Bab’Aziz Review

3/5

The opening film of the sixth Africa In Motion Film Festival in Edinburgh, Bab’Aziz is a powerful fable that explores the mystical dimensions of Sufism. It serves as the final part of Khemir’s ‘Desert Trilogy’, which also comprises Les Baliseurs du Désert (Wanderers Of The Desert, 1984) and Le Collier Perdu de la Colombe (The Dove’s Lost Necklace, 1991).

Khemir often cites A Thousand And One Nights as a major influence in his work and no more is this apparent than in Bab’Aziz. The film features an overarching narrative which follows a blind dervish (Parviz Shahinkhou) and his young granddaughter, Ishtar (Maryam Hamid), as they venture across the desert in search of a great Sufi reunion which hasn’t taken place for thirty years.

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Taken from Subtitled Online, published Tue Nov 22nd 2011.

Africa in Motion

Now in its sixth year, Africa in Motion returns to the Filmhouse with a programme that promises to deliver a wide variety of African cinema. A largely volunteer based festival, it seeks to introduce the breadth of films Africa has to offer that sadly goes relatively unnoticed in the UK. As a result of under-representation, it is rare that any films made in Africa ever make it outside the continent – even in the more independent cinemas – so AIM offers a unique opportunity for members of the public to enjoy this diverse form of cinema. African film-makers telling their own stories illustrates a deviation from Hollywood interpretations, which gives insight into the real lives of the African people and the challenges they face on a day to day basis.

As Isabel Moura Mendes, one of the Festival’s managers, commented, “It’s very difficult for African film-makers to fund their own films and even harder for these films to have a decent distribution strategy which would allow them to show the film or run the festival circuit.” However, she was quick to note that this lack of distribution has nothing to do with the overall quality of the productions. “It is not a reflection of the quality of the films but a reflection of how the industry is organised and how much money has been invested in the different aspects of producing a film.”

Focusing this year on the theme of childhood and youth in Africa, it features a range of films which explore many aspects relating to youth, such as education, stories and myths, entertainment, the future and social issues. Looking at both urban and rural areas, AIM represents films that are for, by and about children and young people. As Mendes said, “These are ideas which resonate with people all over the world regardless of where they are. We wanted to look at how young African nations and their young communities face these challenges and learn from them, as we can learn from different cultures and the way they deal with their own challenges.”

Screening a number of films, especially for primary and secondary schools around Edinburgh, a definite attempt has been made to create an engagement between young people and African film. This combined with a variety of dancing and drumming workshops make AIM both an informative and family friendly festival.

The festival features three UK premieres: Notre Étrangère (The Place in Between) explores issues of belonging, identity and the relationship between a mother and a daughter set in the West African country of Burkina Faso; Moroccan film Pegase (Pegasus), which won the Best Film at FESPACO,  is a surreal coming-of-age drama that is told through flashbacks and dreamscapes; and the closing film Un Pas en Avant, les Dessous de la Corruption (One Step Forward: The Inside of Corruption) which deals with corruption and politics in Africa in a humorous fashion and also won the FESPACO award for Best Actor.

It is clear that AIM offers an original opportunity to enjoy a rare glimpse of African cinema. As the UK’s largest film festival to focus on productions coming purely out of Africa, for anyone interested in gaining an insight into this diverse continent, it is not be missed.

Africa in Motion is running events around Edinburgh from 2nd-6th Nov.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Nov 1st 2011.