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Planet Africa 1997

The 16th edition of Toronto's "Festival of Festival" transition to Toronto International Film Festival featuring over 250 films and the newly launched section Planet Africa.  

The festival ran  September 4 – 14, 1997

"1995 Planet Africa lands on the scene and the scene is changed forever. For the first time African films gain a strong voice at a major international film festival. For the first time the African diaspora speaks together in all its voices. We start small, but we start."

Program 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 have adapted centuries-old stories to create new, timeless films. Gaston J-M Kabore’s majestic Buud Yamcontinues 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 Plentysignals the arrival of major new African- American talent. Nadia fares 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 Foolsis simply historic.

Our short films drop several styles of poetry, from Barbara Samon’s brownstone fantasy, Brezze, 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 films 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 out 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, and to X Unlimited Corporation formerly Boom Design.


If you’ve been to Planet Africa before, welcome back. If this your first time, enjoy the ride. 


Cameron Bailey 

Planet Africa, program introduction

22nd Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)


Cameron Bailey, Planet Africa Programmer

Julie Crooks, Planet Africa Program Assistant

Maxine Bailey


  • Breeze by Barbara Sanon

  • Buud Yam by Gaston Kaboré

  • The Draughtsmen Clash by Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda

  • Dancehall Queen by Rick Elgood and Don Letts 

  • Destiny by Youssef Chahine

  • Fools by Ramadan Suleman

  • Hav Plenty by Christopher Scott Cherot

  • Honey and Ashes by Nadia Farès

  • Martin Luther King: Days of Hope by John Akomfrah

  • Mossane by Safi Faye

  • Sabriya by Abderrahmane Sissako

  • Taafé Fanga by Adama Drabo

  • Through the Door of No Return by Shirikiana Aina

  • To Be a Black Man by Nelson George


Black Film & Video Network (BFVN), Grecia Mayers




Join us

Thursday, September 3, 2020

and explore PLANET AFRICA 1997

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