There will be 352 films from 61 countries screened at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from 7 a€” 16 September. The festival, considered one of the most important in the world (second only to Cannes), will open with the world premiere of Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn’s “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen”. On Wednesday 23 September, the organisers unveiled the complete lineup for next month’s event. (see http://www.e.bell.ca/filmfest/2006)
Ten films from 12 countries point to the imagination and diversity of African and African-diaspora cinema. Added to the line-up of the 31st Toronto International Film Festival, these titles, with focuses ranging from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to a black female messiah superhero, include six world premieres and two North American premieres.
“This year we’ll bring audiences the stories of Idi Amin, Hurricane Katrina and South African freedom fighter Patrick Chamusso,” says Cameron Bailey, International Programmer. “The African experience is vast and diverse, extending far beyond African borders to include both Chad and Trinidad, both Nigeria and Brazil, and we’ll have films from all of these countries.”
Films announced to date from South Africa are John Barker’s “Bunny Chow”, Teboho Mahlatsi’s “Moekgo and the Stickfighter” and Akin Omotoso’s short film “Gathering the Scattered Cousins..
Also included in the African line-up are Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “Daratt”; Tahani Rached’s “These Girls”; Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Bamako”; Asger Leth’s “Ghosts of the Cite Soleil”; and Jerome Laperrousaz’s “Made in Jamaica”.
Here follows a synopsis of some of special screenings in the African and African-diaspora cinema section.
The UK/South Africa “Catch a Fire” from director Phillip Noyce (“The Quiet American” amd “Rabbit-Proof Fence”), will have a Special Presentation World Premiere.. The film is a political thriller based on the real-life story of Patrick Chamusso. Shot on location in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Mozambique, the film focuses in on one man of thousands, reeling from years of divide and social unrest in South Africa.
Initially apolitical, Patrick (Derek Luke) is shocked into action, reexamining his sense of self and purpose after his quiet life is ambushed by government-sanctioned terror squads. Patrick becomes a rebel fighter and political operative, staging daring solo attacks against the brutal apartheid regime even as policeman Nic Vos (Tim Robbins) further insinuates himself into Patrick’s home.
“The Last King of Scotland” Kevin Macdonald, UK, Special Presentation
On a medical mission in Uganda, Dr. Garrigan (James McAvoy) becomes irrevocably entangled with one of the world’s most barbaric figures, Ugandan President Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Impressed by the young Scottish doctor’s brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed president selects him to be his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated with his new position, he soon awakens to Amin’s savagery – and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive.
“Indigenes” Rachid Bouchareb, France/Morocco/Algeria/Belgium, Contemporary World Cinema
North American Premiere
Recruited in Africa in 1943, they have not yet set foot in France. But because it’s war, Saïd, Abdelkader, Messaoud and Yassir are going to join the French army to free the motherland from the Nazi enemy, just like 130,000 other “natives” beside them. These heroes, forgotten by history, will vanquish in Italy, in Provence, and in the Vosges before finding themselves alone defending a village in Alsace against a German battalion. Taking home the award for Best Actor at Festival de Cannes, this ensemble cast breathes vibrant life into their portrayal of some of Africa’s lost heroes.
“Kinshasa Palace” Zeka Laplaine, Democratic Republic of Congo/France, Visions
Adopting the feel of an intimate diary, filmmaker Zeka Laplaine offers a film that playfully blurs the line between fiction and memoir. Laplaine plays Kaze, a man in desperate search of his missing brother Max. With only a few small clues, Kaze travels to France, Congo and Portugal, and all the way to Cambodia, in hopes of resolving his brother’s mysterious disappearance.
“Abeni” Tunde Kelani, Nigeria/Benin, Contemporary World Cinema
North American Premiere
Abeni, the daughter of a wealthy business mogul, and Akanni, a Beninoise from a poor background, are childhood lovers destined to meet again in later years. All grown up, Abeni is ordered by her father to marry the son of one of his business associates, but she’ll do anything she can to keep that from happening – including running off with the innocent Akanni for a disastrous gunshot wedding.