Recap: African Film Festival Australia 2013

April 9, 2013

Last year we moaned and groaned just a little at the opening of the African Film Festival Australia. We left puzzled at the complexity of Restless City. This year, attendees of African Film Festival Australia left the cinema in a different mood. A better mood than last year.
This year, the opening film for the festival was Nairobi Half Life. I watched the trailer a while ago and I was so intrigued. However, I eliminated my hopes of watching it in this country. I do that with most African movies! We live in Australia! No one realises we are here. We aren’t that many either. So bringing African films out here is a gamble.

Now we have the African Film Festival Australia as our official window into the world of African cinema. In it’s second year, the festival continues to give us the opportunity to watch films we probably would never have access to. I applaud my dear friend Samira, the brainchild of the festival. I don’t think she realises what an impact this festival is making or can make in our community!

This year the event co-ordinators didn’t disappoint with their choice of film for the opening night.  The aura after the film was no where near as hazy as it was last year with Restless City. People were just ‘restless’ with that film! The aura after Nairobi Half Life was refreshing and joyful. People just loved the film! It had all the emotions, laugh and drama needed topped off with free wine from the festival’s sponsor The Meat & Wine Co.

Nairobi Half Life is about a young man who leaves his family in rural Kenya to pursue his dream of becoming an actor in the city of Nairobi. To survive in Nairobi he has to hustle. Living a double life, he eventually makes his way to the big stage.

For me, familiar scenarios engaged me! Experiences from Ghana and stories I had heard about Ghana and other African countries meshed in with the film’s storyline just completed my viewing experience. Sitting beside an African who totally understood those experiences in the film and sitting besides another African who didn’t completely understand those experiences was the icing on the cake! I wasn’t just watching a film, I was having a cultural experience with these two people mixed in with nostalgia, laughter and shock.

Then there was Friday night with the music documentary Lovers Rock. Lovers Rock is romantic reggae from Britain born in the late 70s and 80s. It was a new generation of black British young women and men who identified with this music that reflected their experiences.

It was interesting to learn about a genre I never knew existed. I was familiar with a lot of the artists and songs featured in the documentary, but had no idea that it was a sub-genre. Lovers Rock gave the Black youth a branch into British culture especially during a time where there was a lot of racial tension. The film combines live performances with some of the Kings and Queens of Lovers Rock with comedy sketches, interviews and archive material.

I think Lovers Rock is the root of grinding in the club and in corners at house parties!!! If you are a music or reggae fan, it’s a must see!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the final night, but I heard that it was amazing!!!

I think this is a great event for our growing African community and the wider public. I only hope it continues to grow and grow. However, I don’t think Africans support these kind of initiatives enough. I have had conversations with people where they often say ‘Oh if only we had events like the UK or the US such as film and music festivals, creative seminars and fashion shows etc’. We now have that and the events are increasing gradually, but I think we have placed the movements in the US and UK in high regard and we dream of being in that space rather than supporting what is in our own backyard.

We can create the same kind of movement in Australia!

It will take time, but we can get there!

We just have to support!


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