PLANET AFRICA 2002

Toronto is one of the most multicultural and multiracial cities in the world. It was and remains an incredibly diverse city, as well as, one of the most informed and enthusiastic film audiences in the world. The Toronto International Film Festival has always strived to reflect and celebrate that diversity through their programming. 

 

This year, Planet Africa’s program included a special spotlight on the Caribbean, featuring films and filmmakers from Jamaica, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Cuba.

September 5 - 14, 2002

Planet Africa Programmers' Note

 

I was recently lucky enough to be privy to a rambunctious debate on whether Hollywood movies and television shows like “The Bold and the Beautiful” constitute healthy viewing for Caribbean audiences. This took place in a lineup “limeing” outside the two-screen movie theatre on the island of St.Vincent. We were waiting to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster and opinion was split. Generally, the men questioned the moral repercussions, blaming everything from teenage pregnancies to drug abuse on these imported images. The women, however, were mostly dedicated “Bold” fans and felt that such representations simply mirrored reality.

The debate reminded of two important facts: first, that in the Caribbean and Africa, cinema-going is anything but a passive pastime; and second, that Hollywood has the power to project its fantastical notion of reality to every corner of the world. St.Vincent lies near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. Many People live in handmade homes of galvanized steel and few have indoor plumbing. The world, as represented by Hollywood, is not the world that most Vincentians will ever experience, yet it is the cinematic world with which they identify. 

   

Currently on many Caribbean islands, independent producers – there is no other kind – must pay television stations to have their work jockey behind cheap American soaps. Most survive by making corporate films and music videos and only dream of producing a short film. In the Caribbean and parts of Africa, television broadcasting teams with out of date American dramas that fulfill cheap programming needs and simultaneously shape the tastes of nations. Meanwhile, there is a little in the way of national production financing to support local talent. Those who eventually manage to produce a miracle can do so only with outside support; often from former colonial rulers. 

Despite the lack of resources, there is a strong infrastructure working throughout this community, founded on tenacity, passion, intelligence and faith that results in a bold inventiveness. It is from this field that Planet Africa hand-picks the most intriguing, topical flights of fancy each year. 

In the spirit of discovering and platforming, we bring you an inimitable programme opening, for the first time, with two women: returning documentarian Camille Billops joins newcomer Mariette Monpierre, with A String of Pearls and Rendez-vous, respectively. Other screenings included two world premieres by first-time feature directors (Promised Land and KhormaEnfant du cimetiere).We also welcome the return of two filmmakers to Planet Africa: Bye Bye Africa’s Mahamet-Saleh Haroun who returns with Abouna and Hav Plenty’s Christopher Scott Cherot, who is back with his new film G. Gael Morel’s Les Chemins de l’oued and Abderrahmane Sissako’s award-winning Waiting for Happiness will appear, as will an important new South African talent, Morojele Sechaba (Ubuntu’s Wounds)

This year, Planet Africa begins a focus on the Caribbean. For some, the Caribbean may be the place of hedonistic holiday fantasies, but it also possesses a complex cultural and historical lineage and it is our pleasure to present this legacy’s new generation. The children of Trinidadian cultural giants, writer Earl Lovelace and filmmaker Horace Ove, open our programme of short films. Walt Lovelace’s dynamic music shorts featuring rapso band 3canal kick things off with style. His sister, Asha Lovelace, contributes a meditative narrative that adapts one of her father’s short stories. The new short by Ove’s son, Zak, now based in Britain, will premiere as well. Also in the Caribbean spotlight, Mary Well’s Now Jimmy! explores the reality of poverty in Jamaica, Cess Silvera’s Shottas focuses on the violence in Jamaica and Charles Najman’s tragedy, Royal Bonbon, portrays a myth-laden Haiti. 

Of course, the identity issues which plagued the audience outside the cinema in St.Vincent evaporated in the dark of the movie theatre – they berated or applauded the Hollywood actors onscreen as if they were members of their own family. But that’s the magic of cinema’s universal transcendence. It works your heart, not your head. If those on the tiny island of St.Vincent can be moved by it, so can you. Immerse yourself in the fantastical worlds presented in this year’s Planet Africa programme.

Gaylene Gould

Planet Africa, Program Introduction

27th Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

___________________________

TIFF PA PROGRAMMING TEAM:

Gaylene Gould, Planet Africa Programmer

Akhaji Zakiya, Planet Africa Program Assistant

FILMS & FILMMAKERS:

  • Abouna | Mahamat Saleh Haroun | FRA/TCD 

  • Alexei and the Spring | Seiichi Motohashi 

  • Ataklan (Naked Walk) (short) | Walt Lovelace | TTO 

  • Black Attack | Walt Lovelace | TTO 

  • Les Chemins de l'Oued | Gaël Morel | FRA

  • G | Christopher Scott Cherot | USA 

  • George and the Bicycle Pump (Jorge la bombs) (short) | Asha Lovelace | CUB 

  • I Have a Dream (short) | Zak Ove | USA 

  • Khorma, Enfant Du Cimetière | Jilani Saadi | FRA/TUN/BEL

  • Mud Madness (short) | Walt Lovelace

  • Now Jimmy! (short) | Mary Wells | JAM

  • Promised Land | Jason Xenopoulos | ZAF

  • Rendez-Vous | Mariette Monpierre | GLP

  • Royal Bonbon | Charles Najman | FRA/CAN/HTI

  • Shottas | Cess Silvera | USA/JAM 

  • A String of Pearls | Camille Billops & James V. Hatch | USA 

  • Ubuntu's Wounds | Sechaba Morojele | USA/ZAF 

  • Waiting for Happiness | Abderrahmane Sissako | FRA/MRT

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