Culture: Some of the Top-Rated African Movies of 2021 | Africa is not a country | Future Planet

We have consulted 10 people related to cinema on the African continent. These are filmmakers, journalists who cover international festivals, and programmers who we asked to tell us about the films they saw this year and to give us their recommendations for readers of Africa is not a country. Among those favorite African films that we compile to close 2021, there are films produced in previous years – just before or during the confinements of the pandemic – but that were released recently. The stories of women stand out, and even the feminine signatures; there is fiction and documentary cinema, intimacy and collective memory. Of the titles mentioned, only four are repeated, and they are those that come from Egypt, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Tunisia:

Feathers (Pens, is Spanish), by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt), with three votes, is a film that addresses the monotonous family life from fantasy and humor. The boring life of a woman undervalued by her husband changes with a stroke of magic that turns the authoritarian family man into a chicken.

Still from the film 'Feathers'.
Still from the film ‘Feathers’.

The Night of the Kings (King’s Night), by Philippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast), with three mentions, is a prison drama, which takes place in a prison far from any Ivorian urban center. In that jail, the inmates themselves are the ones who impose the rules and have the reins of the destinies of their companions. There is a tribute to the tradition of African oral storytelling.

Bamun Nafi (Nafi’s father), from Mamadou Dia (Senegal), with two votes. The film is inspired, like the story of Romeo and Juliet, in a disabled relationship between two young people. In this case, they only want to flee together to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, even if the family and political rancor of their parents hinder it. He won several awards at Locarno.

The man who sold his skin (The man who sold his skin), by Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia), with two votes, is a film that was among the Oscar nominees for the best foreign language film at the latest edition of the Hollywood awards. The story revolves around Sam, a Syrian who takes refuge in Lebanon, fleeing the war in his country, where he hopes to continue life with his girlfriend, until she is forced to marry a diplomat with whom she will leave for Europe. . Desolate, Sam then decides to put his body at the service of a controversial and internationally famous plastic artist, in order to reach his beloved. The alleged solution is a tattoo that will be much more than it seems.

Next, the consulted ones and their favorite films (for readers attentive to the programming in theaters and platforms):

Marion Berger, programmer of the Tarifa-Tánger African Film Festival (FCAT)

Black Medusa (Black jellyfish) by Ismael and Youssef Chebbi (Tunisia). A mythological figure is reincarnated in a Tunisian woman who, every night, goes out to seduce men and collect what they owe her. They say that Night Tunis could have been filmed by Jarmusch.

Feathers (Pens) by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt).

Delphine’s Prayers (Delphine’s prayers), by Rosine Mbakam (Cameroon, Belgium), award for best documentary FCAT 2021). Marrying an old European man to get out of a prostituted life in Cameroon is the way out that the tormented Delphine finds, to support her little daughter. A woman facing the camera of another woman.

Jihane Bougrine, musician and journalist

Tomorrow (morning), from Dhafer Labidine (Tunisia). This film won the important Arab cinema award at the Cairo International Film Festival, which narrates the relationship of a father and a son, where the roles must be reversed, with the political background of a dictatorship on their shoulders.

The Night of the Kings (King’s Night) by Phillippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast).

David Pierre Fila, filmmaker from Congo Brazzaville

Amansa Tiafi (Public toilet africa), de Kofi Ofosu-Yeboah (Ghana). Critics agree that the film is a drop of optimism about the future of Ghana and Africa, after the post-colonial setbacks. With music by Ali Farka Touré.

Bamun Nafi (Nafi’s father), by Mamadou Dia (Senegal).

Randa Maroufi, audiovisual artist

It’s hard (Sugar), short film by Ilias El Faris (Morocco), or the initiation sensuality on a beach in Casablanca.

Rachid Naim, critic and film teacher at the Faculté Polydisciplinaire de Safi (Morocco)

The man who sold his skin (The man who sold his skin), from Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia).

Feathers (Pens) by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt).

Zanka Contact (Street contact), by Ismail El Iraki (Morocco). Zanca is the name of the street, in daria (Moroccan dialect Arabic), and the title of this film which is said to be a love and hate letter to the populous Casablanca, reminiscent of David Lynch.

Poster for 'Zanka Contact'.
Poster for ‘Zanka Contact’.

Abdelkarim Ouakrim, critic and jury of Arab film festivals

Feathers (Pens) by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt).

Collapsed walls (Collapsed walls), by Hakim Belabbés (Morocco), is a poetic journey to the memory of the small Moroccan city in which the director grew up, who is the son of the owner of the only cinema in the area.

Catherine Ruelle, journalist, creator of Today’s cinema. Cinema without borders (Radio France), former president of honor of the Cannes International Pan-African Film Festival

Bamun Nafi (Nafi’s father), by Mamadou Dia.

On the way to the billion (Going to Kinshasa), documentary by Dieudo Hamadi (Democratic Republic of Congo). It is the epic, along the Congo River, of a group of victims of the war of The Six Days of Kisangani (occurred in the year 2000), to demand justice.

The Night of the Kings (King’s Night) by Phillippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast).

Eva Sauphie, journalist of the magazine Young Africa

The Night of the Kings (King’s Night) by Phillippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast).

Their Algeria (His Algeria) by Lina Soualem. It is a documentary tribute by the director to her grandparents, Algerian immigrants who were part of the North African exodus to rebuild France in the 1960s.

Adil Semmar, film critic and festival programmer

The man who sold his skin (The man who sold his skin), from Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia).

The Night of the Kings (King’s Night) by Phillippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast).

Sonia Terrab, filmmaker

Hanging Women (Suspended women), by Merieme Addou (Morocco). The protagonists, Ghita, Latifa and Saadia, are three divorced women who must fight before the Justice to prove that they are alone and thus be able to obtain what corresponds to them.

Fotograma de 'As I Want'.
Fotograma de ‘As I Want’.

As I Want (As I want), de Samaher Alqadi (Egipto), is a documentary that shows how Egyptian women express their outrage at sexual assaults, and why they do it in the streets, despite everything.

Happy 2022, with attention to African cinema!

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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