CinemAfrica Sweden 2014 | 19 – 23 March


19th – 23rd March 2014

CinemAfrica arranges the largest African film festival in Sweden. The festival is a unique opportunity for children, youth and adults to watch and discuss films from emerging African film industries. They show feature films, documentaries, short films and animations made by filmmakers of African descent and works to highlight the Africans own pictures and stories.

Kenyan artists/filmmakers Wangechi Mutu and Jim Chuchu both have work that is screening. Mutu’s first animated film The End of eating Everything will be screening and Chuchu’s work is also screening as part of the African Metropolis project which I previously featured here.

African metropolis

cinemafrica 2014

There are also talks and special Q&A sessions throughout the festival. What part does contemporary art from Africa play across the global art world? Three artists who all use visual art as one of their mediums will be hosting a discussion, international Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, producer/researcher/presenter Zina Saro-Wiwa and innovative filmmaker Frances Bodomo. In collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. This event is free.


Stuart Hall was one of the greatest and most influential thinkers, and has been a constant presence in the global public debate for over 50 years, a pioneer in everything from the British New Left to feminist cultural analysis and postcolonial studies. In this sensitive told documentary director John Akomfrah creates a beatiful portrait of Stuart Hall from archive images and audio fragments, and creates an equal political and personal dialogue about memory, identity and our age’s dramatic history.

cinemafrica 2014

The history of black women in the American civil rights movement in the 60’s – and 70’s in a large-scale and ambitious documentary, a celebration of generations and a lesson to today’s feminists from the young, Nigeria-born filmmaker Nevline Nnaji. With a mixture of fresh interviews and archival material, we follow the emergence of a strong, international solidarity, black feminism, which is forced to fight against both sexist structures in the civil rights movement and racist structures in the women’s movement.


Some would argue that no area within the film world has changed so fast and so spectacularly in recent years as the African music videos, today a giant industry that established links with many of the most exciting and experimental willing new filmmakers. Along with a panel of directors who all have been involved in various ways in the music video world, examples will be shown and there will be discussions about the production, aesthetics, the music industry and how today directors are approaching the history and future.  Teddy Goitom from Stocktown where music videos are prominently featured, will be on the panel.

Also screening are various films I have featured here including Afronauts  and Boneshaker by Frances Bodomo,

The Robots of Brixton and Jonah by Kibwe Tavares,

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Profile of the Week | Mũchiri Njenga


Mũchiri Njenga

This week, my feature profile is Mũchiri Njenga. He is the founder of Nairobi-based boutique creative studio Studio Ang which has become a haven for independent artists that enjoy working on unique and visually innovative projects. Njenga is a self-taught transmedia artist and filmmaker whose background spans the fields of animation, motion design, music and film. Kichwateli and My World is Round are two short films by Njenga that screened at the Afrika Eye Film Festival at The Watershed in Bristol, UK last year.




Kichwateli is a short poetic film set in a post-apocalyptic African slum and city. The film takes the viewer on a spiritual and metaphorical voyage through a young boy’s dream, mixing imagery of the boy wandering inquisitively with a live TV as his head to show the effects of media on a young generation.

The short film features music by Just A Band, Modeselektor ( a breakbeat duo from Berlin) and Maasai Mbili (Nairobi-based Art group). The music is a metaphor for the way we are now all plugged into the same images of global anxiety while at the same time we ourselves, are subjects of scrutiny by the all-seeing ubiquitous cameras. The director of Goethe-Institut Nairobi Johannes Hossfeld said this of the project,

Muchiri made one of the best music videos I have ever seen in my life.

Kichwateli was Studio Ang’s contribution to the BLNRB project, a cooperation between Kenyan and German musicians initiated by Goethe-Institut Nairobi and Gebrüder Teichmann. Learn more about the filmmaking process for Kichwateli and the inspirations that led to it’s production by clicking here.


Portrait by Allan Gichigi


Our World Is Round

Our World Is Round  is a short film that celebrates the life-time achievement of veteran Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah and his award winning team Safari Simbaz. The film details how Kinjah discovered cycling and what brings him joy in this activity. Having raced and won medals in prestigious races around the world, Kinjah also mentored Tour De France 2013 winner Chris Froome.


Kinjah, the first black African rider to sign for a European cycling team, trained Froome as a cyclist when he was a boy while his family was living in Kenya. The film also delineates Kinjah’s strong desire to transform the lives of the people in his village through his passion and the power of cycling. This is an initiative which has taken form in the Safari Simbaz Trust,

Most of these young boys are school dropouts who would have ended up being gangsters. But through Safari Simbaz, they’ve learned a lot about life, gone back to school and most of them [now] have a career in pro-cycling, representing Kenya in international races globally.

In this film, the advantages that new technology has provided are also brought to the fore. When Kinjah first started cycling professionally, he mainly relied on magazines and newspapers. Now, with the help of web developer Fady Rostom, Kinjah and his team have an online presence that can be reached globally. Read more about the film and view more photos at a previous feature I wrote here.

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Watch ’12 Years A Slave’ And Other Films For FREE (Fans In Kenya)

paa ya paa

Paa Ya Paa Arts Centre are holding a films and media exhibition as part of Black History Month. The arts centre is a place for inspiration and development for indigenous artists and art lovers. Their programs include visual arts, music, dance, theatre and photography. Paa Ya Paa describe their name origin as,

a compound Swahili name which literally means “The Antelope Rising”. In Swahili “paa” means “rise” and also means an “antelope”. In the 1960s the antelope had become a regular subject for the curio wood carvers designed to attract tourists in East Africa. Symbolically, therefore, Paa Ya Paa is a spiritual calling in the hope that the simple artistic expressions will rise in to a new realm of open-minded creative adventures, adventures that will give new scope for free creative self-expressions of the artist as well as the ethics and aesthetics that make the pursuit of excellence in the creative arts a worthwhile discipline.

There will be a mixed media exhibit that can be viewed before the start of the films and there are moderated discussions after the screenings. All screenings are FREE and will take place at Paa Ya Paa Arts Centre in Ridgeways. The schedule is as follows:


12 Years A Slave, Saturday February 8th 2014, 16:00

This is a historical drama film 12 Years A Slave directed by British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. It is also notable for being Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o‘s first film role for which she has been nominated and won a host of awards. The story is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a Black man (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and talented musician who was born free in New York state, kidnapped in Washington D.C., then sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years.




Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Saturday February 15th 2014, 16:00

Based on South African President Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. The film stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Madikizela–Mandela.




The Butler, Saturday February 22nd 2014, 16:00

Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, the film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American who eyewitnesses notable events of the 20th century during his 34-year tenure serving as a White House butler, and Oprah Winfrey plays his wife Gloria Gaines.

Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America, Saturday March 1st 2014, 16:00

Maafa 21 is a film that argues the modern-day prevalence of abortion among African Americans is rooted in an attempted genocide or maafa of black people. It alleges that the eugenics movement that targeted African Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries formed the basis for the creation of the American Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) by Margaret Sanger and the abortion-rights movement of the 20th and 21st centuries. Maafa is derived from a Swahili term for “disaster” or “great tragedy”. View the trailer here:

Paa Ya Paa Arts Centre
Paa Ya Paa Lane, Ridgeways Road (Off) Kiambu Road
P.O.Box 49646-00100 NAIROBI, Kenya
Tel. +254 (0)20 851 2257 Cel. +254- 733 270 109

Watch ‘Something Necessary’ For FREE


something necessary

The fourth film in the HBF x Hivos Online Series is Something Necessary by Judy Kibinge, available from Friday 31 January 2014, 11:00 hrs (CET) for 24 hours worldwide (except in Germany, the UK and Switzerland) on the IFFR YouTube channel. Something Necessary was given a Hubert Bals Fund grant for Post-production Support in 2012.



Something Necessary shows the impact of the 2007 post-election violence,

Election violence based on ethnicity is a recurrent phenomenon in Kenya, but the destruction in 2007 was unparalleled. Youth gangs egged on by politicians roamed the country for three months, plundering, raping and murdering. Some 1200 people were killed. Over 300,000 Kenyans fled. The International Court of Justice in The Hague is still investigating suspects.
Anne is one of the victims: her husband dead, son in a coma, farm destroyed and she herself ended up in a hospital bed. For the sake of her child, she wants to build up her life again, whatever the cost. She meets Joseph, who was on the side of the culprits during the riots. He is burdened by guilt, but is still under the control of the gang he was a member of. Both look for a way out.
Something Necessary tells the true story. The film primarily shows how complex things are when it’s not about the statistics of a conflict but the people behind the numbers.


Hivos in Kenya

From behind the scenes, Hivos supports independent cinema in Kenya. Hivos is partner of the Kenya Media Programme and the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking that aim to improve the quality of journalism and filmmaking in Kenya. To help Kenya have a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections Hivos partnered with Ushahidi, a Kenya technology developer, and various civil society organisations to come up with the joint initiative Uchaguzi to monitor Kenya’s electoral process. Uchaguzi means ‘election’ in Swahili. Hivos facilitated the process of creating an election monitoring platform in 2013.

About the director
Judy KIBINGE (1967, Kenya) moved to the US and later to the UK during her childhood and studied communication in Manchester. After her return to Kenya she worked in advertising and became the country’s first black creative director. Since 1999 she has dedicated herself fully to film. She is the driving force behind film production house Seven, established in 2006. Her debut A Dangerous Affair received an award at the Zanzibar Film Festival in 2003. Something Necessary is her third feature film.

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.

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Watch Jean Pierre Bekolo’s ‘Le President’ for FREE


View this seminal film by Jean-Pierre Bekolo that was banned in Cameroon and South Africa for free until October 19th over at Buni Tv.

When the Cameroonian president disappears just a few days before the elections after 42 years in power, the country’s media go into overdrive, speculating on what happened. Meanwhile, the president’s kidnappers, who remain unnamed, are taking him on a tour of the country, forcing him to interact with the people that he has so wistfully ignored all this years.

The president is forced to answer for what he has done – which is not much. A controversial “mockumentary” that mixes fiction and reality, THE PRESIDENT questions the phenomenon of Africa’s “president-for-life” and the threat that the incertitude over their succession poses to their countries’ stability.

Al Jazeera Documentaries to Investigate the French-African Connection


On Thursdays during August and September, Al Jazeera will screen three documentary series (The French-African Connection, Black France and Algeria: The Test of Power) that spotlight the complex and topical relationship between France and Africa.

In January 2013, France responded to Mali’s request for assistance by launching a military intervention in Mali to prevent the Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups from taking control of the country. Is France pursuing a neo-colonial policy? Is it continuing “Françafrique,” the term coined to define France’s relationships with its former African colonies in which it supported unpopular African politicians for the sake of its economic interests in the region?

In a recent visit to Dakar, French president Francois Hollande declared the end of the “Françafrique” era. But is that really the case?


The French-African Connection

The French-African Connection which premiered on Thursday, 8 August 2013,  is a gripping three-part series that tells the dark and dramatic history of France’s relationships with its former African colonies.

The French-African Connection is a brutal and nefarious tale of corruption; massacres; dictators supported and progressive leaders murdered; weapons-smuggling; cloak-and-dagger secret services; and spectacular military operations. The series includes interviews with former oil barons; investigating judges into corruption scandals; former French ambassadors to African states; former French secret services; African presidents; and Francois Mitterand’s son.

The second and third episodes will premiere on 15 and 22 August respectively.

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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.”

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Beyond A Craft | A Story of Resilience & Triumph by Mũchiri Njenga




Beyond A Craft is inspired by a true story. Join Pedro from Ecuador as he seeks to provide for his daughter Maria while overcoming great struggles and hardship. Will the talents and dreams of his daughter ever be realized, or will both Pedro and Maria sink deeper into poverty? Watch the film in full here:



Beyond A Craft is a short film written and directed by Mũchiri Njenga. It is the result of Njenga taking part in the MicroFlicks Global Film Challenge which is an initiative of VisionFund and World Vision to locate and promote talented filmmakers around the globe and their films focusing on microfinance (learn more about Vision Fund’s microfinance here). These filmmakers use their skills and travel to interesting and unique locations while bringing microfinance into focus through captivating film.

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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.

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