Portal:African cinema

African Film and Television Portal

5th ed. | Updated biweekly | June 10 — 23

Featured Biography
John Kani
John Kani (b. 30 August, 1942) is a South African actor, playwright, and director. Kani gained international fame for his collaborations with South African playwright and novelist Athol Fugard, particularly in the anti-apartheid plays, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (1972) and The Island (1973) for which he won a Tony Award. His filmography spans numerous film roles, including T'Chaka in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Black Panther (2018). He voiced Rafiki in The Lion King (the live action remake of the Disney animated film and is set to reprise his role as Rafiki in Mufasa: The Lion King (2024).

Kani received a South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) Life Time award in 2010 and in 2023, he was awarded an Honorary OBE from the British Government for his services to drama.

Featured Industry Article
Étalon d'or de Yennenga

The Panfrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, best known by its abbreviation FESPACO, takes place in the capital of Burkina Faso during odd-numbered years and highlights the continent's art scene. FESPACO was first launched in 1969, making it the third oldest festival in Africa after the Carthage Film Festival and Cairo International Film Festival Days and the first African film festival with a pan-African theme. By only accepting nominations from African works, FESPACO provides an opportunity for African film professionals to broadcast and promote their work. This African festival  also serves as a forum for creative people, helping them brainstorm and build professional relationships. The most prestigious award of the festival is the "Étalon d'or de Yennenga" (Golden Stallion of Yennenga or short Golden Stallion), named after the legendary founder of the Mossi empire. The "Étalon d'or de Yennenga" is awarded to the African film that best shows "Africa's realities".

Other special awards include the Oumarou Ganda Prize, given for the best first film, and the Paul Robeson Prize for the best film by a director of the African diaspora. In addition to organizing the festival, the FESPACO Foundation of the Burkinabe Ministry of Culture aims to establish an African film library, a film market to exchange African content, and publish written materials.
Notable This Month
Still of Mbissine Thérèse Diop as Diouana in Black Girl, written and directed by Ousmane Sembene

The International Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16 to honor the South African school children who participated in the 1976 Soweto Uprising, and to raise awareness on the educational needs of African children.  Check out ''Sarafina! the 1992 musical drama film about the Uprising based on Mbongeni Ngema's 1987 musical of the same name and directed by Darrell Roodt.

A retrospective of films by Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène will be screened at the Sydney Film Festival this June. Regarded as the father of African cinema, some of his films that will be screened include Black Girl (1966), Xala (1975) and Moolaade  (2004).

122 (2019) is an Egyptian psychological horror film directed by Yasir Al-Yasiri and written by Salah El Gehiny, set during a "bloody night in a place where we are supposed to feel safe," the film highlights the distressing consequences when Nasr (Ahmed Dawood) and Umnia (Amina Khalil) dial 122, Egypt's equivalent of 911, seeking help. Despite their attempt to find safety, their secrets plunge them into deeper trouble. Originally released in Egyptian theaters in 2019, the film drops on Netflix this June.

The sequel to the 2019 Netflix crime drama film, Òlòtūré titled Òlòtūré:The Journey about a Nigerian journalist who goes undercover to expose the dangerous and brutal underworld of human trafficking, is set to be released on June 28.

Tribeca Film Festival runs from June 5 to 16, 2024, in New York City. African productions set to screen at the festival include Made in Ethiopia by Xinyan Yu and Max Duncan and produced by Tamara Dawit about three women navigating the expansion of the biggest Chinese industrial zone in Ethiopia; Era Oculta: by Carlos Vargas a drama unfolding in Maputuo Mozambique; Searching for Amani, a documentary by Debra Aroko and Nicole Gormley about a young aspiring journalist investigating his father’s murder within one of Kenya’s largest wildlife conservancies; and The Weekend, a drama-thriller by Daniel Emeke Oriahi, and the first independent Nigerian selected to screen at the festival.

Sons of Rizk:The Knockout (2024) is the third installment of the 2015 Egyptian crime drama, Sons of Rizk. Directed by Tarek Alarian and written by Salah El Gehiny, the sequel will be released in Egyptian theaters on June 12.

Featured Film
Andrew Lowe - Cofounder of Element Pictures

On Becoming a Guinea Fowl (2024) is a comedy drama film written and directed by Zambian filmmaker, Rungano Nyoni. The film won the Un Certain Regard section at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on 16 May 2024.i and developed by BBC Film and Element Pictures. It was financed by A24 alongside BBC Film and Fremantle. Rungano won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes for Best Director. It tells the story of Shula who finds her uncle’s corpse on an empty road in the middle of the night. As funeral proceedings begin around them, she and her cousins bring to light the buried secrets of their middle-class Zambian family. The film currently has 100% rating based on 17 critics’ reviews on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes

Did You Know?
Maryse Condé, author of the novel Ségou

We, Students! (2022) (French: Nous, étudiants) was the first ever film from the Central African Republic to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. Written and directed by Rafiki Fariala, the documentary is a personal narrative depicting the lives and struggles of Fariala and his friends at the University of Bangui. It was ranked as one of the top 10 African films of 2022 by The Africa Report.

The 2019 drama film, This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection was the first entry by Lesotho for the Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards. Directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese it tells the story of an 80-year-old widow who prepares for her own death and to be buried alongside her ancestors. It was nominated in 7 categories at the 2020 Africa Movie Academy Awards, ultimately winning 5 awards including best director and best actress.

The Mother of All Lies (2023) by Asame El Moudir made history as the first Moroccan film to win the top prize at the Marrakech Film Festival. The documentary follows El Moudir’s own journey as she searches for truth amidst a web of family lies, fusing her personal and the national history of Morocco.

The prestigious 'Carrosse d'Or' award, given to Malian filmmaker Souleymane Cisse for his contributions to Malian cinema at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, was reported stolen from his home in Bamako in April 2024. The theft  caused an emotional public outcry and call for a national search, underscoring the cultural importance and pride surrounding Cisse’s award.

A television fiction series inspired by the novel Ségou (1984-85) by writer Maryse Condé (1934-2024) is currently in development. The project is led by the directors Cédric Ido and Antoine Chevrollier. The historical novel, spanning two volumes and following the fate of three brothers, traces the downfall of the Bambara kingdom of Ségou.

Abu Bakr Shawky

Mati Diop (b. 22 June, 1982), is a Franco-Senegalese director and actress. She comes from a family of creatives and is the niece of the filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety. She directed her first short film, Last Night, in 2004. In 2019, her first feature film, Atlantique, was selected to compete for the  Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where she became the first black director to win the Grand Prix. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Film. In 2024, she won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale for her documentary, Dahomey, devoted to the question of the restitution by France of works of art stolen from Dahomey, present-day Benin.

Kim Engelbrecht (b. 20 June, 1980) is a South African actress mostly known for her television roles. She first gained popularity as Lolly in the popular South African soap opera Isidingo in 2011 and became known to a wider international audience for her roles on the American television series Dominion (2014–2015) and The Flash (2017–2018), and the titular character in the South African series Reyka (2021-24) in which she plays a criminal profiler. She won two South African Film and Television Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Soap and Best Actress in a TV Drama in Isidingo and Rekya respectively.  Rekya also earned her an International Emmy Awards nomination for Best Actress.

Abu Bakr Shawky (b. 3 June, 1984)  is an Egyptian-Austrian writer and director. His first feature film, Yomeddine, was selected to participate in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was screened in the Main Competition section where it competed for the Palme d'Or. The film, about a former leper who travels through Egypt searching for the family who abandoned him, also won the Silver Tanit Award for Best Feature Film at the Carthage Film Festival.

Connie Chiume (b. 5 June 1952) is a South African actress and filmmaker. She is known for her film roles in Black Panther (2108), Black Is King (2020) and Blessers (2019). Her television credits include roles in the South African drama series Zone 14Queen Sono (2020) and Gomora (2020). In 2000, she won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama at the South African Film and Television Awards for her role in Zone 14.

Dani Kouyaté

“Sometimes when you don't know where you're heading, you have to return to where you came from in order to think things over before continuing your journey. Today, with all the things happening to her, Africa has trouble finding which direction to take—modernity, tradition, or some other road. We are not really capable of digesting all these things. We don't know who we are, and we don't know where we are going. We are between two things. Between our traditions and our modernity.”

Dani Kouyaté - Director of Keïta! l'Héritage du griot

Things You Can Do
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Featured Film Score
Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, the lead actress of Félicité at 2017 Berlinale

Félicité (2017) is a Senegalese drama film by Alain Gomis. The film was entered as the Senegalese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards and was shortlisted. It tells the story of how a single mother who works as a bar entertainer struggles to get funds after her child is hospitalized. The film featured Kasai Allstars, a Congolese "tradi-modern" musical collective of 25 musicians based in Kinshasa. They wrote and recorded most of the film's music. The soundtrack album was entitled Around Félicité.

It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. At Berlin, the film won the Jury Grand Prix award. At the 2017 Africa Movie Academy Awards, it won six awards which is the highest for a film in the history of the award ceremony winning the award for Best Soundtrack amongst other awards. The film currently has 98% rating based on 46 critics’ reviews on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes.

Featured Page to Screen
Khanyi Mbau
Happiness is a Four-Letter Word is a 2016 South African romantic drama film directed by Thabang Moyela and written by Busisiwe Ntintili based on a novel of the same name by Nozizwe Cynthia Jele. The novel won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book, Africa Region and the M-Net film prize at the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards. It revolves around three women: Zaza (Khanyi Mbau), a glamourous trophy wife; Nandi (Mmabatho Montsho), a successful lawyer; and Princess (Renate Stuurman), an art gallery owner – as they navigate the complexities of happiness and societal expectations. The film was a box office success, and a sequel titled Happiness Ever After was released on Netflix in 2021.
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