Scotland’s biggest celebration of African cinema returned for its 7th consecutive year to Filmhouse, Edinburgh and launched this year for the first time at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT).
Taking the very timely theme of ‘Modern Africa’, the festival’s diverse, continent-spanning programme of documentary and fictional films (totalling 23 features and 32 shorts) explored African urban and rural experiences, identity and popular culture, contemporary politics and social issues, Africa’s rich heritage and its exciting future.
Following a shortened, five-day festival in 2011, this year AiM returned to its normal 10-day length. At Edinburgh’s Filmhouse there were a number of sold-out screenings (Opening Night film Uhlanga, Kinyarwanda and Dear Mandela), while the average attendance this year was an impressive 65% with over 2,000 people attending the festival.
At the Glasgow Film Theatre, where AiM launched an inaugural five-day event, the attendance was close to 300 people including an almost sold-out opening night and the first ever AiM’s Children’s Day.
AiM 2012 opened with the UK premiere of Uhlanga (The Mark), with writer and director and celebrated South African author and playwright NdabakaNgwane in attendance, and closed with Restless City, directed by Andrew Dosunmu.The 2012 programme was divided into five strands:African Science Fiction, Arab Spring Documentaries, Nollywood, Modern African Identities and African Popular Arts.
The programme’s strong selection of international feature releases included:Elmina, Essaha (The Square), Tey (Today), Otelo Burningand Cry of Love.Also in the programme were: the AiM Short Film Competition (this year’s winner was RunganoNyoni for her film Mwansa the Great), African films for children, a Secondary Schools Screening, an academic symposium looking at African Popular Culture in the 21st Century (co-hosted by the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh).The 2012AiM programme was, as always, accompanied by a wide range of events, including directors’ Q&As, masterclasses, seminars, workshops, an art exhibition and music performances.
Special guests of the festival included: filmmakers NdabakaNgwane (Uhlanga), KhulekaniZondi (cinematographer on Uhlanga), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Les Saignantes, Quartier Mozart), Sara Blecher (Otelo Burning) and TundeKelani (MAAMi) and Nollywood specialist OnookomeOkome.
Festival Advisor and Programme Consultant LizelleBisschoff said: ‘We are extremely pleased with the success of Africa in Motion 2012 and the festival’s overriding theme of “Modern Africa”, to which audiences responded very well. Our focus on African science fiction evoked curiosity from sci fi lovers and cinephiles, our multiple screenings focused on African popular arts and culture were followed by many incisive discussions, our academics symposium and seminars drew students and scholars from all over the UK, and many of our UK premiere feature films screened to packed audiences. Covering themes and subjects ranging from peace-making through film, contemporary African identities, Africa’s economic development and challenges, and the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide; to hip hop music, fashion, street art, surfing and wrestling, Africa in Motion 2012 had something for everyone.
Some feedback from AiM 2012 guests:
Scholar William Bissell: ‘Fabulous –a very stimulating series of conversations and works.’
KhulekaniZondi: ‘Very beneficial, as it allowed me to interact with different people within the industry.’
Joshua McNamara of Film Africa (London): ‘Great dialogue on African film! Look forward to seeing it evolve. Keep the films coming!’
OgovaOndego of Lola Kenya Screen: ‘This is a great initiative. It must be supported by all. Thanks for involving me!’
Scholar OnookomeOkome: ‘This is one of the most brilliant festivals I have attended in the last ten years. I particularly liked and gained a lot from it. I wish to thank the organisers from my heart.’
Scottish/Kenyan storyteller MaraMenzies: ‘I feel strongly about the positive impact it has on community, developing stronger links between communities, informing and entertaining. The organisers have done another stellar job showcasing the creative force emerging from Africa.’
Africa in Motion will be back next year. Dates will be announced in August 2013.
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