It’s good for the future of cinema that Africa exists

Reviving our #MovieNight feature: A fortnightly feature rounding up movie news.

A still from Seye Isikalu's "The Ocean."

It’s only April, but it’s already been a bad year for Hollywood. If you need a reminder: an all-white acting nominee list at The Oscars; a“swag bag” featuring a free trip to IsraelChris Rock’s tone-deaf stereotypical jokes about Asian Americans; Leonardo DiCaprio wins Best Actor trophy for a role “celebrating the resilience of settler colonialism on land constructed as terra nullius;” and the producers of the new Nina Simone biopic thought it would be good to blacken up lead actress Zoe Saldana. Which reminds of something Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety once said: “It’s good for the future of cinema that Africa exists.” Which is why reviving our #MovieNight feature.  From now on this will be a fortnightly feature. Here’s our movie night to right all the celluloid wrongs.

(1) One of the most interesting short films to come out of South Africa recently is  Jas Boude, a documentary by two University of Cape Town film students that chronicles a day in the life of the 20SK8 collective, a group of skateboarders from the city’s Cape Flats. The film touches on overcoming the continuing violence of apartheid-inherited spacial geographies via some beautiful camerawork and a pumping yet emotive soundtrack by BFake. We thought it was pretty jas.

(2) Nigerian American rapper Tunji Ige just dropped a short documentary called Road to Missed Calls which The Fader has described as “…an incredibly insightful and telling vantage point of an artist who’s at that page turning part of their career, and can go in either direction.” The film starts off with a series of missed call voicemails from the filmmaker and the creative team behind Tunji. While clearly not a great communicator, Tunji is definitely a talented musician, and an artist to watch.

(3) Young eco-conscious filmmakers Sinematella Productions have created a ‘video poem’ shot on location in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa as an ‘ode to the continent we get to call home.’

(4) Staying with the visual poem theme, London- based fashion photographer Seye Isikalu has created a short film called The Ocean, dealing with “the complexities that sometimes come along with being completely passionate & committed to who or what you love.”

(5) Activist filmmaker Iara Lee, a Brazilian of Korean decent, has made it her life work to seek a more just and peaceful world through the arts.  She started a foundation called ‘The Cultures of Resistance Network ‘ and recently made a film on “Africa’s last colony” – the Western Sahara. The film focuses on a group of young Sahrawi activists as they risk torture and disappearance at the hands of the Moroccan authorities, who have been occupying their homeland since the Spanish left four decades ago.

(6) On a sweeter note, South African romantic comedies seem to be really taking off.  Happiness is a Four Letter Word is following the success of Tell Me Sweet Something by delivering thick on the rom with a little sprinkle of com. While it presents an imagined Joburg that is more aspirational than realistic, it’s about time black characters get do more than suffer and endure hardship on screen.

(7) In 2012 a blog post by US-based Zambian author Field Ruwe called ‘You Lazy Intellectual African Scum’ caused a social media storm. The story was essentially about a white ex-International Monetary Fund official scolding the writer on a New Year’s eve flight, blaming Zambia’s intelligentsia for its levels of poverty. While it sparked a rigorous debate on the role of intellectuals in African society, it presented a completely skewed version of what Zambians are actually doing to build their country. It also absolved the west of any wrong doing. The film version of the post, by Kenyan student director Kevin Njue has just been released on Buni.TV. You can stream it here.

Further Reading

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

Breaking the chains of indifference

The significance of ending the ongoing war in Sudan cannot be overstated, and represents more than just an end to violence. It provides a critical moment for the international community to follow the lead of the Sudanese people.

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.

Paradise forgotten

While there is much to mourn about the passing of legendary American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, we should hold a place for his bold statement-album against apartheid South Africa.

The two Africas

In the latest controversies about race and ancient Egypt, both the warring ‘North Africans as white’ and ‘black Africans as Afrocentrists’ camps find refuge in the empty-yet-powerful discourse of precolonial excellence.

A vote of no confidence

Although calling for the cancellation of Nigeria’s February elections is counterintuitive, the truth is that they were marred by fraud, voter suppression, technical glitches and vote-buying.