Wanuri Kahiu of Kenya is one of the filmmakers lined up to discuss their work during the 4th Africa in Motion(AiM), the UK’s largest African film festival at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse that is scheduled for October 22-November 1, 2009. Co-directed by Lizelle Bisschoff and Stefanie Van de Peer, AiM will screen more than 50 classic and contemporary long, short, fiction and documentary films aimed at challenging, engaging with and exploring issues surrounding the African continent and its films.
Kahiu’s FROM A WHISPER is not just one of the most talked-about African films from 2008 but has also won four awards at the 5th African Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria (April 2009), the best East African Production prize at Zanzibar International Film Festival in Zanzibar, Tanzania in July 2009 and the 14-Plus Award for the 3rd Best Youth Film at Lola Kenya Screen in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2009. She will be joined by Esdon Frost, director of NOTICE TO QUIT!, one of the first anti-Apartheid films made in South Africa.
AiM 2009 is set to open on October 22 with the UK premiere of South African Madoda Ncayiyana’s IZULU LAMI (My Secret Sky) zulu Lami that is has recently come to be hailed as South Africa’s answer to India’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Acclaimed for the brilliant acting of its main child characters ‘themselves from an impoverished background’ IZULU LAMI is a poignant tale of suffering and redemption. The closing night film, JERUSALEMA, offers a realistic and unwavering look into the gritty underbelly of crime, corruption and transgression in the new South Africa.
In recognition that 2009 is the United Nation’s International Year of Reconciliation, the opening weekend will focus on filmic representations of conflict and reconciliation. A highlight will be the award-winning feature film F; this is a powerful tribute to female freedom fighters in Zimbabwe’s War of Liberation. Ingrid Sinclair, the director of FLAME, will be in attendance at the festival.
Continuing the theme, AiM is co-hosting a symposium on art and trauma with the Centre for African Studies at the University of Edinburgh on October 24. There is also a complementary photography and painting exhibition in the Filmhouse café bar entitled, A Truth in Black and White.
AiM presents another Halloween package of spooky, scary and downright strange South African short films from the popularity of last year’s late-night screenings.
As part of AiM’s commitment to supporting filmmaking activity on the continent, the festival is hosting a short film competition for young and emerging African directors. The shortlisted films will be screened during the festival and the winner announced at a prize-giving ceremony. The winner is to be selected by a high-profile jury consisting of African filmmakers and Edinburgh-based film practitioners.
For the first time this year, a selection from the AiM 2009 programme will tour to the Scottish Highlands and Islands from early November. Funded by Regional Screen Scotland, this is an exciting addition to the festival and a way to promote African cinema amongst film-loving communities who have very limited access to African films.
“This year AiM looks at the bright future of African filmmaking with young directors in attendance and films screened from traditionally under-represented areas of African filmmaking such as Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. A range of recent award-winning features, a variety of fascinating new documentaries and a number of experimental films in the short film competition completes a diverse line-up of over 50 films,” says Bisschoff, the founder and co-director of AiM.
Among the advisory board members of AiM are Mark Cousins, a popular film critic; Noe Mendelle, head of Film and TV at the Edinburgh College of Art and director of the Scottish Documentary Institute; David Murphy, a professor at the University of Stirling and a leading scholar on African film; Paul Nugent, a professor of Comparative African History and director of the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh; and Andrew Lawrence, a lecturer in African Politics at the Centre Studies of the University of Edinburgh.
AiM is funded and supported by Scottish Screen; Regional Screen Scotland; University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies; Scottish Documentary Institute; University of Stirling’s School of Languages, Cultures and Religions; University of Edinburgh’s International Office; Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh; Global Concerns Trust; Tools for Self Reliance; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Tanzania High Commission in London.