Film Africa Festival Blog [4 DAYS TO GO]

Film Africa is back! Well nearly!

With only 4 days to go, we thought we’d wet your appetites with a special countdown for what is going to be a fantastic 10 days of African film and culture.

Film Africa takes pride in introducing all walks of life to the magic that is African cinema and this year is no different. We’ve invited a magnificent team of bloggers both new and old acquaintances to the festival to sneak preview a selection of films being showcased at the festival. In the run up and during the festival we will be publishing their thoughts and experiences and the films they’ve seen and recommending the hidden gems you may have missed while religiously perusing the festival brochure as we expect you’ve all been doing.

First up we have Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa‘s review of the riveting short Natsanat which is screening alongside Asni: Courage & Glamour in Ethiopia :

Natsanat [DOC]

Natsanat means freedom.
Brha is an engineering inspector and Kidisan, Azeb and Tsiwahab were elected to the parliament of Ethiopia – they’re now at different stages of life but once they fought together with men for freedom of their country Ethiopia. Now, they are telling their story in a documentary Natsanat.

There are different wars and fights for freedom from the world’s history that are known and remembered by many. But there are also less known like the one of Ethiopia. Its modern history, in public knowledge, is dominated by the rule of the last emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, 1980s famine and war with Eritrea at the end of the century. Natsanat is about the hidden history of Ethiopia. It includes testimonies of seven women and two men that begin in 1974.
That year Haile Selassie was overthrown by a Marxist group Derg led by Mengistu Haile Maryam which started ruling the country by brutal methods and terror. Those who disagreed with this form of rule created their own army and stood up for their rights. Among them were many women. Some as teenagers and some as mature women, each made the dangerous decision to join rebel forces. In this short documentary they tell how they were trained, how they fought, were tortured, what were their expectations, how life looked in the soldiers camps and finally about the victory over Derg in 1991.

Behind those events are the stories of choices, emotions, loses and hopes for a country they could believe in. In the bushes they led a “normal” life. After an initial ban of having sex in the rebels’ camp they were allowed to have children. Children became part of the war and part of a shared destiny. These women won not only freedom for their country but they also won their own lives, and rights to forge their own paths.
What we hear from these brave Ethiopian women, may now be resigned to history but for them it is life. Natsanat is a short but powerful picture documenting the lengths people will go to bring freedom to their country. The dominating characteristic for all those who are telling their stories is joy and pride. They know what they went through and why.
Significant words of a mother who lost daughters in the fight against Derg:

“When I found out they died, I decided not to mourn. Heroes should be celebrated not mourned”
and later on when she talks about the victory:
“Those who died can’t see [what is being done in the country] However I am seeing it and hearing it for them and I am very happy.”

This documentary allows us to do the same.

To share in Joanna’s experience buy your ticket now while they’re still available!

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For the rest of the festival goings-on please check out the programme. Tickets are selling fast!

Lynn Nwokorie

Copy Editor and Blog Manager, Film Africa