Films from the Southern Mediterranean Tour

Access Cinema presents three films from the Southern Mediterranean Tour: 

3 films, 3 venues, September 30 – October 7, 2012.  

Venues : 

  • Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick
  • Galway Film Society, Town Hall Theatre, Galway
  • Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray
The Repentant from Algeria questions Government policy in the late 1990s which offered amnesty for former terrorists if they would simply repent their crimes. Is becoming a ‘repentant’ really that easy? Director Merzak Allouache’s film won the Europa Cinemas Label at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Adila Bendimerad, lead actress in Algerian film The Repentant, will introduce the film at the screenings at Galway Film Society and Mermaid Arts Centre. 

Footnote from Israel takes a look at the personal and academic rivalry between father and son at a prestigious university as they both compete for a major prize. It was the winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

On the Edge
 from Morocco details the lives of four women working in Tangiers who dream of a better existence in the ‘free zone’ while coping with their day to day travails. A first film from a female director born in Casablanca; it was selected for Directors’ Fortnight at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

The tour is a joint project by Maretta Dillon and access>CINEMA. The countries that fringe the southern part of the vast inland sea of the Mediterranean stretch from Morocco on the western side all the way across to Syria on the eastern most edge. “The selected films this year are by no means definitive, how could they be in such a diverse, complex and exciting region?  But they do give a welcome insight into the culture, interests and hopes of this challenging area,” said Maretta Dillon.

The project has been funded by the Arts Council under their Touring & Dissemination of Work Scheme.

Screening details:
Galway Film Society / Booking 091 569 777 /
·      On the Edge / Sunday, Sept 30, 5.45pm
·      The Repentant / Sunday, Sept 30, 8.15pm
·      Footnote / Sunday, October 7, 8.15pm

Mermaid Arts Centre / Booking 01 272 4030 /
·      The Repentant / Monday, Oct 1, 8.00pm
·      On the Edge / Thursday, Oct 4, 8.00pm
·      Footnote / Friday, Oct 5, 8.00pm
Belltable Arts Centre / Booking 061 319 866
·      The Repentant / Monday, Oct 1, 8.00pm
·      Footnote / Tuesday, Oct 2, 8.00pm
·      On the Edge / Wednesday, Oct 3, 8.00pm

Death for Sale

Just heard that the Moroccan Thriller ‘Death for Sale’ by Faouzi Bensaidi has become the official Moroccan entry to the 2013 Oscars! We showed the Irish Premiere at the Film Festival in May, if you were there here’s the trailer to refresh your memories –

Hopefully it will come out on DVD then sometime after the Academy Awards, certainly a film I’d like to add to my collection!

Africa: Hollywood’s invisible continent

I saw this article in The Guardian and thought it summed up pretty much why we created the Galway African Film Festival! The article was printed on 3rd November 2011 and was written by Hannah Pool.

“Viva Riva!, the award-winning film by Congolese director Djo Tunda Wa Munga, a ‘gloriously trashy, fast-paced gangster flick’.

I’m a big fan of North American cinema, and I think it’s important to show their film industry plenty of support. My only problem is that once you’ve seen one or two North American films, you’ve pretty much seen them all. As a diaspora African I’d much rather watch other Africans on the big screen.

Sound odd? A tad racist, even? Of course it does, and yet that’s how many non-Africans think of African cinema.

How is it that stories produced by Africans, be it film, music, or literature, are still considered niche, worthy, or somehow “less” than art created by non-Africans? At best, African cinema is considered “art house”, African art is labelled “craft”, and African literature must focus on the big three (famine, war or poverty) to be deemed authentic.

Author Chimamanda Adichie called this the danger of the “single story” of Africa: a story of catastrophe in which there was “no possibility of feelings more complex than pity; no possibility of a connection as human equals”. If Africa is only ever viewed through a western prism, how can you expect to have anything other than a deeply unbalanced view of a continent of more than 50 countries and 2,000 languages?

Binyavanga Wainaina, whose satirical Granta essay How to Write about Africa went viral a few years ago, says of western films: “Africa is an object, rather than a subject. We are suffering objects or empowering objects or sustainable objects or some kind of objects but we are objects. We don’t have anything to say for ourselves.”

Today sees the launch of the Film Africa festival, which features 50 films over 10 days and highlights the significance of Africans telling their own stories, and how important it is for others to consume them. “The festival aims to bring alternative Africas and visions of Africa to audiences, to compel viewers to reflect on their own assumptions about this vast, fascinating continent,” says its co-director Lindiwe Dovey.

Last year Unesco finally recognised Nigerian cinema, which produces more than 2,000 films a year, as the world’s second largest film industry. “Nollywood”, worth about $250m, is not as productive as Bollywood, but is making more movies than Hollywood. Bombay Dreams and Slumdog were both considered “crossover” Indian films: isn’t it about time African cinema had its own crossover moment?

One of my favourite films of this year is Viva Riva!, a gloriously trashy, fast-paced gangster flick by Congolese director Djo Tunda Wa Munga. It’s great entertainment, and a world away from the stereotype of worthy African cinema. It won six African Movie Academy Awards (including best film and best director) and was named best African movie at the MTV movie awards, so why aren’t more cinemas showing it? I had to wait years before I saw the beautiful Ethiopian film 13 Months of Sunshine (about a marriage of convenience that goes wrong), and only saw it then because a friend lent me her cherished DVD.

Film Africa will see the UK premier of Koundi And National Thursday, by Cameroonian director Ariane Astrid Atodji, which won best documentary at the African film festival of Tarifa. It looks at a village’s attempt to maintain independence. Contrary to the Hollywood version of Africa, this film is about Africans addressing their own poverty without the help of outsiders.

Why do film distributors never come under fire for failing to adequately distribute African cinema? And why is it assumed that white audiences prefer Africa to come with a thinly veiled colonial backdrop, which usually involves a white hero saving a poor downtrodden country from itself? Blood Diamond, anyone?

Africans are now telling their own stories. It’s time the rest of the world started consuming them.”