The 2018 African World Documentary Films
Ujuaku Akukwe (Nigeria) - 39min
Afia Attack (trading behind enemy lines).This indigenous trade was a catalyst for survival during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. A story of lost hopes, pains, betrayals, sufferings, resilience, and bravery. The battle for survival that is usually borne silently by women in wartime.
BURKINABE RISING: The Art of Resistance in Burkina Faso
Lara Lee (Bulgaria/Burkina Faso) - 72min
A small landlocked country in West Africa, Burkina Faso is home to a vibrant community of artists, musicians, engaged citizens who carry on the revolutionary spirit of Thomas Sankara, killed in a coup d'état led by his best friend and advisor Blaise.
Children of Drum: The Legacy of Black Journalists in South Africa under Apartheid
Larry Tung (USA, South Africa) - 59min
Children of Drum traces developments in South African journalism from the 1950s when Drum magazine covered the struggle against the racist Apartheid regime, to the political changes since then that have affected the current state of journalism in South Africa.
Colours of the Alphabet
Alastair Cole (United Kingdom/Zambia) - 80min
COLOURS OF THE ALPHABET tells the story of three children and their families over two school terms, and asks the question: does the future have to be in English? The official language in Zambia is English, but there are seven national languages and 72 ethnic languages spoken in the country. How does anyone communicate in this living Tower of Babel? This lyrical and beautifully-filmed documentary is an eye-opening tale of the relationship between children and language from those first apprehensive days at school to the playground excitement at the end of term.
Covered with the Blood of Jesus
Tommaso Cotronei (Italy, Nigeria) - 70min
Documentary film that explores the condition of the region of the Niger Delta, where oil companies exploit the wells by closing our eyes to the poverty of the surrounding population, often polluting land and sea.
Angela Robinson Witherspoon (USA ) - 90min
This is the story of a little boy who gets trapped in a pair of slingback shoes.
James Suter (South Africa) - 5min
A closer look at what it takes to save a species: Dehorning a rhino in the wild in order to save it from becoming a poaching target.
Nili Dotan (Israel) - 58min
The film tells the story of Christian African Women from Sudan and Eritrea, who fled persecution at the hand of Muslims in their countries and are seeking asylum in Israel. The film follows their attempt to build a new life over a period of 5 years – in Israel and Uganda – while living under constant threat of deportation. They know that their journey is far from being over.
Designs that Heal
Thatcher Bean (Haiti) - 24min
In the thick of epidemic catastrophe, can architecture help to heal? Dr. Jean William Pape, a Haitian infectious disease specialist, believes it can.
Hiroki Sugino (Japan, USA) - 76min
This documentary deals with the Rastafarian people who live in different regions of the world, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Belize, Los Angeles, and Japan to show their unique way of life and thought. Rastafarian movement was originally brought to this world by Marcus Garvey in early 1900.
Cigdem Slankard (USA) - 13min
Fresh Start chronicles the experience of a refugee community who came to the US with one marketable skill, farming. It is the story of farmers with no farm, examining the American identity, the value of land and food in a brave new world.
Froze in my Clothes Celebrating A Radio Icon
Isaiah Pittman IV (USA) - 69min
Froze In My Clothes is a 3D-film documentary reviewing personal events in the life of the legendary radio personality Herb 'The Cool Gent' Kent. Likely the first, and only, 3D documentary of any Radio Hall of Fame recipient, this documentary was filmed in stereoscopic-3D four years before Herb Kent's death in October, 2016, bringing to an end over 70 years on air as a Chicago radio personality. Mr. Kent was the first African American inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, the first African American employee of NBC network serving as intern to Hugh Downs, and holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the 'longest on air radio personality/male'.
Green and Yellow
Miquel Galofre (Trinidad and Tobago) - 19min
Intimate conversations with homeless people in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. With Sketch and Yankee.
Yuri Alves (USA) - 8min
This format-bending profile of Robert Wilmote reveals the story of a Liberian refugee forced to flee the most drastic and terrible circumstances imaginable. Having narrowly escaped the ravages of war in Africa, Robert’s struggles continue in the U.S. when he succumbs to the gangster lifestyle, only to become a convicted felon in Newark, New Jersey.
Herensia Africana --African Heritage
Clement Esso (Spain) - 11min
An insight into the Afro-Spanish population and exploring African heritage in Barcelona, Spain.
John West (USA) - 49min
Human Zoos tells the story of how thousands of indigenous peoples were put on public display in America in the early decades of the twentieth century. Often touted as “missing links” between man and apes, these native peoples were harassed, demeaned, and jeered at. Their public display was arranged with the enthusiastic support of the most elite members of the scientific community, and it was promoted uncritically by America’s leading newspapers.
Samah Ali (Canada) - 14min
A conversation with five women, "hyphen-nation" looks at what it means to be a black woman in Canada after growing up in a culturally-steeped home, both domestically and internationally, and how it influences one’s identity.
I Am Rebecca
Kate McCaslin & Eve Doherty (USA, UK) - 33min
Rebecca is a mother, raising three children with her husband John. She is a nurse, working as a labor and delivery RN in Kansas City, Missouri. She is an activist, calling for equality at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Rebecca is also a refugee, someone who escaped persecution and probable death in Sudan twenty-one years ago.
I Know a Man... Ashley Bryan
Richard Kane (USA) - 56min
I Know a Man ... Ashley Bryan is said by some to be an antidote to the hatred, racism and division that our country is experiencing today. The film is about this 94-year-old creative wonder who skips and jumps in his heart like a child. Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Ashley’s talent was nurtured by artist Romare Bearden. Ashley was drafted out of Cooper Union into the segregated US army at age 19. He served in an all-Black battalion during World War II and preserved his humanity by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask. Ashley now lives on the remote Cranberry Islands, Maine, and has been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community.
Linda Diatta (Haiti, Niger) - 25min
Jackenson is a 13-year-old boxing hopeful from Haiti’s notorious Cité Soleil slum who is determined to box his way to the top. As he prepares for his upcoming fight against a rival club, he must surpass all expectations from his coaches, club and community.
Yanillys PEREZ (Dominican Republic, France) - 78min
Jeffrey is a kid from the streets of Santo Domingo who dreams of becoming a reggaeton singer but in order to achieve his goals he must first overcome the tough realities of the world around him.
Journey through the Savanah
Wiktor Karbowiak (United Kingdom/Kenya) - 25min
This is a film about sibling John 12 years old and Yassi 11 years old from very poor family living in small village Ololulunga. Sibling trying to have normal life like different children and families, but because of poverty in family and very long distance from home to school, its very difficult for them to educate well and be normal pupils with plans for the future. Ololulunga village is situated 30 kilometres from their school in Narok County.
Irina Patkanian (USA, Mozambique) - 17min
“Little Fiel” is a short documentary with stop motion animation about the unending civil war. It is based on childhood memories of a renowned Mozambican artist Fiel dos Santos who grew up during the 16-year civil war - another proxy war sustained by conflicting foreign powers.
Christopher Jenkins (USA) - 15min
A doctor in search of undervalued natural resources considered 'lost crops' teams up with an experienced botanist and humanitarian for an international journey of discovery.
Yusuf Kapadia (USA) - 9min
Escaping political persecution in Burkina Faso, Mamadou Warma came to the United States for a new lease on life. He now earns his living as a NYC bicycle deliveryman.
Men in the Mirror
Siri Nerbo (Norway) - 11min
Men in the mirror is a portrait series with four Nigerian taxi drivers in Galway, Ireland. As director, Siri, spends time with them they share both happy and challenging moments in their cars with us.
Shereen Williams (USA) - 16min
It is 10pm and flashing red and blue lights surround my car. Bright flashlights are beaming in my eyes. The officer shouts “Roll all the windows down…now. License and registration out the window.” I IMMEDIATELY roll every window in the car down and give him the requested information. Thoughts are racing through my head- What did I do?, Did I run the stop sign? Fear is gripping my body as I clench the steering wheel. The officer says “All clear. Ma’am, slow down”. I survived this time, but would my son?
Michele Manzini, Valeria Lo Meo (South Africa) - 6min
To work with the expressive form of a documentary means rethinking the idea of describing reality and redefining its structure and the limits, and it also means doing so in a place where the imagery and weight of that reality seems most strong and binding, as in the South African townships. This is an act that might confirm the existence of impossibility, because this is the basic gesture for conquering reality: to state that the impossible exists.
My Heart In Kenya
Hunter Wood (Canada) - 54min
After fleeing from civil war in her native Ethiopia, Zeynab attempted to immigrate to Canada with her five children. But during the immigration process, she became pregnant with her sixth child, Nasteha. When she tried to leave Kenya, she was forced to leave baby Nasteha behind. Three years later, a social service worker named Ruth Beardsley travels to Nairobi in an attempt to gain Nasteha’s trust – and bring her back to Vancouver and reunite her with her mother.
No Place for a Rebel
Ariadne Asimakopoulos, Maartje Wegdam (Netherlands) - 76min
Opono Opondo grew up to become a war commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony. Sixteen years after his abduction by the rebels, Opono must fight for acceptance back home, in a place where he doesn’t know the codes and conventions and where the neighbors fear him. The film shows Opono’s fight for his future, while struggling to come to terms with his past and to reconcile with his family.
Rastas' Journey 'Home'
Maria Stratford (Indonesia, Australia) - 40min
Reggae music often refers to the greatness of Africa and the desire of members of the Rastafari movement to return to the land of their ancestors. But how many Rastas make the journey 'home' and how successful is the act of ‘repatriation’? Rastas' Journey 'Home' is a documentary that explores the process of returning to one's roots and through interviews with members of the Rasta community reveals the conflicted emotions that they experience in their new homeland of Ethiopia.
Brandon Kramer (Burkina Faso, USA) - 7min
This short documentary explores a community-based attempt to fight violence in Burkina Faso in the Sahel region of West Africa.
Gayle Nosal (USA, Uganda) - 74min
In a Ugandan refugee settlement, five teenaged girls confront their traumatic histories as they dream of freedom, begin to use their artistic voices to describe their world, and struggle to create lives of their own choosing.
Adam Gould (Brazil) - 9min
Dandara Zainabo has a scar around her belly button from eating bricks as a young child. Today, she is a 19 year old trans activist living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. This experimental portraiture seeks to preserve the spirit of this mighty woman as both powerful and precarious.
The African Who Wanted to Fly
Samantha Biffot (Gabon, China) - 70min
1979. Gabon, Central Africa. Luc, a 9 year-old boy sees for the first time a Kung Fu movie and it's a revelation: Chinese can fly. It becomes Luc's obsession to fly like them. Luc has now been living for 31 years in China, mastering wushu, and acting in Kung fu movies.
The Good Ones
Molly Blank (South Africa) - 25min
While sharing the challenges of South Africa’s unequal and broken education system, some schools are beating the odds. The Good Ones tracks the tenacious efforts of three of these public schools to change the trajectory of their students’ futures. Their lessons illuminate how schools can empower students, transform their futures and enable them to find their place in the outside world.
The Honest Struggle
Justin Mashouf (USA) - 58min
The Honest Struggle is the story of a devout Muslim ex-offender and his journey re-entering society after being incarcerated 3 times. The film follows Sadiq, an energetic 55 year old man who has spent the majority of his life behind bars. Sadiq is chosen to live in a unique, faith-based reentry home in the Southside of Chicago.
The Other Side of the Atlantic
Marcio Camara (Brazil) - 90min
The Other Side of the Atlantic is a documentary that builds a bridge in the ocean that separates Brazil and Africa. The film tackles the cultural exchanges, the imaginary created through the mirroring, the prejudice and dreams built in both sides of the Atlantic through the life stories of the students of African countries in transit through Brazil.
The Sara Spencer Washington Story
Royston Scott (USA) - 28min
Recall the life of a young black woman who became a phenomenal success selling her line of hair products door to door in 1920's Atlantic City, New Jersey. A business that lasted through The Great Depression. A business that became a million-dollar empire. A business that gave tens of thousands of black women the opportunity to become self-sufficient. She called the business Apex, and they called her Madame Sara Spencer Washington.
The Voice of the Kora
Claudine Pommier (USA) - 45min
The kora is a harp-lute originating in West Africa. Traditionally it is played by the “Griots”, who have been for centuries, from father to son, storytellers, diplomats, advisers, keepers of memories, poets. The Griot talks and sings while playing a very elaborate music that gets enriched from generation to generation.
Trek for Mandela
Cecile Raubenheimer (South Africa, USA) - 35min
A documentary that tells the story of inexperienced climber and her crew's charity expedition to climb the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. Aiming to summit the mountain on Nelson Mandela Day in order to raise awareness for the menstrual challenges that face young South African girls. Confronted with several obstacles during the 19,341 feet rise in elevation, the hike does not go as planned as one of the expedition members suddenly falls ill while attempting to summit.
Two Zions: The Living Legacy of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon
Cheryl Halpern (USA) - 58min
Two Zions' focuses on the Zions of Jerusalem, Israel and Axum, Ethiopia. It describes the relationship between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba that has connected two peoples and cultures through their religious observances from approximately 950 BC till today.
When Paul Came Over the Sea
Jakob Preuss (Germany) - 97min
Paul has made his way from his home in Cameroon across the Sahara to the Moroccan coast where he now lives in a forest waiting for the right moment to cross the Mediterranean. This is where he meets Jakob, a filmmaker from Berlin, who is filming along Europe's borders. Soon afterwards, Paul manages to cross over to Spain on a rubber boat. He survives - but half of his companions die on this tragic 50 hour odyssey. Held for two months in a deportation centre, upon his release Paul meets Jakob again at a shelter for migrants in Southern Spain. When Paul decides to continue on to Germany, Jakob has to make a choice: will he become an active part of Paul's pursuit of a better life or remain a detached documentary filmmaker?
Where Art Thou?
Terhys Persad (USA, South Africa) - 6min
Dope contemporary artists from all over the world share things about their local communities that outsiders would never know. First season, South Africa.