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L'alternativa - Rabbit a la Berlin
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African Film Festival
A large chunk of this month sees two Barcelona film festivals running back-to-back.
First is the 15th edition of the African Film Festival. Given Africa’s cultural, historic, linguistic and topographic mix, any (film) festival dedicated to Africa has to be highly selective regarding its content—and so it is here. This year, the range of countries represented is small and there’s a sad lack of female film-makers. However, there are screenings of both recent works (such as 2009’s Nothing But the Truth from South African film-maker John Kani) and productions from directors included in past editions such as Ivorian Henri Duparc. Homage is paid to the late Senegalese directors Ousmane Sembène, Mahama Johnson Traoré and Samba Félix Ndiaye and there’ll be two film premieres: Taxiphone by Algerian director Mohammed Soudani and Les gars du bled from Moroccan film-maker Mohamed Ismail.
Barcelona’s Independent Film Festival, L’Alternativa, also has a difficult remit, as it tries to offer audiences ‘alternative’ films. While tedious Hollywood sequels and remakes are not in short supply in Barcelona cinemas, the city also has its fair share of arthouse venues, making the task of finding an alternative to the alternative that bit more challenging. Still, their mission to highlight “other views and other voices that are never present in commercial cinema” is to be applauded. This year’s key director is Frenchman Raymond Depardon, a documentary-maker whose work takes a peek behind the doors of modern France to look at its justice system, agricultural workers and the sole psychiatric hospital with a 24-hour emergency department. Elsewhere, L’Alternativa offers: a masterclass by Barcelona cinematographer Lluís Miñarro (7th); a new children’s strand called ‘Pequeños Experimentos’ (where all the films are presented by a host who will talk to the young audience about the themes covered) and ‘Pantalla Hall’, a non-stop showing of recent experimental films