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."
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 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 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.
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 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