Planet Africa 2002
911 - The ??th edition of Toronto International Film Festival featuring over 250 films and the newly launched section Planet Africa.
The festival ran September 5 – 15, 2002
"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."
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 represent 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 In the Caribbean and parts of Africa, television broadcasting teams with out of date American dramas that fulfill cheap programming needs and simultaneously shape the tastes of nations.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 films by 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 Landand Khorma, Enfant du cimetiere).We also welcome the return of two filmmakers to Planet Africa: Bye Bye Africa’s Mahamet-Saleh Haroun who returns with Abounaand Hav Plenty’s Christopher Scott Cherot, who is back with his new G. Gael Morel’s Les Chemins de l’ouedand Abderrahmane Sissako’s award-winning Waiting for Happinesswill 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 come, the Caribbean may be the place of hedonistic holiday fantasies, but it also possesses a complex cultural and historical linage 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 3 Canal 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 Shottasfocuses 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 it 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. Immense yourself in the fantastical worlds presented in this year’s Planet Africa programme.
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 by Mahamat Saleh Haroun
Ataklan: Naked Walk by Walt Lovelace
Black Attack by Walt Lovelace
Les Chemins de l'Oued by Gaël Morel
G by Christopher Scott Cherot
George and the Bicycle Pump by Asha Lovelace
I Have a Dream by Zak Ove
Khorma, Enfant Du Cimetiere by Jilani Saadi
Mud Madness by Walt Lovelace
Now Jimmy! by Mary Wells - Short
Promised Land by Jason Xenopoulos
Rendez-Vous by Mariette Monpierre
Royal Bonbon by Charles Najman
Shottas by Cess Silvera
A String of Pearls by Camille Billops and James V. Hatch
Ubuntu's Wounds by Sechaba Morojele
Waiting for Happiness by Abderrahmane Sissako
Alexei and the Spring by Seiichi Motohashi
Black Film & Video Network (BFVN), Grecia Mayers