Vues d’Afrique 2017 – “The interest and the strength of African cinema lie on its dedication to social, political, and environmental themes” stated Gérard Le Chêne, president of the board of directors of Vues d’Afrique 2017 (Views from Africa) a festival that is this year in its 33rd edition. The lineup was announced at a press conference held at the Moroccan Cultural Centre this Tuesday. The 2017 edition of this festival will highlight the Moroccan film production. Undoubtedly an interesting choice since, as Leila Gouchi, one of the patrons of this year’s event pointed out, “Morocco is not in the heart of Africa, but it carries Africa in its heart.”
The films are mostly from countries that were colonized by France, therefore spoken in French or with French subtitles if they are spoken in other languages. To my question whether the festival policy of showing only French-language movies excludes what could be interesting productions from countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, etc., the Director-General of Vues d’Afrique Géraldine Le Chêne replied that their goal was to “defend and protect francophone Africa.” (Although in fact, a ‘francophone Africa’ may be a misnomer: France—as most other colonial powers—was only interested in educating the élite of the native population. Therefore even today, in the former French colonies only a small minority varying between ten to fifteen percent in most cases, can speak French. But I was not supposed to engage in a debate over linguistic issues in Africa, especially at the end of the conference and when we were about to be treated with a delicious sample of Moroccan cuisine).
Among the films that for their description seem interesting I would mention “Clash” directed by Mohamed Diab (Egypt), set in Cairo in 2013 two years after the Spring Revolution and on the eve of the removal of Islamist President Mosi (Arabic with French subtitles, April 15, 8:30 p.m., April 17, 12:30 p.m.). “Medan vi lever” by Dani Kouyaté (Burkina Faso, French subtitles) presents the story of Kandia, a woman who at age 50 and after 30 years living in Sweden decides to return to her native Gambia: a story of uprooting with comedic and dramatic moments (April 22, 8:30 p.m., April 23, 3:15 p.m.). Among the documentary films, I can mention “Kemtiyu-Séex Anta” by Ousmane William M’Mabey (Senegal) a portrayal of Sheik Anta Diop, a very controversial man seen as a wise scientist and honest politician by some, while others vilify him (April 17, 6 p.m.; April 21, 3:15 p.m.). All screenings will be held at the Cinemathèque Québécoise (335 de Maisonneuve East). A meeting place for filmmakers, the media, and the public with music, live shows, African-style food and drinks called le Baobar, will be located on the premises of the Cinemathèque during the days of the Festival, April 14 to 23, 2017. For more detailed information about this festival visit: vuesdafrique.org