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Afrikamera 2020’s digital revolution

Berlin’s annual celebration of cinema from the African continent has moved its excellent programme online. Here’s what to catch over the next few days.

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This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection screens online at this year’s Afrikamera. Photo: Afrikamera

Afrikamera, Berlin’s annual and consistently engrossing celebration of current African cinema, has been denied Arsenal’s screens this month for its unlucky 13th edition. However, the festival is thankfully moving online, with the programme presented on www.afrikamera.de from November 17 – 22.

The online selection, under the heading Urban Africa, Urban Movies: Politics & Revolution, coincides with the 60th anniversary of independence in several African states this year, and showcases features and documentaries about current urban cinema, protest movements against authoritarian regimes, and how the continent has grappled with colonialism.

The festival kicks off with the wonderfully titled This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection (Nov 17, 7pm), by Lesothic director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese. This unmissable and evocative drama sees an 80-year old widow’s plans of wanting to die and be buried with her son, who was killed in a mining accident, thwarted when she learns that a dam project threatens to bury her village and the cemetery under a reservoir. This ignites within her a spirit of resilience as she stands up for the spiritual legacy of her community. The film was awarded the Special Jury prize at Sundance and the screening – like many others in this year’s online edition – will be followed by a Zoom Q&A session with the director (starting at 9pm).

Also worth checking out is the screening of this year’s Berlinale-premiering Nardjes A. (Nov 18, 6pm), by Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz. Filmed on a smartphone, Aïnouz documents the “Revolution of Smiles” with great empathy by converging on a 24-hour window on International Women’s Day in Algiers in March 2019, where a politically engaged generation of Algerian youth took a stand for the democratic future of their country. Again, Aïnouz will join audiences on Zoom after the screening.

One of our highlights is the unskippable programme on Saturday, November 21. Tune in at 1pm for the online discussion about “Art and Culture in time of COVID-19 – Filmmaking in Africa during the Pandemic”, in which filmmakers and festival directors will address how the pandemic affects cultural and film production, filmmaker networking, and how respective governments are dealing with the ongoing crisis. This discussion takes place online on Zoom and is streamed live on Facebook.

It will be followed by the Revolutionary Shorts programme at 3pm, Teboho Edkins’ ethnological docuwestern Days Of Cannibalism at 5.15pm (followed by a Zoom Q&A), and finally by Soko Sam’s Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury award-winning Softie at 9.30pm, which portrays political activist and photographer Boniface “Softie” Mwangi’s struggle against corrupt politicians.

Make sure to support the festival and don’t miss out on this brilliantly curated selection of now-streamable films.

Afrikamera / November 17-22. Full programme at https://www.afrikamera.de/en/kalendarium-afrikamera-2020/