Photo:  Miners Shot Down

Amazing African stories on your screen

by / Comments Off / 156 View / 19th July 2014

A world first will be taking place this month when a full week of African documentary films are broadcast across sub-Saharan Africa on DStv channel ED (channel 190) and GOtv (channel 65).

This unique film event will see a diverse and exciting range of films screened across 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, to coincide with the Durban International Film Festival, the largest film festival in South Africa that takes place from July 17th ­ 27th. The diverse range of stories from East, West and Southern Africa provide both historical and current insights into our amazing continent.

Coach Zoran & His African Tigers ­ South Sudan

As South Sudan approaches its third anniversary as the world¹s newest nation, it is apt that one of the films to be screened takes a unique perspective on the country.

Coach Zoran & His African Tigers follows the country¹s ambition to re-enter the world football stage with a newly formed national team. South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011, following almost 50 years of civil war. Although still steeped in the memories of countless victims of violence, the new nation is seeking to make a place on the international soccer stage by forming its first national team.

The man called in for this task is the Serbian Zoran Djordjevic, a dynamic and hugely ambitious veteran coach. The film follows the team over its first year, from the hunt for new players to buying a sheep called Champion as its mascot and the first international games.

Zoran¹s aggressive and even dictatorial style soon leads to conflict with the chair of the soccer federation and several senior politicians. As the euphoria of independence subsides, the team finds itself hit by bitter infighting, malaria and a financial crisis that threatens the state itself.

What follows is a darkly comic and original portrait of the birth of a nation.

Coach Zoran & His African Tigers screens on Tuesday July 22nd at 21:00 (GMT + 2).

Day By Day: Femi Kuti

Day By Day: Femi Kuti is more than a biopic, but rather gives real insight into every aspect of the creative process. As the film follows the development of a track from Femi Kuti’s latest album, it sets out to explain the artistic decisions. These choices are inseparable from Femi¹s involvement in the political situation in his home country, Nigeria.

Correct arrangements and bold choices involving one guitar strumming patterns over another, woven together with a choir¹s harmony, come together to bring forth the artist’s message. The film then also sheds light on the unsung work of the record producer, Sodi, in the specific context of urban and anti-establishment music : Afrobeat.

Day by Day explores this musical journey through the Parisian studio as well as documents the intimidation Femi is subject to in Nigeria because of his opposition to the current regime. The documentary shifts between the object of the artist¹s struggle; his fight to lift Nigeria and Africa as a whole out of the despondent poverty, and the proof of his commitment and tools of his trade: haunting, catchy songs.

Day By Day: Femi Kuti will screen on Wednesday July 23rd at 21:00 (GMT + 2).

Mama Africa

Mama Africa, the biography of Miriam Makeba, South African singer and anti-apartheid activist; the voice and the hope of Africa. Miriam Makeba was the first African musician to become a true international star. Her music influenced artists across the globe but always remained true to her South African roots with its message against racism and poverty. This documentary, directed by Mika Kaurismäki, traces her life and music through more than fifty years of performing. Using rare archive footage of her performances, interviews and intimate scenes filmed over the years, we are shown a unique person, a world icon. Friends and colleagues, some who knew her since she started performing in the dance halls of South Africa (remember ³Pata Pata²), together with her grandchildren Zenzi Monique Lee and Nelson Lumumba Lee, allow us know the remarkable journey of Miriamn Makeba.

Miriam Makeba left a big legacy behind, not only in South Africa but throughout the world. Her unique melodic voice became the voice of freedom and diginity for her people, both old and young. However, the film does not only tell the history of Miriam Makeba, but also showcases South Africa’s present day, by introducing younger artists, who may have just been born when Mama Africa was still in exile and banned, but who were inspired by her and her art nevertheless.²

Mama Africa will be screened on Friday July 25th at 19:30 (GMT + 2).

The Irresistible Rise of Moïse Katumbi – DRC

The Irresistible Rise of Moïse Katumbi, big-time entrepreneur and director of the Tout Puissant Mazembe soccer team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as being governor of Katanga, Congo¹s richest province, which is home to some 80 percent of the country¹s natural resources, Moïse Katumbi is an extraordinary character. Coming from a mixed Jewish-Congolese family, this self-made man is today one of the most powerful people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Director Thierry Michel has been making films in Africa for many years, and has also known Katumbi for a long time, enabling him to gain unprecedented access to the governor. The film crew accompanies him on working visits  where he is cheered by employees who are invariably underpaid and do dangerous and unhealthy jobs without any form of labor protection.

The Irresistible Rise of Moïse Katumbi will be screened on Monday July 21st at 21:00 (GMT + 2).

Miners Shot Down

Miners Shot Down, the documentary that many commentators have said every South African should see, is also resonating deeply with international audiences due to its global themes of democracy, worker¹s rights, citizen activism and freedom of speech. The film, which will be screened on Thursday 24th July at 19:30 on DStv channel 190 and GOtv channel 65 as part of the AfriDocs Film Week, will also be screened during the Durban International Film Festival.

In the four short months since it was released, Miners Shot Down has been screened to large numbers of people at film festivals across the globe, in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Australasia and will be shown in a host of festivals over the coming months, including special 20 Years of Democracy screenings in Berlin and New York.

With 2014 being used by many to showcase the achievements of South Africa¹s 20 years of democracy, Miners Shot Down presents an alternative view ­ one that needs to be seen and heard beyond the borders of South Africa.

Miners Shot Down will be screened on Thursday July 24th at 19:30 (GMT +2).

Concerning Violence ­ Pan Africa

Concerning Violence is a bold and fresh visual narrative from Africa based on newly discovered archive material covering the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation from colonial rule. This powerful footage is combined with text from Frantz Fanon¹s landmark book The Wretched of the Earth – written in 1960 and still a major tool for understanding and illuminating the neocolonialism happening today, as well as the unrest and the reactions against it. The film describes the uprisings that led to Africa¹s decolonisation. Once again, Olsson concentrates on archive material filmed in Africa by Swedish documentary filmmakers and television journalists between 1966 and 1984. Footage of liberation movements in Angola, the Frelimo in Mozambique and the struggle for independence in Guinea-Bissau are juxtaposed with documentary images of Swedish missionaries in Tanzania and a strike in a Swedish mine in Liberia.

Musician Lauryn Hill brings to life Fanon¹s polarising texts which structure and provide commentary on the film¹s visual material. A glimpse of today¹s smouldering conflicts along the old colonial borders shows that, even 50 years after Fanon¹s death, Africa is still dealing with the consequences of centuries of European raids and interventions.

Concerning Violence will screen on Tuesday July 22nd at 18:00 (GMT + 2).

Picture credit:  from the film Miners Shot Down