PLANET AFRICA 1996
People Magazine publishes: “What's Changed? PEOPLE's 1996 Special Report on the Exclusion of African-Americans from Hollywood Remains All Too Relevant”, documenting headline-dominating controversy over the repeated snubbing of African-American actors from the Oscars.
“1996 Planet Africa returns. Bigger, stronger, newer. This year, six world premieres highlight a program of eight feature films and five shorts. From Tunisia to Madagascar, from London to Philly, we bring the best new films from the African world home to Toronto.” - Cameron Bailey
September 5 - 14, 1996
Planet Africa Programmers' Note
Launched last year during cinema’s centenary, Planet Africa was an immediate hit with Toronto audiences. By the end of the Festival’s 10 days, a new tradition was born:
cross-viewing. As hoped, festival-goers made promiscuous connections between city life in Dakar and Brooklyn, and compared childhood desires in Jamaica and Britain.
Designed to bring together film from all parts of the African world, Planet Africa is not content merely to be unique. This year we’ve grown to a slate of eight features and five shorts; six of them world premieres.
Those premieres include Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s sure-to-be-controversial Aristotle’s Plot and Raymound Rajaonarivelo’s magical Quand les étoiles rencontrent la mer, both eagerly anticipated follow-ups to successful first features. Férid Boughedir’s enormously pleasurable Un été à La Goulette falls into the same category; it’s his first film since the equally sensual Halfaouine.
Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga completes her transition to director with an urgent and timely first feature, Everyone's Child. And veteran documentarist St. Clair Bourne strikes out in a stylish new direction with John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk.
Bourne’s film is one of the two that bring history to life with a powerful combination of witnesses’ words and rare archival images. With Louis Massiah’s landmark documentary W.E.B Du Bois – A Biography in our Voices, it constitutes a strong assertion that the best African- American minds are always international in scope.
Within this mix of old and new, we are pleased to welcome back filmmakers who have already established their reputations with Festival audiences. From Britain, John Akomfrah brings The Last Angel of History, which is not only deeply insightful, but also deeply cool. Fellow Brit Ngozi Onwurah delivers the thoroughly entertaining I Bring You Frankincense, which screens with Danny Thompson’s smart, sexy Spiders and Flies, both of them world premieres. Fanta Nacro’s Puk Nini is the third short film in that program; taken together with Spiders and Flies, it’s proof that two directors separated by language and distance can still hit on the same eternal truth, revenge is sweet.
In a program that spans a broad spectrum of African experience, certain patterns begin to appear. But more important than similarities in style or content is the impulse that fires these films. Asientos, Francois Woukoache's crucial meditation on slavery, breathes with a desire to as big questions, even if they have no immediate answers. It’s the same probing spirit that animates The Last Angel of History, Everyone’s Child and Aristotle’s Plot. In fact, in one way or another, it’s a spirit that can be found in every one of Planet Africa’s films. For many, it is why filmmakers make films: not to comfort anyone with pat answers, but to share in the asking.
Many thanks to Planet Africa’s sponsors, Conros Corporation/Northland Firelogs and OXFAM Canada, for their strong support. Special Thanks to the Black Film and Video Network, Dr. Kenneth Montague, The Metro World and Boom Design.
Planet Africa, Program Introduction
21st Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
TIFF PA PROGRAMMING TEAM:
Cameron Bailey, Planet Africa Programmer
Julie Crooks, Planet Africa Program Assistant
FILMS & FILMMAKERS:
A Summer In La Goulette (Un été à La Goulette) | Férid Boughedir | TUN/FRA/BEL
Aristotle’s Plot | Jean-Pierre Bekolo | FRA/ZWE
Asientos (short doc) | François Woukoache | SEN/BEL
Everyone’s Child | Tsitsi Dangarembga | ZWE
I Bring You Frankincense | Ngozi Onwurah | UK
John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk | St. Clair Bourne | USA
The Last Angel of History | John Akomfrah | UK
Macadam Tribu | José Laplaine (Zeka Laplaine) FRA/ZR/MLI
Puk Nini (short) | Fanta Nagro | BF
Spiders and Flies (short) | Danny Thompson | UK
The Watermelon Woman | Cheryle Dunyne | USA
W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices | Louis J. Massiah | USA
When the Stars Meet the Sea/ Quand les étoiles rencontrent lamer | Raymond Rajaonarivelo | MG/FRA