TropFest Nairobi |23rd & 25th March 2014


Tropfest is Australia’s most prestigious short film festival and one of its most iconic cultural events. It is also the largest short film festival in the world. Tropfest is recognised for its enormous contribution to the development of the Australian film industry by providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and new and expanded audiences for their work.

The annual short film competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter – regardless of their background or experience. 16 Finalists are selected from an entry pool of an average 700 annual entries and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Past judges have included some of the best and well known actors and directors in the world including John Woo, Cate Blanchett, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Ewan McGregor, Jane Campion, Salma Hayek, and Gabriel Byrne.

As a guest of the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, Tropfest Managing Director Michael Laverty, will visit Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria to present a series of short film screenings to South African audiences. The film program will comprise highlights from former Tropfest Australia winners and finalists between the years 2005 and December 2013. Tropfest films will also be screened at events in Kenya and Zimbabwe this month. The screenings form part of Tropfest’s commitment to fostering filmmaking talent at an international level,

The massive expansion of Tropfest around the globe conveys a worldwide appetite for fresh storytelling voices. It is so exciting to have Tropfest travel to Africa. We know that there is an enormous community of storytellers in this region, and we hope to one day establish a local platform for these filmmakers – with a global audience to share their stories with.

– Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson

I am proud that Australia is supporting this important cultural exchange in the film sector, and hope that Tropfest will be well received by South African audiences. This festival forms part of a larger program of cultural and sporting events planned to coincide with this year’s 20th anniversary of democracy celebrations, which will showcase the strong and diverse Australia-South Africa relationship to the broader public.

– HE Mr Graeme Wilson, Australia’s High Commissioner to South Africa

How can short film festivals provide a platform for talented young filmmakers?

Continue reading

9·88 Films | Ultra-Short Filmmaking Challenge


Deadline: 9 April.

Influenced by the energy and intensity of the 100m sprint (a global event that captivates audiences in under 10 seconds.), 9·88 Films invites filmmakers of all levels of experience in Scotland, the UK, and across the Commonwealth to create films up to 10 seconds long, on any subject and using any form of moving image, and submit it online.

Three award winners, and a student winner, will be selected by an industry jury, to win great prizes and have their films showcased in Glasgow and beyond during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Here are guidelines for submission of entries:

  • Entries must be no longer than 10 seconds.
  • All genres and forms of moving image are welcome.
  • Due to the online nature of 9.88 Films, the challenge is only open to entrants aged 18 and over.
  • Entries are invited from people living or born in a Commonwealth country.
  • Entry should be suitable for audiences of all ages.
  • Do not include a title card or credits. All shortlisted films will have a branded title and credits added at the start, based on your entry information.

Prizes include a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (a Super 16 digital film camera), DaVinci Resolve (an advanced colour grading software), GoPro Hero3+ cameras and Adobe Premiere Elements 12.0 (easy-to-use video editing software). For more details about the prizes go here.

All prize winners will be awarded pre-feature screenings in cinemas including Glasgow Film Theatre, Filmhouse, and Dundee Contemporary Arts, with support from Cinema Arts Network. They’ll also receive a 12 month Shooting People membership. Every film that makes the shortlist will be part of a series of screenings in the UK and further afield, including:

  • The opportunity to be showcased in Channel 4’s short form strand The Shooting Gallery*.
  • Festival 2014 screenings (a games time celebration as part of the official cultural programme for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games)
  • Glasgow Merchant City Festival 2014
  • Exposure to an international audience through the British Council

* subject to editorial approval and clearance.

For tips and tricks to help you get started, watch 9.88 Films’ video hints. Such as this one:

Continue reading

African Metropolis | 6 Cities, 6 Tales

African metropolis

African Metropolis is a series of short fiction films that tell urban tales about life in major African metropolises, a unique partnership towards new African cinema. The films were made in six African cities – Abidjan, Cairo, Dakar, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. Kenya’s entry is Homecoming by Jim Chuchu. His film conveys a voyeur’s obsession with the girl next door, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, science fiction and fiction.

The films were developed over a period of one year with workshops held in Durban and Berlin. This film project is an initiative of Goethe-Institut South Africa and South African executive producer Steven Markovitz, with support from Guaranty Trust Bank plc and the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

In July 2013, African Metropolis premiered at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), one of the most important film industry events on the continent.  Two years of intensive preparation lead up to the premieres: Based on 40 scripts submitted, the film makers were chosen from the six cities. A mentoring programme and workshops ensued, which started off at the Durban Talent Campus in July 2012. Rasha Salti, Head of international programming at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF),

If the African Metropolis Short Film Project is to be continued (…) an intriguing testimony of contemporary film making may emerge – a testimony of a continent that has served as a projection screen for rigid and superficial clichés for too long.

All six of the African Metropolis films get their European premiere at the 43rd edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR 2014) and their US premiere at the 29th Santa Barbara Film Festival. Homecoming will screen at the CinemAfrica Film Festival in Sweden (19 – 23 March). Read about all the entries in the project below.



Homecoming, Directed by Jim Chuchu, Nairobi, 2013 © Homecoming


Directed by Jim Chuchu
Language: English / Kiswahili
Subtitles: English

Fantasy, science fiction and infatuation fuse as an obsessed neighbour invents ever-stranger scenarios for wooing the girl of his dreams.

Nothing is what it seems as Max – a nerdy voyeur – turns fiction into truth and the mundane into the unexpected in his quest to get the attention of Alina – the girl next door. The city of Nairobi is threatened with imminent extinction, and now is his chance to save her and verbalise his unspoken desire. However, a mysterious stranger stands in the way of his happiness. Will Max overcome his fear and save the girl? Is Alina looking for a hero? A quirky, light-hearted look at obsession and the desire to be seen.

Continue reading

Ralph Ziman’s “Ghosts” | Yarned & Dangerous

ralph ziman

South African filmmaker and artist Ralph Ziman photographed Zimbabwean street vendors wielding handmade replicas of AK-47s, adorned in traditional Shona style beading. The vibrant multimedia project, aims to highlight issues related to international arms dealing and its devestating influence.

Ziman, a street artist employs piercing colors and images that are arresting with knitted masks and beaded weapons. The obsession with guns and the power they provide is brought to the fore creating a bizarre and almost surreal image. The vendors who star in Ziman’s photos were not at all directed in how to pose with the weapon replicas. Yet, when observing these pictures, one senses that the weapons are dangerous totems to behold.


Continue reading

East Africa Sundance Institute Theatre Lab | Zanzibar

563050_10151659964608515_644199448_nUnder the supervision of Artistic Director Philip Himberg and Producing Director Christopher Hibma, the two-week exchange and development program (November 10-24) is part of the Sundance Institute East Africa initiative, now in its eleventh year, a professional program that creates peer to peer mentorship and exposure opportunities between theatre artists in East Africa and the U.S.  In the spirit of this exchange, Sundance Institute East Africa engages with East African artists in Africa as well as East African artists sharing their work in the U.S. Deborah Asiimwe, Specialist-East Africa, and Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International and Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders, co-led this initiative.

While advancing the growth of individual artistic voices, they provide mentorship and professional development opportunities-recognizing and honoring the specific cultural, social, political, and artistic realities of East African life (unique to each country as well as to the continent) within both the design and the implementation of the Program. Sundance Institute East Africa is not a training program.

The primary goals of this exchange are to foster:

  • The growth of the American theatre artist and field through interactions in East Africa and with East African artists
  • The growth of the East African theatre artist and field through international exposure and exchange



Sundance Institute have announced the artists and projects selected for its first Theatre Lab on Zanzibar, which have now concluded. Deborah Asiimwe, Specialist-East Africa, and Roberta Levitow, Senior Program Associate-International and Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders, co-led this initiative.

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said,

Our East Africa initiative is rooted in the understanding that exchange opportunities for independent artists, though rare, promote the inclusiveness and diversity of story that ultimately serves to advance the field of theatre.

Himberg said,

This is our third residency in the region. Two previous Labs were hosted on Manda Island, Kenya. Hosting our first Theatre Lab on Zanzibar, Tanzania, as part of our longstanding East Africa initiative allowed us to extend our unique and renowned model of creative support to artists in the region. We are grateful to our artists, both in East Africa and from the U.S., for contributing to an international conversation that enables us to better understand the role of the artist in our respective cultures.

The creative teams and projects participating in the Theatre Lab on Zanzibar were:

Continue reading

Exhibition | ‘Archival Impulse’ by Ayana V. Jackson


Ayana V Jackson Drop your chin_Dress my hair, 2013. Archival print 111 x 111cm.

Ayana V. Jackson, Drop your chin/Dress my hair, 2013. Archival pigment print, 111 x 111cm

29th August – 7th October 2013,

The much anticipated new exhibition by American artist Ayana Jackson will be opening on August 29th in Johannesburg at Gallery MOMO and will run until 7th October 2013.

Synopses from the artist past and future exhibitions follow:


Does the brown paper bag test really exist? / Will my father be proud? 2013. Archival pigment print (Ed of 6).

Archival Impulse: The real work of this series does not exist in physical form. It exists in the imaginary; in the space between my reference images, the spectator’s private thoughts/memories/associations, and the reenactments themselves.

At its core, it considers the chapter of photographic history that was underscored by the period of colonial expansion. It considers the role photography played in the architecture of racialized thinking. It considers the potentially violent exchanges between photographer and “subject”, while at the same time considering other interactions between them and looking for traces of agency.

Archival Impulse takes its name from Hal Foster’s idea that by confronting the archive new systems of knowledge can be created. In this case I confront late 19th and early 20th century photographs taken during the period of European colonial expansion. To do this I draw on images sourced from the Duggan Cronin collection created in South Africa, the works of unknown photographers practicing throughout the global south at the time, as well as documentation of reconstructed villages and “native” performers that were touring in Europe’s Human Zoos.

The scholarship of Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Edwards, Okwui Enwezor, Jennifer Bjorek, Pascal Blancher, and Tamar Garb are also informative.   In reading and comparing these texts I have found multiple angles for entering, interpreting and appropriating my reference materials. As visual experiments these final images aim to draw out the multiple ways the originals can be read: ethnographic, anthropologic, pornographic, historical documents, curiosities, etc.

My process involves identifying reoccurring motifs in the original images, interrogating them, performing them, and last, reconstructing them. My primary intervention is in my deliberate choice not to situate the “subjects” in the scenario.

I do this first to bring attention to the fact that these early photographs are theatrical performances written and directed by the photographer and subject alike and as such are fictitious; second to ask questions around the photograph’s potential as agent of propaganda; and last, if not most importantly, to transform this theater into a space where new narratives might emerge.


Death, 2011 Archival Pigment print 145cm x 145cm Edition 6

Poverty Pornography: At its root is about the power of photography. Its motifs, methods, interests, and ultimately its effect on the collective memory.   While I have narrowed in on particular moments in photographic history and certain genres of the medium, this is not a conversation aimed at supporting binaries between the West and non-West, Colonial power and formerly colonized, Black and White, Rich and Poor, but rather to locate what I believe to be photography’s role in supporting, if not sustaining those binaries and the possibility that society as a whole is as much a beneficiary as a victim of photography’s might.

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag writes;

The frankest representations of war and of disaster-injured bodies are of those who seem most foreign therefore least likely to be known. With subjects closer to home the photographer is expected to be more discreet …The more remote or exotic, the more likely we are to have full frontal views of the dead and dying…It seems that the appetite for pictures showing bodies in pain is as keen, almost, as the desire for ones that show bodies naked…

It is here that the series Poverty Pornography finds its genesis.

Continue reading

The Banning of African Film | South 2 North

south to north

Films always come when everything is over. Why? Why can’t cinema be there even before the problems, to reflect what is happening, so we can fix it? I really think right now we have forgotten the very nature of cinema in the first place. Cinema is not neutral.

– Jean-Pierre Bekolo

On Al Jazeera’s global talk show South 2 North, Redi Tlhabi speaks to three film directors in the aftermath of South Africa’s Film and Publication Board banning Of Good Report, the opening night movie at Durban International Film Festival.

Of Good Report director Jahmil Qubeka joins Cameroon’s Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Le President) and Angola’s João Viana (The Battle of Tabatô ) in South 2 North’s Johannesburg studio. 


Director Jahmil Qubeka

Of Good Report was banned for allegedly showing ‘child pornography.’ Jahmil describes the psychological thriller as “your classical tale of lust, shameful lust…,” saying that it’s about a teacher who becomes obsessed with his student “to a point where he cannot see that he’s obsessed with a child.” While agreeing that child pornography should be banned, Jahmil says Of Good Report is rather “making an indictment… For teenagers this a horror film. I want kids, particularly girls, to watch this and I want to scare them.”

Qubeka managed to get the banning over-turned and is also proceeding with a defamation case against the Film and Publication Board of South Africa.

Reflecting on the effects of the ban, he says,

I’m not sad for me. This has turned me into a superstar. My life has changed in a week. I’ve been in Variety magazine…three times. What I am sad for is my nation because my nation was refused the right to see the film. Self reflection is the only way you can develop. We are the mirrors of our society… If we are living in an age where our government is putting down draconian policies that don’t allow self-reflection, instead we showcase a world that is actually not real, so how will we get to a place of seeing where we are?

Calling his role as a filmmaker “a privilege” he also describes film as “the definitive artform of the 21st century.” Watch this short interview where Qubeka elaborates further on his criticism of the Film Board’s decision:

Le President was sidelined in Cameroon earlier this year because Jean-Pierre’s film discussed the end of 80-year-old President Paul Biya’s reign – a topic that is taboo in the country,

He was minister in 1962; Barack Obama was one year old. He’s been there forever…You don’t have to be a genius to think that an 80-year-old man can go one day.


Director Jean-Pierre Bekolo

Pointing out that “everyone will give me money to make a film once the president is gone to say how bad he was,” he says he would rather made the film now “to anticipate and start a conversation about what will happen when he leaves or if he leaves…When you see the Congo, the Cote D’Ivoire, these are presidents who stay in power (very long) and then you have 20 years of war afterwards.”

Continue reading

Felix wins Audience Award at Durban International Film Festival


At the 34th Durban International Film Festival, audiences watching Felix laughed, cried and voted the feel-good South African family movie Best Film.The audience award was announced at Southern Africa’s premiere film festival on Saturday at the closing night event at the Suncoast CineCentre Cinema.

In Felix, 14-year-old Felix Xaba dreams of becoming a saxophonist like his late father, but his mother Lindiwe thinks jazz is the devil’s music. When Felix leaves his township friends to take up a scholarship for grade eight at an elitist private school, he defies his mother and turns to two aging members of his father’s old band to help him prepare for the school jazz concert.




A South African equivalent of Billy Elliott… a lovely, vibrant, feelgood film about a young township boy intent on following his dreams.

– Peter Machen, Festival manager


Felix‘s all-star cast includes Joburg-born Oscar-nominee Dame Janet Suzman in her first South African film; South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) Best Actress winner Linda Sokhulu (Isidingo, Generations) in her feature debut; and newcomer Hlayani Junior Mabasa, who was cast in the title role from over 400 auditions across the country.

Felix was created by a predominantly female creative team, with SAFTA Lifetime Achievement winner Roberta Durrant directing; Natalie Haarhoff as the DOP; Shirley Johnston as the screenwriter; Kate Schalk as the line producer; Surisa Surisa as the art director; Ayesha Khatieb as the wardrobe stylist; Islyn Goliath as the hair and makeup artist; and Maryke Kruger as the editor.

This makes Felix the first South African film written, directed, shot, edited and line produced by women since democracy.

Applications for Honours in Curatorship 2014 – Cape Town


The Honours programme in Curatorship is offered by the Michaelis School of Fine Art’s Centre for Curating the Archive, in close collaboration with Iziko Museums. The programme will offer courses in the theory and practice of curatorship, developing in students a sophisticated awareness of the practicalities, politics and poetics of working with collections of many kinds. Students will be encouraged to bring the disciplinary insights of their undergraduate major (whether this be in the creative arts, the humanities or the sciences) to the curating of both material and virtual collections, and will be offered opportunities to work on exhibitions in real spaces and in the digital realm.

A major aim of this programme is to introduce students, through seminars, fieldwork and workshops, to the central skills of a curator: to understand objects and how to research them, to work with collections, and to articulate them in exhibitions. Students registered for the full programme will be able to apply for internships, conservation workshops and travel bursaries to local and overseas museums and collections. The course will prepare students for both further postgraduate study and for work as art curators, museum educators, collection managers, critics, dealers and for positions that require the use, display and manipulation of collections more broadly.

A limited number of bursaries are available, awarded on the basis of both merit and need.
To request a prospectus, please write to

Deadline for submissions no later than 31 October 2013.

How to apply
Applicants are required to submit the following:

A detailed narrative curriculum vitae; A letter of no more than two pages detailing your background and reasons for wishing to study curatorship, as well as your special areas of interest relevant to the programme; Academic transcripts; and The names and contact details of two academic referees.

Applications must be directed to:

Professor Pippa Skotnes
Michaelis School of Fine Art
University of Cape Town
31-37 Orange Street, Gardens, 8001
Cape Town, South Africa

Enquiries to:
Telephone 021 4807151

Many thanks to Contemporary And

Kenyan Films at Durban International Film Festival 18 – 28 July 2013


Be sure to catch the 2013 Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in South Africa. With principal funding by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the festival returns for its 34th year to celebrate the beauty and diversity of global cinema. From 18 to 28 July, Durban will be illuminated by the glow of the silver screen, with over 250 screenings in 11 venues across the city. Alongside this smorgasbord of the best of contemporary cinema from around, comprising 72 feature films, 48 documentaries and 45 short films, the festival offers a comprehensive workshop and seminar programme that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and skills by film industry experts.

Running in parallel to the general Festival programme, this year’s Talent Campus Durban offers three hands-on training programmes: Doc Station which will focus on documentary-making, Talent Press which is dedicated to film criticism and Script Station which will foster story development. Although her films are not screening this year, Kenyan artist and filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii (Yellow Fever) is one of the candidates that was specially selected for this year’s Talent Campus.

The Kenyan films showing at the festival are:

Something Necessary (feature film)



Director: Judy Kibinge
Language: Swahili with English subtitles
Run Time: 85min
Germany, Kenya, 2013

Directed by Kenyan filmmaker Judy Kibinge and produced by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer, Something Necessary is the latest film from One Fine Day Films. The film chronicles an intimate moment in the lives of two people from very different sides of history. Anne is struggling to rebuild her life in the wake of the violence which swept through Kenya after the 2007 elections. Joseph, a troubled gang member who participated in the violence, is drawn to Anne, seemingly in search of redemption. Both of them need something that only the other can give in order to move beyond the painful memories of their pasts. For details of the screenings at DIFF, follow this link.

To learn more about the film, read Ciné Kenya‘s feature on it here.

Ni Sisi (feature film)



Director: Nick Reding
Language: Swahili with English subtitles
Run Time: 92min
Kenya, 2013

It’s Us (Ni Sisi) portrays a typical Kenyan community consisting of a harmonious muddle of tribes, intermarriages, and extended families. Then one day rumours begin to spread, mistrust suddenly takes hold and people are identified as belonging to a different tribe. Caught in this ripple effect, old friends begin to turn on each other and in a matter of days, the bonds and alliances that are the foundation of the community are severed. Despite its joyous vibrancy, It›s Us is a film that deals with vitally important issues, both in Kenya, still recovering from the violence of 2008, and beyond. For details of the screenings at DIFF, follow this link.

To learn more about the film, read Ciné Kenya‘s feature on it here.

Continue reading