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Planet Africa 2003

911 - The ??th edition of Toronto International Film Festival featuring over 250 films and the newly launched section Planet Africa.  

The festival ran September 4 – 14, 2003

"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


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 Band Asssss Song, would pay off by drawing masses of black people into the theatres. Sweetback was the become the highest grossing independent film in the United State of the 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 be 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 MoisorDark – 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 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 fully, so here’s hoping you have worked up an appetite. 


Gaylene Gould

Planet Africa, program introduction

28th Annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)



Gaylene Gould, Planet Africa Programmer

TBC, Planet Africa Program Assistant


  • Afropunk: The "Rock n Roll Nigger" Experience by James Spooner

  • Dark by D.A. Bullock

  • His/Herstory by Nzinga Kemp

  • Histoire de Tresses by Jacqueline Kalimunda

  • How to Get the Man's Foot Out of Your Ass (Baadasssss!) by Mario Van Peebles

  • Mille Mois (A Thousand Months) by Faouzi Bensaïdi

  • Moi et mon blanc by S. Pierre Yameogo

  • One Love by Rick Elgood and Don Letts

  • Outcry by Destau Damtou

  • Short on Sugar directed by Joseph Anaya

  • Le Silence de la forêt by Didier Ouénangaré and Bassek ba Kobhio

  • The Sky in Her Eyes by Ouida Smit and Madoda Ncayiyana

  • Soldiers of the Rock by Norman Maake

  • Strange & Charmed by Shari Frilot

  • Valley of the Innocent Tal der Ahnungslosen (original title) by Branwen Okpako

  • Les Yeux secs (Cry No More) by Narjiss Nejjar


Black Film & Video Network (BFVN), Grecia Mayers

2003 link:

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