African films in spotlight at Dubai film festival


Nine of the finest films from Asia and Africa will screen to the public in Dubai from 7 to 14 December as part of the eighth Dubai International Film Festival’s Cinema of Asia Africa programme.

The feature films and one anime film have been selected from locations as diverse as China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan in the Far East to Rwanda and South Africa. Of the selection, eight are showing for the first time in the Middle East; one for the first time in the Gulf.

From South Africa comes Sara Becher’s award-winning Otelo Burning, a Zulu language surf movie set in Durban against the backdrop of the political violence at the end of apartheid in the late 1980s. The coming of age story follows Otelo Buthelezi and his two friends, who overcome their fear of the sea and find freedom and joy in surfing, as well as the challenges of jealousy, love and change.

Also from Africa, Kivu Ruhorahoza’s Grey Matter is the first feature film by a Rwandan filmmaker. A penetrating look into the country’s shattered psyche, the film-within-a-film depicts the story of Balthazar, a young filmmaker who is in the midst of completing his first fictional film surrounding a woman who survives war crimes, and a man who commits them. When Balthazar is unable to source funding, he continues filming anyway, only to find the line of differentiation between the real and fictional blurring.

Nashen Moodley, Director of the Asia Africa Programme for DIFF, said: “Cinema from Asia and Africa are witnessing a remarkable transformation now, with the filmmakers experimenting with themes, approaches and styles. The boundaries between reality and fantasy are often blurred in these films, and the impact left on the viewer is powerful.’

The Asian programme will include award-winning director and former DIFF juror Johnnie To from Hong Kong’s suspense drama Life without Principle; Pema Tseden’s award-winning film Old Dog, set in Tibet;  from the Philippines, Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr’s Fable of the Fish interweaves natural and magic realism elements with folk tales, urban myths and traditional faith; and respected South Korean filmmaker Lee Yoon-Ki’s Come Rain, Come Shine, the only Asian film to compete in the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

From Taiwan, the action-packed Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale has drawn wide acclaim for director Wei Te-Sheng; A Letter to Momo is the highly anticipated second feature from world-renowned Japanese anime director Hiroyuki Okiura.

Screen Africa’s Linda Loubser will be attending the Dubai International Film Festival, so for more information see the February issue of Screen Africa print magazine.


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