Crisis, What Crisis?
Crisis, what crisis? We say it boldly, even though we at Africa in the Picture have just weathered a crisis ourselves. We had to fight for our survival. Luckily, thanks to the Amsterdam city council, we were finally included in the 2009-2012 Plan for the Arts. Back to business - not so easy, you would think, now that the financial world is collapsing, here in the West at any rate.
As governments hastily pump virtual money into seemingly fragile banks, the makers of Phillippe Diaz's impressive documentary The End of Poverty wonder how come so much poverty can continue to exist in a world that has so much wealth. In this film, various economists wonder whether we couldn't have seen this crisis coming ever since 1492. With the discovery of the Americas, that is.
In the exciting film that kicks off the festival, Jerusalema by Ralph Ziman, the South African actor Rapulana Seiphemo (also known for the Oscar-winning film Tsotsi and this time starring as ‚ÄėLucky'), wonders in his turn whether the distribution of wealth and property couldn't be slightly different and also to his own advantage for a change. He sets up a very hazardous undertaking in Hillbrow, a district of Johannesburg.
We also are witness to a discovery by the De Wolf family, who are white North Americans. They are horrified when a well-kept family secret comes to light. Their ancestors declared three topics of discussion taboo: religion, sex and‚Ä¶ slavery!? In this touching and sincere documentary, Traces of the Trade, the filmmaker and family member Katherina Brown confront the others in her family with her discovery that their ancestors participated in the slave trade. This is the origin of their wealth.
Does everything still revolve around money, we wondered. What determines happiness? Only money? For Africa, which despite decades or rather even centuries of successive crises primarily shows a tremendous resilience, not really. Because family is most important, it turns out in the Spanish/Senegalese documentary Princesa de √Āfrica, where besides marrying various Senegalese women, a man can marry a Spanish woman too.
More family adventures in the movie SKIN, the true story of South African Sandra Laing, who was born as a dark skinned child to white parents during the time of apartheid. How cruel can nature be?
The sun is the greatest natural enemy of the courageous Kenyan albinos portrayed in the wonderfully made Kenyan documentary In My Genes by the young debuting filmmaker Lupita Nyong'o.
Naturally, Africa in the Picture continues to believe that all these beautiful productions deserve a chance at winning a cash prize, and so this year we have created our first audience award. Our faithful and growing audience can decide which short and long films they really like the best and then we will not only hand out the cash but also a typically Dutch keepsake (well, Dutch? Delft Blue originally came from China, but hey, simply a detail).
In addition to the splendid films presented by the filmmakers themselves, we will be having discussions with bankers, politicians, philosophers, writers and many others on the economy (read money) versus happiness and the necessity of culture.
The heaps of fan mail we received in 2008 have revealed how much you like us and appreciate our work and that you want to support us financially. In all honesty, Africa in the Picture can certainly use some rich aunts and uncles. That way we can create a stronger basis for the future, for the festival, African cineastes and festival organizers on the African continent itself.
I am looking forward to seeing you in the Ketelhuis and in the growing number of participating theatres in the country!
Director Africa in the Picture