From the 24th July to the 01st of August 2013, the University of the Western Cape had its English department hosting the Africa World Film Festival. Despite the less-than-stellar number of attendees, this event is prestigious and noted as factoring towards the development of world filmmaking and the relaying of information as a part of the umbrella of awareness. The annual Documentary film festival is also being hosted by London, Yaoundé, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kingston.
11 Films were screened, after which, discussions were held. I worked as a film assistant, but contributed my knowledge of filmmaking and world events to the discussion. The documentaries delved into so many different contemporary issues. These include the socio-political racial issues, gender and age issues that many suffer under in countries that have not, as yet, altered their edicts to facilitate national equality. Issues of job creation, opportunities, education, health, and the infinite pursuit of many: for power, prestige, and measures of ensuring freedom were explored. One of the films was centered on Miriam Makeba– her career, her political involvement, and contribution to the world. Sports, languages, geographical locations as they relate to ones circumstances, Nelson Mandela, fights in Egypt etc. were some of the topics focused on in the documentaries.
The festivals statement noted the affiliated institutions, while remarking in areas of interest and their objectives.
“The E. Desmond Lee Africa World Documentary Film Festival is sponsored by the E. Desmond Lee Professorship in Africa/African-American Studies. Centre for International Studies at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis and the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Lagos, Nigeria. Through the art of documentary filmmaking, the AWDFF is committed to the promotion of knowledge, life and culture, of the people of Africa worldwide.”
Through the numerous movies I had the opportunity to watch, several thoughts were echoed and others created. The fixed genre or title ‘South African cinema’ ceases to exist because we don’t reside in a monolithic society. There is no singular regularity that governs South Africa’s cinematic identity. It is a hybrid entity. The fundamental authenticity of South Africa, as well as its cinema, is founded on the realities presented within the realms of politics, history and humor. It is sad that it leaves no room to manifests itself as something that is able to transcend that. Perhaps it is only, for the time being.
Many filmmakers echoed the idea that developing the filmmaking industry in South Africa, far beyond how it exists today, will mean that we can, not only equal other such cinematic institutions like Hollywood, but that one day we can reign supreme. Africa is a continent that radiates and throbs with untold stories, and untapped creativity waiting to be uncovered, to be found and to metamorphose the very face of human perception. The realities that could be constructed would yield lucrative dividends of articulating oral traditions, their messages and significance remembered. It is a universal understanding to Africans that we need new stories, as well as the old, to ensure we remain a vibrant people.
This Film festival aids in the development of thinking. We used to be colonies of dreamers, sharing collective consciousness. Now we are masters of independent thought, and driven doers. I cannot always speak for my people, my country, or my continent. However I can eloquently paint the objective of this event in the most vibrant of ways: “I’ve tasted freedom, and it is in the heart of a dreamer, it is in the rain and the landscape. Freedom is for the doer, and the one who stops and basks in the present too. The camera reel is preoccupied with the nuance and about texture. The fabric that realizes society. In an attempt to recondition the minds of the audience, filmmakers try and make people see their own realities. It is quintessential idealistic, but in the antiquity, lies the panorama of prospering.