Africa-in-motion at the Filmhouse

by Sofia Gonçalves

Stefanie Van de Peer at the Filmhouse

The biggest African film festival in the UK is now coming to an end, after having brought around 200 guests from African origin to Edinburgh.

Full of events, from screenings, music shows, a photography exhibition to workshops on film making, Africa-in-motion is proving to be a success this year.

Stefanie Van de Peer, one of the directors, said “African films only have 1% distribution around the world and they should be more well-known. The theme this year is celebration, because a lot of African countries are celebrating their 50th year of independence . We know that these films are amazing and they are never seen anywhere.

We had many more guests than we thought we would have. Most film makers are from Africa but they live in the UK or France, now.”

The festival opened on the 21st of October. Claude Pisani, the volunteer coordinator of the event, said “On the opening night we had about 200 guests. We are looking for sponsorships. We got copies of the Black History Month, a magazine focused on Africa, so we could give our viewers.”

Ms Van de Peer mentioned “On our opening, on Thursday, we had a Cameroonian film-maker with us. On Friday he held a masterclass in documentary filming, at the Edinburgh College of Arts.

“Our next event was a poetry afternoon, at the Scottish poetry library. It was quite hard to find poets but eventually we found six or seven young people. After they held their session, we had a publisher who is willing to publish their work. I didn’t expect that many people to come, it was brilliant.

“Our third event was a dance masterclass with a dancer from Zimbabwe. There was a workshop on dancing in Dancebase, in the Grassmarket.” The artist, born and raised in Zimbabwe, lives in London now where he opened his own dance academy.”

The director added “Next one was a children’s day we had on Saturday. We screened children’s films in the morning and we had a storytelling event with a Kenyan storyteller. All the children loved it, it was amazing. We also had  an animation workshop with the kids where they learnt how to make their own cut-out animation.”

The end of the event is coming soon, on Friday. “The last thing we have is a big fashion extravaganza, in the Bongo Club.” Ms Van de Peer said. They have invited Nkwo Onwuka, one of the Africa’s leading fashion designers to attend this event.”

Ms Pisani added “Everyday there was a different theme, such as the environment, sports, dance, etc. We also had a lot of comedy.”

As to the outcome of Africa-in-motion, the director affirmed “I am very happy with the outcome. The artists were happy with the screenings and our viewers reaction.”

The festival, that took a year to plan, counts with the sponsorship of Creative Scotland, the Commonwealth Foundation, Awards for All, University of Stirling, the University of Edinburgh, Global Concerns, Scottish Documentary Institute, the Africa Channel, amongst others. It also counted with media partners, event partners and other supporters.

Ms Van de Peer commented ” One of our biggest issues was to find funding. We have to deal with copyright issues, the films that we bring over from Africa are very expensive and the budgets are getting smaller with the cuts.”

As to the results of the event, Ms Van de Peer said “We only get the results after the festival. Quite a few screenings were sold out. The whole atmosphere was very celebratory and the music events were a lot of fun.”

Creations of African artists