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!

African Cinema in Istanbul

Friends send me a link to an article in the Utne Magazine which looks at one man’s mission to bring African Cinema to Turkey in order to shift cultural perceptions …. Sounds familiar? Yep, I think we will have to follow this up for possible links – that would be exciting.

Dr. Mahir Saul has three things on his mind—continents, connections and cinema. He is a one-man tectonic plate, attempting to bind Europe, Asia, North America and Africa into one large land mass. For him, accepted geographic norms aside, it makes perfect sense. Now, he wants to shift and align public perception to see the world as he does. 

In early 2012, he curated the first-ever African film series, to be held in Turkey, for the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Saul, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor, 62, brought to the project over three decades of academic research, an entire career studying West African cultures in places like Burkina Faso, lengthy fieldwork examining Istanbul’s Afro-Turk population, and a thorough knowledge of African filmography. As a native of Istanbul, a city located in both Europe and Asia, he wanted to give something back to his country. 

Read more:

Focus Features’ Africa First Program

Celebrating its fifth year, Focus Features’ Africa First Program will accept entries beginning this Monday, May 14th and continuing through Monday, August 20th. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.
The uniquely conceived initiative, with funds earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, is for the fifth consecutive year offering eligible and participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there. The program also brings the filmmakers together with each other and with a renowned group of advisors, major figures in the African film world, for support and mentorship. Past short films to come out of the Program have been showcased at the Sundance, Toronto, London, and Berlin Film Festivals; on The Africa Channel; and with the Museum of the Moving Image and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among other venues worldwide. A compilation of films completed through the Program is available on DVD and across VOD and EST platforms. Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed year-round through
Africa First is supervised by Program Director and producer Kisha Cameron Dingle
(… Sometimes in April), whose company, Completion Films, has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus, and who coordinates the Program’s submissions and evaluations with Focus director of development & production Christopher Kopp. In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First will visit New York City in the fall of 2012 for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions with each other; members of the advisory board of experts in African cinema; such Focus executives as Mr. Schamus and president of production Jeb Brody, covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing; and Mrs. Dingle and Mr. Kopp.Mr. Schamus said, “In celebrating the fifth anniversary of Africa First this year, we are also celebrating the dynamic and talented group of filmmakers we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with during the Program’s tenure. The kudos and acclaim their films have generated around the world is gratifying, and we look forward to working with them again.”
In 2008, the Africa First Program selected these filmmakers and their respective films; Mr. Edouard Bamporiki (from Rwanda) for Long Coat, Ms. Jenna Bass (from South Africa) forThe Tunnel, Mr. Jan-Hendrik Beetge (from South Africa) for The Abyss Boys, Ms. Dyana Gaye (from Senegal) for N’Dar (a.k.a. St. Louis Blues), and Ms. Wanuri Kahiu (from Kenya) for Pumzi [Breath]. The winning filmmakers for 2009 were Mr. Stephen Abbott (from South Africa) for Dirty Laundry, Mr. Matt Bishanga (from Uganda) for A Good Catholic Girl, Mr. Daouda Coulibaly (from Mali) for Tinye So, Mr. Matthew Jankes (from South Africa) for Umkhungo, and Ms. Rungano Nyoni (from Zambia) for The Adventures of Mwansa the Great. The 2010 filmmakers chosen were Ms. Chika Anadu (from Nigeria) for The Marriage Factor; Mr. Lev David (from South Africa) for Down; Ms. Jacqueline Kalimunda (from Rwanda) for Sky Burning Down; Ms. Ebele Okoye (from Nigeria) for The Legacy of Rubies; and Mr. Julius Onah (from Nigeria) for Nepa Don Quench. The filmmakers selected in 2011 were Ms. Oshosheni Hiveluah (from Namibia) for 100 Bucks; Mr. Cedric Ido (from Burkina Faso) for Twaaga [Invincible]; Mr. Mark Middlewick (from South Africa) for Late Night Security; Ms. Akosua Adoma Owusu (from Ghana) for Kwaku Ananse; and Mr. Zelalem Woldemariam (from Ethiopia) for Adamet [Listen].
This year, the submissions period begins on Monday, May 14th, 2012 and runs through Monday, August 20th, 2012. The five filmmakers selected will be notified by October 2012 and will retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.Completion is developing feature, documentary, and television projects. Its president, Mrs. Dingle, previously worked as director of development at Walden Media, and as an executive at New Line Cinema, where she oversaw the development and production of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.
The Africa First advisory board members are Ms. Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Ms. Jihan El-Tahiri; Ms. June Givanni, who for four years programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series; Ms. Sharifa Johka, film programmer and independent producer; Mr. Pedro Pimenta, producer and manager of training programs throughout South Africa; and Mr. Keith Shiri, founder/director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the U.K.
Focus Features and Focus Features International ( comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

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.”

Staff Benda Bilili! and Welcome Nelson! confirmed for GAFF 2011

The exiting new film Staff Benda Bilili has just been confirmed for this year’s festival. The documentary follows the (almost literally) rags-to-riches story of Staff Benda Bilili, a band of musicians who’ve had polio playing guitars from their wheelchairs, along with a former street child, Roger Landu, who performs on an instrument constructed from a tin can and a piece of wire. They were hailed as a sensation when they first appeared in London in 2009, and continued to build up their following at the Glastonbury and Womad festivals last summer.

Ricky has a dream: to make Staff Benda Bilili the best band in Congo Kinshasa. Roger, a street child, more than ever wants to join these stars of the ghetto, who get around in customized tricycles. Together, they must avoid the pitfalls of the street, stay united and find the force to hope in music. Spanning five years, from the first rehearsals to their triumph at international festivals, Benda Bilili! (“beyond appearances”) is the story of this dream becoming a reality.


Welcome Nelson!

Mandela’s release was a hugely significant historical event that no self-respecting journo wanted to miss. Hence, 11 February 1990 turned into a monumental media frenzy. Through the creation of an innovative montage from original footage, Welcome Nelson brings an interesting perspective to the day the world’s most famous and best-loved prisoner walked free.