Since 2008 and the launch of the inaugural London African Film Festival – re-branded as Film Africa in 2011 – London has celebrated the influence of a continent on a city, and insisted on the relevance of Africa to the UK and to the world. From November 1 – 11, London will be treated to 70 African films as well as music nights, workshops and Q&As with leading directors.
Film Africa is supported by the Royal African Society and London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Film Africa 2012 will offer 10 days of 70 African films, leading film-maker Q&As, free professional workshops, and 9 African music nights. The UK’s largest annual festival of African cinema and culture is hosted by the Hackney Picturehouse, with screenings also at the BFI Southbank, Rich Mix in Shoreditch, The Ritzy in Brixton, Screen on the Green in Islington, and The South London Gallery.
As the festival programme points out, the African-born residents of London include: 105,000 Nigerians, 80,000 South Africans, 53,000 Zimbabweans, 44,000 Somalis, 39,000 Ghanaians 25,000 Libyans, 18,000 Mauritians, 15,000 Kenyans, and 12,000 Eritreans. Research shows that the African diaspora and Black British communities in London identify closely with both their original ‘homes’ and with London. Film Africa presents this duality on the cinema screen.
The programme comprises of fictions, documentaries, and shorts, covering all aspects of the country: from victimisation and its inspirational overcoming, surfing and coming of age, the psychological fallout of Apartheid, music and creativity, the contemporary struggles of gay people, the recent xenophobic riots, football and journeys of discovery, and the power of social movements to hold the government to account.
Film Africa 2012 will close with a screening of Mama Africa, a heartfelt documentary about Miriam Makeba – one of the most outspoken opponents of Apartheid who is also affectionately known as the Empress of African song – directed with the transnational and global consciousness of Mika Kaurismäki.