On Film and African Art: 7 Young African Filmmakers to Watch
The beginnings of the African film industry can be traced to the decolonisation of the continent during the mid-1900s. After numerous African countries obtained their independence, former and inaccurate portrayals of history, traditions and culture of the African people by foreign filmmakers, who had been in charge prior to decolonisation, were gradually erased. Africa was utilised as an exotic background for Western cinema and many films made were explicitly racist, depicting the African continent as backward and uncivilised. However, after decolonisation, several African film directors became the face of the industry, employing film as a political instrument to reassert the humanity of Africans through her countries, and cultures, as well as socio-political, geographical and economic backgrounds. Some of them are Ousmane Sembene and Oumarou Ganda who later passed on the baton to many young vibrant and creative filmmakers, who today are making their countries and the continent proud of their achievements. In no particular order, here are 7 to watch out for.
Njue’ Kevin, Kenya
A screenwriter and director, Njue’ Kevin was born and raised in Kenya. During his undergraduate studies, he made three short films under his film company Rocque Pictures. His first short film, Sticking Ribbons won best East African Talent at the 2014 Zanzibar International Film Festival while his second, Saida, won the best Young Filmmaker Award at the Modern Day Slavery Short Film Competition in London. However, he became well known for his film Intellectual Scum, which opened at the 2015 Silicon Valley African Film Festival, United States, and the Film Africa Festival in London. This short film has won Kevin the Young African Filmmakers Award (YAFMA), the Jury Award at the 2015 Afrika Film Festival, Belgium and the 2015 Slum Film Festival Award. Intellectual Scum has also been featured in more than 20 African-themed international film festivals across three continents.
Priye Diri, Nigeria
Priye Diri is an experienced screenwriter and alumna of several screenwriting workshops including the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) screenwriting, directing, and production designing class. An indigene of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Diri grew up with a love for movies and books, writing short stories whenever she could. Since graduating with a degree in sociology from Niger Delta University, Nigeria, Diri has served as a producer, director, and contributor to many award-winning short films.
Christa Eka Assam, Cameroun
Acclaimed actress, director, and producer Christa Eka Assam was born and raised in Cameroon. She began her filmmaking career in 2006 as a supporting lead actress. In 2012, after the release of her first film Doormat, Eka Assam was selected to participate in Talent Campus Durban, a renowned film workshop programme that forms part of the Durban International Film Festival. Shortly after, she made her second short film, Beleh, which won two awards and has been screened in more than 20 international film festivals. Often described as a filmmaker who has diligently made a name for herself, Assam gained recognition after she made Alma, her third short film. It earned her the award for the Best Short Film at the 2016 Africa International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria. Alma has also been screened at many African-themed festivals around the world.
Seun Afolabi, Nigeria
Seun Afolabi prides himself on being a self-taught filmmaker. From Kwara State, Nigeria, he studied theatre and performing arts at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Today, Afolabi owns and runs Blueprint Studios, a film production company. His first and second films, Escalade and Souls Under Soles, were made in 2013, followed by Project SOS, a collaboration with some close friends. These three films won several nominations from different film festivals in Nigeria including the Eko International Film Festival, and the Abuja International Film Festival. In addition, Seun Afolabi’s first attempt at directing a music video earned him the Best Music Video award at the 2014 International Short Film Festival held in Lagos, Nigeria.
Ghada Ali, Egypt
Ghada Ali is a graduate of Cairo University, School, Faculty of Mass Communication- English Section, with a major in broadcasting and TV. She is a freelance director, producer, photographer, videographer, and independent writer and has produced severally for social media, TV, documentaries, indies, and videos. She has also worked behind the scene of some major film festivals in North Africa. In early 2016, she served as a short film juror at the London Feminist Film Festival. She has been featured on various news networks in Egypt, as well as profiled as one of the top young filmmakers around the world. Her short film Coma (2015) was officially selected for several international film festivals. Ali has also been honoured by her alma mater for her work in cinema and is a global ambassador for art and peace to Egypt in the Worldwide Peace Marker Project. In addition, she founded the NGO Nation Painters / ROSSAM WATAN, which focuses on development through art and media.
Lawrence Elorm Agbetsise, Ghana
Well-travelled Lawrence Agbetsise is one of the youngest filmmakers in Ghana. Born and raised in Ghana, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in editing from the National Film and Television Institute, Ghana. Agbetsise is also an alumnus of various local and international film workshops including Professor Haile Gerima’s workshop at Luxor African Film Festival, Egypt, Durban Talents in South Africa, and the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). Agbetsise’s works have been screened at major international festivals like the Accra Francophone Film Festival, International Student Film and Video Festival of Beijing Film Academy, and the Africa International Film Festival. He has also received several awards and is considered a cultural and artistic activist who works to promote social change.
Doreen Mirembe, Uganda
An acclaimed actress, writer, and producer, Doreen Mirembe began acting in school and has been featured in some of Uganda’s biggest stage and film productions. She was also cast in the Hollywood film, Queen of Katwe, which featured Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo as lead actors. Mirembe has written and produced two short films, Nectar and A Dog Story, under her production house, Amani Film House. These short films have been screened at local and international film festivals including Kampala Short Film Festival, Pearl International Film Festival, and Africa International Film Festival. Her short film, A Dog Story, bagged the award for Best Actor and Actress in a Short Film at the 2016 Pearl International Film Festival, Uganda. Doreen Mirembe has received several other awards due to her accomplished acting, and is an alumna of various film schools including the prestigious Mariam Ndagire Film and Performing Art Centre (MFAPAC).
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