The film festival circuit in eastern and southern Africa begins on May 13 with the 18th European Film Festival at Alliance Francaise in Nairobi, Kenya.
From Nairobi (May 13-31, 2009), film lovers will move to the 4th European Film Festival in Mombasa (June 2-12, 2009), 5th Rwanda Film Festival in Kigali (June 17-24, 2009), 11th South African International Documentary Film Festival in Johannesburg (June 18-28, 2009), 12th Zanzibar International Film Festival in Zanzibar (June 28t-July 5, 2009), 11th South African International Documentary Film Festival in Cape Town (July 2-12, 2009), 30th Durban International Film Festival in Durban (July 22-August 2, 2009), 4th Lola Kenya Screen in Nairobi (August 10-15, 2009), 4th Kenya International Film Festival (October 19-26, 2009), and 6th Amakula Kampala International Film Festival in Kampala (November 4-11, 2009).
While the European Festival in Nairobi is set to show 23 full feature films, DIFF says it will show more than 200 titles.
The films to be shown in Nairobi are from EU member countries Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom; EU member candidate country Turkey; and EU guest countries Serbia and Switzerland.
According to Harsita Waters, the Arts and Cultural Affairs Coordinator at Alliance Française in Nairobi, the EU philosophy of “‘Unity in Diversity’ will be highlighted through this festival as the films screened also present a window into the diverse European cultures and values that underpin modern day Europe.”
A cartoon exhibition ‘Cartooning Europe’ exploring ‘Kenyan attitudes towards, and perceptions of Europe, Europeans and all aspects of European society’ will be shown in conjunction with the Association of the East African Cartoonists (KATUNI).The exhibition is expected to draw works from both amateur and professional cartoonists.
As usual, film screening will run in the evening at 5.30 and 7.30 during week days and at 3.00pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm during the week end. To see a film in Nairobi will cost Sh30 per head.
Organised under the auspices of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Delegation of the European Commission, the 18th European Film Festival will once again be extended to Mombasa’s Alliance Française (June 2-12, 2009).
Though entry to the screening will be free, films from only 11 countries-Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and UK-countries will be shown.
The films to be showcased include:
1. ÜBER WASSER/About Water, directed by Udo Maurer, Austria, 2005, 82 minutes.
A film about places where water is interwoven with the fate of people, showing unforgettable portraits of humanity’s precarious, dependent relationship with water from Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Nairobi. The film offers a different view on the eternal coexistence of water and human beings.
2. POM LE POULAIN directed by Olivier Ringer, Belgium, 2006, 85 minutes.
In the forest, Mirabelle, the mare, is the proud mother of Pom, and one of the best horses in the lumberers’ team. Accused wrongly for having provoked an accident, she is sold and separated from her foal. Pom pines for his mother. Julien, the old groom, can’t bear to see Pom distressed and decides to act.
3. VIDANGE PERDUE/The Only One, directed by Geoffery Enthoven, Belgium, 2006, 90 minutes.
The film tells the story of an old man who can’t accept that he’s growing older and who revolts against the absurdity of life. To an outsider he’s just another grumpy eighty-year-old who is often extremely cantankerous and obstinate and of little or no interest at all. His struggle against all the preconceived notions regarding old people is courageous but also comical at times as is illustrated by his letters of pure outrage to the newspaper and his attempts at amorous escapades.
4. MEDVÍDEK/Teddy Bear, directed by Jan Hrebejk, Czech Republic, 2007, 98 minutes.
A biting comedy about a world in which the female principle is stronger than the male, soft is stronger than hard, and water is stronger than stone. Teddy Bear is a Czech take on marriage and infidelity from Jan Hrebejk, director of ‘Cozy Dens’ and ‘Divided We Fall’.
5. TIL DØDEN OS SKILLER/With Your Permission, directed by Paprika Steen, Denmark, 2007, 95 minutes.
Ordinary Jan has no easy life. He is by far the most unpopular employee at work. At home it’s even worse. His marriage with the not so ordinary Bente is on the verge of a breakdown. Jan’s boss finally sends him into group therapy where an unlikely friendship emerges between Jan and the two mechanics Rudy and Alf.
6. DE UNGE ART/The Early Years, directed by Jacob Thuesen, Denmark, 2007, 91 minutes.
Written and narrated by Lars von Trier, this semi-autobiographical creation pays profane tribute to his nation’s film industry and to frustrated film students worldwide. Editor-turned-director Thuesen hasn’t made a happy film, but in depicting the transformation of a “friendly person” into an enfant terrible, he has made a painfully funny one.
7. TYTTÖ SINÄ OLET TÄHTI/Beauty And The Bastard, directed by Dome Karukoski, Finland, 2007, 102 minutes.
The film tells the story of young Nelli – a classic, beautiful “good girl” from a wealthy family – who dreams of becoming an r’n’b singer, although her family expects her to pursue a career in law instead. To realize her dream, Nelli teams up with Sune – a member of a semi-underground hip-hip group. Sune initially refuses Nelli, whose taste of music he deems too commercial, and a record deal with a major music label to stay true to his artistic vision and street cred. Eventually though, a romantic relationship develops between Nelli and Sune, who spend their summer together composing and recording tracks for Nelli’s demo album. But alas, love between the two seems impossible, because Nelli already has a serious boyfriend, and her parents are thrilled by neither Sune, nor the idea of Nelli abandoning a steady future for a potential career in music.
8. LA GRAINE ET LE MULET/The Secret Of The Grain, directed by Abdel Kechiche, France,2007, 151 minutes.
Set in the rustic port of Sète, the film follows the life of 61-year-old Slimane Beiji, an immigrant whose growing dissatisfaction with his job in the shipyard prompts him to open his own restaurant. His dream seems unachievable, but his contagious conviction works its way into the hearts of his loyal, but dispersed family: the four children from his first marriage, his ex-wife, current girlfriend and her bright, outspoken daughter, Rym.
9. KNALLHART/Tough Enough, directed by Detlev Buck, Germany, 2006, 96 minutes.
When Miriam splits up with her wealthy partner, she and her 15-year-old son Michael have to move from posh Zehlendorf to run-down Berlin-Neukölln. The boy finds friends in his new neighborhood, but at school he is victimized and pressed for money by Errol and his gang. Handing over money from a burglary rather serves to encourage the bullies instead of warding them off, so Michael is desperately looking for a better solution. His life spins out of control.
10. QUANDO SEI NATO NON PUOI PIU NASCONDERTI/Once You Are Born You Can No Longer Hide, directed by Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2005, 117 minutes.
A sailboat rapidly ploughs through the water in the dark of night, a boy on the stern sways and falls overboard. He flounders, resists and is then swallowed up by the depths of the sea. Helped by unknown arms he re-emerges, symbolically reborn from that amniotic fluid.
11. CAOS CALMO/Quiet Chaos, directed by Antonio Luigi Grimaldi, Italy, 2008, 112 minutes.
An executive finds himself strangely calm after the sudden death of his wife. He is further unnerved by the coolness with which his young daughter accepts the loss. His gently flipped-out attentiveness to the child’s spiritual recovery lies at the heart of the film.
12. HANNAHANNAH, directed by Annemarie van de Mond, The Netherlands, 2007, 85 minutes.
Hannah, the headstrong rebel of seven siblings, tries to avoid the preparations for her parent’s wedding anniversary, but her charming boyfriend, Victor, drags her along and soon proves to be an ideal son-in-law.
As Victor assumes full responsibility for organizing the anniversary river cruise, Hannah is left with mixed feelings. Yet when Victor confides in her that her family is bad at communicating, she claims he is not the person to judge. Suddenly Hannah seems uncertain whether to stay with Victor who proves quite patient and understanding.
13. OGROD LUIZY/Luiza’s Garden, directed by Maciej Wojtyszko, Poland, 2007, 105 minutes.
The film tells the story of a sensitive 18-yr-old girl and a young gangster, whose fates meet in a mental hospital, where both are being treated.
14. BOISKO DLA BEZDOMNYCH/The Offsiders, directed by
Kasia Adamik, Poland, 2008, 119 minutes.
The film, based on true events, presents a contemporary story of a football team composed of the homeless. A former player of the Polish national team who becomes homeless puts together a football team. Their dream is to play in the International Football Championship of the Homeless.
15. ATRÁS DAS NUVENS/Behind The Clouds, directed by Jorge Queiroga, Portugal, 2007, 83 minutes.
A 10-year old boy, living in Lisbon with his mother, sneaks away in search of the grandfather he has never met. It is in Alentejo that he finds his grandfather, Vitor and his old car, a Citroen, kept in perfect condition. Together the grandfather and grandson embark on an emotional adventure beyond the mountains, the vineyards, the plains and all that had separated them.
16. TURNEJA/The Tour, directed by Goran Markovic, Serbia, 2008, 108 minutes.
The crumbling war-torn land that was once Yugoslavia is the backdrop to this, blackest of black comedy/dramas in which a low-budget Serbian acting troupe in Belgrade is offered a deal to take their repertoire on the road in 1993. Oblivious to what awaits them outside the safe confines of the city, this bickering group of vain and over-the-hill thespians agrees to the deal. They soon discover that the quaint Serbian towns and theaters have instead been replaced by chaotic, war-ravaged front lines where Serbians, Muslims and Croatians, despite being indistinguishable from each other, are fighting a civil war to the death.
17. MUZIKA/You Can’t Live Without It, directed by Juraj Nvota, Slovak Republic, 2007,99 minutes.
The film relates the story of an enthusiastic saxophone player Martin. His passion has become a thorn in the eye of both his parents and his work colleagues at the local swimming pool. Moonlighting in a mainstream band does not quell his true calling. On the contrary, his acquaintance with eccentric Anca only intensifies Martin’s desire for self-fulfillment.
18. TE DOY MIS OJOS/Take My Eyes, directed by Iciar Bollaín, Spain, 2003 ,109 minutes.
The film is about the courage and triumph of an abused woman Pilar, who escapes from her husband’s regular outbursts of violent rage. As far as the husband is concerned, Pilar is his life and had “given him his eyes”.
19. 14 KILOMETROS/14 Kilometres, directed by Gerardo Olivares, Spain, 2005, 95 minutes.
Three Africans undertake the arduous journey from Niger to Spain, crossing deserts, trying to get through corrupt border controls and having their humanity tested all the way. 14 Kilometres is the distance between North Africa and Spain: the final stretch of the journey towards a life where ‘nobody dies of hunger’.
20. UNDERBAR OCH ÄLSKAD AV ALLA/Wonderful and loved by all, directed by Hannes Holm, Sweden, 2007, 106 minutes.
At the end of a lacklustre acting career, Bella tells a white lie to land a plum role, only to find that the truth catches up with her. She learns that Ingmar Bergman will be directing a new stage adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and decides to take a chance and show up for an open audition. She is asked if she has a background in acrobatics, Bella lies and gets the role. With each passing day, Bella becomes increasingly aware that if she doesn’t confess the truth soon, her esteemed director will find out the hard way.
21. MON FRERE SE MARIE, directed by Jean-Stéphane Bron, Switzerland, 2006, 95 minutes.
For twenty years, Vietnamese refugee Vinh has lived with his adopted middle-class family in Switzerland. By the time he decides to get married, the family has long since broken up. His adopted father and mother are barely on speaking terms, and the relationship between himself and his two adopted siblings is uncomfortable. When Vinh’s mother, still in Vietnam, writes to say that she intends to attend the wedding, the members of his adopted family agree to put aside their differences and pretend to be the perfect Swiss family. Things start out well enough, but on the day of the wedding, the strain of the pretence becomes too much…
22. DONDURMAM GAYMAK/Ice Cream, I Scream, directed by Yuksel Aksu, Turkey, 2006, 100 minutes.
Ali is an ice cream peddler who takes unusual pride in his work; rather than carry the mass-produced treats churned out by the major manufacturers, Ali makes his own ice cream from natural ingredients and sells it himself using a scooter he’s fitted with a refrigerated case. Eager to boost his business, Ali makes a television commercial and buys air time to make people aware of the superiority of his product; business is good until a pack of mischievous kids led by Cingoz Kerim steal his motorbike. Furious Ali is convinced that giant ice cream companies are behind the theft to keep his high-quality treats off the market.
23. THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS, directed by Mark Herman, United Kingdom, 2008, 94 minutes.
Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.