The 2009 African World Documentary Films

A Fortunate Soldier...

Nicky Crowther (Australia, Namibia, South Africa) - 52min

"A Fortunate Soldier..." the personal journey of a soldier's life before, during and after the apartheid era in Southern Africa ... revealing the complexities of his conservative Afrikaner culture, and the precarious future of the new culture he has embraced.

A Very Short Story of Nollywood

Awam Amkpa, Manthia Diawara (Nigeria, USA) - 14min

A behind-the-scenes analysis of the Nigerian film industry--Nollywood.

A Voodoo Memory

Irene Lichtenstein (Haiti, Switzerland) - 61min

The film draws a portrait of Marianne Lehmann, a Swiss woman settled in Haiti, who has built the biggest voodoo objects collection in the world. A voodoo memory reveals the beauty and signification of these pieces, highlights the link between voodoo and the emancipation of the Haitian people, and draws a unique portrait of this 70-year old woman still imbued with a youthfull spirit.

All the World's a Stage

Nirmal Chander (India) - 60min

The Sidis came to India from East Africa 800 years ago. Centuries of discrimination have pushed them down the socio-economic ladder but their unique devotional music has given them a strong sense of identity.

Beautiful Me(s): Finding Our Revolutionary Selves in Black Cuba

Robin Hayes (USA) - 45min

A group of underdog students journey from the Ivy League to the rebel state of Cuba and rediscover hope for the struggle against racism.

Birth of the Sun

Thomas Campbell (USA) - 27min

"Birth of the Sun" is a short documentary about Grady Alexis, who typified the best in the New York City East Village art scene of the late 1980's. He moved between different artists and social groups began to find the success he was looking for, then died in a sudden eruption of violence with an off duty policeman.

But Some Are Brave

Grace Channer (Canada) - 5min

But Some Are Brave is a five-minute oil painted animated film infused with evocative vocals and a lyrical soundscape. A poetic chronicle, it weaves the cultural and political histories of communities under attack into a visually spectacular testament to the power of struggle and resistance.

Byrd: The Life and Tragic Death of James Byrd, Jr.

Eligah Jason (USA) - 72min

This is a compelling, more personal account of the life of James Byrd, Jr. Unlike other previously released TV and film adaptations, the award-winning documentary, "Byrd", is the next chapter, focusing more deeply on James Byrd, Jr. - visionary, friend, and family man.

Clean Mic: Laughing Until It Hurts

Will Gorham (USA) - 70min

"Clean Mic" is an entertaining, thought-provoking journey into the realities facing ethnic comedians performing in American comedy clubs. This funny, behind-the-scenes portrait reveals the complexities of performing for a 24 hour, entertainment hungry society which often encourages stereotypes in standup comedy. The film follows amateur and professional minority comedians as they attempt to perform Clean Comedy in an unclean world.

Come Back to Sudan

Daniel Junge (USA, Sudan) - 28min

Documentary following three "Lost Boys" of Sudan and their adoptive American mother as they journey home to their war-torn country.

Dancing Deities

Emilie Upczak (Trinidad and Tobago) - 23min

"Dancing Deities" is an ethnographic short that attempts to depict the practices of the Claxton Bay Orisha community in Trinidad.

Darfur: Between the Lines

Jeremy Jeffs (Sudan, United Kingdom) - 51min

With Darfur's peace agreement long forgotten and the sound of gunfire ringing in the air, this eye-opening, exclusive film follows UNAMID Force Commander Martin Luther Agwai as he helicopters into hostile areas to coax the disparate rebel groups into talking peace. He has one mission: to gain the confidence of the people and bring security to the region. Capturing on film the desperation of those living and fending for themselves in the sprawling refugee camps, it also shows how aid, like war, changes everything.

Deaf and Whispering

Sam-McPhee (USA, Ghana) - 7min

In Ghana, Raymond Mensah learned sign language in his dreams and then comforts his deaf sister when the electricity goes out in her home. Now that Raymond has picked up bits of the sign language, his sister can tell him, in specific detail, about what it feels like being deaf when the lights suddenly go off.

Death of Two Sons

Micah Schaffer (USA, Guinea) - 0min

This documentary explores the circumstances surrounding the murder of Guinean immigrant, Amadou Diallo in New York City, at the hands of the NYPD. Jesse Thyne, an exuberant American Peace Corps volunteer who lived and worked with Amadou's family in his home village in Guinea, died there less than a year after Amadou's shooting. "Death of Two Sons" examines the political, personal and spiritual implications of these two tragic deaths.

Diamonds in the Rough

Brett Mazurek (Uganda, USA) - 71min

From the ashes of 4 decades of war, AIDS and corruption in Uganda, Africa, The Bataka Squad artists, Babaluku and Saba Saba, rise to forge a revolutionary path using music. They are on a mission to empower the forgotten youth of Africa from within, while spreading their message of hope around the globe. Narrated by Spearhead singer Michael Franti, follow the Bataka movement to amplify the spirit of the next generation in this musical journey.

Elephant King

Thenjiwe Nkosi (South Africa, USA) - 38min

A former South African exile and his daughter visit their ancestral homeland for the first time. Through the stories of the people who remained, they learn of a history of dispossession, religious conversion and colonialism. A fellow clan member guides them through the landscape of this history, while the father reflects on its impact on himself and his society.

Escape from Luanda

Phil Grabsky (United Kingdom, Angola) - 72min

The Music School is Angola's first and only school of its kind. It houses some 80 students, rnost of them desperately poor. Many face disapproval and outright rejection frorn their families who can't see a future in music. This film asks if, despite the ravages of 27 years of civil war, rnusical passion can overcome terrible hardships.

FGM: No way Home

Julian Ulrichs (Ireland) - 10min

Having lost her first-born daughter to the after effects of female circumcision, an African woman seeks asylum in Ireland, in a last-ditch attempt to protect her other two young daughters from being forced to undergo the same procedure. This is her story.

Flowers of Rwanda

David Munoz (Rwanda, Spain) - 24min

Rwanda. 14 years after the genocide that took away the lives of more than 800,000 people. What's the current situation of the country? What feelings prevail in the hearts of the victims? Can victims and killers live together?

Foli

Floris Leeuwenberg (Guinea) - 10min

Foli is the word used for rhythm by the Malinke People in West Africa. It is a word that encompasses so much more than drumming and dancing. It's found in every part of daily life. In this film you not only see rhythm but you feel it.

God is American

Richard Martin-Jordan (France, Vanuatu) - 52min

God is American, and he was born in the USA! The people of Tanna, an island in the archipelago of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean, have invented a new religion. They pray to the American flag and adore John Frum, an American prophet whose return they await.

Gods for Sale

David Gladsteen (Belgium, Mali) - 52min

In 2000 Lassana Cisse, head of the local Cultural Mission of The Dogan Country in Mali, received a letter informing him of the theft of a sacred item of high significance. He learns that the statue was sold to a visiting trader, and, almost miraculously, manages to find out his name. During the handing-back ceremony, and to everyone's surprise, the village folk refuse to take back what had been their sacred cult object.

Jamaica for Sale

Esther Figueroa, Diana McCaulay (Jamaica) - 92min

The Caribbean is the region's most economically dependent on tourism. As Jamaica is irreversibly transformed by the travel and service industry, the documentary "Jamaica for Sale" documents this transformation and also counters the dominant view that tourism is the savior of the Jamaican people.

Journey through Emancipation 2007

Cathy SitaRam (US Virgin Islands) - 29min

Every summer, US Virgin Islanders commemorate 1848 ... the climactic end to the brutality of slavery that took place in the Danish West Indies on the island of St. Croix. "Journey through Emancipation 2007" takes you through celebration events and dramatic accounts of bravery and survival in the face of crimes against humanity.

Just Add Water

Jeffrey Mead (Sudan, USA) - 30min

Salva Dut, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, founded Water for Sudan, a non-profit organization, to supply fresh water to people in southern Sudan--one village at a time, drilling boreholes and installing pumps. Through these simple acts, lives are transformed. This is his story.

Kick the Lion - Witchcraft and Football in Africa

Oliver G. Becker (Germany, Tanzania) - 90min

What can you do to strengthen your own body and mind before playing a soccer match? What can you do to weaken your opponent? "Kick the Lion" explores the secret but fascinating world of Traditional African Medicine & Religion! You may call it 'juju', 'muti', 'witchcraft' or 'magic'.

Knock on Wood

Ron Grunhut (USA, Ghana) - 13min

"Knock on Wood" is the story of percussionist Valerie Naranjo's groundbreaking trip to Ghana where her mastery of an obscure West African xylophone led to an unexpected change in the tribe's relationship to its women.

Lullaby

Natalie Haziza (Israel, South Africa) - 50min

"Lullaby" is about my two mothers. One of them is Rebecca, who worked for 10 years as nursemaid and household help in my house while her four children stayed at home with their grandmother. The second is Elaine, my biological mother, who left home in order to support our family, but who could only do so only because Rebecca could care for her children. I am accompanying on their journeys in South Africa to discover the meaning of motherhood.

Massacre at Murambi

Sam Kauffmann (France, Rwanada, USA) - 5min

During the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, a newly built secondary school on a hill named Murambi was the site of one of the world's most horrifying mass murders. This film informs us about the events at Murambi and uses our reaction to those events as a way to question our response to the genocide elsewhere.

Massacre at Murambi

Sam Kauffmann (France, USA, Rwanda) - 5min

During the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, a newly built secondary school on a hill named Murambi was the site of one of the world's most horrifying mass murders. This film informs us about the events at Murambi and uses our reaction to those events as a way to question our response to the genocide elsewhere.

Nappy Heads

Sabrina Moella (Canada) - 3min

A tribute to the glorious afro! Shot on Super 8 in the streets of Toronto, "Nappy Heads" portrays dozens of women, men and children who all accepted to "shake their nappy heads" in front of the camera.

Nora

Alia Kovgan, David Hinton (USA, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe) - 35min

Shot in Southern Africa, "Nora" is based on childhood memories of the dancer Nora Chipaumire who was born in Zimbabwe in 1965. Using performance and dance, she brings her history to life in a swiftly moving poem of sound and image. The original score was composed by a Zimbabwean legend - Thomas Mapfumo.

Prince among Slaves

n/a (USA) - 60min

This is a docu-drama of real life events surrounding an inspiring African prince, captured in Africa, and enslaved for 40 years in the United States in the nineteenth century before finally regaining his freedom.

Quilombos, do Campo Grande aos Martins

Flavio Frederico (Brazil) - 49min

Brazilian historians estimate that in Minas Gerais State alone there existed more than 100 "Quilombos" (settlements of runaway African slaves brought to Brazil) during the colonial times. The film depicts the daily life of Dona Luzia in the district of Quilombo, located in the Mantiqueira Mountain Range, and recovers part of the Brazilian slave history, which was largely written out of the country's official history.

Rock Music Rock Art

Zuleika Kingdon (United Kingdom, Uganda) - 42min

"Rock Music, Rock Art" is a cultural exchange adventure that sets out to discover musical sounds of our earliest ancestors and fuse two very different music styles. A group of contemporary western classical musicians, a composer from Edinburgh, and several traditional Ugandan musicians journeyed in perilous canoes to a remote island in Lake Victoria to make music using the most elaborate prehistoric 'rock gongs' on the African continent. They discover a new gong with notes that suggest this beautiful granite landscape could have been the original birthplace of both African and European musical scales.

Roosevelt

Ron Stanford (USA) - 11min

This rowhouse artist has lived in the city his entire adulthood, but his art is rooted in a one room school in the South Carolina flatlands. Roosevelt expresses himself with discarded demolition materials that he finds on Philadelphia sidewalks. He has his own theory of art. This film was an exploration of an exceptional self-taught artist. The project is an attempt to let Roosevelt tell his own story, in his own style.

Salah, an African Toubab?

Margriet Jansen (Mali, Netherlands) - 68min

Every African wants to go to Europe is the common public opinion in Europe. But there are those who stayed in their native country and who realize that happiness is not an easy commodity in a foreign land. Salah Salahina Sounfountera, living in Mali, is such a man. Having made his decision to stay, and ambitious enough to build his own company in Africa, his daily reality is a hard one. As a tourist guide he has become a 'modern man', with western ideas who wants to take the best of both worlds, not realizing that he will fall into the gap between two cultures. His ideas conflict with the expectations of both his family and his wife. He is seen as a toubab, an outsider, a white man. In this intimate portrait of a young man struggling with his identity, we get to see a different picture of contemporary West Africa.

Salt Harvesters of Ghana

Marcia Rock (USA, Ghana) - 19min

Stunning images of women working on a moon-like landscape, framed by an original and traditional soundtrack reveal the unrelenting cycle of work as well as the dignity and determination of the women of Ghana who harvest salt with their bare hands in the dry season and farm in the rainy season.

SOMAY KU: A Uganda Tennis Story

Rex Miller (USA, Uganda) - 99min

Patrick Olobo, Uganda's top-ranked tennis player, struggles to leave behind a devastating civil war, finding a new set of obstacles after emigrating to the United States.

Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican? A Cape Verdean American Story

Claire Andrade-Watkins (USA) - 83min

This is the untold tragedy and scandal of what happened to a vibrant community of immigrants from the Cape Verde Islands in the Fox Point section of Providence, Rhode Island, forcibly displaced by urban renewal to make way for the fancy coffee shops, antique stores, and elegantly restored houses.

Tesfaye's Story

Brent Gudgel (Ethiopia, USA) - 5min

Like many countries, Ethiopia suffers from some of the most environmental damage the world has ever seen. Over deforestation has left tracts of land in ruin driving away animals, sapping the ground of nutrients, and even drastically altering precipitation patterns. This short documentary follows Tesfaye, a middle-aged native Ethiopian who has witnessed over the past 30 years the consequences of such environmental abuse, and his search for a hope of restoration.

That's Life

Sander Veeneman (Malawi, Mozambique, Netherlands, Peru, South Africa) - 60min

The challenging search of photographer/director, Sander Veeneman, for three young adults living in poverty in Mozambique, South Africa and Peru. Veeneman portrayed these children five to ten years ago when they were trying to survive in poverty. With a camera on his shoulder and in some cases not much more information than just a name and age of the child, Veeneman tries to relocate the children. How did their life develop since he first met them? By concentrating on the power and inner strength of his subjects Veeneman succeeds in creating an intense and powerful story.

The Art of Stick Fighting

Joseph Valley (Trinidad, Tobago) - 28min

The film highlights the significance, purpose and meaning of this traditional art form of stick fighting. The documentary contains interviews from some of the famous stickfighters in Trinidad and Tobago, researchers in the area of traditional carnival culture and individuals who have been around the culture of stickfighting for many years.

The Black Candle

M.K. Asante, Jr. (USA) - 70min

Narrated by Maya Angelou, The Black Candle is a landmark film that uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience.

The Color of my Life

Tuleka Prah (Germany, South Africa) - 36min

The legacy of apartheid continues to shape and influence current South African society. South Africans are faced with the challenge of recognizing this racial conditioning in all aspects of their daily lives. Five young South Africans talk about living in the new social, economic and political climate. Their interpretation of 'The New South Africa' raises fresh questions about how far the country has come.

The Gospel Truth?

Chris Walker, Peter Wolsey (United Kingdom) - 59min

Could the origins of Gospel Music be white? Willie Ruff, Professor of Music at Yale University, believes so. His recent visits to the Free Church communities of the Outer Hebrides have convinced him his musical roots are more Afro Gaelic than Afro American.

The Griots Story

Adam Rozanski (Poland, Burkina Faso) - 55min

A personal film based on the narrative of Adama Drame, an African drummer descending from a family of Drame Griots, a caste of old African tradition upholders.

The Little Black School House

Sylvia Hamilton (Canada) - 60min

The Little Black School House unearths the hidden story of Canada's racially segregated Black schools. It is a poignant and unfailingly honest evocation of the struggle of the children, women and men to achieve dignity and equality in education--a right fundamental to democracy.

The Lost Wave: An African Surf Story

Paul Taublieb (Sao Tome and Principe, USA) - 58min

Legendary surf explorer and filmmaker Sam George travels to the remote African island nation of Sao Tome, its history steeped in slavery and colonialism, to see if he can prove surfing is an African sport and revive his passion for the sport that has defined his life.

The Neo African Americans

Kobina Aidoo (USA) - 56min

The term African America was coined to describe American's of African descent. However, when most Americans think AFrican American, they think of those whose ancestors came as slaves and went through Jim Crow; hence, The African American narrative generally paints a picture of struggle. Today, with the growing number of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, these Neo African Americans occupy a special and growing space in America by virtue of being black and immigrant. This documentary addresses issues like who is an African American? Should we just go back to black?

The Other Side of the Water

Jeremy Robins (USA, Haiti) - 60min

"The Other Side of the Water" follows a 20-year journey of the Haitian-American Community, told through the lens of a voodoo-based walking band in Brooklyn. The story of this unlikely group offers a unique insight into the contemporary urban immigration, and a glimpse into the heart of the HaitianAmerican experience.

The Three Kings of Belize

Katia Paradis (Canada, Belize) - 78min

In a small Central American country with a population of 270,000, three veteran musicians share moments of their daily lives with us. Paul Nabor, 79 year old fisherman and legendary Garifuna composer has played the same guitar for 53 years. Even though he has forgotten most of his songs, his spirit remains strong. Florencio Mess, a Maya harp player, spends his solitude making traditional violins, guitars and harps as he awaits for his next trip outside his small village. Creole accordionist, Wilfred Peters, is proud to have played for the Queen of England, his ineffable charm and humor is his ideal antidote for old age.

Through the Negev

Ya-Hsuan Huang (USA, Israel, Sudan) - 18min

The genocide and violence in Sudan has created a diaspora of refugees as far north as Israel. Narrated by the few women and children who have made the journey by walking from Egypt to Israel. Caught in complicated geographic, religious and political webs, the simplicity of their message becomes even more powerful: all they want is a place to call home.

What Hope for the African Youth?

Franck Gilles Brice, Hameni Bieleu (Cameroon) - 71min

This documentary explores the reasons behind the exodus phenomenon of the African youth. It tries to find out why this continent so rich in resources drives its youth away.

Wild Ocean

Steve McNicholas, Luke Cresswell (USA, United Kingdom, South Africa) - 40min

Filmed off the Wild Coast of South Africa, "Wild Ocean" is a timely and uplifting film that celebrates the life in our oceans, the animals that now depend on us to survive, and the efforts by the local people to protect this invaluable ecological resource on which their very culture depends. Hope is alive on the Wild Coast, where Africa meets the sea.

Wrestling with the Angeles: An Exploration of Caribeanness

Marsha Pearce (Trinidad and Tobago) - 92min

This documentary explores Caribbean identity through the images and sounds of a ubiquitous feature of contemporary popular culture: the music video. Focusing on the English-speaking Caribbean, this work wrestles with issues of self, as music video directors, producers and artists share their views on the complexities of portraying Caribbean people and life using the moving images and sounds of the music video format.

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