Scotland’s annual celebration of African cinema takes an online format with screenings from 30 Oct–29 Nov
Africa in Motion Film Festival, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, has announced details of its 2020 programme. Running from Fri 30 Oct to Sun 29 Nov, the programme will be presented entirely online due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and will include screenings of 70 feature films and shorts from Africa.
Scotland’s major annual celebration of African cinema, Africa in Motion showcases a wide variety of creative stories from across the continent. The festival aims to introduce Scottish audiences to the brilliance of African cinema and to combat African film’s underrepresentation and marginalisation in the UK. Since its inception in 2006, the festival has screened over 850 films and hosted over 57,000 audience members.
‘In a year where the world is being stretched in so many ways, it’s a testament to our incredible team that we have been able to continue our mission to highlight the rich diversity of African film-making and story-telling,’ said Liz Chege, the festival’s new director. ‘We are passionate about expanding audience understanding, and appreciation of African film and cultures across the UK. I am excited and delighted to call AiM my new home.’
The 2020 virtual programme features films from five key strands: Diaspora, Industry, Mamas, Queer Africa and Women in Focus. In addition to the film screenings, special festival events include a digital dine & view, a Nollywood red carpet event, music sessions, filmmaker Q&A sessions, workshops and masterclasses. Guest filmmakers and speakers include Academy Award nominee Sam Soko, 2020 Caine AOK Prize winner Irenosen Okojie, luminary Dr Kehinde Andrews, BFI Talent award winner Yero Timi-Biu, Academy member Toni Kamau, Lula Ali Ismail and Maia von Lekow.
The Women in Focus strand focusses on the artistic expression of African and diaspora womxn image-makers. The festival’s opening film, Dhalinyaro, is a sensitive coming-of-age story and is the first feature by a female director from Djibouti (Lula Ali Ismail). Khartoum Offside follows a group of young women in Khartoum striving to play professional football, while women discuss views on marriage, motherhood, sexuality and desire in the documentary Waiting for Men, which was filmed in a Mauritanian town on the edge of the Sahara where many men are absent due to labour migration.
An honest and moving collection of stories from the queer community across the African continent as well as the diaspora will be featured as part of the Queer Africa strand. Highlights include Kenyan, Christian, Queer, which tells the story of the queer community surrounding Nairobi’s first LGBTQ+ church; I Am Samuel, set in Kenya where laws criminalise anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+; and Days, Nights, a collection of African and diaspora shorts.
The thought-provoking Diaspora strand will showcase a wide range of perspectives of African Diaspora experiences from transatlantic cultures. In partnership with Mostra de Cinemas Africanos in Brazil, the festival is showcasing shorts that ‘present the possibilities of Afrofuturist worlds and the battle for individual, personal ideals’. The visually rich Leave The Edges explores diasporic experiences in West Africa, the Caribbean and Europe through movement, spirituality and music.
Through masterclasses and Q&A sessions with the creatives behind the festival’s programme selection, the Industry strand will connect industry professionals and artists with audience members arond the UK. Featured creatives include Dr Kehinde Andrews (Back to Black), Emmy award-winner Rehad Desai (Miners Shot Down, Everything Must Fall), and the youngest female African documentary producer to become a member of the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Toni Kamau.
Finally, the Mamas strand highlights films that examine our mothership connection. The documentary 143 Sahara Street tells the story of a woman that runs a roadside truck stop alone in the middle of the Algerian Sahara along the desert’s Route nationale 1, while the intimate family portrait The Letter sees elders wrongfully branded as witches in an attempt to take ownership of their ancestral land. In This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection, an 80-year-old widow who is preparing to die finds a new life purpose when her village is threatened with forced resettlement and she motivates the community to take a stand.
Carmen Thompson, co-director of this year’s festival said: ‘We have been on completely new ground putting together a digital festival, but the 2020 programme has turned out to be one of our richest and varied yet. I have no doubt that this year’s edition is going to provide the space for discovery, conversation and connection that Africa in Motion has become known for in Scotland – now to an even wider audience!’