C&AL: In each of the three sections of the festival’s program, Made in Africa, Diaspora and Other Looks, a very diverse cinematographic panorama is perceived. What were the criteria when selecting the 21 films for the 2019 festival?
SF: The three sections summarize some of the questions we want to address. The section Made in Africa favors the films produced and narrated by African filmmakers about different regions of the continent and a variety of topics that we consider relevant. These are high quality and largely recent productions. They are shown in Colombia for the first time and touch on a number of different topics such as history, social resistance or creative risks. In Other Looks we have a section of African stories told by non-African filmmakers. These films are not only very relevant to the audience but also made with respect, without paternalism and without condescension. Diaspora offers a platform for the voices of Afro-descendants around the world, about how ‘Africanness’ is reinterpreted in the diaspora by people either living in exile or Afro-descendants who have never been to the African continent, as in the case of the majority of the Colombian population. Apart from the films, this year we are including a photographic exhibition of old cinemas in Angola, built during the colonial era and that form a very interesting architectural document. Finally, there is a sample of virtual reality.
C&AL: In times when cinema, above all in Europe and the USA, loses its cultural hegemony, what is the importance of cinema in Africa?
SF: When we talk about cinema in Africa we are talking about a tool that has played a very strong social and political role since the beginning. The first African films were produced in a colonial context or just when countries were gaining independence, so between the sixties and seventies of the last century. Although fiction films were made, it was impossible to separate the narrative tool from the immediate reality. Today, films from African countries are being made on a high budget – in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria for example, productions are very similar to Western ones. Still, cinema has not lost its social power.