PLANET AFRICA 1999
1999 has generally been regarded as one of the best years of original cinema internationally, with some of the biggest films coming from young, relatively untested talent, in a year of cinematic risk-taking.
In this climate of excitement and creativity, and against the backdrop of the rise of digital and the uncertainty of its impact on cinema, TIFF’s Planet Africa presented a stellar lineup of films. It was the end of a century, Y2K, and we partied like it was 1999!
September 9 - 18, 1999
Planet Africa Programmers' Note
Welcome back to Planet Africa and to some of the most entertaining and challenging work available from the African continent. the Caribbean, Europe and the U.S., including five debut features and four world premieres. This fifth Planet Africa programme is designed not only to whet your appetite for the variety of films that are vying for commercial distribution, but also to give you the rare opportunity to see some of the valuable films that are destined for smaller independent distribution circuits.
In true Planet Africa style, a number of films explore genre and in some cases challenge cultural myths to present engaging, creative and informative stories. Zeinabu irene Davis developed an innovative style in crafting Compensation, a film for both hearing and non-hearing audiences. Harlem Aria, which opens the Planet Africa programme this year, explodes myths about taste, music and culture with much humor and some of the sharpest dialogue around. It is one of three features that centre on three-way friendships, the others being the polemical After the Rain, and Rage.
And the ever-inventive Charles Burnett returns with Olivia’s Story, a creative collaboration with Korean-American producer Dai Sil Kim-Gibson.
Rage, a Black British feature film (an increasingly scare commodity in recent years), applies the style of gritty social realism, popular in British cinema, to a story of urban youth angst. The director of Rage, London-based Aduaka, is one of two Nigerian-born directors in the year’s Planet Africa programme. New York based Dosunmu unearths a wealth of artistic talent in the engaging and stylish documentary Hot-Irons, about black hair culture, set in Detroit. That city is also home to Ruth Ellis, the charming, talented and fit 100-year-old icon of black and gay communities and the subject of the valuable social document, Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100.
Romance and comedy are currently the hottest genres in African American cinema, and two films with unusual stories stand out among these: the short film Rituals, and the debut feature Love and Actions in Chicago. On the other hand, it is no surprise that Jamaica, the most prolific film-producing country in the English-speaking Caribbean, is the source of this year’s feature from the region: Third World Cop bears the now-characteristic combination of dramatic action and a seriously persuasive reggae music track.
African filmmakers have always sought ways to challenge the status quo, with skilful, visual storytelling that can make significant political observations and bypass official censors to deliver poignant stories. The biblical epic La Genèse, and the charming yet allegorical La petite vendeuse de soleilare films that achieve this goal. At the same time, some issues carry their own drama and Teno, with a knack for identifying these and bringing them to the screen, has done so once again with Chef!
We return to South Africa this year (for the first time since Fools in 1997) with the feature After the Rain and two short films, the satirical drama Cry Me a Baby and the harrowing and very stylish Portrait of a Young Man Drowning. These represent the sort of alliances that are being made to bring new talents to the screen. After the Rain was a South African/American co-production; M-Net, the producers of Cry Me a Baby, are working with new directors across the African continent. Portrait of a Young Man Drowning is one of five shorts co-produced by South African Primedia and the UK’s Channel 4 television.
Planet Africa is also pleased to present The Best Man, a Special Presentation by debut director Malcolm D. Lee, and the Masters screening of L’autre, the latest feature from Egyptian director Youssef Chahine.
Finally, I would like to thank the sponsors of this year’s Planet Africa programme, Cinemax, for their kind support; long may it continue! Also X Unlimited for their continued support and Planet Africa assistant Debbie Innes for her hard work and commitment to this programme enjoy – it’s all good!!
Planet Africa, Program Introduction
24th Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
TIFF PA PROGRAMMING TEAM:
June Givanni, Planet Africa Programmer
Julie Crooks, Planet Africa Program Assistant
FILMS & FILMMAKERS:
After the Rain | Ross Kettle | USA/ZAF
L’autre (The Other) | Youssef Chahine | (Masters Screening)
The Best Man | Malcolm D. Lee | USA ( Special Presentation)
Chef! | Jean-Marie Teno | FRA/CMR
Compensation | Zeinabu irene Davis | USA
Cry Me a Baby (short) | Tamsin McCarthy | ZAF
La Genèse | Cheick Oumar Sissoko | MLI/FRA
Harlem Aria | William Jennings | USA
Hot-Irons | Andrew Dosunmu | USA
Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100 | Yvonne Welbon
Love and Action in Chicago | Dwayne Johnson-Cochran | USA
Olivia's Story (short) | Charles Burnett | ZAF
La Petite Vendeuse de soleil | Djibril Diop Mambety | SEN
Portrait of a Young Man Drowning (short) | Teboho Mahlatsi | ZAF
Rage | Newton I. Aduaka | UK
Rituals (short) | Carol Mayes | ZAF
Third World Cop | Chris Browne | JAM