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Claire Diao


CANNES 2017: An African perspective

This year, the Cannes Film Festival (17 to 28 May) celebrates its 70th Anniversary. Almost as usual, there were no African films in the Official Selection but few in the parallel sections, at the Film Market and at the development stage. Screen Africa reports…

This year, two African films were competing in the Un Certain Regard section: Karim Moussaoui’s Until the Birds Return (Algeria) and Kaouther Ben Hania’s Beauty and the Dogs (Tunisia). Another one, Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch (Zambia) was also premiered at the Director’s Fortnight. At the Critic’s Week, a French documentary set in DRC, Makala by Emmanuel Gras, won the 2017 Grand Prix.

Until the Birds Return, a French-Algerian-German co-production set in Algiers, the Aurès, Biskra, Chelghoum El Aïd, and I Am Not a Witch, a UK-French-Zambian-German co-production set in Zambia, were competing for the Camera d’Or. The acclaimed Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, (Clash, Cannes 2016) also took part in the 2017 Un Certain Regard Jury.

On screen 

In his slow-tempo first feature, Karim Moussaoui – known for his brilliant Cesar nominated middle-length film Les jours d’avant – depicts three characters (Mohamed Djouhri, Hania Ammar, Hassan Khachach) that seek to reach happiness in Algeria. Each character crosses the path of the previous one and leads the audience into another life.

In her graphic first feature, Rungano Nyoni – BAFTA winner with The List in 2009 – recounts the life of a witch child inside a Zambian witch camp. Inspired by the absurd tone of Djibril Diop Mamberty’s Hyenas and Ghanaian funeral processions (well depicted by Akosua Adoma Owusu in her short Kwaku Ananse), the depiction of the fight for freedom of a silent child made by Nyoni is supported by stunning cinematography from David Gallego and a powerful lead character (Maggie Mulubwa): “My husband took a picture of a child and I thought ‘Yes, she is the one’. When we came back to Lusaka with funds, we started the casting again. Then I thought about this child. With just a picture sent to the chiefs, they found her uncle in one week,” explains Rungano Nyoni. 

Kaouther Ben Hania’s second feature, Beauty and the Dogs is a Tunisian-French-Swedish-Norwegian-Lebanese-Qatari-Swiss co-production, adapted from Meriem Ben Mohamed’s testimony, Guilty to Have Been Raped (Michel Lafon ed., 2013) and set in Tunis. In this one-night story cut in chapters, a young lady (Mariam Al Ferjani) is raped and has to fight with the diktat of the institutions, from the hospital employees to the police station officers. “For them, it’s just another day at work. They see victims like Mariam every night. The difference between those two attitudes, that of personal tragedy and the insensitivity of institutions, define the tone of the film,” states Ben Hania.

In the market 

Even if attending Cannes has a huge cost, this is the greatest opportunity to deal contracts and find foreign partners for a film professional.

As usual, South Africa welcomed worldwide film professionals in its Pavilion set on the Riviera, amongst four other countries (Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia). On 24 May, Nico Dekker presented the internationally esteemed Cape Town Film Studios. The NFVF Council chairman Philip Molefe, reminded guests: “We must tell our stories otherwise people will tell them for us”. To a round of applause, the Deputy Minister of the Presidency Buti Manamela announced: “We believe in the future of film and the economy of Arts and Culture in South Africa”.

South African fictions and non-fictions were also presented at Cannes Film Market, some of them having screenings including She is King by Gersh Kgamedi, Asinamali by Gordon Lindsay and Zulu Wedding by Lineo Sekeleoane.

In development

In addition to the official selections and the film market is the possibility to pitch a project to various worldwide film professionals. L’Atelier – run by the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéfondation and La Fabrique Les Cinémas du Monde – organised by the French Institute, offers this opportunity every year.

At the Cinéfondation’s L’Atelier (where Algerian filmmaker Amin Sidi-Boumediene was selected last year), South African Jamil XT Qubeka was one of the 15 lucky directors to be selected. His second feature film project, a 90-minute fiction to be shot in the Eastern Cape in early September 2017, Sew the Winter to My Skin, is co-produced by Yellow Burn Entertainment (a joint venture between Spier Films, Layla Swart and Jamil XT Qubeka) and Arizona Productions (France). This “poetic chronicling of the escapades, arrest and trial of the Robin Hood-esque man of the mountain who managed to steal from farmers and elude capture for years during the 1950’s in South Africa” is looking for E600 000 and a sales agent with MD. “It was well organized, really nice meetings, quite a few sales agent, distributors and producers”, testifies producer Michael Auffret.

At La Fabrique Les Cinémas du Monde (where South African John Trengove was selected in 2014 with The Wound), four African projects were in the spotlight: Wim Steytler’s The Sovereign (South Africa), Hala Lofty’s The Bridge (Egypt), Andrey S. Diarra’s Renaissance (Mali) and Amirah Tadjin’s Hawa Hawaii. Three of the four projects came from Africa-based Labs: Renaissance was presented at the Ouaga Film Lab organised by Generation Films (Burkina Faso), The Sovereign and Hawa Hawaii were written through the Realness Residency launched by Urucu Media (South Africa) in 2016.

“We got the La Fabrique Award at the Realness Residency”, recounts Wim Steytler who is looking for E740 000, co-producers but also sales agents, TV broadcasters and distributors for his first feature about an ostracised South African and a mesmerising French couple – based on a true story. “We were also chosen for the EAVE workshop. You go to Europe four times and your project is packaged for the market. You got a mentor from the best of the business so it is a great place to make your film ready”. Awarded Best Director at the 2015 Silwerskerm Film Festival in Cape Town for his first narrative short Skewe Reënboog, Wim Steytler has been selected for the 2017 Durban FilmMart.

Let’s see in few years if Jamil XT Qubeka and Wim Steytler will have the opportunity to walk the red carpet and represent the South Africa at Cannes…

Foreign territory

This year, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) presented 21 African titles and the German-Kenyan feature Kati Kati, directed by Mbithi Masya, won the FIPRESCI Award. This amount of films from Africa has never been equalled by any of the other A-List film festival (Cannes, Venice, Berlin). Cameron Bailey, director of TIFF, took time to discuss the situation with Screen Africa.

From England to Barbados and Canada, what is your vision of the world?

Cameron Bailey: I am a migrant and I have been in many different guises over the years. My parents went from Barbados to England for their education, my sister and I were born there, so I was born into a kind of migrant situation already. And when I went to Barbados, although my family has been there for many generations, I was a migrant because I had an English accent and I had never been there before in my life. I started school in Barbados and then I came here four years later and was a migrant again. That’s my experience, I’m used to it and I think the advantage this gives me is that I feel at home nowhere and, somehow, everywhere at the same time. I’m very interested in that feeling of discomfort that you get when the familiar does not surround you. And that’s the attitude I think I bring to everything I do.

Which African film has moved you deeply?

CB: There are many. But I would say if it’s one film, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (Senegal, 1973), which I think is a masterpiece and a kind of emblem I want cinema to be. Such vitality, intelligence. It has a kind of radical edge to it as well. It’s pushing for a new kind of cinema in the way of seeing the world and the freedom of its character that I really admire.

After London, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Athens and Seoul, Lagos is the new guest of your City to City programme. Why?

CB: Lagos is so exciting. It’s amazing. First of all, it has this massive film industry which I’m told now is the second industry after the oil in terms of the incomes generated. But also there are thousands and thousands of people working in it and Nigerians are very emphatic: when they decide to do something they go further. So I knew that all was happening but they really were not connected to the world of film festivals. We go many years without showing a Nigerian film, and we were not alone; most festivals do the same: I don’t know if Cannes has ever shown a Nigerian film – not in my memory. I thought this is an incredible activity happening, it’s not connected to festivals and also it’s evolving. There’s a turning point happening with a new generation of filmmakers coming up: they have more artistic ambition, higher budgets, most importantly they’re taking more time to make films, not in two weeks or something. There is a different kind of movie coming out from Lagos and I think now is the moment to try to connect what they do with what we’re doing here.

There was a Planet Africa programme, showing African films. Why did it stop?

CB: Planet Africa was something that I started with colleagues here in 1995 and it ran until the 2004 festival. The idea was always to bring together films from the continent and the African Diaspora because we thought there was a conversation really useful for audiences to have with those films together. And that worked really well for many years. But we did hear, at first, a quiet concern and then a louder and louder complaint from filmmakers saying that they really didn’t want to be isolated as they thought within the Planet Africa, they wanted to be in the general selection. I understand that, I do think that there is something productive from having the profile that you get as a group of films but I understand that the filmmakers want to be seen for their own merit individually as well. So after a while, we thought: “if a lot of the key filmmaker we would invite in Planet Africa don’t want to be in Planet Africa then we’re not serving them.” So we decided to disband the section.

This year, you’re the only A-List festival to present so many African titles. How do you explain that Venice, Cannes or Berlin do not?

CB: I would love you and others to go ask that to other festivals. That would be really useful. I think that’s the largest conversation we all have to have but I do think that the festivals you mentioned – and others – should be asked this question regularly. We do believe that there is really strong work being made by African filmmakers of very different kinds. And I’m thrilled to have, for instance, in addition to Lagos, films like Rahmatou Keïta’s The Wedding Ring, which I think is terrific, or Daouda Coulibaly’s Wulu and Akin Omotoso’s Vaya from South Africa. These are really strong films and I don’t see why they are not played more widely at the major festivals. I think one key reason is that sales companies are not picking up these films for representation and honestly, I don’t know why, because they’re easily films represented from Europe, Latin America or Asia but Africa seems to be a kind of foreign territory for a lot of the major sales companies. I think that could change, they will do well if they have the quality, the audience appeal and the critical respect of having advocacy from the major sales agents. So that’s the big part of what I think should change, not just the festivals.

How many African titles selected at TIFF had been theatrically released in Canada?

CB: It happens occasionally. The one that I think was the biggest success in North America was the film from Democratic Republic of Congo, Viva Riva! (by Djo Munga, 2010). That was thrilling from its premiere at Toronto and it went everywhere: in movie theatres here in America, on Netflix. That should be a sign of what could happen more often.

What would you recommend to an African filmmaker or producer wanting to reach the Canadian audience?

CB: I would first say: “tell the stories you want to tell.” Canadian audiences are really interested in stories if they’re well told from anywhere in the world. There is a lot of curiosity that I think we can find in our audience here in Toronto. Then I think it is important, once you’re telling the story you want to tell, to be able to have the means to get it to an audience, here or anywhere else internationally. And that really does come down to: do you have the support of a film agency? Many countries in Africa do not have national agencies like South Africa does, or Morocco.

Sales agents are a huge part of this business, I think. Many new producers and directors have to learn how important it is to have a powerful sales agent representing your film to distributors around the world, festivals, medias, that makes a big difference.

Then, I think sometimes, filmmakers could all do more to learn how to communicate about their films. We have a bootcamp here for filmmakers when they’re invited to the festival, we try to tell them: this is what you need to do to be able to make people aware of your film and get them excited about your film, both in written materials you might present, but also just how you talk about it. Do you have a compelling way of talking about your film in less than one minute? That, I think, helps too. It really begins with telling the stories that are the most important to you and then finding the business means to get them out into the world.

A guide to revolution


Born in Nouakchott (Mauritania), Rama Thiaw came to Senegal aged six and then moved to France because of political pressures. She wanted to be a poet but her mother refused. So she studied Economics, Sociology and Cinema and shot her first documentary in 2009, Boul Fallé. In 2016, she received the FIPRESCI Award and the Caligari Film Prize at the Berlinale for her second feature, The Revolution Won’t Be Televised. She talked to Screen Africa.


Rama Thiaw: Three years. I got the idea in 2005. In 2008, I told local rap artists Keur Gui that we should make a movie about them, but everyone was busy. In October 2010, I came back from my location scouting in Abidjan for Zion Music (her next documentary, about the political history of reggae music in Africa) and told them that we should shoot in February 2012 (during the Senegalese presidential elections). At the time, they were the only ones to criticise Abdoulaye Wade (former Senegal president) openly and I was sure they will do the same during the campaign. My second argument was that this delay would allow time to write the story and find money. So we shot in January, February and March 2012, then in June and July 2013, then, episodically, between September 2013 and February 2014. I’m used to shooting movies alone but for this one, I needed two cameras to construct shot/countershots because Thiat and Kilifeu didn’t have the same schedules.


RT: We are friends. The first time I met them, I was taking pictures of singers for a music festival in Dakar’s districts. The Keur Gui were thin, brawny and bare-chested. They were known for doing ‘bad boy’ postures. I told them they were ugly (she laughs). They answered they were the best: “We are truly politically committed. ”So we start talking about politics, especially with Thiat. It was a friend/artist relationship. My movie proposal was weird for them because they were not mainstream, they came from the underground scene and they were diabolised in Senegal: no one wanted to deal with them. Even though the national hip-hop scene recognised their career, they had no commercial success.


RT: We talked in October about the movie and then two months later, they launched Y’en A Marre. The Keur Gui was a collective of 20 people from Kaolack with Fadel Barro, an investigative journalist, Denise Sow and Aliou Sané. I moved for one year to Paris to find funding. Even if the Revolution started in 2011, I kept the idea of shooting in 2012. But when I came back to Senegal, I discovered that there were plenty of young TV journalists from US, Europe, Japan – many women – filming round-the-clock Thiat, Kilifeu and the other members. The Senegalese media was also there. Y’en A Marre (Fed Up) comprises a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists, created in January 2011, to protest ineffective government and register youth to vote and this group was a meeting point between the youth’s gloominess and the Keur Gui fans. The audience believed in this group because they had 17 years of activism in Senegal: they are true; we know them. So they joined the cause.


RT: For me, it was a shock. It created difficulties during the shooting. I had difficulties with the other members of the group because they were familiar with being filmed by international journalists and I was only there to film the Keur Gui. Thiat and Kilifeu were the stars of the movement so there were conflicts. As they were a collective, decisions must be taken through consensus. They had never-ending debates to decide if I was allowed to shoot. I was the only one who came with authorisations and a script I showed everyone to confirm that I was not doing the same. You must understand that in Senegal, a Senegalese is technically illegitimate. No one saw my arrival as a good thing. I was considered less competent than the white journalists. People didn’t really know documentary. So it was extremely difficult. I had to deal alone with a young team, without budget and with technical problems on one side and I had to deal with my friends who became important figures historically and politically and on the other side. They also faced a few attempts on their lives and were completely paranoid.


RT: With my next project Zion Music, those three films will form a trilogy about fight and artistic activities. Through the artistic activities – and music that I adore – I trace the political history of people’s everyday struggle. In The Revolution, I wanted to show the backstage, their daily life. Because I’ve always thought that a revolution is not a key moment, when emerge the revolution, from a long, slow and daily process. To only reduce a revolution to a demonstration means reducing a revolution to a symptom. Those movies are a way to leave a trace of our political story for future generations, to talk about modern history. My main question is: what is commitment? We cannot only be committed on stage or in the media. It is through private life that we see if someone is truly committed. I’ve read Karl Marx. But when I learnt he quit his rich position to go on the workers ‘side and create his newspaper with Engels, I thought: “He is coherent, committed.” It is really important for me. There is an extension of what he is through his work. The engagement is not a story of being a left-wing activist, we are all engaged from the moment we believe in what we do. I think there was a conflation in the ’60s and ‘70s, when people believed committed meant left wing. No. There are right wing activists, including extreme right-wing committed persons.


RT: I think hip-hop artists became the new leaders of this youth but not only that. New movements like punk in the Middle East or in Cuba are doing the same. Hip-hop became the first music in the world for the youth. So it came back to its orthodoxy, committed hip-hop. The first hip-hop track, ‘Rappers’ Delight’ is well known. The first Jamaican reggae artists joined the electro music created by black people in Detroit, and launched the hip-hop movement. It was a meeting point between Jamaican MCs, talking on tracks and scratching and electro. They were doing big parties in the ghetto and this is how hip-hop was born. The second movement came through Afrika Bambaataa, Guru… It is a conscious hip-hop, related to the 1970’s Spoken Word movement, of which Gill-Scott Heron took part. Yes, through my movie, I wanted to show to young people how to make their own revolution: through music and artists who build a civil society and obtain a participative democracy.

What I also wanted to know was: would these artists remain artists or will they become politicians? Thiat says: “A hip-hop artist must remain a hip-hop artist!” Hip-hop is a wonderful tool but if the singer is not committed, he will definitely end up joining the other border. So hip-hop mobilises people but this is not enough. It depends on who is this mobilising person, and his engagement. This is a personality trait, a persuasiveness to resist to the exposure’s temptation.


RT: Gill Scott Heron passed away in 2011 so I listened again to her song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The words touched me. Describing the New York of the 1970s, it remains me exactly what we were living in Dakar with the Keur Gui. Related to media, this song talked about what I wanted to do as a filmmaker. To deconstruct an image of the African black man. A part of the song uses cinema lexical vocabulary to criticise American medias of that time. Many journalists made a documentary about the Y’en A Marre movement because, in one way, this Revolution was broadcast. I also wanted to talk about Revolution because people use to mix ‘Revolution’ and ‘bloody Revolution’. Even if there were 100 dead people during the Senegalese Revolution – that’s too much – this was a pacific revolution. The various media have done huge harm in relation to this. Revolution means changing a system, a system and setting up something else. We have now in Senegal a strong civil society and we opened a new era for participative democracy. The civil society makes a link to the politics: there is a transmission from the ground to the top.


RT: I cross my fingers to find distributors worldwide. We are negotiating with a sale agent. A few film festivals are planned. I hope to make my Senegalese premiere in May. And I hope to be selected at Encounters and Durban International Film Festival because DIFF supported a lot the movie: I was a Talent Campus alumnus, and then I came back as a Hot Docs alumnus. This is highly symbolic. I would also like to start shooting my next project Zion Music in South Africa.

Compiled and translated from French by Claire Diao

Berlinale 2016: A bit of Africa


This year, the Berlinale will have few African titles in its official selection. Founded in 1951, this A-list festival supports African projects through its World Cinema Fund and promotes emerging talents, thanks to its Berlinale Talents programme.

At Berlinale, Africa is generally represented at the Forum, a non-competitive section where most of the World Cinema Fund projects end up – with a few famous exceptions that have occasionally had the chance to shine in the main competition.

Senegal and Tunisia at the Forum

Rama Thiaw’s documentary The Revolution Won’t Be Televised, co-produced by Boul Fallé Images (Senegal), Vrai Vrai Films and TV Rennes 35 (France), will premiere at the Forum. Following two hip-hop activists from the band Les Keur-Gui – part of the Y’en A Marre (‘We Are Fed Up’) movement – Rama Thiaw analyses how hip-hop artists mobilised Senegalese people against president Abdoulaye Wade’s wish to be re-elected.

Mohamed Ben Attias’ feature Hedi, produced by Nomadis Images (Tunisia) with support from the Doha Film Institute (Qatar), will also be part of the Forum. The story depicts a male character, Hedi, who endures his mother’s pressure to get married but falls in love with an activity leader full of insouciance and frivolity. Previously selected at the Locarno Open Doors programme the feature was removed by Nomadis Images because of the Israeli/Maghreb polemic (see Screen Africa, September 2015 issue).

Panorama features South Africa, Algeria and Morocco

In the Panorama section, Oliver Schmitz will come back with Shepherds and Butchers, a South Africa-USA-Germany co-production starring Steve Coogan and Andrea Riseborough, about a hot-shot lawyer who faces his biggest test when he agrees to defend a prison guard who has killed seven men.

French-Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb is also selected with Road to Istanbul, an Algeria-French-Belgium co-production about a mother looking for her 20-year old daughter on her way to do jihad in Syria.

Moroccan filmmaker Hicham Lasri will also screen his fourth feature Starve Your Dog which had its World premiere at Toronto in 2015.

Chad and Ghana at Berlinale Shorts

Out of the 26 international shorts selected this year, two are representing the continent.

Co-produced by Chad, Canada and Saudi Arabia, Oustaz by American director Bentley Brown, is representing Chad. Based on the director’s documentary feature Khawadjat which re-visits his childhood in Chad, Oustaz relates how a filmmaker returns home to Chad in the 2000s after the death of his Arabic teacher, who first introduced him to the world of filmmaking.

Winner of the 2014 AMAA Best Short Film for Kwaku Ananse, American-Ghanaian director Akosua Adoma Owusu presents Reluctantly Queer, an eight-minute short film constructed in epistolary Super 8 form. In this Ghana/US production, a Ghanaian son struggles to reconcile his love for his mother with his attraction to members of his own sex, amid the increased tensions incited by same-sex politics in Ghana.

Both filmmakers were Talent alumni in Berlin (2008, 2014) and Durban (2011, 2015).

21 Africans at Berlinale Talent

Berlinale Talent (previously known as Talent Campus) is a six-day training programme which unites 300 emerging film professionals divided into different film disciplines: writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, actors, editors, distributors, production designers, composers, sound designers and film journalists.

In 2016, 21 Africans will travel to Germany to enter the programme:

Four from Kenya – actor Paul Ogola; directors Se’ydou Mukali and Philippa Ndissi-Herrmann; and editor Taabu (nominated for Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for Best Editing).

Two from South Africa: directors Sibs Shongwe-La Mer (Best South African Filmmaker at  the Durban International Film Festival 2015 (DIFF 2015) and Mpumolelo Mcata.

Two from Ethiopia: director Hiwot Getaneh (selected at Toronto in 2015 with her short New Eyes) and editor Hende Birhanu.

Two from Ghana: directors Sam Kessie (selected at Locarno Open Doors 2014) and Juliet Asante (nominated for Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for Best African Film in 2016).

Two from Uganda: producer Fibby Kioira, (from Maisha Film Lab) and actor Lot.

Two from Nigeria: screenwriter Oluwakemi Adesoye and film critic Isabella Akinseye.

Two from Egypt: film critic Rasha Hosny and distributor Ahmed Sobky.Then one each from Sudan (Hajooj Kuka, awarded at Toronto 2014 with Beats of the Antonov), Cameroon (Christa Eka Assem), Morocco (Rim Naïr), Ivory Coast (Kamso) and one from Burkina Faso (Koudous Seihon).

Three projects for next year?

Supported by the Federal Foundation for Culture and in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, the Foreign Ministry and German producers; Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund works to develop and support cinema in regions with a weak film infrastructure, while fostering cultural diversity in German cinemas.

Last November, two African films received a World Cinema Fund grant: Suhaib Gasmelbari’s documentary The Waiting Bench (Sudan), produced by Mahamat Saleh-Haroun’s company Goï Goï Productions (Chad), received €30 000 while French-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’ fourth feature Felicity, produced by Cinekap (Senegal) was awarded €40 000.

Earlier in July – just before receiving a grant from the Locarno Open Doors programme – Narimane Mari’s project Madmen’s Fort (Algeria), produced by Allers Retours Films (Algeria) also received €40 000.

The Hubert Bals Fund turns 26

The film completion grant, the Hubert Bals Fund, will celebrate its 26th anniversary
from 27 January to 7 February 2016.

Designed to help “remarkable or urgent feature films by innovative and talented
filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern
Europe,’ the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) was launched in 1989 by the Rotterdam
International Film Festival. It is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the
European Union, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch non-governmental
development organisation Hivos, the Dioraphte Foundation and the Lions Club
L’Esprit du Temps.

More than 1 000 independent projects have received support and about 80% were
completed. The grants are divided between “Script & Project Development Support’
and “Post-Production Support’. The maximum contribution is €10 000 per project (for
development) and €20 000 per project (for post-production).

Other grants focus on European opportunities to produce and distribute content: the
“European Minority Co-Production Support’ with a maximum amount of €55 000 per
project and the “Europe Distribution Support’ with a maximum of €20 000 per
project. In 2011, Congolese filmmaker Djo Tunda wa Munga was awarded funding
for the distribution in various southern African countries of his critically acclaimed
thriller Viva Riva!

An additional grant, the Netherlands Film Fund and the Hubert Bals Fund Plus was
launched in 2006 “to stimulate Dutch producers to get involved in international co-
productions’. An amount of €200 000 is available each year to support Dutch
producers with a maximum of €50 000 per project. In 2014, the South African
project The Wound, directed by John Trengove, received this co-production support.
The Dutch company OAK Motion Pictures, the French company Sampek and the
German company Salzgeber joined this Urucu Media Cape Town-based project.

The Hubert Bals Fund supported various African filmmakers, including the famous
Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritania), Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Chad) and Merzak
Allouache (Algeria). As the Hubert Bals Fund is based in a European country, it is
not surprising to see that most of the selected projects are applying to other
European grants such as Locarno’s Open Doors (Rungano Nyoni’s I am Not a Witch –
Zambia), Cannes’ Cinefondation (John Trengove’s The Wound, Teboho Edkins’ Days
of Cannibalism – South Africa) and La Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde (Hala
Elkoussy’s Cactus Flowers – Egypt).

Unsurprisingly, it is mostly English-speaking filmmakers who apply for this grant.
Between 2002 and 2015, no less than 11 South Africans were selected. But northern
African filmmakers such as Tariq Teguia (Algeria), Leila Kilani (Morocco) or
Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia) applied and received support as well. Between 2003
and 2015, 12 North African projects (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt all
together) were awarded.

The Hubert Bals Fund also supports workshops worldwide. It provided support to the
Ugandan project Maisha Film Lab in 2006, 2007 and 2010, and has offered awards at
the Durban FilmMart (South Africa) since 2010. Workshops such as Sud Ecriture in
Tunisia, Recitel Film Festival in Togo, the Blue Nile Film and TV Academy in
Ethiopia, the Imaginations Workshop in DRC, the NAAS Training Workshop in Egypt
and the Digital Cinema Workshop series in Morocco has also received support.

With the huge competition film festivals face in obtaining world premieres, it is not
surprising to see that every festival has a way to support filmmakers at an early
stage to get their movies screened in an upcoming edition.

When some projects escape to another festival (like Cannes, Venice and Berlin) it is
also a great recognition for its early supporters. Meanwhile the Panafrican
Filmmaker Federation (FEPACI) struggles to set up a pan-African Fund for
filmmakers; European grants like HBF are still an opportunity for southern projects.

By Claire Diao

Carthage Film Festival continues despite terror attacks

Founded by Tahar Cheriaa in 1966, the Carthage Film Festival – since last year – is
now an annual event; previously it was a biannual festival. Although the Tunis bus
bomb attack happened during the 26th edition of the Carthage Film Festival in
November 2015, movie goers at the festival insisted they would not be afraid to
attend screenings. Festival director Ibrahim Letaief expressed his gratitude to
guests for staying in Tunisia despite the security concerns.

Conceived as a bridge between the Middle East, the Maghreb region and sub-
Saharan Africa, the Carthage Film Festival took place in 13 Tunisian cities,
organised around 1 000 screenings in movie theatres, prisons and universities, and
conducted a symposium on “Literacy and Cinema’.

In 2015, Carthage paid tribute to the Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, the
Tunisian director Nouri Bouzid, the Algerian writer and filmmaker Assia Djebar, the
Tunisian DOP Habib Masrouki and the Egyptian stars Faten Hamama, Asma El-Bakri,
Nabiha Lotfi, Maali Zayed and Mariem Fakhreddine. Two focus sessions about Italian
and Argentinean cinema were also organised.

FESPACO, Carthage’s biannual twin festival created in 1969 in Burkina Faso, was
also one of the key participants. Some of the greatest Golden Stallion winners came
to Tunisia, including Haile Gerima (Ethiopia), Gaston Kabore (Burkina Faso) and
Souleymane Cisse (Mali).

This year, the Carthage Film Festival received 600 entries. Out of the 17 features
selected in the main competition Mohamed Mouftakir’s The Blind Orchestra
(Morocco) won the Golden Tanit; Oliver Hermanus’ The Endless River (South Africa)
received the Silver Tanit; Leyla Bouzid’s first feature As I Open My Eyes (Tunisia),
the Bronze Tanit; and Nabil Ayouch controversial Much Loved (Morocco) received
the Jury Prize.

As I Open My Eyes (Tunisia) and Sibs Shongwe-La Mer’s Necktie Youth (South
Africa) also received the TV5 Monde Award, while the Algerian feature The Well by
Lofti Bouchouchi won the Jury Special Mention. Adlane Djemi received the Best
Actor Award for Merzak Allouache’s Madame Courage (Algeria) and Maimouna
N’Diaye, the Best Actress Award for Sekou Traore’s The Eye of the Cyclone (Burkina

Out of the 16 selected documentaries, Hassen Ferhani’s Roundabout in My Head
(Algeria) won the Golden Documentary Award as well as the First Feature Award.
The six-hour Iraqi documentary Homeland by Abbas Fahdel received the Silver
Documentary Award while the Syrian feature Queens of Syria, got the Bronze

Out of the 13 short films in competition, Diaspora by Alaeddin Abou Taleb (Tunisia)
won the Golden Short Film Award; Terremere by Aliou Sow (Senegal) received the
Silver Short Film Award; and Lmuja by Omar Belkacemi (Algeria), the Bronze Short
Film Award.

The second edition of the Takmil post-production workshop gave seven awards this
year. The jury was composed of Vincenzo Bugno (Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund,
Germany), Hala Khalil (filmmaker, Egypt), Nadia Ben Rachid (editor,
France/Tunisia) Monica Rorvik (Wesgro, South Africa) and Hedi Zardi (Luxbox,
France/Tunisia). A prize winner in the workshop was: A Besieged Person Like Me by
Hala Abdalla (Syria), which received €10 000 from the Organisation Internationale
de la Francophonie (OIF) and €10 000 from the French Cinema Center (CNC).
Kaouther Ben Hania’s Zaineb Doesn’t Like Snow (Tunisia) received TND20 000
(Tunisian dinars) from the Star Insurance Company. Mohamed Ben Attia’s Hedi won
TND15 000 from the Tunisian Cinema Center (CNCI). Iman Kamel’s Egyptian Jeanne
d’Arc received €10 000 from the SANAD Abu Dhabi Film Fund. On the Fence by
Nesrine El Zaya (Egypt) received $10 000 from the Arab League Educational Cultural
and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) while Tounsa by Ridha Tlili (Tunisia) received
€9 000 from the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC).

By Claire Diao

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