PLANET AFRICA 2003
The 2003 Toronto International Film Festival screened a total of 336 films from 55 countries at this year’s event. Of those, Planet Africa screened 16 films including international co-productions between Cameroon/Gabon/Central Africa Republic, Norway/UK, Rwanda/France, France/Morocco, and France/Morocco/Belgium.
Seven first-time feature filmmakers were highlighted in this year’s eclectic program, along with established directors, artists and crew. Planet Africa was not only a launchpad for filmmakers but talent in all areas, on-screen and behind the lens.
September 4 - 13, 2003
Planet Africa Programmers' Note
In 1971, blues musician Gil Scott-Heron prophesied that the revolution would not be televised. Simultaneously, pioneer filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles was nervously waiting to discover whether his cinematic gamble, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, would pay off by drawing masses of black people into the theatres. Sweetback was to become the highest grossing independent film in the United States of that year, giving rise to a new black urban cinematic tradition. The revolution may not have been televised but, for a moment, it was immortalized on the big screen.
As the millennium progresses and the stirrings of revolution are awakening in unsuspected corners, a new language is sought – one that will redefine our cultural futures – therefore, the necessity to re-imagine a new cinematic trajectory grows ever more pressing. This year, Planet Africa contributes in this regard by bringing together seven first -time feature filmmakers (Norman Maake, Faouzi Bensaidi, Narjiss Nejjar, Branwen Okpako, D.A. Bullock, James Spooner and Didier Ouénangaré) along with the established talents of S. Pierre Yameogro, Bassek ba Kobhio, Don Letts, Rick Elgood and Mario Van Peebles.
Opening this year’s revolutionary palette is a son’s tribute to his father. In How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass, Mario Van Peebles shatters cinematic conventions as he explores the personal experience of being the son of the ubiquitous Melvin Van Peebles. His film mixes intimate reflection with a courageous unravelling of the political and cultural war that many independent filmmakers wage in order to have their boundary-pushing visions made available to the public.
Today’s revolutionary tales come in various attractive packages, whether offering glimpses into the lush, green forests inhabited by the Babingas pygmies, the dark underworld of South Africa’s gold mines, the urban wonderland of the Afropunk, secret lives hidden in a Moraccan brothel, or the pressure building within the Ethiopian community in Israel If the use of good old-fashioned fun forces you to raise an eyebrow, then take a look at the Jamaican romantic comedy One Love or the road move Moi et mon blanc. Films of the African diaspora have many ways of speaking to their audiences; simply humanizing the African experience – as in Valley of the Innocent, Mille Moisor, Dark – can break moulds.
Being a woman director can still inspire surprise, so this year’s shorts programme is respectfully given over to exploring the female imagination. We are a funny, vain and sensitive breed. This collection captures just this. Check out the wry comedy of Shari Frilot and Lynn A. Henderson, a novel take on the ubiquitous hair story by Jacqueline Kalimunda and two very different ways to say goodbye to love by Nzinga Kemp and co-directors Ouida Smit and Madoda Ncayiyana.
As always, Planet Africa is designed to leave you with your belly full, so here’s hoping you have worked up an appetite.
Planet Africa, Program Introduction
28th Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
TIFF PA PROGRAMMING TEAM:
Gaylene Gould, Planet Africa Programmer
TBC, Planet Africa Program Assistant
FILMS & FILMMAKERS:
Afropunk: The "Rock n Roll Nigger" Experience | James Spooner | USA
Dark | D.A. Bullock | USA
His/Herstory (short) | Nzinga Kemp | USA
Histoire de Tresses | Jacqueline Kalimunda | RWA/FRA
How to Get the Man's Foot Out of Your Ass (aka Baadasssss!) | Mario Van Peebles | USA
Mille Mois (A Thousand Months) | Faouzi Bensaïdi | FRA/MAR/BEL
Moi et mon blanc | S. Pierre Yaméogo | BFA
One Love | Rick Elgood & Don Letts | NOR/UK
Outcry | Destau Damtu | IL
Short on Sugar (short) | Joseph Anaya | USA
Le Silence de la forêt | Didier Ouénangaré & Bassek ba Kobhio | CMR/GAB/CAF
The Sky in Her Eyes | Ouida Smit & Madoda Ncayiyana | ZAF
Soldiers of the Rock | Norman Maake | ZAF
Strange & Charmed | Shari Frilot | USA
Les Yeux secs (Cry No More) | Narjiss Nejjar | FRA/MAR