IIFF PARTNER FESTIVAL BREAKS NEW EUROPEAN GROUND
Afrykamera, Europe’s largest African Film Festival, brings African films to 8000 Poles
by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Director, ICAPA Trust
Founded in 2006 by Pole Przemeck Stepien in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of South African in Warsaw Afrykamera is the largest African film festival in Europe. Subsequent editions of AfryKamera were extremely well received in the Polish media, and in 2007 the festival was nominated Night Owls Activist for the best event of the year. Participants at the festival over the decade since its inception have included directors and creators from Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, the UK, France, Mauritius, Algeria, and Rwanda. ICAPA Director, filmmaker and writer Tsitsi Dangarembga represented Zimbabwe on the feature Film Jury this year, alongside Portugal-based distributor of African films, Canadian Renee Gagnon of Marfilmes and Egyptian film critic and festival programmer Sherif Awad.
Over 200 films from all over the African continent have been exhibited at the festival since its inauguration. Afrykamera has taken advantage of new technology to bring Africa’s contribution world cinema to growing Polish audience. The programme is loaded onto hard drives which are then distributed to the eight centres. Presently the festival reaches 8000 Poles. This year's edition of AfryKamera presented narrative features, medium and full-length documentaries and 18 shorts (both documentaries and narratives). Highlights of the many events included a show by legendary Angolan singer Bonga Kuenda, as well as Q&A's with directors Philippe Lacoste, Andy Siege, Jereon van Velzen, Jahmil X. T. Qubeka. This year the festival enjoyed record crowds and often packed cinema halls, testimony to the fact that European audiences can appreciate African films where appropriate programmes are put in place.
Each section of the festival was judged by a separate Jury with the narrative feature being, for the first time, entirely non-Polish. The winners, who receive a cash prize of USD1000, were announced to a capacity audience on Sunday 26 April.
KARE KARE ZVAKO (MOTHER’S DAY, Nyerai Films 2005, dir Tsitsi Dangarembga) brought honour to Zimbabwean filmmaking by being selected to the inaugural Afrykamera in 2006. Having worked closely with Nyerai Films and sister company Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe, implementing organisation of the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) since 2006, Afrykamera entered into a formal partnership with IIFF in 2014 through the EU-ACP Support Programme to ACP Cultural Industries. Przemeck Stepien spent part of his childhood in Zambia.
JURY AWARDS FOR AFRYKAMERA 2015:
Narrative Features, Jury consisting of: Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe), Sherif Awad (Egypt) and Renee Gagnon (Canada)-
BEST FILM: FEVERS dir. Hicham Ayouch
Justification: „A tragic story which reflects the trauma and disorientation suffered by Africa's children in the diaspora told in beautifully architectures cinematic language."
1st Special Mention: DIFRET dir. Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
Justification: "For bringing over a human rights case based on real facts to the fiction scene with a story strongly reflecting the physical and psychological struggle of young girls and women in in some rural communities across Africa."
2nd Special Mention: BETI AND AMARE dir. Andy Siege
Justification: "For its poetry and its freedom of dreams, which provides for characters and the audience an escape from violence.”
Documentary 40+ minutes; Jury consisting of: Paulina Wójtowicz, Tomasz Michniewicz, Piotr Pluciński
BEST DOCUMENTARY: VIRUNGA dir. Orlando van Einsiedel
Justification: „A definitive modern documentary. With a mission - and maybe even a thesis – to work for „good” in the fight against „evil”, with excellent research, modern editing and BBC worthy pictures.
Special Mention: GOAT FOR A VOTE, dir. Jeroen van Velzen
Justification: „A brilliant metaphor of the political scene, which is very local in character, has a universal appeal and a simplicity of message, which proves that sometimes even focusing on whats close by and seemingly insignificant can portray mechanisms that drive politics and societies.”
SHORT FILM, Jury consisting of: Tomasz Śliwiński, Katarzyna Czajka, Adam Warzyszyński
BEST SHORT FILM: CHOP MY MONEY, dir. Theo Anthony
Justification: „For an original and unconventional approach to the issues of violence seen through the eyes of children. A powerful and memorable picture, not only due to the subject matter but also thanks to the formal aspects of its execution.”
Special Mention LE LARME DU BOURREAU, dir. Layth Abdul Amir
Justification: „For touching on the important and universal issue of the death penalty in a way that shows its human aspect both from the point of view of the executioner and well as the sentenced.”