The 2013 African World Documentary Films

African Drum, Beyond the Beat

Tariq Richards (UK, South Africa) - 48min

'African Drum, Beyond the Beat' is a portrait of the various social functions of the drum in West African society. The film uses an ode to the African drum to demonstrate its pervasive role in society over time. The drum's social functions range from uses in work songs, to communication, to religious rituals, through to it more contemporary uses by fans at football games. 'African Drum, Beyond the Beat' takes a special interest in the conception and nature of rhythm and, in dance, the inter-dependent relationship between the drummer and dancer by exploring the effects of drum rhythms on both. It also looks at the different elements required for manufacturing a drum, from the physical to the social.

Atalaku (Town Criers)

Dieudo Hamadi (France) - 62min

Atalaku offers an inside view into Congo's 2011 presidential elections. Gaylor, a struggling pastor, has sold his services and become a 'crier' to drum up support for the highest paying candidate. The documentary captures the fray of Gaylor's attempt to mobilize voters. He recruits a group of local youth living in a cemetery to compose a tune to a candidate they do not even know, and engages citizens in the streets. The elections are chaos. Congo's vast poverty besieges the polls, but immediately thereafter, life resumes and the tombstones remain.

Bittersweet

Peter Bicknell, Andrew Kappel (Ghana, Netherlands) - 19min

'Bittersweet' is a film that highlights the good work being done by Conservation Alliance, a Non-Governmental Organization with project sites throughout Western Africa. They train cocoa farmers in the correct ways to grow and cultivate the crop without damaging the environment or themselves.

Dear Mandela

Dara Kell (South Africa, USA ) - 93min

When the South African government promises to 'eradicate the slums' and begins to evict shack dwellers far outside the city, three young friends who live in Durban's vast shantytowns refuse to be moved and decided to stand up for their rights. Dear Mandela follows the journey of these three young people from their shacks to the highest court in the land as they invoke Nelson Mandela's example and become leaders in a growing social movement. By turns inspiring, devastating and funny, the film offers a new perspective on the role that young people can play in political change and is a fascinating portrait of South Africa coming of age.

Flare

Creative Artistic (Netherlands) - 10min

An intimate look at the life of a Dutch woman suffering from an extreme case of Lupus. We meet Ida and follow her through day to day life, from long train rides seeking medical help to the intimacies of her past in this monochromatic short film. As though from a first person observer, we hope to better understand a less than popular disease and the effects of its affliction.

From Queens to Cairo

Sherif Sadek (USA) - 57min

When the Egyptian Revolution started back in January 2011, many Egyptians abroad were unable to leave their jobs and families to return to Cairo to participate in that popular attempt to shake off autocracy in Egypt. This film is about an Egyptian American who takes his family back to his native Cairo, one year after the Egyptian Revolution. He is determined to see for himself the challenges that lie ahead on the road to democracy. His travels take him from Tahrir Square to the insides of cabs and slums' discussing the future of the country but also the major events of the previous years, as a way to understand how the country arrived at the state it was in, one year later.

Guerrilla Grannies

Ike Bertels (Belgium, Mozambique, Netherlands) - 80min

For ten years three guerrilla girls were fighting for freedom in Mozambique against Portuguese rule. Years ago, director Ike Bertels saw a BBC film about the liberation army - FRELIMO. She was touched by Monica, Maria and Amelia, who had made the choice to fight. Ike found them, learned Portuguese, and filmed them time and again in 1984, 1994 and up to now. She showed to what extent ideals from the revolution did shape Mozambique. Today the grannies struggle with their children and grandchildren. How to mix ideals about education or the role of women in society with the upcoming globalized world?

Hibana

Ameer Muhammad (USA) - 70min

A Documentary film about an American man that travels to the Dominican Republic. He does not know Spanish but is introduced to a Dominican woman and they fall for each other. They each have two children and now a new girl (Hibana) on the way. The audience learns the Dominican culture through following this very unique family as he learns Spanish and is introduced to an entire new way of life. She incorporates his Islamic faith with her beliefs and Catholic culture. The film has a dramatic twist that is sure to surprise all.

Holyland

Anna Somershaf (Israel) - 53min

'Holyland' tells the story of Solomon, a Pastor of a foreign workers' community from Ghana who reside in Tel-Aviv. Solomon has to function as a father for his community while he is coping with the void created by the loss of his 2 sons: one left behind in Ghana, and the other died in Israel. A visit to Ghana, and a reunion with his eldest son, will bring up the pain and regret that he wouldn't deal with for many years.

I am Gay and Muslim

Chris Belloni (Netherlands) - 59min

This intimate documentary follows a number of young Moroccan gay men in their exploration of their religious and sexual identity. The men portrayed in the film openly share their personal experiences and talk about the ambiguity and secretiveness of the life they feel condemned to live, although some have openly acknowledged their sexual orientation. The documentary aims to raise awareness and break the taboo surrounding homosexuality while exposing a broad spectrum of dilemmas that these gay men struggle with or have overcome in the past.

I'm tremendously happy that I am going to play Golf

Sameh Estefanos (Egypt) - 51min

Golf courses in Egypt are fast growing a big number nowadays, establishing continually in new compounds as well as touristic resorts, while Egyptians are facing a current and future thirst and hunger!' and that is why I am happy, tremendously happy that I am going to play Golf!

Kinshasa Symphony

laus Wischmann (Germany) - 95min

Two hundred orchestral musicians are playing Beethoven's Ninth 'Freude sch'ner G'tterfunken. A power cut strikes just a few bars before the last movement. Problems like this are the least of the worries facing the only symphony orchestra in the Congo. In the 15 years of its existence, the musicians have survived two putsches, various crises and a war. But concentration on the music and hopes for a better future keeps them going. 'Kinshasa Symphony' is a study of people in one of the world's most chaotic cities doing their best to maintain one of the most complex systems of joint human endeavor, a symphony orchestra. The film is about the Democratic Republic of Congo, the people in Kinshasa and the power of music.

Lost Boy Home

Mark Barger Elliott (USA) - 40min

Zachariah Char, a Sudanese 'Lost Boy' featured in The New York Times, returns to South Sudan and his home village of Duk Padiet to search for his mother and father 24 years after fleeing the country during a brutal civil war. The story resonates with everyone who struggles to find and connect with their father and mother and to feel at home in the world.

Mama Africa

Mika Kaurismaki (South Africa) - 88min

A film about world-famous South African singer Miriam Makeba, who spent half a century travelling the world spreading her political message to fight racism, poverty and promote justice and peace. Miriam Makeba (1932-2008) was an inspiration to musicians all over the world and a delight for international audiences. Nonetheless she remained true to her South African musical roots. She was forced into early exile from her homeland in 1959 as a result of her involvement in the documentary indictment of the Apartheid system in South Africa. After gaining worldwide attention in USA through her collaboration with Harry Belafontain, she found herself in the sights of the FBI following her marriage to Black Panther leader and black activist Stokely Carmichael in 1968. She decided to live and settle in Guinea, West Africa where she continued to fight the minority white Apartheid regime in her native land. Making use of rare archive documentary footage and a plethora of interviews, this film portrays the life of this exceptional artist and her music; a performer who, for more than fifty years, never failed to create a stir wherever she went.

Mbekk Mi

Sophie Bachelier (France) - 54min

two words of Wolof which evoke the clandestine emigration. The expression beats, echoing the pirogues which throw themselves against the ocean waves and which are often wrecked at the end of their journeying. But Mbekke mi is above all the refusal to resign oneself to the deadly blows of an unjust destiny. If these young Senegalese men in their prime pit themselves against so many perils, it's in hope of finding a better life. But what happens on the other side of the disaster? The 'wretched of the sea' leave their loved ones behind - their wives, their mothers. It is these women's unique voiced that are heard in this documentary. Speaking straight to the camera with stark intimacy, we can hear their moving and dignified voices.

Miriam's Struggle

Jeffrey Hunter (USA) - 10min

Nobesuthu (Miriam) is a South African Xhosa woman who only wants to find her way out of poverty. Now she sits down and openly tells her story, all the while highlighting the problems that have plagued many of her fellow citizens. Pulling no punches, this charismatic domestic woman will fill your heart with warmth, laughter, and overpowering strength that will leave you with nothing but heartfelt admiration for her and her struggle.

My Mother's Club

Rodney Thompson (USA) - 60min

A documentary film that centers on African American women's social clubs in Kansas City during the late 1940's,1950's, and 1960's. Segregation was the rule in America during these eras and its practice and acceptance gave rise to as well as proliferation of a separate African American social clubs. These clubs played an integral role in all aspects of social life and well-being of the community, from hosting spectacular parties and social functions to supporting the civil rights movement. This captivating story is told in a series of interviews through the eyes of the daughters of these women, through interviews with remaining club members and with cultural historians. The discussions focus on the impact of these clubs on Kansas City's African American community through their social activities, volunteerism, and social activism.

Nile Perch

Josh Gibson (Uganda) - 0min

A man and a fish on Lake Victoria in Uganda. This hand-made black and white film is a meditation on the economic impact of an invasive species as well as a parable about the effects of globalization and colonialism on Africa.

On the Edge

Isy India Geronimo (South Africa) - 44min

There are nights when those who sleep on the streets of inner city Johannesburg fear nothing more than having a South African police officer take their blankets at night. The homeless community in inner city Johannesburg have endured xenophobia and continuous police harassment in a supposedly 'post-racial,' progressive South Africa. The documentary explores how the legacy of apartheid lingers in the midst of the police force renown for violence and human rights abuses. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable of the population suffer the brunt of this condition - the homeless and immigrant communities.

One Day After Peace

Erez Laufer, Miri Laufer (South Africa, Israel) - 86min

Can the means used to resolve the conflict in South-Africa be applied to the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts? As someone who experienced both conflicts firsthand, Robi Damelin wonders about this. Born in South Africa during the apartheid era, she later lost her son, who was serving with the Israeli Army reserve in the Occupied Territories. At first she attempted to initiate a dialog with the Palestinian who killed her child. When her overtures were rejected she embarked on a journey back to South Africa to learn more about the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in overcoming years of enmity. This thought-provoking journey, through South Africa past and present and through the cooperation of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents shows Robi and the viewers that even from a place of deep personal pain one can see a glimmer of hope and a possibility of a better future.

Rwanda - 17: Healing a Nation

Claudio von Planta (United Kingdom, Rwanda) - 63min

The Documentary captures the story of rising Rwandan football stars who qualified to compete at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. Born just after the 1994 genocide, these young players - more than half of them orphaned by war - show how discipline, determination and uncompromising team spirit leads to the success that can inspire a nation to reconcile and recover from a murderous past. Presented by award winning Sierra Leone reporter Sorious Samura, the story of these young players represents Rwanda's breathtaking evolution and hopes for a better future, with good leadership and unity at the heart of not only sporting success but also a nation's efforts to achieve reconciliation and prosperity.

Salut Y’all

Boukary Sawadogo (USA, Burkina Faso) - 16min

A documentary about the personal and professional experience of African teachers teaching French in Louisiana, USA. The film raises the question not only of French heritage of Louisiana, but also the future of French in a context of economic crisis. The film also addresses the issue around the personal decision of the African teachers, whether they intend to return to Africa to establish their own schools.

Santiago is Santiago

Warren Haack (Cuba, USA) - 70min

Discover the Real Cuba: The island time forgot. Where a rich home-grown culture thrives free of the Commercialized World of American Mass Media! In over 50 years since the revolution, Cuba's isolation has allowed the culture to evolve on its own. In 2010, the filmmaker traveled to Cuba on a lark to experience the music and ended up falling in love with the culture. He returned four more times to experience it and film this in-depth look at the music, dance, religion and everyday lives of the people; in the streets, homes and clubs where life throbs to a distinct, captivating rhythm.

Shokran, Toni

Nahid Toubia (Sudan) - 12min

In September 2011 the African American novelist and Nobel Laureate for literature, Toni Morrison published a letter addressed 'To a Sudanese Woman', in which she expresses her thoughts and feelings about the violations of women as a reflection to a Youtube video of a Sudanese woman being lashed for an unknown moral crime. A young Sudanese woman and her friends gather together to read Toni's letter and decided to respond to Toni Morrison.  They say 'Shokran Toni,’ which means 'Thank You Toni' in Arabic, for bringing the attention of the world to their plight under the fundamentalist Islamic military rule. They take Toni (and the viewers) on a journey around Sudan telling the history of the country and its people, including the recent events of civil war and genocide committed by the regime, which caused the country to divide.

Shokran, Toni

Nahid Toubia (Sudan) - 12min

In September 2011 the African American novelist and Nobel Laureate for literature, Toni Morrison published a letter addressed 'To a Sudanese Woman', in which she expresses her thoughts and feelings about the violations of women as a reflection to a Youtube video of a Sudanese woman being lashed for an unknown moral crime. A young Sudanese woman and her friends gather together to read Toni's letter and decided to respond to Toni Morrison. They say 'Shokran Toni,’ which means 'Thank You Toni' in Arabic, for bringing the attention of the world to their plight under the fundamentalist Islamic military rule. They take Toni (and the viewers) on a journey around Sudan telling the history of the country and its people, including the recent events of civil war and genocide committed by the regime, which caused the country to divide.

Songs of Redemption

Miquel Galofre (Spain, Jamaica) - 75min

The documentary reveals a stream of consciousness as told by Kingston prisoners incarcerated for numerous crimes. The prison, once a concrete holding area for African slaves, is devoid of basic human necessities and reflects a reality of unimaginable consequence. The movie exemplifies the unique transformation of an extremely violent environment into a new state of creative and healing artistic collaborations. Through the compassionate vision of Superintendent Fairweather, prison staffs are guided to recognize inmates as human beings whose lives could be renewed and positive outcomes unveiled through the use of creative outlets and skills. Combined with the efforts of Social Activist, Carla Gullotta, programs were initiated to support continuing education such as music production, computer technology, welding and other skill based opportunities. As one inmate clearly states, redemption comes when the criminal moves from a very dark hopeless place into the light, the light of life and forgiveness.

Standing at the Touchlines

Ashley Morrison (Australia) - 52min

'The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game they should be playing,' wrote activist Steve Biko before his death in 1977. He was referring to life under apartheid in South Africa, but the statement was also true when it came to football. Football is a key part of African Life; it is a sport that brings the people together; A sport that gave them their independence. However, would South Africa hosting the World Cup bond a continent? 'Standing at the Touchlines' travels through Africa during the World Cup in 2010 to find out.

Takeo: A Percussionist with Down Syndrome

Takashi Tokida (Japan) - 76min

An inspirational documentary about a young Japanese musician with Down Syndrome. Takeo Niikura has always loved music and socially interacts with people through the power of music. Having attempted several instruments through his development, Takeo had found a love for African drumming after having participated in an African drumming workshop in elementary school. Now 24 years old and with many performances under his belt, Takeo finally achieved his long-held dream by signing up for a drumming workshop in Senegal, the homeland of his beloved instrument. The documentary follows his development as a musician as well as an individual. Takeo's enthusiasm for music is inspirational, and his journey unforgettable.

The One Who Builds

Hillary Pierce, Nick Gooler, Peter Carolla (USA) - 37min

TVs around America light up every night with the news of people displaced by war, famine and political unrest. The struggles of refugees are often seen as a distant problem, a world away from the living rooms of America and only a click away from something more entertaining. What Americans often do not realize is that some of these displaced persons are their neighbors. 'The One Who Builds' is about the life and work of Dr. Omer Omer, once a Sudanese refugee, now an American citizen who is giving back as the director of a refugee resettlement organization in Greensboro, North Carolina. Omer has transcended boundaries dictated by society, race and religion to build a new village, one friendship at a time.

The One Who Builds

Hillary Pierce, Nick Gooler, Peter Carolla (USA) - 37min

TVs around America light up every night with the news of people displaced by war, famine and political unrest. The struggles of refugees are often seen as a distant problem, a world away from the living rooms of America and only a click away from something more entertaining. What Americans often do not realize is that some of these displaced persons are their neighbors. 'The One Who Builds' is about the life and work of Dr. Omer Omer, once a Sudanese refugee, now an American citizen who is giving back as the director of a refugee resettlement organization in Greensboro, North Carolina. Omer has transcended boundaries dictated by society, race and religion to build a new village, one friendship at a time.

The Road to Freedom Peak

Max Pugh (United Kingdom, Australia) - 89min

Jonathan Okwir was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda when he was ten years old and forced into the jungle to be trained as a child soldier. Corrin Varady is a philanthropist and activist who is working to help children like Jonathan re-join their communities. Together, they embark on an adventurous trek across East Africa from the border of South Sudan, through Uganda and Tanzania en route to Africa's highest point - Freedom Peak, the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. To Africans, Mount Kilimanjaro is revered as a symbol of independence and hope. For Jonathan, the Road To Freedom Peak becomes an extraordinary journey to forgiveness and redemption

The Thing That Happened

Andrew Walton (USA) - 20min

Near the remote trading center of Bweyale in Northern Uganda, sits the tiny campus of Hope North Vocational and Secondary School. The students here are a mix of former child soldiers, orphans and abjectly poor kids, displaced by the 22-year old civil war in Uganda between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UDPF). The teachers are mostly rookie educators fresh out of Ugandan Universities. Their teaching tools amount to little more than their own wits and a scattering of outdated textbooks. But deficiencies or not, the school is the only chance these kids have to escape their tragic histories. For the teachers, despite the numerous challenges, they are driven by a sense of responsibility to educate the next generation of peacekeepers and leaders. Against the odds, the school is having an effect on these students. Their story becomes a metaphor for personal identity, the resiliency of the human spirit and the power of hope.

The Wild West of Namibia

David Whalen (USA) - 47min

The documentary film explores the desolation of Namibia, the great and eerie Skeleton Coast, the shipwrecks there (specifically the Dunedin Star), the souls of the dead diamond hunters on her shores, and the history of the diamond rush at the turn of the century. Inland discoveries include the elusive hermit Flip Stander, who has lived in the desert among the desert lions. After a surreptitious border crossing into Angola we learn of the Himba people, their matriarchal society, their tragic past, the infamous German General, Lother Von Trotha, who nearly decimated them in what is considered a precursor to the Nazi Genocide, as well as their future struggles in preventing a hydroelectric dam from ruining their lands and way of life.

Thirteen Percent

Art Jones (USA) - 35min

The documentary takes a probing look at how and why 13 percent of the total US population (African-Americans) now accounts for 50 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. It tells the stories of individuals representing the hardest-hit segments - men who have sex with men, women aged 25-44 and youth - and shares the perspective of the experts on the driving factors behind the epidemic. Sharing their hard-won lessons are politicians, physicians, academicians, clergy, journalists and, of course, individuals living with the infection. In the spotlight is a continuing culture of stigma and silence - exacerbated by a new complacency as AIDS becomes a chronic disease instead of a death sentence. It concludes with thoughts about how to change the trajectory of this disease, starting with each individual.

Tumi: The Life and Death of Boitumelo McCallum

Ian Phillips (USA) - 57min

A documentary film about a young black woman murdered in New York by her former boyfriend in 2007. The daughter of a South African anti-apartheid activist, Tumi had moved to New York from her home in South Africa with her parents, now professors at NYU, who were searching for freedom and security. Through home movies, stills and interviews with family and friends, the director creates a portrait of a talented, loving young woman whose life ended in tragedy, and shows the effects of this tragedy on the people who loved her.

Velingara Th'tre

Javier Jarillo, Javier Arcos (Spain) - 56min

In Velingara, southern Senegal, a group of teenagers struggle to do theater. To go on stage and be part of the trip that will take them through the region of Casamance, they must fight against their fears and their own families, choosing between tradition and modernity.

Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution

Deborah Riley Draper (USA) - 91min

Not many moments in life change the course of history; break the mold; shatter the status quo and usher in a paradigm shift. On a chilly night in November 1973, such a moment happened. The 1973 Grand Divertissement at Versailles, made a statement of its own- a fashion statement. The legendary event pitting the five lions of French couture with five top American designers for industry dominance created a cross-stitch of change across fashion, race, business and catwalks. The Americans claimed victory. Their secret weapon: great clothes and bold and beautiful black models sashaying down the royal runway. They turned heads and stole the show. The extraordinary evening left an unforgettable imprint on the fashion industry while changing the course of the fashion industry.

Voices

Joachim Landau (France) - 52min

The new voices of South African cinema speak about the future of their industry. The documentary focuses on the renewal of the sector, the South African style and identity, issues and goals.

War Don Don

Rebecca Richman Cohen (USA) - 85min

In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, United Nations soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the 'special court' Inside, Issa Sesay awaits his trial. Prosecutors say Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone. With unprecedented access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims, and, from behind bars, Sesay himself, the documentary puts international justice on trial for the world to see' finding that in some cases the past is not just painful, it is also opaque.

We Rise & Fall

Dan Duran, Hiyam Abousaid, Katie Chilson, Malayika Lemoine, Ruth Paul, Serena Felsher (Ghana) - 22min

In the summer of 2011, a group of filmmakers set out for Ghana, West Africa to document what they thought to be a legitimate and effective non-governmental organization (NGO) known as Ga Gbeke Bii in the hopes of bringing attention to the struggles of Ghanaian street children. What they found, however, was a crisis far more hidden and far less addressed. We Rise and Fall welcomes you on a journey with the children of Ga Gbeke Bii through the good and the bad, to discover both the possibilities of successful NGOs and the dangers of unregulated NGOs so that we may join together to find a solution.

Wolf Call

Rob Underhill (USA) - 12min

It is 1956. Previous year, 14-year old Emmett Till from Chicago had gone missing in Money, Mississippi. Later, the boy's mutilated body was found in a river. William Bradford Huie of Look magazine sits down with the two men acquitted for the boy's murder, Roy Bryant Jr. and J.W. Milam, to discuss the trial. Not a word had been uttered outside a courtroom by them or their kin, until now... WOLF CALL (12 Best Film Awards), is the true-story crafted from public record that became a lightning rod for moral outrage pivotal in inspiring a whole generation to commit to social change in the 1950s. 'His death was a spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement in America,' Ed Bradley, Emmy Award-winning journalist.

Women of the African Great Lakes

Claire Duguet (France) - 53min

A moving and committed trip into the heart of the African Great Lakes region, regularly aflame since the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Eight women have all accepted to pose for the French artist Titouan Lamazou and to confide to the camera. They tell us their stories of the massacre, the exodus and the rapes committed both by the rebels and the regular army soldiers, without ever giving up their hope.

Woodstock in Timbuktu - The Art of Resistance

D'sir'e von Trotha (Germany) - 90min

Documentary about a music festival in the Sahara rooted in an ancient nomadic tradition. The festival is the ideal platform for the encounter with the Kel Tamasheq (Touareg) and witnesses their inspiring cultural aliveness today. But through increasing challenges of globalization their ancient nomadic traditions are now threatened. As a result, these legendary people feel the urgent need to oppose - with their amazing music.

Words of Witness

Mai Iskander (USA) - 71min

Every time 22-year-old Heba Afify heads out to cover the historical events shaping her country's future, her mother is compelled to remind her, 'I know you are a journalist, but you're still a girl!' Defying cultural norms and family expectations, Heba takes to the streets to report on an Egypt in turmoil, using tweets, texts and posts. Her coming of age, political awakening and the disillusionment that follows, mirrors that of a nation seeking the freedom to shape its own destiny and democracy.

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