Film Africa, the 10-day, annual celebration of African Cinema at venues across London, kicks off on 3 November and runs until 13 November. This year's festival is special, because it comes complete with other frills, writes Lindiwe Dovey, Film Africa 2011 co-director and programming director.
There has never been greater interest in African film. A half-century after Africans started making their own films, supplanting the patronising iconographies evident in colonial cinema set in Africa, African Cinema is finally being recognised across the globe. Nollywood, Nigeria's thriving video film industry, has revolutionised film production and distribution on the continent, and is hugely popular throughout Africa as well as in Asia, the US, the Caribbean, and Europe.
In 2010, UNESCO formally recognised Nollywood, with its output of about 2,000 films a year, as the second largest film industry in the world, after Bollywood. And yet, there is still much work to be done to ensure that African films of all kinds are made visible and available to audiences globally.
Taste is something that is acquired and part of a process of socialisation, not inherent. And if people simply do not have a chance to see and enjoy African films, they will not be aware of what they are missing out on.
Film Africa (www.filmafrica.org.uk), a 10-day, annual celebration of African Cinema at venues across London, seeks to redress this gap between African films and audiences. Hosted by the brand new Hackney Picturehouse, and also taking place at The Ritzy in Brixton, The Rich Mix in Shoreditch, Screen on the Green in Islington, and The Frontline Club in Paddington, Film Africa 2011 has been designed to be accessible to audiences across the British capital.
We have hand-picked the best contemporary African feature, documentary, short, and experimental films for London audiences to sample, and have complemented the screenings with a line-up of exciting Q&As with filmmakers and actors, panel discussions with experts to contextualise issues presented in the films, live music to celebrate Africa's diverse artistic talents, and educational workshops for young people.
More than 50 films will be screened at Film Africa 2011, which runs from 5-13 November, providing a truly continent-wide vision from and of Africa.
While we have focused on selecting films from a diverse range of African contexts, and that represent the very best and most original work in African filmmaking (with 18 UK premieres),...