AFRICAN FILM NETWORKING AT BERLINALE 2017
Berlin Film Festival offered a great meeting point for the African Film Industry.
In spite of the current situation in Zimbabwe a team of three IIFF organisers managed yet another trip to the Berlin Film Festival. “Courage Against All Odds” - the main theme of the program could not have been anymore in line with the thoughts of the IIFF team that braved yet another European winter to explore the famous Berlinale. The three members were IIFF founder Tsitsi Dangarembga, trainee director Laura Ganda and program coordinator Karen Mukwasi. The whole festival office despite numerous challenges prevailed in making the trip possible. As usual, the Berlinale was worth the hustle.
Upon arrival in Berlin, all was set to attend the first ever Berlinale Africa Hub. The Hub was an innovation of the European film market and brought together talents, ideas and projects from the African continent. This new space felt like home for all the visiting Africans. Faces familiar to IIFF featured for the first time in Berlin. Ideas on how to market African content to the rest of the world were shared. The latest innovations in the African film industry were showcased. Highlights included a virtual reality project from Electric South featuring Kenyan filmmaker N'gendo Muuki and Senegalese designer Selly Rabe Kane among others. The Namibian film commission presented an eye opening presentation on how a viable film industry can contribute to building a country's economy. To drive their point home they spoke about big Hollywood blockbuster films such as the latest MAD MAX, which was shot in Namibia.
Raoul Peck's I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO was undoubtedly one of the biggest highlights of the film program. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the film focuses on the history of racism in the United States of America. Through African American author James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, the lives and assassinations of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr, Medger Evers and Malcom X are explored. The film couldn’t have been released at a better time given the current conversation surrounding race relations in America.
Despite the presence of the Africa Hub, the African program was once again a disappointment. At the Berlinale the absence of authentic African narratives is a cause for concern. Though the new African platform and the increasing number of young talents present at the Berlinale are steps in the right direction.
Look out for films from the Berlinale program at IIFF 2017!