the cannon of early African cinema, a festival highlight is a screening of unique South African 1928 silent film Siliva the Zulu.

It portrays Zulu culture through traditional ritual, folklore and witchcraft and is accompanied with an exquisite live musical score composed by Nigerian musician Juwon Ogunbe.

This year’s instalment of the popular film festival also marks 20 years of a new South Africa, when apartheid ended and democracy began.

To celebrate, Africa in Motion has included a strand of South African films, events and discussions, including Come Back, Africa – a remarkable piece of cinema exposing the horrific systems of apartheid put in place during the 1950s.

Recently restored by Martin Scorsese, the film was made by American director Lionel Rogosin, who went into South Africa to document the level of violence and oppression imposed on South African society.

Siliva The Zulu

Siliva The Zulu

Stories from the repressive apartheid years are juxtaposed against a vibrant and diverse showcase of contemporary African film made by the born-free generation attempting to release themselves from the shackles of the past.

Music documentary, Future Sound of Mzansi, directed by performance artist Spoek Mathambo and filmmaker Lebogang Rasethaba, aims to explore South Africa’s cultural landscape through the country’s electronic music scene and emerging youth culture.

Rockumentary March of the Gods: Botswana Metalheads explores the life of the Heavy Metal Brotherhood in Botswana, the struggle of a band called Wrust and their mission to bring African metal on the global stage.

Hear Me Move, a dance feature film released in 2014, adds an African flavour to a popular genre that includes such well-known films as Step Up and Fame.

An African sci-fi strand in partnership with the BFI and Glasgow Film Theatre will explore notions of Africa through time and space.

Afronauts tells an alternative historical account of the 1960s space race and Robots of Brixton provides a metaphorical commentary on the 1981 Brixton riots, in which robots symbolise the mechanical population of Brixton.

The festival will also celebrate Halloween African style with Scream, Africa!

Scream, Africa!

Scream, Africa!

In Beti and Amare vampires don’t sparkle but fall from the sky and walk in the sun, while Oya, Rise of the Suporisha opens the doorway between the world of the Orishas and our world, but are we ready for what enters the doorway?

It is also 20 years since the end of the Rwandan genocide.

To mark this, Africa in motion has invited Eric Kabera, one of the pioneers of Rwandan cinema, to give a master class in Edinburgh about his film-making practices.

His 2004 film Keepers of Memory gives voice to those who survived the horrific events through survivor stories and archive footage depicting unimaginable pain and loss, as well as inspiring stories from those trying to rebuild their country.

Among several UK premieres from the festival is Soleils (Suns), which kicks off the festival in Edinburgh.

The beautifully shot film from Burkina Faso acts as a perfect introduction to African film.

It follows the journey of a young girl suffering amnesia. She befriends an old man who takes her on a healing trip through space and time to learn about African histories and cultures and understand what it is to be African.

This is just a taste of the films available in both cities throughout the Africa in Motion festival.

“Contemporary African cinema is bursting with talent and creativity so we’re really proud to bring it to Scotland every year in such a diverse range of voices,” festival curator Justine Atkinson said.

“Often, Africa is portrayed as having one voice. Film breaks this down and portrays many different cultures, traditions, people and history.

“Africa in Motion brings African stories by African people to Scotland, giving rise to voices that aren’t usually heard.”

But the action isn’t just confined to the big screen.

Thought-provoking, reflective, energetic and exhilarating live performances in music, theatre, dance, photography and film are included in the Afrovibes line-up.

At the heart of Afrovibes is the Township Cafe, which will give festival goers a true taste of African culture from hubs within Glasgow’s CCA and Edinburgh’s Summerhall.

They will run a range of free events, family workshops, debates, late-night music, comedy nights, book groups, creative work by local artists and enticing South African food.

“In 1994 a new nation was born,” said James Ngcobo, Afrovibes’ artistic director.

“Since then, our artists have shown the world that South Africa has stories to tell; stories that speak to the collective memory of who we are, that speak of life in South Africa today – stories that link us to the world.”

For information on various screening and events, you can visit the Africa in Motion website, follow the festival on Twitter and find them on Facebook.

Source: Laura Smith |

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