PLANET AFRICA 1997
1997, was an important year in Black Arts and Entertainment. South Africa signed their first ever Co-production Treaty with Canada, initiated by Toronto’s Inner City Films. Toronto hosted the CELAFI ‘97 Festival, a Celebration of African Identity and Art, featuring “Myths and Dreams”, a film series curated by Cameron Bailey.
As part of the 22nd edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, the Planet Africa 1997 program presented 14 films from countries including Jamaica, Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Senegal, South Africa and the USA.
September 4 - 13, 1997
Planet Africa Programmers' Note
It’s a big planet. Worldwide, African cinema keeps growing. We grow with it.
Each year Planet Africa includes new directors and nations.
This is year three for the programme, and like the legendary Sankofa, we’re looking back to the past to prepare for the future. Mali’s Adama Drabo and Senegal’s Safi Fraye (Mossane) have adapted centuries-old stories to create new, timeless films.
Gaston J-M Kabore’s majestic Buud Yam continues the tale he began years ago in Wind Kuuni.
In Through The Door of No Returns, Shirikiana Aina grapples with the contemporary meaning of one of the most potent chapters in African history – the slave trade. And John Akomfrah’s Martin Luther King: Days of Hope returns to one of the century’s towering icons to begin a deeper understanding.
Of course, the past is never without risks. Egypt’s great Youssef Chahine has set Destiny eight centuries ago, but its theme of intellectual freedom confronts up to the minute events in this country. And in Le Demier, Zairian satirist Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda takes on dictators still fresh in the memory.
If the past retinas its fascination, the future looks even better. Christopher Scott Sherot’s
Hav Plenty signals the arrival of major new African- American talent. Nadia Farès makes her own bold debut in Honey and Ashes. And, as the first film written and directed by a black South African, Ramamdan Suleman’s Fools is simply historic.
Our short films drop several styles of poetry, from Barbara Samon’s brownstone fantasy, Breeze, to Nelson George’s street rap, To Be a Black Man. With Sabriya, Abderrahmane Sissako proves himself one of the most striking new talents in African cinema. Shot in Tunisia by a Mauritanian director, this film is part a series of shorts produced by South Africa’s Catalyst Films under the banner “Africa Dreaming.” It’s exactly the kind of pan-African dialogue that Planet Africa thrives on.
Dialogue is good. Sometimes wickedness is better. Whether it’s buppie love drama in Hav Plentyor reggae raunch in Dancehall Queen, never let it be said that Planet Africa doesn’t know how to throw a party.
Lastly, we are thrilled to have Oxfam Canada back as our programme sponsor. Since year one they have been a generous, involved champion of the programme.
Special thanks go to Planet Africa supporters Martha Rans, who has made it possible for the Festival to produce the first English-subtitled version of Safi Faye’s Mossane.
Special thanks also to our long-term partners the Black Film and Video Network (BFVN), and to X Unlimited Corporation formerly Boom Design.
If you’ve been to Planet Africa before, welcome back. If this is your first time, enjoy the ride.
Planet Africa, Program Introduction
22nd Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
Cameron Bailey, Planet Africa Programmer
Julie Crooks, Planet Africa Program Assistant
FILMS & FILMMAKERS:
Al Massir (Destiny) | Youssef Chahine | EGY/FRA
Breeze | Barbara Sanon | USA
Buud Yam | Gaston Kaboré | BFA/FRA
La Damier | Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda | GA
Dancehall Queen | Rick Elgood & Don Letts | JAM
Fools | Ramadan Suleman | ZAF/FRA
Hav Plenty | Christopher Scott Cherot | USA
Honey and Ashes (Miel et cendres) | Nadia Farès | TUN/CHE
Martin Luther King: Days of Hope | John Akomfrah | UK
Mossane | Safi Faye | SEN
Sabriya (short) | Abderrahmane Sissako | TUN
Taafé Fanga | Adama Drabo | MLI
Through the Door of No Return | Shirikiana Aina | USA
To Be a Black Man by Nelson George | USA