Special Focus on Africa Featured at the 23rd Banff Television Festival

Africa will be a prominent theme this year at the 23rd annual Banff Television Festival, June 9 to 14, 2002. Inspired by the placement of Africa at the heart of the agenda for the G8 Summit of World Leaders, which is taking place in nearby Kananaskis shortly after the Festival, the Banff Television Festival was sure that Africa was the perfect fit for a special focus at BANFF 2002. The Festival will showcase the best of African talent as well as bring together members from the African broadcast and production community with their peers in a creative and business environment. A variety of special sessions, screenings and events will take place throughout the week t o highlight this year’s Focus on Africa.

“Good things happen in Canada when the public and private sectors get together,”observed Banff Television Foundation president and CEO Pat Ferns. “Our Focus on Africa is receiving tremendous support from governmental and international institutes as well as from entrepreneurial producers who see BANFF as the place to realize opportunity.”

Leading off on Monday, June 10, at the Banff Rockie Awards Show, sponsored by Alliance Atlantis, BANFF will make a special presentation of STEPS For the Future, an extraordinary collection of 35 films from Africa’s best known directors. This collection, which deals with stories surrounding the individual and societal impact of HIV/AIDS, premiered last November at Sithengi, the 6th Southern Africa Film & Television Market. Two films from the collection are nominees in this year’s Banff Rockie Awards program competition: The Ball (Ebano Multimedia/Day Zero, Mozambique/South Africa) nominated in the Children’s Programs category and Heavy Traffic (Day Zero/Curious Pictures, South Africa) nominated in the Information Programs category. Three additional Rockie Award nominees also hail from African countries: One Evening in July (Zimmedia/Nomadis Images, Zimbabwe/Tunisia), part of the Mama Africa Collection and a Short Drama nominee, Portrait of a Young Man Drowning (Primedia, South Africa) from Short & Curlies Short Drama nominee and Ochre & Water (Doxa Productions in association with Off The Fence, South Africa), a Social & Political Documentaries nominee.

Also on Monday, renowned Nigerian filmmaker, Ola Balogun, whose film credits include Money Powah and Nelisita, will lead a Master Class on directing, sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada, BC District Council.

Tuesday, June 11

Africa: New Voices, New Visions

A panel of experts, drawn from across the African continent, will be moderated by Chris Haws of The World Bank Group, U.S. Topics of discussion will include local and international economics, the nature of commercial and public service broadcasting, advertisers’ assumptions and expectations, issues of training, the development of a sustainable indigenous infrastructure, and the role of government support and intervention in the emerging markets of Africa.

Wednesday, June 12

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will sponsor BANFF’s annual session on social issues. Moderator Azeb Wolde-Giorghis, correspondent, CBC/Radio-Canada, will lead the session entitled Documentary: Africa’s Challenge. Items to be discussed include how Africa’s television industry deals with the problems of poverty, health, education, and sustainable development, which are some of the major agenda items for the G8 Summit of World Leaders in Kananaskis on June 26 and 27, 2002.

Later in the day, the Africa: STEPS for the Future seminar will explore how the communications media is a powerful tool in the struggle to create awareness of one of the more difficult issues facing Africa, HIV/AIDS. Clips from STEPS (Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) will be included in this session moderated by Catherine Olsen, commissioning editor/documentary programmer of CBC/Radio-Canada Newsworld.

Thursday, June 13

Breakfast with Africa, sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Hosted by independent director/writer, Erica Pomerance, delegates will have the opportunity to meet with broadcasters, independent producers and decision makers. Later in the morning, Canal+ will sponsor Showcase of Excellence: The Best of Africa & The Best of BANFF.

Thursday afternoon includes Africa: Talking Drums, sponsored by CIDA and CAUSE Canada. This international theatre forum is led by the Freetong Players Ð, Sierra Leone’s most prominent theatre troupe. Moderated by Su-Ling Goh, host/producer, Inside Entertainment, Global Television, youth delegates from Sierra Leone, West Africa and Alberta will discuss current issues of poverty, AIDS and terrorism. The day will wrap up with Africa: Education and the Future, sponsored by UNICEF. The session will involve the participation of senior representatives of UNICEF as well as Firdoze Bulbulia of the Prix Jeunesse.

Over 70 representatives from more than twenty African countries are expected to be among the 1,800 delegates at BANFF 2002.

Throughout BANFF 2002, a selection of African programs will be screened on the two festival channels and in other special screenings. In addition, CBC Newsworld will prepare a one-hour special drawn from BANFF 2002’s Focus on Africa for telecast prior to the G8 Summit of World Leaders. In related news, Afrikadey, the Banff Television Foundation, CAUSE Canada and MEDIAVU are collaborating on a festival of African films to be screened at the Uptown Theatre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 19 to 22, 2002.