"Africa United" encourages a new African film genre

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Trying to make a positive, fun and entertaining fairytale about Africa, where you talk about hard issues such as HIV/Aids, child soldiers, refugee camps, child parents, arranged marriages and prostitution is what Africa United set out to achieve. Sylvain Beletre of Balancing Act looks at how well they succeeded.

Directed by Debs Gardner-Paterson and written by Rhidian Brook, it mixes a British sense of humour mixed a special African playfulness and never give up attitude. The film opens with a young man explaining how to practice football using a free condom given by the UN, a plastic bag and some strings. Its story tells the epic journey of a group of African children from Rwanda who cross 3,000 miles to take part in the opening ceremony of the football World Cup.

 Football is used as a pretext to celebrate team spirit (and maybe also to attract more viewers). So if you do not like professional football, it does not matter, you might still enjoy the film.

In Rwanda, Dudu is a self-proclaimed soccer manager and coach for his best mate Fabrice, from a middle class family whose mother refuses to accept his dream of playing professional soccer as she want him to become...a doctor. When a FIFA rep offers Fabrice the opportunity of a trial to represent Africa at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 football games, Fabrice, Dudu and Beatrice rush to the game. Trouble’s ahead as they take the wrong bus, and embark on a journey through seven countries, from the Congo to South Africa. Along the way, they meet a tough boy, a child soldier named Foreman George and the young Celeste, a sex worker stuck in a tourist resort who ran away from home. The A-team, calling themselves ‘Africa United’ overcome incredible challenges and Dudu discovers he has HIV/Aids. In the end, the five united children manage to reach Johannesburg just on time for the ceremonies.
 Viewers are taken back and forth between real life action and traditional African storytelling animation.

The film had a good scenario painted with sensibility, a good director getting the best out of actors, budgets from top companies (Pathé UK and BBC included), an efficient technical team, some great music, talented actors, beautiful animations, and Africa's amazing landscapes, lights and colours.

The launch has all the resemblance of a Hollywood production: extensive press promotion, a dedicated website, trailers on most video sites, Facebook page and so on. Click here: