The most powerful moment in I Am Not Your Negro is when James Baldwin is quoted as challenging the dominant gaze: ‘You never had to look at me. I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’
If Black Lives Matter is beyond a movement, if it is an affirmation -- a love letter by Black people to Black people, then Black and African films are the visual representations of this love. Every Black and African film is an insistence on being fully seen at our most rich, beyond the gaze of the cell-phone camera. Every Black and African director gives us the gift of sight -- after all it is through the darkest parts of the eye, the pupils, that we can see clearly. Every Black and African story demands that we show up and face what needs to be changed.
The narrative films in this year’s programme constitute a geographic diversity we are proud of : Dhalinyaro by Lula Ali Ismail is one of the only feature length films to be entirely produced and directed by Djiboutians -- a beautiful coming of age story for the whole family. You Will Die At 20 by Amjad Abu Alala has been touted as the revival of Sudanese cinema and This Is Not A Burial, It's A Resurrection by Lemohang Mosese from Lesotho is the perfect symmetry between stunning visuals and captivating story-line.
Never before have we felt compelled to include as large a documentary film section, motivated by the need to reflect on the significant works of Édouard Glissant, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, and Marlon Riggs who have empowered so many that have come after them to transform the societies in which they live. What becomes evident through the documentaries, such as Unapologetic by Ashley O'Shay or Our Dance Of Revolution by Phillip Pike is that the rigorous labour of anti-racism is mostly taken on by Black, trans and queer women.
Accompanying these films are a series of Director Talks where we have tried to match up African filmmakers with counterparts in the Diaspora and vice-versa -- an attempt to trace the multitude of responses within the Pan-African world to the defense of Black lives.
You cannot get through our festival this year without watching the 29 seconds of pure Black joy and exuberance in Something Good - Negro Kiss (1898), being shown in Sweden for the first time. The earliest known depiction of Black intimacy without the usual racist overtones, the film conveys pleasure and love, forcing film scholars to reassess early film history.
We hope you can take from the festival a sense of community, support and strength. We can change nothing that we face, unless we do it together. RESILIENCE is the theme for CinemAfrica 2020 and we extend a warm welcome to you all!
Dina Afkhampour/ Festival Director