Africa in Motion: 2021 Festival Preview
Africa in Motion goes online-only this year with a huge programme of over 90 films and events shining a light on the brilliance and diversity of African cinema
This month Africa in Motion (AiM) celebrates its sweet 16th edition, which means we’ve the annual opportunity to dig into the wealth of inventive filmmaking from across the African continent that rarely catches the eyes of UK distributors. Sadly, this year’s edition will be restricted to the small screen as it’s online-only, but the upside is that its 90-odd films, along with a plethora of poetry events, music, talks and workshops, will be available to film fans all over the UK.
For AiM festival director Liz Chege, the purpose of the festival remains the same as ever: to empower and awaken imagination through the power of film. “I’m delighted that even during these extraordinary circumstances, our festival has continued to support African artists and filmmakers in the wider Black diasporas to celebrate their talent and heritage,” Chege says.
The festival kicks off with music documentary Elder's Corner, in which musician and filmmaker Siji Awoyinka tracks down some of the Nigerian pioneers of Jùjú and Afrobeat. It’ll make for a fine taster for the music-themed films to come in AiM’s Setting Pace strand, which features docs on Afro-Cuban music (Soy Cubana) and jazz (Brenda Fassie, Not A Bad Girl), and online performances from rising stars Balimaya Project and Jas Kayser.
Other strands include Family Matters, which delves into films centred on familial relationships; Great Expectations, which concerns films about dreamers and the shifting perspectives on ideas of legacy; and Queer Africa, which puts a spotlight on the shifting landscape of African queerness. There’s also a Women in Focus strand, which gives the festival its closing film, Honey Cigar, a tender coming-of-age tale set in 1993.
The annual AiM shorts competition is also back, and look (and listen) out too for a new initiative in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library and Obsidian Foundation that sees AiM commission work by three Black female poets – Tjawangwa Dema, Clementine Ewokolo Burnley and Zakia Carpenter-Hall. Responding to the COP26 climate change conference, the poets have been asked to compose a piece each on the theme of the natural environment, which will be turned into a performance short film and will have its world premiere at AiM.