The Tunisian film ‘Among the Fig Trees’ will open the 20th edition of the African Film Festival – FCAT simultaneously in Tarifa and Tangier

The ‘Three Shores’ section will screen six films at the Alcazar Cinema in Tangiers, linking the Spanish south coast with the North African and Spanish-American coasts.

The Espacio Escuela is once again programming three films for schoolchildren from Spain and Morocco.

Tarifa, 12 April 2023. Sous les figues (Among the Fig Trees), by the Tunisian director Erige Sehiri, will open the 20th edition of the Tarifa-Tangier African Film Festival with a double screening on both shores of the Strait of Gibraltar on the opening day of the festival, Friday 28 April. The Maghrebi director will attend the opening gala in Tangier and the following day will cross to Tarifa to accompany more screenings of her film on the Spanish side of the FCAT.

The film, the director’s debut in fiction and premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, has been screened at a handful of festivals in Europe, Africa and America, as well as being the Tunisian entry on the shortlist for the Oscars for Best International Film. Just as happened to Alcarrás, by Carla Simón, a film with which Among the Fig Trees has many similarities, not only in the story it tells, but also in the atmosphere, the treatment and the way it is shot with non-professional actors and actresses.

Among the Fig Trees focuses on the flirtations of a group of young people, mostly women, as they harvest figs, a fruit that stands as a metaphor in the film, with a vitality that overpowers the exploitative conditions to which they are subjected. In the film, the female characters talk about their relationship with men and desire in a way that is unusual in Arab films. Women who express the nuances between the different degrees of freedom experienced by Tunisian women, for example, in the way they wear their headscarves, in the face of men who are quite lost and frustrated.

The 20th edition of the FCAT will be inaugurated simultaneously in Tarifa and Tangier. The Moroccan city will host a gala in the recently recovered Cinema Alcázar, a symbol of Spanish-language cinema during the Protectorate. An event in which the Instituto Cervantes of Tangier and the Spanish Embassy in Morocco are collaborating, and which will be attended by the Tunisian director Erige Sehiri to present the opening film. The gala, presented by the actress Romina Sanchez, who was born in Granada and grew up in Tangiers, will begin at 18:00 local time, and admission will be free until full capacity is reached.

Simultaneously, the Alameda Theatre in Tarifa will host an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the African Film Festival, which aims to thank and put its audience and the town of Tarifa at the centre, which will also connect with Tangier to highlight the cross-border spirit of the festival, and which will also end with the screening of the inaugural film of the FCAT 2023, Sous les figues (Among the fig trees).

The Three Shores

The city of Tangiers will host the FCAT section The Three Shores, which will screen six films between 28 April and 1 May at 6 p.m. (local time) at the Alcazar Cinema. The Moroccan programme mixes echoes of the festival’s traditional sections, Miradas españolas and La tercera raíz, dedicated to films made by people of Hispanic-American African descent. Thus, the title of this Moroccan section alludes to the union of these three shores through the Spanish language.

Apart from the opening film on Friday 28 April, Sous les figues (Among the fig trees), by Erige Sehiri, on 29 April there will be a triple session with the screening of the short films La rotonda, by the Spanish Carmen Tortosa, and Et le grand trou noir où je voulais me noyer (And the great black hole where I wanted to drow), by the French Fabienne Kanor, two works that delve into the issue of migrants in Almería, the former from the everyday life in their settlements and the latter in parallel with a historical account. The session will be completed with the world premiere of the documentary Children of Al-Andalus, by Marmoucha & Bridge2Connect, a Dutch production based on the book of the same name. A story that focuses on the descendants of the Moors expelled from Spain in 1612 and how, centuries later, they continue to preserve their roots and traditions. Both the Andalusian Muslims and the Sephardic Jews built a new existence in North Africa, bringing new influences to Morocco and enriching existing traditions.

From The Third Root, FCAT rescues for this Moroccan section the title Ceniza Negra (Black Ash), from Costa Rica and directed by Sofía Quirós. A poetic film, which was screened at the 2020 edition of the African Film Festival, and which talks about the relationship between death and spirits and the rituals of passage to adulthood. Likewise, on 1 May, the Cuban film Vicenta B., by Carlos Lechuga, will be screened, a story that revolves around Santeria in the Caribbean country and the contempt for these “witches” that exists on the island.

Espacio Escuela

Cinema aimed at schools and institutes in Spain and Spanish educational centres in Morocco is once again the protagonist of the FCAT’s School Space, which will take place between 24 April and 14 May in centres on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on screens in Tarifa. Schoolchildren and teenagers from both continents will once again have the opportunity to immerse themselves in African cinema thanks to this oasis of the seventh art in schools, which offers a journey to get to know other realities of Africa and the varied cultural wealth of the continent. All of this through films and short films with didactic sessions, key tools to break away from pre-established stereotypes.

Joining Espacio Escuela is simple and free of charge for schools in Spain and Spanish schools in Morocco, with the prior registration by the teacher for primary, secondary, baccalaureate and vocational training students. The activity will take place in their own schools. Once the registrations have been received, the Espacio Escuela team will contact each teacher via the email address provided on the form to confirm their participation, send them the didactic sheet and the viewing code. Three titles in original version with Spanish subtitles make up the programme of this year’s edition: the feature film Anbessa (Lion), by director Mo Scarpelli, which tells the story of Asalif and his mother, who struggle to create a new life in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).

A film aimed at children aged 12 and over; for the over 7s is the animated short film Vanille, by Guillaume Lorin, in which a young Parisian girl who has just arrived on the island of Guadeloupe is plunged into an adventure full of mystery in which she has to meet colourful characters and a magical flower; and finally, the South African micro-short Belly Flop, by Jeremy Collins, follows in animation and without dialogue the perseverance of a girl without complexes who learns to dive headfirst.

For FCAT, knowledge and understanding of the “other” are basic to the formation of people. Through continuous work with young people, the Espacio Escuela, in line with the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda, seeks to promote a more just and real understanding of African societies, using the most universal language of all that exists: art. Espacio Escuela 2023, with the collaboration of the Tarifa Town Council, the Cadiz Provincial Council, the Andalusian Audiovisual Council and the La Caixa Banking Foundation, once again brings cinema to schoolchildren in its commitment to quality education for all.

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