Mon | May 20, 2019

Confluence of interests in African Film Festival

Published:Tuesday | September 16, 2014 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke

The significance of next month’s 7th E. Desmond Lee Africa World Documentary Film Festival (AWDFF) is underscored by the multiple disciplines of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, which are involved.

Four days of free screenings, from October 2 – 5 at the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, are being coordinated by the Department of Literatures in English, the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy and the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC).

Rachel Moseley-Wood of the Department of Literatures in English said, “film really is a multidisciplinary project... It is a coming together of common interests.”

Over 20 documentaries by film-makers in Africa and the Diaspora will be shown said Moseley-Wood, connecting the festival’s timing with dominant current news about Africa and a history of negative representation. “Even now, with the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, some airlines have suspended flights. There seems to be some isolation of the region,” she suggested.

This ties in all too neatly with the pervasive misperception that the continent is characterised by disease and institutional deficiencies. “There are a lot of stereotypes associated with Africa,” Moseley-Wood said.

The films which will be screened in the festival show much more about Africa than this one-dimensional outlook. “They show how diverse the cultural expressions are, how different the countries are and how they share connections with the rest of humanity,” Moseley-Wood acknowledged.

Among the films which will be shown are True Somebody: The African Soccer Dream by Stephen Latty, which follows a quartet of footballers in Ghana during the Cup of Africa Nations, and Rachel Samuel’s Asni: The Life of Asnaketch Worku – Courage, Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia, which is about Ethiopian artist Asnaketch Worku.

Saya: Dance and Survival in an Afro-Bolivian Village (Beret Strong and John Tweedy) traces the roots of the Saya dance troupe in Bolivia to a preservation of African heritage, this from a community which was subjugated to a form of slavery up to the 1950s.

In Sahel Calling, John Bosch revisits Mali from 2012 - 2013 when radicals employed violence to control communities. Move, by Theodore Collatos, explores Chicago-based contemporary African American dance company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre.


Two of the film-makers, Valerie Scoon (Grenada: Colonialism and Conflict) and Kevin Fraser (Living as Brothers) will attend the festival, facilitating discussions about their work.

Moseley-Wood pointed out that for the first time some of the films will be shown at the UWI’s Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay,

St James. “It is a limited number, but we are excited about it,” she said.

She is also optimistic about the festival overall. “I think it is getting bigger and better. It was the first time we held it last year and a lot of people came out. Some of the films were very well attended,” Moseley-Wood said.

And for this year’s staging, Moseley-Wood pointed out, “We are targetting students to attend on the Friday (October 3), especially. We are in the process of sending out invitations especially to Corporate Area schools.

“It will be a very eclectical experience,” she added.

Jamaica is one of a double handful of venues, from the Caribbean to Africa, England and the USA where movies in E. Desmond, Lee Africa World Documentary Film Festival will be shown this year.