'Spotlight Africa' Film Series + Directors Panel At Chicago Int’l Film Festival Next Month
Photo Credit: S & A

'Spotlight Africa' Film Series + Directors Panel At Chicago Int’l Film Festival Next Month


As part of its commitment to present African cinema, this

year the 49th Annual Chicago

International Film Festival will be screening a series of 13 films from African

filmmakers throughout the festival, that they call Spotlight Africa, of which several of the films being screened we

have profiled extensively before on S & A.

Some of the African films to screened are:


Of Tabatô (Guinea Bissau and Portugal)


João Viana

After years of European exile, Imatur returns to his

native village of Tabatô to attend his daughter’s wedding, his head still

saturated with horrific visions of a war he fought long ago. When tragedy

strikes on the road to Tabatô, the entire village must come together in this

entrancing, surreal film that blends music and magic with the lingering effects

of Guinea-Bisseau’s history.(pictured above)


South-Easter (South Africa)


Carey McKenzie

When a body washes up on a Cape Town beach, ambitious

township cop Sizwe seizes the opportunity to prove himself and earn the

promotion he desperately needs. But when the investigation leads him to a black

market smuggling ring, Sizwe is caught in the middle of a deadly power play

orchestrated by an old friend. With no one left to trust, Sizwe must take the

law into his own hands in this gritty crime drama.


It Up Djassa (France / Ivory Coast)


Lonesome Solo

Shot on a miniscule budget but positively bursting with

style and energy, this hugely inventive DIY crime thriller follows Tony, a

young cigarette seller in an Abidjan ghetto. Ignoring the pleas of his

policeman brother to stay on the right side of the law, Tony gets increasingly

mixed up in local gambling and criminal activities until a moment of violence

puts him on the run from the law.


President (Zimbabwe)


Mosco Kamwendo

An inspiring portrait of Mozambique’s founding president,

Comrade President traces the life and legacy of revolutionary leader Samora

Moisés Machel. At the forefront of a popular uprising, Machel helped establish

a fledgling government and continued fighting for justice until his suspicious

death in 1986. With candid interviews from those who knew Machel best –

including his opponents – this documentary examines the indelible legacy of a

revolutionary hero.




Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Despite a paralyzed leg that keeps him on the fringes of

society, Grigris comes alive at the local nightclub, tearing up the dance floor

every night. When a relative’s hospital bills start piling up, Grigris must

turn to the black market for work. After double-crossing his new boss in a

desperate attempt at fast money, Grigris finds himself on the run in this

sensitive depiction of a desperate, marginalized man by one of Africa’s most

celebrated directors.


The Pardon (Rwanda)


Joel Karekezi

Best friends Manzi and Karemera find themselves on

opposing sides in Rwanda’s ethnic civil war, with Tutsi Karemera’s family

paying a horrific price for Manzi’s allegiance to his Hutu heritage. When Manzi

is released from prison fifteen years later, his return re-opens old wounds.

Filmmaker Joel Karekezi draws from his own experience as a survivor of Rwanda’s

violence in creating this moving account of two former friends who must contend

with the unimaginable horrors in their past.




Abdeslam Kelai

When 16-year-old Malak discovers that she’s pregnant, she

quickly finds herself alone in a community that marginalizes and mistreats

single mothers. Abandoned by the baby’s father, shunned by her family, and in

dire need of cash, Malak is forced to take desperate measures. An

elegantly-photographed portrait of a young woman’s struggles, Malak garnered

major awards at Morocco’s National Film Festival, including the Jury Prize,

Best Screenplay, and Best Actress for its young star Chaimae Ben Acha.


Good Report (South Africa)


Jahmil X.T. Qubeka

This modern day film noir tracks Parker, a shy high

school teacher arriving at a new school. While he is earnest in his passion for

teaching, his extra-curricular attentions are drawn to a gorgeous young woman.

When he realizes she is a student at his very school – and forbidden fruit – he

grows increasingly obsessed. When the girl goes missing, a female detective

comes snooping around, fueling Parker’s unstable, even dangerous, behavior as

she gets closer to the shocking truth.


Necessary (Kenya)


Judy Kibinge

Anne struggles to rebuild her life after Kenya’s civil

unrest has killed her husband, gravely injured her son, and left her isolated

farm in ruins. Joseph, a quiet and troubled young gang member who took part in

the countrywide violence, is drawn to Anne and her farm, seemingly in search of

connection and redemption. This powerful story of forgiveness and

reconciliation presents an intimate look at the aftermath of violence on both

perpetrators and victims.


Welt (Netherlands and Tunisia


Alex Pitstra

In the summer of 2011, Tunisia is finally free of its

dictatorial shackles, but 23-year-old Abdallah is still a slave to his mundane

life, dreaming of an escape to Europe – or “die Welt” – to fulfill his dormant

ambitions. Following a chance encounter with Dutch tourist Anna, Abdallah’s

passion to reach the other side of the Mediterranean burns brighter than ever

before, prompting a desperate gamble for escape in this at turns comic and

heartbreaking story.


(Algeria / France)


Djamila Sahraoui

In an isolated house on a drought-stricken mountainside,

Ouardia must bury the body of her son Tarik, a victim of the civil conflict

waging between the government and the fundamentalists. She suspects her other

son, Ali, a mujahedeen fighter, has had a hand in the killing. And their mutual

distrust is evidenced in the young soldier that Ali has sent to guard her.

Beautifully capturing the expansive Algerian countryside this minimalist tale

of a single family’s tragedy takes on mythic proportions.

In addition, several of the directors of these films, such

as João Viana and Jahmil X.T. Quebeka, will participate in a directors panel and

an informal get together called Meet the Filmmakers, which will take place at the

Black Cinema House located on 6901

S. Dorchester Ave Sunday Oct. 13 starting at 12 noon. The event is free. No ticket required.

Go HERE to find out more about all the films being shown

at Spotlight Africa at CIFF, including the shorts and the music video


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