African film fest Ramata
Barcelona’s African Film Festival goes from strength to strength, with this year’s edition featuring a week of films showing at the Méliès Cinema, accompanied by talks and discussions with several of the film-makers. Now in its 14th year, the festival screens around 25 films, including features, shorts and documentaries. Coming from countries as far apart, physically and socio-culturally, as Algeria and Zimbabwe, many of the films have won prizes at festivals around the world.
Several of the films look at the struggle between traditional life and the modern world, and the reasons for Africa’s many problems. In L’Absence by Guinean-French director Mama Kéïta, a successful scientist returns to his native Senegal, where his grandmother and younger sister are his only remaining family. Appalled to discover that his deaf and dumb sister has been forced into prostitution, his initial reaction is to flee as abruptly as he arrived, rather than face the drugs, corruption and violence ripping apart his country.
Algerian film Masquerades is a comedy about a man worried that his sister won’t find a husband—because she’s a narcoleptic. Director Lyes Salem says the film attempts to show the importance of Algerian women in contemporary society, through a combination of humour and irony. “The heroine is torn between her brother and her lover,” explained Salem. “The brother still clings to the past and seeks to impose his will; the lover is open and looks to the future with an open mind, but he is hesitant.”
Ramata, based on the novel by Senegalese writer Abasse Ndione and directed by Léandre-Alain Baker, is a love story about a middle-aged woman who abandons her wealthy husband to pursue a giddy affair with a young petty criminal. The film is particularly poignant as its leading actress, the model Katoucha Niane, drowned in Paris earlier this year.
Algerian film-maker Mustafa Derkaoui is the subject of this year’s retrospective, and will be present at the festival, as will several Senegalese directors who have taken part in the Senegal documentary festival Moussa Invite, which is supported by Barcelona African Film Festival organisers Ull Anonim.
14ª Mostra de Cinema Àfricà de Barcelona
Cinemes Méliès, November 6th to 12th, www.ullanonim.org
All films are in their original language, with subtitles in Castilian or Catalan. Tickets are €5 per session, or €20 for five sessions.
Also this month is the Festival of Independent Cinema (‘L’Alternativa’), running from November 13th to 21st and featuring innovative films from around Europe. http://alternativa.cccb.org