By Ashley Clark
There are some great new releases this week, but the big attraction rolling into town is the Film Africa festival.
This week there are plenty of eye-catching new releases at the Ritzy. If you feel that your life has been a bit short on melodrama, whale attacks, bare-knuckle fighting, amputee sex and retrograde depictions of female sexuality, you could plump for Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone. However, if you’re more in the mood for a harrowing-but-tender love story, try Ira Sachs’ beautiful New York-set Keep The Lights On, about a gay relationship blighted by drug addiction. With 24 extra minutes added, Stanley Kubrick’s classic chiller The Shining is back in cinemas, and you’d be as crazy as Jack Torrance lurching around with his axe if you missed it. If all else fails, there’s always Bond…
However, the big attraction this week is the annual Film Africa festival (the UK’s largest annual festival of African cinema and culture), which is coming to a host of venues across London. Luckily, the Ritzy is one of them. The festival runs until Nov 11, and here are five to watch:
Call Me Kuchu – Friday 2 Nov, 8:45PM | Followed by a Q&A with directors Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright
Filmed over several years, this moving, powerful documentary opens in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2010, with a local newspaper publishing photographs of people suspected of being gay, and urging readers to find and hang them. The filmmakers follow the small, brave group of people fighting for LGBTI rights in a country where the government is proposing an ‘anti-homosexuality bill’ – with the death penalty for HIV-positive gay men – and where American evangelicals are waging an anti-homosexual war. Foremost among the fighters for human rights is David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, whose activism takes him all the way to the United Nations. But tragedy and horror are always only a beat away for Uganda’s self-titled ‘kuchu’ community.
Grey Matter – Sat 3 Nov, 6:30PM + Film Africa LIVE! with JUJU ft Minnjiaraby | Followed by a Q&A with Antonio Ribeiro, Grey Matter film editor, and Dr. Piotr Cieplak, a Rwandan film specialist from The School of Oriental and African Studies.
Balthazar is a young African filmmaker looking for funds to direct his first film, The Cycle of the Cockroach. After rehearsing a scene with his main characters, reality bleeds into fiction, as The Cycle plays out on screen and madness tightens its grip; we are left questioning whether Balthazar’s fiction is enough to exorcise whatever demons may be lurking in his mind. Never addressed by name, the Rwandan genocide is here for the first time explored in its philosophical, psychological and intellectual dimensions. With poetic cinematography and an outstanding ensemble cast, this trenchant and luminous drama is a daring and challenging first feature from talented Rwandan writer-director Kivu Ruhorahoza. Winner of several awards at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Soul Boy – Sun 4 Nov, 3:00PM – Family Screening | Followed by a Q&A with director Hawa Essuman
Winner of numerous international awards, Soul Boy is a remarkable and delightful film for viewers of all ages and backgrounds. Fourteen-year old Abila has to save his ill father by recovering his soul. Helped by his friend Shiku, Abila embarks on an adventure through his home in the Kibera slum of Nairobi and beyond, in an attempt to fulfill the seven tasks he has been set to recover the soul his father gambled away. Shot-through with rich colour, Soul Boy is a visual feast for the whole family, masterfully directed by young talent Hawa Essuman under the guidance of the famous German filmmaker Tom Tykwer.
Zulu Love Letter – Mon 5 Nov, 8:30PM
Thandeka (Pamela Nomvete) is a former political activist and journalist with a broken marriage and a deaf-mute daughter. Hardened and cynical, her life is forced to change when she is approached by Me’Tau, an old woman who asks Thandeka to find her daughter’s remains. This is the first South African film to really grapple with the psychological scars left by apartheid on black people, and its director – Ramadan Suleman – and screenwriter – Bhekizizwe Peterson – are among the most important filmmakers working in South Africa today.
Tey (Today) Fri 9 Nov, 6:30PM | Followed by a Q&A with director Alain Gomis
In this poetic, existential feast of a film coming to Film Africa 2012 from an illustrious international film festival run, French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis explores the streets of an unnamed Senegalese city through the eyes of a young man doomed to death, Satché. Hip hop artist and spoken word poet Saul Williams is a revelation as Satché, enlivening each frame with a muted intensity. A magic realist twist on the immigrant returning home, this elegiac meditation is decidedly vibrant, cool and life-affirming.
Check the Film Africa website for full festival listings and details.
All films showing at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval. Book tickets here.