October 9 begins the second edition of the Barcelona International African Film Festival (FICAB), a cycle that invites us to reflect while opening a creative door through which the demands and identity of the African continent sneak.
Film festivals are born as a fleeting star and end up becoming a complete, delicate and beautiful microcosm. A small-scale universe that first discovers its own habitat, which later finds its native fauna, and which when it manages to expand sufficiently, it becomes to create its own cosmogony.
The Barcelona International African Film Festival is in this embryonic phase. Following the success of the first edition of the audience, the cycle is once again rising beyond the borders to put African cinema in value and to demonstrate the need for stories that escape the placidity of mainstream to discover other ways of feeling the world.
One of the main objectives of the festival is to build bridges with spectators. So, throughout the year they have gone out on the street in their FICAB section in the neighborhoods to organize cultural microevents and to notice the beats of the most popular areas of Barcelona. Events that this year were high on September 9 with the celebration of the Boris Talom & Idrissa Kora concert hand in hand with Casa Mali and the screening of the film “Timbuktu” by Abderrahmane Sissako.
And there is still more, if in its first edition, the contest dedicated a retrospective to the strength and courage of African women (under the name “Africa is the name of a woman”), On this occasion they wanted to look to the future and under the retrospective “Afrodistopias” show us where the continent is going (for good or for bad).Section covering the open spaces left by the main program that is formed by a series of films that are premiered in Spain thanks to the competition and presented as a kind of thematic triptych.
Three tributaries of the same river
As if a gospel choir were to be used, the FICAB manages to group numerous voices under one melody. Thus, throughout the competition, titles of origins as diverse as Senegal, Angola, Djibouti, Nigeria or Burkina Faso will try to address the multiple political, social and cultural realities of the African people.
And they will not only approach them, but will open them in a channel to dissect them, to search them, to apprehend them and, from there, to establish a dialog with the viewer in which different vertices of African culture inhabit.
A dialog that has been raised since the Festival on three main axes: Senegal’s importance in the cinema of the continent, the deep scars that wars have left in African society in recent decades and the silent diaspora of the African people.
The rebirth of Senegalese cinema
Senegal is experiencing such a film rebirth that current productions are in line with those of the 1960s and 1970s, when the country became the African film epicenter under the hand of Ousmane Sembene.
Focusing on this country, the festival also pays tribute to the figure of the griots, those storytellers from West Africa who mix poetry and singing to keep the oral tradition alive in this area of the world.
The new generation of Senegalese filmmakers have inherited the way Ousmane Sembene himself makes films – “If Africans don’t start telling our stories, Africa will disappear” – and his films are declarations of love for the country and its people.
Within this section two works will be planned: The short film ‘’Ordur’’ by filmmaker Momar Talla Kandji and ‘’Baamum Nafi’’, Mamadou Dia’s debut feature, which is being premiered in our country after winning different awards such as the Golden Leopard in the present-day film category of the Locarno Festival 2019.
Memory of War
The second thematic block of the festival focuses on the aftermath of the different wars on the African continent. The contest approaches this issue from a Mandelistic point of view, that is, being aware that conflicts have marked the vision of several generations but without giving up dreaming of an Africa that is at peace with itself.
This presents two tapes that invite reconciliation. On the one hand, we have the short film ‘Troublemaker’’, in which the Nigerian director Olive Nwsu proposes a subtle audiovisual dialog between three generations living in a rural area in the east of the country. On the other hand, you can see the ‘’Air conditioning’’ tape, in which the collective Geração 80 plunges into the asphalt of the Angolan capital to show us a population that despite suffering a civil war that has made jirones their dreams do not give up optimism.
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The answer is not so much about the journey itself but about our interior along the journey. To this question they try to answer the short film of young Burkinabé Fabien Dao through his dynamic ‘’Moktar’’ and the first feature film of the small country of Djibouti to arrive with the title of ‘’Dhalinyaro’’ that is signed by Lula Ali Ismaïl and that gives us glimpses of this issue through a group of young people who must make the decision to study abroad or stay to try to improve the living conditions of their country.
This year the festival also offers the possibility to watch the films through the Vimeo platform. A must-have date to soak up the continent’s many realities and to see how the chrysalid of African cinema is transformed into a butterfly.