MOVIES: Fiction - Africa
Sankofa
Directed by Haile Gerima

In "Sankofa," a contemporary African-American woman travels back in time and experiences slavery. Haile Gerima's poetic and precisely detailed film takes its audience into its heroine's life and mind as her moral sense is challenged and changed. No viewer can avoid the discomforting questions the film so eloquently raises. Mr. Gerima is an Ethiopian-born film maker who has lived in the United States for decades and teaches at Howard University. His film is ambitious in its depiction of slavery and accomplished in its visual command, from the bright red scarves of the rebellious slaves to a fire they set in the fields.

Dreams of Dust
Directed by Laurent Salgues
My rating:

Mocktar, a Nigerien peasant, comes looking for work in Essakane, a dusty gold mine in Northeast Burkina Faso, Africa, where he hopes to forget the past that haunts him. In Essakane, he quickly finds out, the gold rush ended twenty years before, and the inhabitants of this wasteland and strange timelessness manage to exist simply from force of habit. The beautiful Coumba, however, is still courageously struggling to raise her daughter after the death of her family. Mocktar will soon be fighting not only to survive, but also to provide a better future for this mother and her child.

Yesterday
Directed by Darrell Roodt
My rating:

After falling ill, Yesterday (Khumalo) learns that she is HIV positive. With her husband in denial and young daughter to tend to, Yesterday's one goal is to live long enough to see her child go to school.

Tsotsi
Directed by Gavin Hood
My rating:

In Johannesburg, the small time criminal Tsotsi is a teenager without feelings, hardened by his tough life. One night, Tsotsi hijacks a car and under the despair of a woman, he shots her in the stomach. While driving the car, Tsotsi finds that there is a baby on the back seat and the woman was a desperate mother.

The Wooden Camera
Directed by Ntshavheni Wa Luruli
My rating:

Two thirteen year old boys play along the railway line in Kayelitsha, a township close to Capetown. A dead man is tossed from a passing train, clutching an attach case. Inside, the boys discover a gun and a video camera. Sipho takes the gun, Madiba takes the camera. Madiba hides the camera within a makeshift wooden box to avoid losing his new toy. Through the lens, his everyday surroundings take on a strange new beauty.

Beat the Drum
Directed by David Hickson
My rating:

A young orphaned boy sets out for the big city to find his uncle after a mysterious illness strikes his village. Driven by his determination to survive and his growing social awareness he finds a way to make an honest living and returns to his village with a truth and understanding his elders have failed to grasp. An emotional and timely drama reminding us how one small voice can be the brave start of colossal change uniting a village a township and even a nation.

Masai: The Rain Warriors
Directed by Pascal Plisson
My rating:

This arrestingly beautiful adventure shot on the savannahs of Kenya depicts a community's quest to bring rain to their land and ensure their survival. A band of very young Masai warriors sets out to kill a mystical lion to end a drought that is plaguing their village. Barely teenagers, the warriors are untested and unskilled, and they are unsure whether the lion actually exists. And, if it does exist, will bringing back its mane cure the drought. It is the first film to be solely populated by real-life Masai and spoken entirely in their native tongue.

Feuerherz - Heart of Fire
Directed by Luigi Falorni

Feuerherz/Heart of Fire tells the story of a childhood spent in the Eritrean army. The movie is loosely based in the best-selling book by singer Senait Mehari. In 1981, Eritrea is still wracked by civil war. Ten-year-old Awet is in an orphanage run by Italian and Eritrean nuns who teach the headstrong girl about the strength that comes from dignified pride. When Awet's father Haile unexpectedly calls her home to later hand her and her older sister Freweyni over to the Eritrean Liberation Front, known as the Jebha.