• Farafina Calendar

    February 2009
    M T W T F S S
    « Jan   Mar »
  • RSS Inside Farafina Magazine

    • Farafina 16
      Featuring the work of Tolu Ogunlesi, uzodinma Iweala, Doreen Baingana, Jumoke Verissimo and Kachi A. Ozumba, Monica Arac de Nyeko, Zadie Smith and Teju Cole.
    • Farafina Yellow Bow
      The Farafina Yellow Bow project gives 100% of subscription payments to charity
    • Farafina 14
      Farafina 14 was a special issue compiled in response to the 2008 election crisis in Kenya.
  • Farafina Covers

  • Blog Stats

    • 9,805 hits
  • Advertisements

Farafina magazine presents: Charles Mayaki at the 2009 PAFF Festival

Day 4

As the festival enters its fourth day, the professional standard of the screenings is being called into question as most movies have desaturated images and poor framing. The problem is due, in part, to the DVD format of the majority of the films and the newness of the cinema house where they’ve been screened.


Two filmmakers interrupted their movies’ screenings because they felt the picture had not being shown at their best. In the case of Nubian Spirit: The African legacy of the Nile Valley, stopped five minutes into its screening, one viewer cracked, “Black history month (February) is the shortest month of the year…goes to figure that a movie on black history would be the shortest movie too.”

The persistent meddling of protective filmmakers straying into the projection booth to ensure the proper screening of their movies has forced organizers to put up a barricade and post a sign warning filmmakers to keep out.

audience members at the strategies for success panel 1

audience members at the strategies for success panel 1

Other than that, in spite of the economic recession, the turnout has been good with African movies scoring high marks with the African American audience, for effective story-telling, honest approach and generally presenting an alternative to the typical Hollywood product. South African director Darrell Roodt’s Zimbabwe first booked by a church group, is definitely a favourite so far and could very well be the hit of the festival.

While I haven’t been able to attend any of the shorts which currently have a festival of their own, one of them, Kwame by Ghanaian director Edward Osei-Gyimah, a graduate of the University of Southern California, caught my attention.  This short film talks about a Ghanaian cab driver who comes to terms with the reasons why he immigrated to America.

Director Edward Osei Gyimah

Director Edward Osei Gyimah

Meanwhile, Gospel Hill has thrown me off American movies. Even the talents of Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover and Angela Basset and the high-end equipment of Fox Movie Studios could not save this movie from being sterile, boring and clichéd. No wonder it is bypassing theatres and heading straight for the video market—This is what happens when set dressers are allowed to moonlight as scriptwriters!


Zimbabwe Prolific director, Darrell James Roodt tackles the crisis currently affecting the nation of Zimbabwe in his movie, Zimbabwe. Director of the first indigenous Zulu language movie, Yesterday, which received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film, he excels here by bringing a soft touch to a tough story or is it a tough touch to a soft story.

More famous amongst African Americans for his film Sarafina, starring Whoopi Goldberg, he crafted a story that had people talking in the lobby afterwards. It seems now, with South Africa joining the bandwagon, everyone has caught the video bug. From a filmmaker known for his celluloid productions, it is a surprise to see this movie filmed in low-rent digicam, yet it takes nothing away from the story.

Zimbabwe (Kudzai Chimbaira), a 19-year-old, is the name of the lead character who loses her mother at the beginning to AIDS. Left in charge of her siblings, and abandoned by her townsfolk who believe she is cursed owing to the number of deaths in her family from the disease, she heads off to Beitbridge to live with an aunt.Zimbabwe

Beitbridge resides at the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa and there is a bridge that links the two countries. Zimbabwe is treated unfairly if not badly by her aunt and the lure of the riches across the border soon begin to weigh on her. It is inevitable that she will cross the bridge and become an illegal immigrant. It is her experience that forms the underpinnings of the story.

With a style that owes more to the rules of Dogma ’95—the Danish Film movement—than African video culture, the movie looks raw and uncouth as befits the story it tells. It bears a resemblance to the movies of Lars Von Trier where the gamine heroine suffers all kinds of injustices. There are racist and xenophobic South Africans, with exception to Charles (Tongai Arnold Chirisa) in a fine performance, who would put her through the worst ordeals. Chimbaira handles her difficult role with aplomb. She is supposed to be nothing but a young girl unwise to the ways of the world.  When she sips a milk shake for the first time or impressed by a roadside canteen by calling it a restaurant, she exhibits the necessary raw innocence that is believable.

Employed as a maid to a rich white Afrikaans family, it is obvious the director is quoting scenes from Luis Bunuel’s Belle de jour. At the beginning, he also quotes the Italian neo-realist traditions of Bicycle Thieves and Open City. Melodramatic in the latter stages and hard to stomach at times, the movie crescendos with an ending that caused audible gasp from the audience.

There was no Q & A afterwards. Zimbabwe is playing as part of the Narrative Feature Competition.

MunyurangaboMunyuraganbo (Rwanda/USA)

American director Lee Isaac Chung deals with the Rwandan genocide in his debut feature Muyurangabo, named after an ancient Rwandan warrior. Set fifteen years after the Rwandan civil war, Muyurangabo recounts the story of two friends, Sangwa, a Hutu, and Ngabo, a Tutsi.

When Sagwa brings his friend to his family’s home, tension rises in light of their ethnic differences but the boys are only stopping by and soon take off again to pursue a journey of which the purpose is undisclosed. The time they spend together eventually puts a strain on their relationship and as their story unfolds, they discover the meaning of hate and the absolution of forgiveness.

Shying away from foreshadowing or tipping its hand, Muyurangabo is artistic and even includes a poetry recital performed directly to the camera. Unusually meditative and languorous, this movie isn’t for everyone, but perfect for those who appreciate European-style intellectual films. To its credit, most of the crew in this festival favourite is local—an unusual occurrence for movies with foreign backing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: