Africa in Motion Film Festival returns for its 14th edition

Africa in Motion (AiM), Scotland’s major annual celebration of African cinema, is delighted to return for the 14th year to bring audiences in Edinburgh and Glasgow a wide variety of captivating and creative stories from across the African continent and beyond.

The programme will once again be packed with screenings, discussions, Q&As with filmmakers, pop-ups, workshops, exhibitions, live performances and much more. Since its inception in 2006, Africa in Motion has introduced nearly 50,000 audience members to the brilliance and diversity of African cinema, screening over 600 films.

Over the past few years the festival has developed a collaborative approach to curation, culminating this year in a team of 14 paid curators, all People of Colour (PoC), coming from Scotland, Morocco, Brazil, Cameroon and Rwanda, each contributing to the programme in unique ways. This has enabled a diverse programme curated through a variety of different lenses and perspectives. A collaborative approach to curation means that the festival can enhance its aim of catering for a variety of different audiences within the festival programme. Space to work in the arts is not unlimited and moving away from having an artistic director or a single creative vision who decides on the programme has greatly enhanced the festival programme.

This year’s festival programme includes films from across the African continent as well as films and events reflecting on African diaspora experiences across the world. Brand-new features include The Mercy of the Jungle (Joël Karekezi, Rwanda 2019), winner of the top prize at Africa’s biennale FESPACO’s film festival this year, telling the story of two solders battling for survival in the jungle during the second Congo war. Sew the Winter to My Skin (Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, South Africa 2018) is South African auteur Jahmil Qubeka’s Western-style feature, dramatising the true story of a notorious outlaw from apartheid era South Africa.

A person sits behind a desk in the middle of a small room, with two people either side of the desk holding selfie sticks

Image: Zombies (Baloji, DRC 2019)

Documentaries include Talking About Trees (Suhaib Gasmelbari, Sudan 2019) is a beautifully shot, touching film that chronicles the demise of cinema in Sudan and four retired film enthusiasts’ battle to save cinema in their country. Lost Warrior (Nasib Farah & Søren Steen Jespersen, Denmark/Sweden 2018) is a powerful and humanising documentary about a young Somali man who grew up in Britain, was radicalised and joined al-Shabab. The film follows his journey after deserting al-Shabab, living in hiding in Mogadishu, and attempting to rebuild his life and reunite with his young wife and baby boy in London. My Friend Fela (Joel Zito Araújo, Brazil 2019) provides a new perspective on the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, unravelling the complexity of Fela’s life through the eyes and conversations of his close friend and official biographer, Afro-Cuban Carlos Moore.

The programme will also include a focus on Afrofuturism, including Earth Mother, Sky Father: 2030 (Kordae Jatafa Henry, 2019), a short that depicts a Congo that is no longer shipping its rare earth materials out but keeping its wealth for itself; and EUPhoria (Robert-Jonathan Koeyers, 2018), an Afrofuturist musical in which a mysterious force field appears around the African continent, cutting the West off from the natural resources and cheap labour.

Films from the Caribbean will include the Jamaican film Sprinter (Storm Saulter, Jamaica 2019) which follows the young Akeem as he tries to realise his dream of becoming a professional athlete against the odds, and Bakoso: Afrobeats of Cuba (Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, USA 2019), a documentary showing how the links and influences between Cuba and Africa still continue today through the global phenomenon of Afrobeats. Venturing further into the diaspora, the programme will include a silent film, with live musical accompaniment, made by the first African American director, Oscar Micheaux, in 1920 as a response to Griffith’s racist The Birth of a Nation - Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux, US 1920).

Africa in Motion Digital Hub

Africa in Motion Digital Hub will comprise of the UK’s first expansive video games and VR film exhibition solely dedicated to work developed on the African continent. The video games exhibited will challenge mainstream Western conventions in video game design focused around three areas: narrative – games that tell different stories about Africa; gameplay – games that challenge conventional techniques of gameplay; and aesthetics – games that challenge conceptions of what a game might or should be.

Likewise, the VR short films as part of the exhibition centralise African storytelling, experiences and futures, including immersive films that present African solutions to environmental problems, and science fiction films that imagine Africa as the centre of our global future.

Notes to Editors

Africa in Motion is an audience-based festival, founded in 2006. The main aims of the festival are to introduce Scottish audiences to the brilliance of African cinema and to overcome the underrepresentation and marginalisation of African film in British film-going culture. Find out more at https://www.africa-in-motion.org.uk/.

Africa in Motion's funders and sponsors are Screen Scotland; Voluntary Action Fund; Film Hub Scotland; University of Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund; School of Arts and Humanities, University of Stirling; Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh; University of Strathclyde; Scottish Documentary Institute; and Alliance Française.

Header image credit: Bakoso: Afrobeats of Cuba (Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, USA 2019)