Run is running away…he has just killed his country’s Prime Minister. Therefore he had to take the face and clothes of a madman wandering throughout the town for months. His life returns to him in flashes: his childhood with master Tourou, when he dreamt of becoming a rainmaker, his incredible adventures with Greedy Gladys and his militia past as a Young Patriot in Ivory Coast’s political and military conflict. Run has not chosen all of these lives. He stumbled into them, escaping from one life to another. This is why he is called Run.
Stories of Our Lives began as an archive of testimonials from Kenyan persons who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex assembled by a small Nairobi-based multidisciplinary arts collective. So compelling were these stories that the ten-member association of artists, social workers and entrepreneurs was inspired to adapt some of them into short films. Working on a shoestring budget with one small video camera, two LED lights, a portable digital recorder, a shotgun mic, and relentless courage and enthusiasm, the cast and crew shot, edited, and mixed five shorts over eight months to create this remarkable anthology film. Between Turin, Dakar, and New York, Sophie, Abdoulaye and Thierno’s three destinies cross paths and echo one another, delineating a constellation of exile.
Sophie, 24 years old, leaves Dakar to join her husband, Abdoulaye, in Turin. Meanwhile, Abdoulaye has already left for New York through a smuggler’s network. 19-year-old Thierno is travelling in Africa for the first time. With these three characters’ destinies, Under the Starry Sky takes us on a journey through the diversity of the cities the characters travel to, confronting us with the realities, hopes, and dreams of contemporary emigration.
With his mother in prison and nowhere to go except a welfare home, Benjamin, thirteen, insists on living with his unknown father, Karim, who, as he says bluntly to his grandfather, “had sex with my mother”. Karim still lives in the home of his parents, a family already traumatised by displacement and personal tragedy. They find themselves defenseless before this insolent and impulsive teenager who will change their lives forever.
A surprising and beautifully realised film, which won the top prize at 2015’s FESPACO film festival in Burkina Faso, beating competition that included the Oscar-nominated “Timbuktu”.
In a vibrant and diverse Johannesburg community, 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda has a knack for taking neglected pieces of furniture and “bringing them back to love”. Eight years after her father’s death, she is determined to revive his prized garage business, which is in deep debt and in danger of being sold. The film crackles with infectious energy and style, capturing a vividly contemporary view of South Africa. Inspired by the possibilities of a modern African aesthetic Ayanda explores the core theme of how we let go of the things and people we love.
They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian music in exile is a feature-length documentary following musicians in Mali in the wake of a jihadist takeover and subsequent banning of music. Music, one of the most important forms of communication in Mali, disappeared overnight in 2012 when Islamic extremists groups rose up to capture an area the size of the UK and France combined. But rather than lay down their instruments, Mali’s musicians fought back.
Tribal masks are loaded with significance but must retain their mystery. Taking his cue from this, acclaimed director Jacques Sarasin has carved a film of great beauty, a voyage between magic and reality that explores with respect and potency the culture – and secrets – of the Bambara of Mali.
In 1952, Ousmane Sembéne, a dockworker and fifth-grade dropout from Senegal, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. SEMBENE!, a feature-length documentary, tells the unbelievable true story of the “father of African cinema”, the self-taught novelist and filmmaker who fought, against enormous odds, a monumental, 50-year-long battle to give African stories to Africans. SEMBENE! is told through the experiences of the man who knew him best, colleague and biographer Samba Gadjigo, using rare archival footage and more than 100 hours of exclusive materials. A true-life epic, SEMBENE! follows an ordinary man who transforms himself into a fearless spokesperson for the marginalised, becoming a hero to millions. After a startling fall from grace, can Sembéne reinvent himself once more?
What starts out as a deceptively simple story about a young Senegalese woman, Diouana, who works as a nanny, and whose hopes of an exciting life in France are dashed when her white employers expect her to work as their servant, transcends its premise to become an uncompromising and powerful portrait of the everlasting and tragic consequences of colonialism. Though it was not Sembéne’s first film, it was the film that brought him into the international spotlight as an important filmmaker.
From executive producer Angelina Jolie Pitt comes the award-winning drama Difret, based on the inspirational true story of a young Ethiopian girl and a tenacious lawyer embroiled in a life-or-death clash between cultural traditions and their country’s advancement of equal rights. When 14-year-old Hirut is abducted in her rural village’s tradition of kidnapping women for marriage, she fights back, accidentally killing her captor and intended husband. Local law demands a death sentence for Hirut, but Meaza, a tough and passionate lawyer from a women’s legal aide practice, steps in to fight for her. With both Hirut’s life and the future of the practice at stake the two women must make their case for self-defense against one of Ethiopia’s oldest and most deeply-rooted traditions. Difret paints a portrait of a country in a time of great transformation and the brave individuals ready to help shape it.
On South Africa’s stunning Wild Coast, the Pondo people have tended their traditional way of life for centuries. Nonhle, a young local eco-tour guide, is a staunch supporter of her people and the endangered environment on which their livelihood and culture depend. Her cousin Madiba, a local entrepreneur, is fully supportive of an Australian titanium-mining proposal and a controversial plan to build a tolled highway across their land. Tired of his community living without good access to employment, hospitals and schools, Madiba courts private capital and government officials. When the South African President deposes the pro-environment Pondo Royal Family, Nonhle rallies inspiring support with little more than dogged determination. Featuring arresting cinematography, beautiful sand animation and sensational original music, The Shore Break delivers both a visually and emotionally riveting fight to the finish.