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Cinema Africa presented AfriKaleidoskop – a film night at a historic movie theater

11.02.2020

The Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence will continue its cinematographic endeavors in 2020. First stop: an invitation to see three outstanding movies during an extensive movie night. More events are planned.

When Cinema Africa was founded by the Chair of Romance and Comparative Literature at the University of Bayreuth, Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler, thirteen years ago, her vision was clear: Bringing African voices to a broader German audience. Today, that vision is so much in line with the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence’s agenda that it is no surprise that the research organization is supporting the initiative’s projects.

Cinema Africa’s first event of 2020 - titled “AfriKaleidoskop” - happened on 15 January 2020 and invited people to experience a set of three films during a long movie night. The location had been chosen carefully: Cinema Africa welcomed the audience to the “Reichshof”- an iconic movie theater in Bayreuth that is only used for selected events today. “To give people a chance to see our presentation in that historic setting in Bayreuth made the evening extra special,” Ute Fendler who is also the Speaker for the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, said. “We wanted to combine old and new, modern and old-fashioned, German and African in order to give people an extra incentive to come and join us.” The plan worked and a total number of 150 people came to experience one, two or all three of the movies presented.

Broad spectrum of African storytelling

The movie selection of that night showed a broad spectrum of African cinematography. Varying in their artistic expression and thematic choices all three movies left the audience contemplative and moved. The first movie of the evening was “Fig Tree” by Ethiopian director Alamork Davidian. It is set during the Civil war in Ethiopia in the late 1980s and offers an unusual perspective on a period, when a considerable number of members of the Jewish community tried to flee to Israel. It follows the protagonist Mina who worries about her Christian friend while her family gradually leaves the country.

The movie “Farming” is not set in Africa, but in Tilbury, United Kingdom: When a black teenager is placed in a white British family by his Nigerian parents he is faced with an identity crisis of enormous proportions. Eni finds himself as part of a group that he himself had fallen victim to before. “Farming” is a ruthless autobiographical account by the director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje bearing witness to a questionable practice of the 1960s and 1980s thus showing the brutality of racial cleavages in the United Kingdom.

The last film of the night was “Rafiki”. The drama directed by Wanuri Kahiu tells the story of two young Kenyan women - Ziki and Kena -falling passionately in love. However, with their relationship socially unacceptable in Kenya and their parents working as political enemies their romantic journey soon becomes more and more difficult.

“’AfriKaleidoskop’ in January was the first of a number of events that we plan for 2020,” Ute Fendler explains. “Another movie night is going to be organized in May and of course, we are already planning for this year’s presentation of Cinema Africa festival with Cineplex in November 2020.” (sg)

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