Africa is coming to Edinburgh

Malian director Souleymane Cisse will be present at the festival
Malian director Souleymane Cisse will be present at the festival

Africa in Motion, an eleven-day long film festival, opens tomorrow at The Filmhouse in Edinburgh. Edinburgh, a city not known for its African population, is for the third time home to what has become one of the world’s largest African film festivals. Africa in Motion (AiM) aims to celebrate African films and directors, and will be screening 31 films made by some of the most prestigious African filmmakers as well as lesser known directors. This year AiM will be focusing on the diversity of African movie making and hopes to increase the interest of movies which stems from regions that have been neglected by the industry.

The Festival opens with a screening of The Land (el-Ard), a movie directed by the late Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine. Chahine was a pioneer within African movie making and made thoughtful movies that still agitate people around the world. The Land (1969) was recently voted the best Egyptian movie ever made by Egyptian film critics, and depicts an Egyptian dilemma about feudalism in rural regions.

Two of Africa’s most renowned filmmakers, Malian director Souleymane Cisse and Burkinabe director Gaston Kabore will be present during the course of the festival and they will talk to the audience after the screenings of their movies. Gaston Kabore will also announce the winner of the short film competition for emerging African filmmakers. Eight films were shortlisted for the final stage and the winner will receive £1,000 to help them continue their work.

“Our approach with Africa in Motion has always been to be as diverse as possible. This year’s festival is our most adventurous and varied programme yet. This way we ensure that there is something for everyone,” says Festival Director, Lizelle Bisschoff. There is truly a wide range of genres represented in this festival such as documentaries, animated movies, short films, African Horrors and erotica. Children are also encouraged to join the festival as there will be a screening of African Animation for children, followed by ‘Create a Story’ Animation Workshop. On Halloween there will be an after-hours double bill, where, if you arrive dressed to the occasion, you will get £1.50 off your ticket price.

One strand of the festival is the ‘Bushmen of Southern Africa’, this will include screenings of two documentaries and a following panel discussion. In addition, an exhibition of Bushmen art work and jewellery will be placed in the Film-house cafe during the festival. Another focus of the festival is on popular African movies, with the intention of giving Scottish people an idea of what the Africans like to watch. Most of these popular movies are being produced in Nollywood, a fast-growing and increasingly popular Nigerian video industry.

All screenings during the festival will be introduced by experts on African film and culture, and some will be followed by discussions and Q&As with directors.

For those of you who are not just interested in the film aspect of AiM there will be a book and DVD stall in the foyer of the Film-house, book signings and wine tasting. On selected evenings a live band will play African music in the cafe, and for the party-people an African club night will be arranged at the Bongo club. Here you can dance to the rhythms of Afro-Scottish music performed by, amongst others, the legendary Afro-beat DJ Rita Ray.

Closing screening: Clouds over Conakry (by: Cheick Fantamady Camara)
Closing screening: Clouds over Conakry (by: Cheick Fantamady Camara)

If you are not in Edinburgh during the festival there is no need to worry as there will be an AiM-tour visiting a number of cities in the UK during November and December.

The festival lasts from Thu 23 Oct until Sun 6 Nov. The complete program is available at www.africa-in-motion.org.uk.