ARIFF Is Building An Audience For African Films
22 November 2019
The last few years have seen an unparalleled emergence of the African voice and influence, both within the continent as well as on a global scale.
Auteur film voices like Wanuri Kahiu, Kagiso Lediga and Thabang Moleya have achieved ground-breaking success with their works whilst Afrobeats and Gqom have steadily become globally recognized musical genres with acts like Wizkid, Burna Boy and Sho Madjozi steadily breaking the mainstream.
Our dance moves and music have become a consistent source of virality whilst our rich stories and culture are integral to global phenomena like Black Panther and The Lion King. The African narrative is rising, and its reach is undeniable but its growth doesn’t come without challenges, content distribution and audience development being key factors.
Launched in 2018, The Africa Rising International Film Festival is the brainchild of a group of young filmmakers and trailblazers, including Kweku Mandela, Ayanda Sithebe and Lala Tuku; whose collective signifies what the rise of Africa represents; a young, diverse and hungry nation ready to make a change. This festival was formed with intention of putting the African narrative at centre stage, making sure its content is audience accessible whilst inciting robust discussions that prioritize the growth, development and distribution of our rich stories.
It is one thing to complain and point fingers, and another to be part of the solution. Africa Rising International Film Festival (ARIFF) is a vehicle for us to effect the change we want to see happening within the industry.
Our first year in 2018 saw us engaging international and continental film industry stakeholders on the issues of commercialisation in line with global standards. This year we aim to take it to another level with conversations around connecting and facilitating film distribution at a continental and global level in a practical manner without distorting the stories being told.
We see ourselves making a tangible contribution to the industry, not just for filmmakers and distributors but other related industries in the African continent which could gain from these conversations – Lala Tuku.
African filmmakers have one thing in common; diversity, a theme visible in the stories they tell in their films. Their voices collectively, have commanded the respect of the academy in Hollywood, and studio executives globally.
Films like Oscar-winning Tsotsi opened the conversation, others followed thereafter. South African filmmaker Kagiso Lediga showcased his film Matwetwe at last year’s Africa Rising International Film Festival (ARIFF), a film which went on to do every well in the local box office. While the film was receiving the support it so deserved at cinemas across the South African cinemas, Kagiso Lediga announced that together with his producing partners he will be producing Queen Sono – Netflix’s first African original series. Quantico star Pearl Thusi is due to star in the film.
When this announcement was made, I was so excited. The news fuelled my quest, even more, to play a part in growing the African film industry. Filmmaking in Africa is challenging, budgets are limited yet the African filmmakers have found ways to make it work and as a film festival, we aim to help them showcase their work to as many relevant people and stakeholders as possible so that they can also grow. Kagiso Lediga’s story is a story of hope and perseverance. I am glad we were part of his journey to the global stage – Kweku Mandela.
Africa Rising International Film Festival (ARIFF) began last year as a pre-event to the Global Festival Week in South Africa and Mandela 100 Festival, it ran from 26-29 November 2018. From 27th to the 30th of November 2019 in Newtown Precinct, the full program program will include international and pan African film screenings, The ARIFF Film Child program for school children, Masterclasses, Panel Discussions, Live Film Masterclasses, Pan African Legends Series curated by Lebone Maema, Film Poker Pitching, the Digital Hub, and so much more. This year’s Pan African Legends Series will see ARIFF honouring and celebrating South African Producer, Director, and Writer, Mr. Ramdan Suleman. His award-winning feature films Fools and Zulu Love Letter including his latest ground-breaking documentary By All Means Necessary will form part of ARIFF’s 2019 film screenings program.
Other notable African Films/Documentaries to look forward to includes;
Busiswa: An Unbreakable Story. It takes us on a journey back in time and explores the complex conditions that thrust a modest young girl named Busiswa Gqulu from Umthatha into the boisterous voice that reverberated through our speakers alongside Beyonce on The Gift.
Mama Africa – A film by MIKA KAURISMÄKI. A documentary about the Humanitarian and Musical Icon Miriam Makeba.
Through our core film program, we address lack of accessibility, women empowerment & youth development, by providing an opportunity for previously disadvantaged communities (the youth, women, the queer community and people living with disabilities, an opportunity to participate in the festival, through the festival’s programs – Lala Tuku.
Full International and African film screening program is currently being communicated through the Africa Rising International Film Festival social media platforms.