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Africa Inspires: Film Africa 2014

Next Friday, Hackney Picturehouse will open its doors to Film Africa 2014, The Royal African Society’s annual film festival celebrating the best of Africa's movie industry. Returning for its 4th year, the festival will run from 31 Oct - 9 Nov across 11 London venues, showcasing some of Africa’s greatest cinematic creations through screenings, events and workshops. We are delighted to be one of this year's sponsors and are very much looking forward to the festival - particularly to the Baobab Award Shorts Programme- not just because of its name (we promise!) but because it exists to promote and support new talent from emerging African filmmakers. 

We caught up with Sheila Ruiz, Manager of Film Africa, to ask her a few questions about the festival.

What is the aim of Film Africa?

Film Africa is an important annual platform to showcase African filmmakers’ work, which might otherwise not be seen by UK and London audiences. Our aim is for the festival to bring about a positive cultural shift in the way that people relate to African cinema and the continent as a whole, leading to greater inter-cultural understanding and dialogue between the UK and Africa.

How do you see the festival making a positive impact in the film industry?

We focus on programming the very best contemporary - and classic - African cinema and engaging the most dynamic and innovative filmmakers. By showcasing the continent’s emerging and established directing talent, the festival helps to give further visibility to the many kinds of cinema that are fast developing and increasingly gaining world-wide recognition.

Which African director inspires you the most?

There's too many to mention, but the one who comes to mind right now is Moroccan-Iraqi director Tala Hadid, whose latest film, The Narrow Frame of Midnight, will open this year's festival. Hadid is an exciting discovery for me both in terms of her stunning aesthetics and her subtle yet emotive story-telling.

What is the Baobab Award and how did you choose the name?

The Baobab Award for Best Short Film was founded to recognize and support new work by emerging African filmmakers. Now sponsored by MOFILM, the award consists of a £1,000 cash prize. This year nine shorts directed by up-and-coming directors from seven different African countries have been selected to vie for the Baobab Award, which will be judged by an expert jury of African film professionals, including curator Keith Shiri, writer and filmmaker Rungano Nyoni and writer Ade Solanke. The award announcement will take place during the closing night of Film Africa 2014, on Sunday 9 November at the Ciné Lumière, where we will host a preview screening of Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu.

As for the name... the Baobab is a very iconic tree on the continent and it stands for many positive attributes, such as wisdom and tolerance. The idea behind the Baobab Award now is that, like the tree, emerging filmmaking talent in the continent has the potential to grow steadily and significantly, having a huge impact on the world stage.

5) Baobab or moringa? Baobab for taste, moringa for smell!

Want to find out more? Here’s a preview of the film The Narrow Frame of Midnight (Itar el-Lay), a debut feature from director Tala Hadid, which will be shown on the opening night: 


See you there!