African cinema is enjoying an exciting period of growth and recognition. The BFI recently launched Black Star, its season of iconic black screen talent, and just opened its annual London Film Festival with Amma Asante’s historical drama A United Kingdom; whilst across the pond, the Toronto International Film Festival this year premiered a record number of African titles, including a special focus on Nigeria. It seems the world is ready to see more African stories on screen, which is great news for African filmmakers and the film industry at large. We at the Royal African Society have always believed this moment would come and will continue to work towards the mainstreaming of African cinema, promoting a more nuanced representation of Africa to the world. It is our mission and passion and the reason why we set up Film Africa in the first place.
This year we present our sixth festival, showcasing our pick of the best new African film and filmmakers. With over 50 titles from across 22 African countries, including World, European and UK premieres, Film Africa 2016 will take place across 11 London venues presenting an eclectic mix of narrative features, documentaries and short films. A few special strands will shed light on topical issues and current cultural trends emerging from the continent. We explore the relationship between self and place from an African and Diaspora perspective in Why I’m Here: Stories of Migration; we shine a light on the most popular directors and stars of the world’s second biggest film industry in Nollywood Nights; and with our double bill Soweto: 40 Years On, we reflect on the 40th anniversary of the famous black student uprisings in South Africa and explore the country’s current socio-political climate. Our annual strand Music on Film: Sounds of the Continent celebrates Africa’s musical icons and its rich soundscapes, and will be accompanied by live performances as part our Film Africa LIVE! music programme. Through the Baobab Award for Best Short Film, we bring focus to the outstanding work of emerging filmmakers and, for the second year running, we bring you the Audience Award for Best Feature Film, with the winner selected by you – the audience.
We are very pleased to welcome a number of accomplished filmmakers and talent who will take part in Q&As and panel discussions, including Mandla Dube from South Africa and Daouda Coulibaly from Mali, whose debut features Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu and Wùlu, will open and close the festival; US-based Ghanaian Priscilla Anany, who presents her debut feature Children of the Mountain; Mbithi Masya from Kenya with his daring debut Kati Kati; US-based Rwandan filmmaker, Anisia Uzeyman, director of road movie Dreamstates; and audacious Cameroonian filmmaker Jean Pierre Bekolo returns to Film Africa with Naked Reality.
Beyond the films, we once again bring you a packed events programme including our annual Industry Forum, a revamped and enlarged Education Programme, including school screenings and the Film Africa Family Day, and very special Film Africa LIVE! music nights. We look forward to welcoming you for 10 days of discovery, lively debate, industry insight, family fun and unforgettable party nights. Don’t miss out!
Sheila Ruiz, Festival Director
Rachael Loughlan, Festival Producer