Africa in Motion hits its stride with third year at Edinburgh Film Festival

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Edinburgh will turned into a hub of African film culture last weekend as the UK’s largest African film festival opens. According to festival founder and director Lizelle Bisschoff, Africa in Motion (AiM), now in its third year, has been a big success, with tickets selling out and audiences left hungering after more.

The festival has gone a long way towards countering the misperception that Western audiences are not interested in African film, or that there aren’t any good films coming out of Africa, says Bisschoff. “Edinburgh is home to the arts festival so we have audiences here who are supportive of non-mainstream and world cinema,” she says.

The festival not only celebrates the work of celebrated and established African filmmakers, but also aims to showcase new talent – primarily through the AiM short film competition. The works of three emerging South African directors feature among the eight finalists to be shown this weekend: Robyn Rorke, Diek Grobler and Vuyisa Breeze Yoko are in the running for the £1000 prize, co-sponsored by Southern Africa Direct TV. All eight short films can be viewed online at www.sadirect.com and the winner will be announced in Edinburgh on Saturday.

All and all the week-long AiM film festival will showcase more than 50 of Africa’s best films, documentaries and animation shorts.

Bisschoff, a South African completing her PHD on African Film at the University of Sterling in Scotland, started the festival after being frustrated at not being able to access African films. “It was very unsatisfying for me to write academically about films that no-one could ever get to see. We wanted to make African film more accessible to audiences.” Bisschoff believes that African films can hold their own against the best of world cinema and that Africans themselves should take more pride in the work of their artists.

“We grew up with the idea that anything that is local is not as good as from other parts of the world, and thus that South African films weren’t really worth seeing. This happens all over the continent,” says Bisschoff. “It’s true that African filmmakers work with smaller budgets, but they just do that innovatively and manage to make really good films.”

www.sadirect.com

Filmmaker South Africa