Film Releases: Best African Picks from Berlinale

By The Africa Report

Posted on May 7, 2012 07:02

War Witch (Rebelle), Man on Ground?, Espoir Voyage, and Sons of the Clouds, ?The Last Colony were among a number of African films featured at the The 2012 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale).

War Witch (Rebelle), Man on Ground
, Espoir Voyage, and Sons of the Clouds, 
The Last Colony were among a number of African films featured at the The 2012 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale).

Sons of the Clouds, 
The Last Colony

Directed by Álvaro Longoria, Spain, 2011

Sons of the Clouds, The Last Colony claims the Arab Spring started in November 2010 in Western Sahara, when 5,000 refugees staged a sit-in at a desert camp. The documentary, featuring Javier Bardem, considers the plight of the Sahrawi people and the country they lay claim to, Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, which is separated from Algeria by a heavily fortified wall. In 1991, the Moroccan government agreed to a UN-backed referendum, but the Sahrawi people are still waiting for their chance to choose. A powerful standard-bearer for the causes of nationhood in Western Sahara, the film neglects to talk to Moroccans, providing little insight into how the crisis will be resolved. ●

War Witch (Rebelle) 

Directed by Kim Nguyen, Canada, 2012

Kim Nguyen’s War Witch is a tale of human endurance in the theatre of war. When rebels burn Komona’s village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they force the young girl to kill her parents and become a child soldier for Great Tiger, a rebel leader who thinks she has magical powers. As the violence continues, Magician, a fellow child soldier, becomes Komona’s only hope. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Mwanza from the DRC won the Silver Bear award for Best Actress at the 2012 Berlinale for her depiction of Komona in this heart-wrenching tale inspired by the story of Burmese child-soldier-cum-rebel-leader, Johnny Htoo. ●

Espoir Voyage

Directed by Michel Zongo, France/Burkina Faso, 2012

This very personal documentary film follows the Burkinabe film-maker’s search to find out what happened to his older brother, Joanny, who disappeared 20 years earlier in Côte d’Ivoire when Michel was a small child. As the young film-maker travels from plantation to plantation meeting migrant workers, Joanny’s traces seem to have disappeared. With few sources other than the village elders, Michel’s quest seems hopeless, until an encounter with a former workmate of Joanny’s provides the answers he was searching for. ●

Man on Ground

Directed by Akin Omotoso, South Africa, 2011

Man on Ground returns to the xenophobic riots of 2008 in South Africa through the eyes of two Nigerian brothers. Ade, a banker in London, leaves his life of luxury behind to look for his missing brother Femi in Johannesburg. What develops is a tense thriller. Based on the story of Ernesto Nhamuave, a Mozambican citizen burnt alive during the attacks on migrants in 2008, Man on Ground is a crowd-funded success with a powerful soundscape. The film won Best Feature Film in February 2012 at the Jozi Film Festival in Johannesburg. ●

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