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Africa in the Picture Film Fest in Amsterdam: African Film Festival Opens With Crisis as its Theme

Published by Jason Spina

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The West has long had a one-dimensional view of Africa. Of course there is much more to the continent than the war, famine and corruption that we are so often fed by the media and this is what the Africa in the Picture film festival sets out to show.

Now in its twelfth year, Africa in the Picture was first set up in 1987 as a retrospective of African cinema. Until the end of the 80s, there were virtually no festivals dedicated to African cinema. Even though several have since come along, including in Italy, France and the UK, Africa in the Picture remains the largest in Europe.

‘Crisis’ is This Year’s Theme

Each edition of the festival is given a theme. This year’s theme is ‘Crisis, What Crisis?’ Considering the current state of the global economy, this theme might at first glance seem rather obvious. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that it is slightly ironically meant. As the festival organisers explain, it is predominantly the wealthy countries who are suffering the effects of the present crisis, but Africa has been dealing with various crises for decades. This makes is particularly interesting, as well as timely, to look at how African filmmakers cover the theme of ‘crisis’ in their films.

The film festival’s program will this year comprise 50 films. Under the umbrella of the main theme, these films are subdivided into specific sections: ‘Highlights of the Motherland’, films made in Africa by Africans; ‘African Diaspora’, which screens films made by African filmmakers living outside the continent (North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe); and ‘Maghreb in the Picture’, which showcases North African films.

The festival’s final section is ‘Gay Africa’, which devotes special attention to the challenges facing gays, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals in Africa and beyond. Having its Dutch premiere at the festival is All My Life. The first Egyptian gay film, All My Life tells the story of Rami and his longing to be open about his sexuality. It was made in secret and has been banned in Egypt as well as several other African and Arabic countries

Film Festival Opens with Gritty Thriller

The festival will open with Jerusalema, a gritty thriller that portrays the hopelessness and violence in present-day South Africa. Also showing is Skin. Set in South Africa too, and starring Sam Neil and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), this is the remarkable true story of Sandra Laing, a black girl born to white Afrikaner parents during Apartheid, and her eventual expulsion from white South African society.

Africa in the Picture film festival runs from September 9-14 in Het Ketelhuis cinema, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. A selection of the films from the festival’s program will also be screened in other cinemas across the country. These are Lantaren/Venster (Rotterdam), Filmhuis Den Hague (The Hague), Lux (Nijmegen), Verkadefabriek (Den Bosch) Filmhuis Movie W (Wageningen) and Filmfoyer (Tilburg).

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