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The Africa Hub makes its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival

The Africa Hub was conceptualised by national film funding bodies from South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia in attempt to augment African presence at international film festivals and markets. The Hub made its debut at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on 6 September and will run until 16 September 2018. The term Africa Hub has been coined to represent the unified initiative to positioning Africa and a lucrative film destination filled with numerous opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.

South Africa will be represented by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and Department of Trade and Industry (dti). Nigeria will be represented by the National Film Video Censors Board, while the Namibia Film Commission will represent Namibia.

The objectives of the hub is to promote co-productions, to build relationships with partners for best practise sharing, open new markets for African content and to promote content produced in African countries.

The Africa Hub will serve as a home for all Africans at the film festival and will be the go-to place for all institutions or countries interested in doing business with the countries represented at the Hub.

“The Africa Hub is part of the NFVF’s focus on strengthening relationships with other African countries. The objective is to work together as film organisations in the continent to ensure that our content travels within the region and internationally. But it is also to foster agreements that will create opportunities to co-create content,” says NFVF acting CEO Shadrack Bokaba.

The NFVF congratulates Rafiki, Sew The Winter To My Skin and aKasha for being selected into the official festival programme.

Rafiki directed by Wanuri Kahiu

Rafiki is a love story between two young women (played by newcomers Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) in a society that still bans homosexuality; Rafiki is saturated with joy, heartbreak, and a richly effervescent cinematography that showcases Kahiu’s native Nairobi in all its vibrancy.

When Kena and Ziki first lock eyes, it’s a genuine coup de foudre despite the fact their families are political rivals. The young women grow close, but as they are not able to show their attraction in public — or even to their relatives and friends — they are forced to sneak small moments in private. Together they create their own world, vividly evoked through Kahiu’s filmic eye, where their love isn’t anything other than an expression of their commitment to each other. The space they create, however, isn’t immune to the biases of the outside world.

See the Rafiki trailer here

Sew the Winter to my Skin directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

One of the most exciting voices in South African filmmaking, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka looks back to the early days of the repressive apartheid regime and reimagines the capture of John Kepe, the “Samson of the Boschberg Mountains.” For decades, Kepe stole livestock and other goods from white colonist farmers and shared his spoils with the impoverished Indigenous population. His acts — and that he evaded capture for more than 12 years — earned him the title of folk hero to some, and a notorious bandit to others.

Qubeka picks up Kepe’s tale in the 1950s, during the massive hunt by authorities to apprehend and punish this mid-century Robin Hood figure. On one hand, is a keenly observed epic-adventure drama (and a nod to the western) that captures the horrors of South Africa’s racist colonial regime. Qubeka, however, also subverts the conventions of the period piece by using limited dialogue and an immersive score. Instead of simply romanticising Kepe’s myth again, Qubeka, through his evocative formal choices, probes, as he says, “mankind’s inherent need to feed into mythologies that conveniently suit the order of the day.”

See the  Sew the Winter to my Skin trailer here.

aKasha directed by Hajooj Kuka

Documentarian Hajooj Kuka takes a self-assured step towards fictional storytelling in this comedy pivoting on an unlikely love triangle between a boy, a girl, and an AK-47 in rebel-held areas of Sudan.

No viable solution to the civil war in rebel-held areas of Sudan has been found since the outbreak of violence in 2011. But every year in the Nuba Mountains region, all sides are forced to put down their arms due to an unlikely power: mud. During the rainy season, rebels return home to their families and loved ones to take advantage of the pause in fighting. It’s right after this welcome lull that Hajooj Kuka begins his offbeat comedy about a love triangle between a boy, a girl, and an AK-47.

After a post-coital argument with Lina (Ekram Marcus), Adnan (Kamal Ramadan) hightails it without grabbing his gun. With his pants barely pulled up, he runs into Absi (Ganja Chakado), a young man who’s not keen on rejoining the fighting. He wants to dodge the “kasha,” the annual round-up of soldiers. The pair then embarks on a wild 24 hours — dodging their higher-ups, elders, and romantic rivals alike — to try and get back Adnan’s girl, his gun, and his dignity.

See the aKasha trailer here.

Cameron Bailey appointed co-head of TIFF

The Board of Directors of TIFF recently announced the appointment of Cameron Bailey to the newly created position of artistic director and co-head of TIFF. The role is a promotion and expansion of Bailey’s current position of artistic director, which he has held since 2012. Prior to that, Bailey held the role of festival co-director from 2008 to 2012. Bailey will report directly to the Board of Directors effective 1 October 2018.

Since CEO Piers Handling’s announcement last July that the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival would be his last, the TIFF Board engaged in a process for CEO transition, including a review of the organisation’s current structure. After their assessment, the Board decided on a two-headed structure for TIFF, with one position (Bailey’s) focused on the artistic direction of the organisation, and the other, managing director & co-head, focused on the business and revenue optimisation. These two positions will work closely together to set the tone and lead the organisation, bringing the new strategic plan to life. They will both report directly to the Board of Directors.

“With a five-year strategic plan for TIFF launched this year, and more changes on the horizon for our industry, we believe a two-headed structure is right for the future success of TIFF,” explained Jennifer Tory. “Cameron is a film industry veteran who has earned a reputation for discerning, expansive curation since joining TIFF as a programmer in 1990. Combined with his accomplishments as TIFF’s artistic director, we have full confidence in his vision for the direction of the organisation.”

“Piers has done a remarkable job during his tenure as director & CEO and artistic director before that,” continued Tory. “We are indebted to him for the vision and strategy – and the elegance he brought to the role.”

“I have tremendous respect for Cameron and his longstanding contribution to TIFF’s success,” said Piers Handling. “His passion and vision for the future of the organisation underline his deep leadership skills. It gives me great comfort to know TIFF is in such good hands.”

“I’ve been fortunate to work alongside Piers for so many years. We programmed Canadian films together, we made our first programming trip to Burkina Faso together and we’ve spent countless hours working out how best to engage audiences with the power of film,” said Cameron Bailey. “I am honoured to be entrusted with guiding the future of TIFF.”

A search committee of the Board of Directors has been working with Caldwell Partners to identify candidates for the managing director and co-head role. The search is international in scope and is expected to result in an announcement prior to this September’s Festival.

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