The new word of African cinema will be celebrated at the International House in University City this week. Eight films of short and feature length varieties will be screened, depicting the wide kaleidoscope of work available from the continent.
The festival is an outgrowth of a larger festival in New York City, and whose Board of Directors includes noted filmmaker Jonathan Demme. The festival, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday, hopes to bring awareness to the new kind of cinema that African filmmakers began creating in the 1950s and 60s. These films depicted the long-standing tradition of the countries’ cultures and their experiences of colonialism.
The festival opened with Whirlwinds, a short film from Senegal. The South African feature film, Chikin Biznis (1998), about a man who starts his own business selling chickens in a South African township, followed.
Today, another short Senegalese short, Aida Souka (1992) depicts how Senegalese women entice men with their use of beauty products. Barbecue-Pejo (1999), the feature film from Benin follows. Pejo, a pun on the carmaker Peugeot, aptly describes a man’s attempts to break out of his farming misery by starting a business with his run down Peugeot and some corn.
On Friday, Konate’s Gift (1998), a film from Burkina Faso will be the short. This film tackles the AIDS issue and its effects in a village, through Konate, an outraged man, after receiving a condom as a gift from his wife. Taunts from his friends and his own anger causes him to become impotent, leaving him to go to a spiritual doctor, who sets him on a self-revealing task.
Bye-Bye Africa (1998) from Chad was screened at last year’s Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema. This docu-drama and feature for Friday, highlights the decline of Chadian cinema, through an exiled film director who returns back to Chad trying to revitalize the dying art form of filmmaking.
Saturday and Sunday will screen the same films. Picc Mi, the short Senegalese film made in 1992 is about a child, Madour, who begs for alms. He meets a boy and they soon become fast friends, using their imagination to escape their harsh environment.
The final feature from Cameroon is Aristotle’s Plot. Another cinema-based film, Aristotle’s Plot depicts a South African town where young small time gangsters hang out at a cinema, copying action moves and even borrowing names, à la Van Damme and Bruce Lee. A guy takes it up to himself to change the environment outside this cinema and ultimately becomes a vigilante of indigenous film culture.
For more information on this event call 215-895-6542, or visit www.ihousephilly.org. Tickets are $5.50 for students. The International House is located at 3701 Chestnut Street. Films not in English have English subtitles.
Today: Aida Souka and Barbecue-Pejo 8 p.m.
Friday: Barbecue-Pejo 10:30 a.m., Konate’s Gift and Bye-Bye Africa 8 p.m.
Saturday: Konate’s Gift and Bye-Bye Africa 3 p.m., Picc Mi and Aristotle’s Plot 8 p.m.
Sunday: Picc Mi and Aristotle’s Plot 3 p.m.