In Conversation With Salym Fayad

“We Know Very Little About Contemporary African Culture”

The 3rd African Traveling Film Festival in Colombia – MUICA – reveals how the African continent is narrated through cinema and other artistic expressions. We spoke with Salym Fayad, co-founder of this exhibition that seeks to connect and disseminate the creations from the ‘other South’.

For the second edition of MUICA in 2017, we brought in the Cameroonian director and avant-garde filmmaker, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, who works with science fiction and experimental cinema. It was very inspiring to see him interact with Afro communities in Colombia and discuss postcolonial narratives, the political situation in Cameroon and the relationship with the French colonial past as well as with the rest of the West African community. It worked so well that Jean-Pierre Bekolo began working with Colombian filmmakers to create his own productions with Afro-Colombian artists from departments such as Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Palenque, Cartagena and Providencia.

C&AL: What is MUICA’s responsibility when it comes to showing the African continent, with all its complexities, through cinema?

SF: MUICA hopes to open a window to the complex realities of Africa, which are often perceived in a reductionist and stereotyped way – in Colombia and in the rest of the world. MUICA wants to provide a platform for cinema but also for different artistic expressions from various parts of Africa. It goes without saying that Africa is an indefinable continent: with 54 countries and different regions, some of them with hundreds of languages. Nigeria alone is home to 500 languages ​​and South Africa has 11 official languages, just to give you an example. So, reducing this to one name, one word, is absurd.

Our responsibility is to bring to the table audiovisual content that passes through our curatorial filter; a result of the experience we have had from living and working in Africa. We try to ensure that the films are curated in a way that relates to the Colombian context. Ultimately, we hope to establish a genuine dialogue so that the spectators won’t feel that they are watching something hyper-alien that has nothing to do with them and so we try to present content that help reveal the similarities between the two realities.