The best films from Africa and its diasporas come to the 19th edition of the Tarifa African Film Festival

This event will be held from 27 May to 3 June in the Andalusian town of Tarifa, a cross-border town between Morocco and Spain

The opening film is the Nigerian film Walking on Water, the closing film is the Somali film The Gravedigger’s Wife

Tarifa, May 2022. The Tarifa African Film Festival celebrates its 19th edition with an official session made up of films from Tunisia, Sao Tome and Principe, Ethiopia, Egypt, Benin, Reunion, Rwanda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, French Guiana, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar and Angola, as well as two major retrospectives, one dedicated to the links between cinema and literature and the other focusing on the Egyptian filmmaker Atteyat Al Abnoudy.

The two great retrospectives of the Tarifa African Film Festival

The big bet of this edition will be Entre la tinta y la pantalla, a parallel section that delves into the relationship between literature and cinema, through sixteen titles produced from the 1960s to the present day that cover countries such as Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Angola, Morocco and Afro-Cuban descent. Among the filmmakers present in this section, some historical ones stand out, such as Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Med Hondo (Mauritania) or Djibril Diop Mambéty (Senegal); as well as other contemporary ones, such as Dani Kouyaté (Burkina Faso) or Mariano Bartolomeu (Angola), among others. As for literary authors, we find classics such as Naguib Mahfuz (Egypt), an emblematic figure of the new Arab novel, Abdoulaye Mamani (Nigeria), Moussa Diagana (Mauritania), Assia Djebar (Algeria, literary pseudonym of Fatema Zohra), Malek Alloula (Algeria) and Mia Couto (Mozambique), one of today’s most important authors. 

The FCAT dedicates a major retrospective to the Egyptian filmmaker Atteyat Al Abnoudy (1939-2018), considered the “mother of the Egyptian documentary” and one of the pioneering directors in the Arab world. Nicknamed “filmmaker of the poor”, her decision to film people in a daily life of hard work and precariousness was a scandal at a time when film was perceived as a propaganda weapon by the authorities.

FCAT official sessions: 20 titles from 18 African countries

The African presence at the major international festivals provided a great harvest of films from the continent. The official feature film section of the FCAT, called Hypermetropia, offers films from Rwanda, Tunisia, Egypt, Haiti, Mali, Benin, Reunion, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and, for the first time, a film from Sao Tome. 

The ten titles in Hypermetropia are among the most daring on a formal level and imbued with great visual poetry. Most of them are works by young filmmakers, films that dialogue with each other on the issues of exile, from the dream of an idealised place (Faya Dayi, by Jessica Beshir, Ethiopia) to the uprooting, the violence of the host country (Lèv la tèt dann fenwar, by Erika Étangsalé, La Réunion). Another theme is the struggle for dignity (Xaraasi Xanne, by Malians Bouba Touré and Raphaël Grisey). 

Films that propose a representation of women far from clichés (Black Medusa, by Ismaël and Youssouf Chebbi, Tunisia), of their emancipation and empowerment (Feathers, by Omar El Zohairy, Egypt) and (Freda, by Gessica Géneus, a film from Haiti and Benin), but also highlighting the necessary liberation of men from their own mental shackles (Une histoire d’amour et désir, by Tunisian Leyla Bouzid).

Films that revisit the traumas and forgotten episodes of history (the documentary Constelaçoes do Equador, by Silas Tiny, the first film from Sao Tome and Principe in the FCAT); a portrait of the concerns and aspirations of youth (Nous, étudiants! by Rafiki Fariala, from the Central African Republic); or the screening of an Afrofuturist, anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and queer vision of the continent (Neptune Frost, by Rwandans Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman). 

África en breve, the competitive short film section continues to be an incubator of talent on the African continent, with titles dealing with colonial violence (Écoutez le battement de nos images, by Audrey & Maxime Jean-Baptiste, French Guiana), colonial representation (Kapita, by Petna Ndaliko, Democratic Republic of Congo) and resistance to colonial domination (Mangrove School, by Filipa César & Sónia Vaz Borges, Guinea Bissau, Portugal).

Also, the violence of war (Vou Mudar a Cozinha, by Ondjaki, Angola), gender violence (Imuhira, by Myriam Uwiragiye, Rwanda) and (Microbus, by Maggie Kamal, Egypt); the emotional violence of leaving childhood (Astel, by Ramata-Toulaye, Senegal) and the violence of exile and uprooting (Egúngún, by Olive Nwosu, Nigeria). Comedy is also present in this selection, through the meta-cinema in an international premiere (The Unusual Kinky Quaint Peculiar Weird Strange Rum Queer Odd and Bizarre Day of a Shadow Man, by Hary Joel, French Guiana) or magical realism (Precious Hair & Beauty, by John Ogunmuyiwa).

Additionally, outside the official competition is La tecera raíz, a section dedicated to Afro-descendants. The 19th edition of the festival will be dominated by films from the Dominican Republic, where the cultural legacy of Africa is present in all areas of people’s life. 

The opening and closing film of the 19th edition of the festival 

The opening film of this year’s festival, the documentary Marcher sur l’eau (Aïssa Maïga, 2021), a co-production between Niger and France, is set in the village of Tatiste in Niger, where Houlaye, a 14-year-old teenager, and other children travel kilometres to fetch the water the village needs to survive. The closing film, The gravedigger’s wife (Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, 2021), a Somali film presented at the Cannes Critics’ Week, will be screened on Friday, 3 June, after the prize-giving ceremony of the 19th FCAT. A tender portrait of an African couple facing a health problem.

The poster, the work of the Italian-Senegalese artist Maïmouna Guerresi

This year’s poster was created by Maïmouna Guerresi, an Italian-Senegalese multimedia artist whose work is steeped in Sufi spirituality. The work, which belongs to her series Aïsha in Wonderland, brings a feminine energy to this powerful image that alludes to “cultural and spiritual crossbreeding”.


Industry and training at FCAT

The FCAT LAB post-production workshop, which offers support for featured films from Africa in the form of prizes, will once again be active at this year’s edition. The FCAT LAB 2022 will take place in online format as part of the actions programmed in the Tree of Words, the space dedicated to the professional and training activities of the African Film Festival-FCAT. 

For its part, the Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA) will organise a showcase in Tarifa, where five Spanish companies representing post-production services will present themselves to African producers and directors both in person and via streaming. 

The Aula de cine will also take place, under the title Relatos ensoñados. El arte narrativo en los cines africanos, an in-depth course on the evolution and characteristics of African cinema, given by the programmer and film critic Javier H. Estrada (Spain). All the filmmakers that will be analysed in the Aula share an iconoclastic spirit, authentic aesthetic renovators who also observed the realities of their countries with a profoundly critical eye. During four sessions, cinematographies such as those of Mali, Egypt, Tunisia and Angola will be addressed, highlighting their past and present relevance.

The Festival de Cine Africano-FCAT is the most important film festival of the continent and of African descent in the Spanish-speaking world and has a film collection of more than a thousand titles translated into Spanish.

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