Film festival gives an insight into Africa

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Sharing stories and challenging stereotypes are the main aims of the inaugural African Film Festival New Zealand.

The event, which takes place at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket from April 9 to 15, includes 10 films and reflects the diversity of life in Africa.

Festival communications director Kube Jones-Neill grew up in the United States, but has lived here for the past 17 years.

"People tend to glaze over when you mention Africa," she said.

"They immediately go to the big three: war, famine and disease."

These are very real issues, but they aren't the whole story, the Mt Eden resident said.

"What we know in spite of all that, is there are still people living joyous and fascinating lives there," she said.

The African community in New Zealand has grown a lot since film festival trust chairman Boubacar Coulibaly moved here in 1989.

The Malian says the continent has a rich cinematic history, but not many African films are released here.

Buying the rights to films and having them rated in New Zealand is an expensive process, Coulibaly said.

Trust members secured funding from various sponsors to help with costs and launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, which raised $2800.

The film La Pirogue is one of Coulibaly's top picks from the programme.

The story is about a group of Senegalese people trying to make the voyage across the ocean to Europe.

You might think the film would be harrowing, but in fact it's empowering, the Grey Lynn resident said.

"It's not that these people are hopeless. They are actually really strong people with a lot of determination.

"To them it's an adventure they want to go on," he said.

Other highlights include a music documentary about a Trinidadian singer called Calypso Rose, The Lioness of the Jungle and a dance film for young adults called Hear Me Move.

Film is a reflection of culture, Jones-Neill said.

"It's important for children who were born here of African heritage to stay connected to their roots, while also learning how to assimilate into New Zealand life."

Go to africanfilmfestivalnz.org.nz for more information.
Source: Stuff News 8 April 2015