Contenda Island / Ilhéu de Contenda

Director: Leao Lopes
Country: Cape Verde
Year: 1995
Running Time: 110 min.
Language: Portuguese

Set against the lush beauty of Cape Verde’s landscape, this film explores the evolution of the traditional colonial class structure. In response to a changing society, the aristocracy finds it must cede some of its power to a newly emergent mulatto merchant class. In this process, they are shaping a hybrid national identity that must synthesize the old and the new as well as elements of both African and Portuguese cultures.

Clandestine / Le Clandestin / O Clandestino

Director: José “Zeka” Laplaine
Country: Zaire and Angola
Year: 1997
Running Time: 15 min.
Language: Portuguese and French

When an Angolan stowaway lands in Lisbon, he learns that the Europe of his dreams may not be the paradise he imagined. Constantly having to evade a persistent police officer, he begins to long for his homeland. His adventures lead him to realize that for an African, Europe provides no escape from hardship.

Daughters of the Dust

Director: Julie Dash
Country: USA
Year: 1991
Running Time: 113 min.
Language: English

A hauntingly beautiful tale set at the turn of the century on one of the Sea Islands off the Georgia coast. The film portrays the unique culture of the Gullah people by focusing on the extended Peazant family as its members struggle with the decision to leave the island.

Daughter of Keltoum

Director: Mehdi Charef
Country: Algeria
Year: 2001
Running Time: 106 min.
Language: French and Arabic

Rallia, a young woman raised in Switzerland, travels to an isolated Berber settlement located in the rocky Atlas Mountains of Algeria to discover her relationship to her extended family and her traditional Berber culture.

Daresalam

Director: Serge Issa Coelo
Country: Chad
Year: 2000
Running Time: 105 min.
Language: French and Arabic

Koni and Djimi, friends since childhood, are living a peaceful life in their native village when, outraged by the army exaction and crimes, they decide to join the rebel FRAP (Revolutionary Front of Popular Army). War will alter their destinies forever.

Dancing in the Dust / Bal Poussiere

Director: Henri Duparc
Country: Ivory Coast
Year: 1989
Running Time: 91 min.
Language: French

A charming comedy about an Ivory Coast pineapple mogul, called Demi-God, with five wives, Dancing in the Dust teaches a comical lesson about greed. Named for his status ranking of second to God in his village, Demi-God makes the mistake of taking yet another wife. This marital addition is meant to harmonize his household. He will now have a different wife for each night, and the best wife a second time on Sunday, but instead she turns it upside down. The lovely, irreverent Binta, in trouble with her parents because of her disrespect of a family elder in Abidjan, is forced to marry Demi-God. Though Duparc does not resolve the contest between the old ways and the new, he takes an uproariously funny stab at arranged marriages and polygamy.

Critical Assignment

Director: Jason Xenopoulos
Country: Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and the UK
Year: 2003
Running Time: 106 min.
Language: English

In this glossy stunt-filled thriller, Africa’s first action hero, Michael Power, is a reporter who comes back home to Africa to uncover a secret plot to funnel funds earmarked for a clean water project. These funds are being channeled in the stockpiling of deadly weapons.

The Cora Player / Le joueur de cora

Director: Cilia Sawadogo
Country: Canada
Year: 1996
Running Time: 7 min.
Language: English and French

In this animated short, a girl confronts the wrath of her father when she challenges tradition by falling in love with a boy from the griot caste.

The Congo – What Now?

Director: Archival Newsreel
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Year: 1961
Running Time: 2 min.
Language: English

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Patrice Lumumba signs the documents of Congo’s independence. Now that Congo has been liberated, it faces internal conflict with Lumumba heading one side and his rival, Mobutu, on the other side.

Conversations On A Sunday Afternoon

Director: Khalo Matabane
Country: South Africa
Year: 2005
Running Time: 80 min.
Language: English

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A fascinating contribution to the rich global trend of blending documentary and fiction, the film begins with one man’s curiosity about a lonely woman in Johannesburg Park and expands its scope to include a look at exiles living in South Africa.

Congo My Foot

Director: Okepne Ojang and Kyle O’Donoghue
Country: South Africa and Cameroon
Year: 2008
Running Time: 24 min.
Language: French, Lingala, and English

The members of Tino La Musica, a Congolese band based in Cape Town, live and rehearse in a rundown block of flats until they are evicted just before the outbreak of xenophobic violence. The double impact of these events causes the band to fall apart, yet its members struggle to reunite and find the will to sing and dance again.

Coming of Age

Director: Judy Kibinge
Country: Kenya
Year: 2007
Running Time: 12 min.
Language: English

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Coming Of Age takes us through the development of Kenyan democracy through the eyes of a young Kenyan girl. The naive post-independence euphoria is reflected in an innocent young girl’s outlook; Moi’s oppressive regime is narrated through her teenage turmoil; and a more mature narrator comes of age with the election President Kibaki. But after disputed election results in December 2007, we are left to wonder if democracy ever truly comes of age.

Come See the Bioscope

Director: Lance Gewer
Country: South Africa
Year: 1994
Running Time: 26 min.
Language: English

 

Sol Plaatje was a politician, novelist, historian, musician, translator of Shakespeare into vernacular language, and founder member of what was to become the African National Congress.
In 1924, a visionary South African, Sol Plaatje, set out to bring the wonders of cinema to the community. Brandishing a few educational 16mm films under his arm, Plaatje arrives in a dusty, Blacks-only township in the Western Transvaal. He is looking for a venue which can be set up as a bioscope. Things do not seem promising, but Plaatje is first befriended by a helpful young boy. And then, despite prevailing apartheid obstacles, a room is found. The township community is excited and set to be overawed by the new celluloid world about to unfold before them.

Come Back to Sudan

Director: Daniel Junge and Patti Bonnet
Country: Sudan and USA
Year: 2008
Running Time: 27 min.
Language: English, Bari, and Dinka

The last time Lado, Mabior, and Deng saw their families, they were eight years old. This was before the war forced them to flee and re-settle in America. Flash forward 18 years. Accompanied by their adoptive Colorado mother, they undertake an extraordinary journey back to their villages in war-torn Sudan.

Come Back, Africa

Director: Lionel Rogosin
Country: South Africa
Year: 1960
Running Time: 83 min.
Language: Zulu and Afrikaans

Come Back, Africa is the second feature-length film after On the Bowery (1956) written, produced, and directed by American independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin.

The film had a profound effect on African Cinema, and remains of great historical and cultural importance as a document preserving the unique heritage of the townships in South Africa in the 1950s. It may be classified as reportage, documentary, historical movie or political cinema, since it portrays real events and people. On the other hand, it reveals an interpretation of meaningful social facts and a strong ethical assumption towards human behaviors like racism.

Nevertheless, it is a scripted film (like On the Bowery), based on fictional narrative, in which actors play invented roles. But, unlike mainstream films and against Hollywood traditions, its actors are street people, improvising lived experiences: they play their own lives or those of people like them. That is why Come Back, Africa is a fiction / non-fiction, a hybrid of fictional film and documentary: a docufiction. Besides, it is a rare specimens in film history of docufiction and political film in one.

Desperate to feed his household, Zachariah, a young Zulu, departs his famine-stricken kraal to work in the Johannesburg gold mines. He eventually settles in one of the squalid apartheid-era townships, only to find himself confronted with a barrage of South Africa’s infamous pass laws restricting his every move. Zachariah learns that he cannot seek employment without a pass; paradoxically, he cannot obtain a pass without employment. Meanwhile, his family is consistently threatened with exile or imprisonment if they fail to comply with these draconian regulations.

Zachariah subsequently drifts through a succession of odd jobs as garage attendant, waiter, and public laborer – ridiculed, insulted, and ostracized by unfeeling Afrikaner superintendents. As they struggle to support their home, even Zachariah’s spouse Vinah is forced to take up domestic service; she lives on the property of a white landowner, away from her husband. When the latter visits her one lonely evening, he is arrested by the SAP on trespassing charges.

Upon his release from detention, Zachariah discovers that Vinah has been murdered by Marumu, an infamous Sophiatown hoodlum, after resisting several unwanted sexual advances. His overwhelming sense of torment, helplessness, and frustration is intended to capture the resentment of South Africa’s indigenous population. Denied basic civil rights, many must weave a treacherous path of survival through the myriad of legal and unofficial racial codes, while their families disintegrate on the townships’ violent streets. Some – like Zachariah – are utterly defenseless in this struggle, impossibly torn between apartheid’s calculated suppression and the wanton atrocities of organized crime.

Comédia Infantil

Director: Solveig Norlund
Country: Sweden and Mozambique
Year: 1997
Running Time: 100 min.
Language: Portuguese

 

Adapted from a Swedish novel that uses poetic drama to illuminate and humanize difficult social issues, this film is a touching account of the hardships faced by the young boy, Nèlio, during Mozambique’s civil war. After losing his family during a raid on his village, Nèlio manages to escape from a training camp for young soldiers. Upon reaching the capital, he becomes the leader of a group of street children who believe he has the power to cure diseases. His burgeoning reputation as a healer, however, cannot shield him from the brutality of war. As Nèlio lays wounded, he recounts his harrowing story to José, the local baker.

The Colonial Friend / L’ami y’a bon

Director: Rachid Bouchareb
Country: Algeria and France
Year: 2004
Running Time: 9 min.
Language: French

In 1940 France went to war against Germany and announced not only the mobilization of its territory, but also of its colonies. Senegalese family man Aby enlists in the army, distinguishes himself in battle, and is captured. But when he returns to his country, the French army refuses to pay him for his services. This beautifully animated film records the 1944 incident in which Senegalese veterans were gunned down after demanding to receive payment for their military service.

Colobane Express

Director: Khady Sylla
Country: Senegal
Year: 1999
Running Time: 52 min.
Language: Wolof

The car rapides, relatives of the bush taxi, are the only viable form of urban transport in Dakar. Not only do they carry people of all classes and walks of life, but they are also the primary means of transporting merchandise like fruits, vegetables, and live animals from the outskirts to the center of Dakar. Colobane Express follows the trials and tribulations of a car rapide driver and his apprentice. On the road, the two must always be on their toes, ready to manage the many conflicts and accidents that are constantly lurking around the corner.

Collision Course / Rota de Colis

Director: Roberval Duarte
Country: Brazil
Year: 1999
Running Time: 12 min.
Language: Portuguese

After a robbery, the paths of a thief, a worker and a street child cross. In the streets of this Third World metropolis, a tragic yet common destiny awaits them.

Coffee Colored Children

Director: Ngozi A. Onwurah
Country: Nigeria
Year: 1988
Running Time: 15 min.
Language: English

This lyrical, unsettling film conveys the experience of children of mixed racial heritage. After suffering the aggression of racial harassment, a young girl and her brother attempt to wash their skin white with scouring powder. Starkly emotional and visually compelling, this semi-autobiographical testimony to the profound internalized effects of racism and the struggle for self-definition and pride is a powerful catalyst for discussion.