Part 3   Africulture Bursts Forth

Every area of the African continent is home to rich culture, cultivated since eras when the prosperity of ancient empires was inscribed in manuscripts. Culture has bound people together during struggles for independence, inspired and empowered the youth of today’s townships—areas historically reserved for non-whites—and allowed the healing of wounded, fractured societies. These films show endeavors that reveal the power of culture—the bedrock of African-style resilience.

- Cosmic Africa

SOUTH AFRICA / 2003 / Bambara, English, Ju’hoan / Color / Blu-ray / 72 min

Directors, Photography, Editing: Craig Foster, Damon Foster
Music: Barry Donnelly, Grant Mclachlan
Concept Originator, Executive Producer: Anne Rogers
Producer: Carina Rubin
Source: Damon Foster

At the age of thirteen, Thebe built his first telescope in his remote African village. Today, as a qualified astronomer, Thebe hopes to reunite the origins of celestial knowledge with modern astronomy. We join Thebe on his celestial quest into the heart of the Egyptian Sahara, the precipitous cliffs of Dogon country in Mali, and the ancestral land of Namibia’s hunter-gatherers. By exploring the various stages of human awareness and development, this film takes viewers into the world of shamans, sky lore experts, and diviners, where spiritual and practical knowledge is intertwined.

- Fokofpolisiekar: Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do

SOUTH AFRICA / 2009 / Africaans, English / Color / Digital File / 108 min

Director: Bryan Little
Photography: Grant Appleton
Editing: Wim Steytier
Producer: Filipa Domingues
Source: Fly on the Wall

This film uses the medium of music to portray the fight for identity in post-Apartheid society. In 2003, an Afrikaans punk band was a laughable idea. Many thought the name of the band (which means “fuck-off-police-car”) was crazy, while the music made people’s blood boil. The film follows the story of the band over four years as they forge a place for themselves and a passionate fan base in a new South Africa. Through the controversy and chaos, death threats and Christian backlash, they stand amazingly tall. Fokofpolisiekar rise above their detractors and initiate a change in how the media perceives and portrays them, unleashing a debate in the nation’s Afrikaans community in newspapers nationwide.

- The Manuscripts of Timbuktu

SOUTH AFRICA / 2009 / French, Arabic / Color / Digital File / 74 min

Director: Zola Maseko
Photography: David Forbes, Manuel Lapiere, Nicholas Hofmeyer
Editing: Guy Spiller, Taku Kaskela
Sound, Sound Design: Basiami Segola
Producer: David Max Brown
Source: Black Roots Pictures

Featuring knowledgeable commentary by African scholars, rich reenactments, and an original musical score by Vieux Farka Touré, this essential documentary critiques our inadequate understanding of Timbuktu by firmly demonstrating how it was a leading cultural, economic, scientific and religious center that made a significant and lasting impact on Africa and the entire world. It also establishes the importance of preserving the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts from long ago as an exciting and empowering legacy for African scholarship today.

- The African Cypher

SOUTH AFRICA / 2012 / English / Color / Digital File / 100 min

Director: Bryan Little
Photography: Grant Appleton
Editing: Grant Birch
Music: Simon Kohler
Producer: Filipa Domingues
Source: Fly on the Wall

The young people living in the townships of South Africa are passionate about the local street dance Pantsula. They devote themselves to performing amazing routines, defiantly asserting that even if they live in shacks, that doesn’t mean anything about what’s in their heads. Although these Soweto dancers must still struggle with poverty and discrimination despite apartheid being over, they find meaning in dance, and even those that have tried their hand at crime awaken to a new desire to rethink how they live. This film presents the philosophy of the Soweto as they persevere through the despair they express in street music and dance.

- Intore

RWANDA / 2014 / English / Color / Digital File / 64 min

Director: Eric Kabera
Photography: Christian Gakombe, Regis Nzeyuwera, Patrick Nsengimana
Editing: E. Cleveland Anderson, Bryan Keith Glispie
Executive Producers: Eric Kabela, Shirley Neal
Producer: E. Cleveland Anderson
Source: Rwanda Cinema Centre, Kwetu Film Institute

This film was produced on the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to serve as a record of the Rwanda of today as it strives to find new life. It offers a look at how the nation survived its tragic past by regaining its identity through music and dance. A story of triumph, survival, and hope, told through anecdotes of a mother who transforms grief into hope, an artist who chooses to forgive, a maestro who reunites the National Ballet, and a young man’s determination. The film features music performances from Rwanda’s top traditional and commercial artists in music and dance.

- I Shot Bi Kidude

UK, TANZANIA / 2015 / English, Swahili / Color / Digital File / 74 min

Director, Producer: Andy Jones
Photography: Natalie Haarhoff, Andy Jones
Editing: Steve White
Music: The Baghdaddies, TY, Eugene Skeef, Bi Kidude, Mohamed Ilyas, Tausi Taarab, Bi Kidude Group, Matona Issa Mohamed, Seif Salim, Nadi Ikhwan Safa
Sound Mixing: Ric de Mowbray
Producers: Steve White, Rita Ray
Source: Radio Film, Andy Jones

I Shot Bi Kidude recounts the dramatic final months in the life of Bi Kidude, the queen of the Zanzibar folk music genre taarab, billed in Japan as the “reportedly 95-year-old* singing legend” when she toured here in 2007. In 2012, Kidude vanishes mysteriously from her home in Zanzibar. Filmmaker Andy Jones, whose previous film in 2006 was a celebration of Kidude’s life, sets out to find her in this documentary which is part mystery story, and part heartfelt tribute from a friend.

* As is sometimes common among the elderly in Africa, Kidude was born before any family registry system was implemented, so her exact age is unknown. When she died in 2013 her age was reported to be 102.