On Now: Africa at TIFF 2012.

Oh how time flies! It feels like it was just yesterday that we were compiling a similar list for the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The criteria is simple. We comb through the hundred of movies showing at the festival and shortlist movies that are set in Africa (and the diaspora) or prominently feature people of African origin in the cast or crew. Narrowing it down this way still leaves us with more films than we could possibly see so we filter it further by eliminating films that are likely to get a wide theatrical release, films that sound like many films we’ve already seen e.g the foreign “saviour” stories and films with yawn-inducing blurbs (though we sadly recall a yawn-inducing film from last festival that had a fantastically intriguing blurb). This patented editing process leaves us with an attainable wish-list of films to see. This time around we’ve decided to include trailers of the films where possible so that you can quickly preview them. The SUPAFRIK selection of films to see at TIFF 2012 are (drumrolls please!):

Home AgainWednesday September 12, 5:30PM, Cineplex Yonge/Dundas. Friday September 14, 5:00PM, Cineplex Yonge/Dundas.

New feature length from Toronto director Sudz Sutherland tells the story of three people who are deported to Jamaica and their struggle to make a new life in a land they barely know. Hard to believe it’s already been 9 year since Sutherland’s groundbreaking debut Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. We are excited to see where he goes with his latest theatrical release.

Rebelle – Friday September 14, 9PM, Visa Screening Room (Elgin). Saturday September 15, 3PM, TIFF Lightbox 2

We have anticipated Rebelle since spotting the film poster at TIFF Lightbox a few months ago. This will not be the first or last movie about child soldiers or civil wars in Africa. It’s a well trodden path to telling the “African story” that we’ve grown weary of but Rebelle’s visually arresting cinematography as well as the unique narrative perspective of a child soldier(played by Rachel Mwanza) telling the story of her life to her unborn child makes this love story hard to resist. We are also partial to director Kim Nguyen decision to coax performances out of non-actors (Mwanza won best actress when this showed in Berlin). Admittedly, including this film in the list might be bending our own rules a bit because we think there is a very good chance it will receive a wide theatrical release.

Paradise Love Friday September 7, 3PM, Cineplex Yonge/Dundas. Saturday September 8, 9:15AM, Isabel Bader Theatre. Sunday September 16, 9:30AM, Cineplex Yonge/Dundas.

The blurb for this film might be cheekily summed up as “Austrian cougar goes hunting for Love in Kenyan wilderness”. Don’t worry it’s not a National Geographic special. Ulrich Seidl’s film is a fictional exploration of the non-fictional boy-toy sex-tourism industry. The genders in the buyer/seller market might have been reversed but the commodity on sale is still the same and in abundant supply. Or is it? We can’t tell if the story is supposed to be sad, funny, deep or troubling or all of the above but we we are definitely intrigued and hope not to be disappointed.

A HijackingMonday September 10, 6:15PM, Cineplex Yonge/Dundas. Wednesday September 12, 9:45PM, Cineplex Yonge/Dundas. Sunday September 16, 3:15PM.

Guns. Kidnappings. Ransome demands. The David/Goliath archetype. The true-life story of Somalian pirates hi-jacking ships in the Indian Ocean has all the right ingredients to inspire a thriller/action flick so we are surprised that Danish filmmakers beat Hollywood to the punch. From the rumours floating around, the portrayal of the “villains” is a bit more nuanced than one would expect and filmmaker does a masterful job of keeping the tension tight throughout despite the inevitable conclusion. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Honorable Mentions:

Middle of Nowhere – A woman is blindly devoted to her incarcerated husband until she meets a man who reveals a shocking truth about him.

The Walls of Dakar – Hip-hop and graffiti give voice to political expression in Senegal

The Great Kilapy – Angolan con man inadvertently becomes a hero for his country’s struggle against Portuguese colonization

100 Musicians (Short Film) – Local director Charles Officer returns with a short film that explores the tension between a couple on different ends of a politically charged argument

Kinshasa Kids – A documentary about a music group formed by children that have been outcast as witches

Virgin Margarida – A gritty film about the women in Mozambique who survived the brutal “re-education” camps

Peripeteia (Short film)- Veteran director John Akomfrah’s short film about the imagined lives of a black man and woman that appear in a 16th century drawing by Albrecht Dürer

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