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5 Must Watch African Centered Movies Streaming on Netflix (January 2019)

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We are tickled with excitement as more and more African stories make their way into streaming giant platforms like Netflix. As African stories are told by Africans, the world can take a sneak peak into our diversity.

ALSO READ:10 African Movies Streaming On Netflix (September 2016)

So with that said, let’s get right into it. Here is my short list of movies that you should check out this month. My picks are from 2017/2018 releases only, however, there are many more exciting movies from prior years that have been added to Netflix’s growing African Movie genre. I want to know what you think and if there are other notable mentions that I missed, please let me know. 

#1 – Lionheart: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

This is Nollywood’s first ever Netflix original … AND it is really a BIG deal for the industry; Certainly one to watch. It is a refreshing story and worth making an evening of it.

  • Directed By: Genevieve Nnaji
  • Starring: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie

Lionheart Synopsis

In order to save her father’s ailing bus company, competent but perennially overlooked Adaeze must find a way to work alongside feckless uncle Godswill, in the sharp and comically observed directorial debut from Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji. 

Determined to fight her way to the top, but not wanting to go against her father’s wishes, Adaeze feels like the proverbial bus has left the station without her. She must quickly shift gears, however, when she and Godswill discover that Lionheart is running on fumes, financially. Together, the unlikely duo must come together to save the company and their family name. Sharply and comically observed, Nnaji’s film deals with the everyday sexism that saturates workplaces everywhere, and captures the delicate balance between honoring one’s family while finding the courage to strike out on one’s own.

Lionheart Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1ox7WLbQrQ

#2 – Sarah’s Notebook: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

This is one of those impactful social dramas that will awaken the western conscience. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles and takes you on a journey into the darkest sides of human nature.

  • Directed By: Norberto Lopez Amado
  • Starring: Belén Rueda, Marian Álvarez, Iván Mendes

Sarah’s Notebook Synopsis

Laura has been looking for years for her sister Sarah, who disappeared in the middle of the Congo jungle. Neither the NGO for which she worked nor the Embassy had news of her whereabouts… until a photo of a mining town in Eastern Congo appears with the blurred image of Sara. Without hesitation, Laura travels to Kinshasa ready to enter the territory of the warlords, leaving behind the differences that separated her from her sister.

She goes through an unsuspecting journey that reveals and reveals disturbing, violent and hidden backrooms of some great Western powers operating in Africa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQrPyiBcjEM&t=13s

#3 – Catching Feelings: Released 2017 (Watch It Here)

This South African movie captures a South African couple’s relationship and life. It is a captivating ‘dramedy’ as someone put it certainly makes our list. What I like about this movie is that it takes you into what contemporary South African life could look like.

  • Directed By: Kagiso Lediga
  • Starring: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland

Catching Feelings Synopsis

Catching Feelings is a dark romantic comedy which follows an urbane young academic and his beautiful wife, as their lives get turned upside down when a celebrated and hedonistic older writer moves into their Johannesburg home with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPVEHBjTxnY

#4 – He Even Has Your Eyes: Released 2017 (Watch It Here)

This subtitled French movie uses humor to explore the racial, cultural and social challenges that come with interracial adoption. Thing is people have gotten ‘almost’ comfortable with the idea that white parents can adopt black children even though I suspect there are still raised eyebrows and challenges as these parents go about their business of raising their child. What is rarer to find are black African parents adopting white children and that is the backdrop of this movie which explores this topic with comedy while tackling very legitimate challenges and issues along the way.

  • Director: Lucien Jean-Baptiste
  • Stars: Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Aïssa Maïga, Zabou Breitman

He Even Has Your Eyes Synopsis

In their mid-thirties, Paul and Sali, a Parisian couple of Caribbean and West African origin, are happily married and the proud new owners of a flower shop. The only cloud on their horizon is the long wait to adopt a child. Just when the couple has given up hope, the adoption agency calls with good news. The couple’s new baby boy is six months old, his name is Benjamin, he’s beautiful, he has lovely blue eyes…and he’s white. Director and star Lucien Jean-Baptiste explores what race and ethnicity mean when it comes to being a family; where love is concerned, do they mean anything at all?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNuKbk01ZA

#5 – Black Panther: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

I want to believe that every one of our readers has watched this movie, but I suspect there are still a few that just didn’t care about all the fuss this movie made when it was released last year. Well I have it here to nudge you a little to check it out. It is now on Netflix so you don’t have to deal with any crowds and you can just immerse yourself in the story in the privacy of your home.

  • Director: Ryan Coogler
  • Staring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira
  •  

Black Panther Synopsis

After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.

ALSO READ: The Looks That Afronized The Black Panther Hollywood Movie Premiere

What Are Your Favorites This Month?

Just so you know, there are some really good movies out there but for this short list, I didn’t go further than 2017 even though I was itching to. So please share some of your favorite movies.

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Events

FESPACO 2019 highlights and Winners

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The 26th edition of Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) has come and gone leaving valuable memories and lessons behind. Hitherto, the biennial event of international renown promotes African cinemas. However, this year’s edition also marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration. The weeklong event ran from February 23rd to March 2nd.

During the festival, a statue of ex-Burkina Faso president, Thomas Sankara was unveiled. The five meters high bronze statue was built close to where he died. Till date, Sankara holds a dear position as an icon of pan-Africanism. He also played a prominent role in the success of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou (FESPACO). Present for the unveiling ceremony were dignitaries within and outside the country. This includes former Ghanaian president, John Rawlings and Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Reacting to the monument Rawlings said,

“We have emotions on this site but we need to capitalize on these emotions to move forward. Those who fell here remind us that we are fighting for freedom and justice”.

Roundtable on African women in the cinema industry

Various reputable side events happen at FESPACO events. Consequently, one of the events at the 26th edition was the roundtable on African women in the cinema industry. Held on the 4th day, high-profile dignitaries including Espérance Nyirasafari, Rwanda’s Minister for Sports and Culture were in attendance. The theme of the roundtable was “50 years of FESPACO: 50/50 for Women, equality, and diversity in African Cinema”.

However, Burkina Faso First Lady, Sika Kabore, Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, Abdoul Karim Sango, and Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay also participated at the round table. At the “Visit Rwanda” stand, First Lady Kabore said,

“I am highly impressed by what Rwanda has achieved in such a short period of time. These beautiful pictures on the walls make you want to visit Rwanda.”

The Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award

Joe Karekezi wins the Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award

The high point of the festival is the award of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga. Twenty movies made the shortlist for the award. However, Joel Karekezi’s “The Mercy of the Jungle” took it home. Karekezi is a Rwandan director and the movie discusses the DRC war through the eyes of two soldiers lost in the jungle. Consequently, Belgian Marc Zinga also won the best actor for his role in the movie.

“Karma” by Egyptian director, Khaled Youssef scooped the second prize. “Fatwa” by Tunisian director Ben Hohmound took the third prize. Fatwa explores the emotions of a father who finds out his son was a jihadist after his death.

Ecobank Foundation Sembène Ousmane Prize

The Ecobank prize at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou Film Festival (FESPACO) goes to the movie judged to portray the most positive image of Africa. However, the prize is only exclusive to countries where Ecobank operates. “Miraculous weapon” director, Jean-Pierre Bekolo won a bronze trophy and XOF 5,000,000 ($8500) for winning the award. Reacting to the award, the Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, Carl Manlan said,

“I have no doubt that Ousmane Sembène, who is rightly… one of Africa’s greatest authors and as the ‘father of African film’, would have been thoroughly engrossed by the storyline of “Miraculous weapons” and how it displays Africa in a positive light.”

Full list of winners

  • GOLDEN STALLION: The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
  • SILVER STALLION: Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
  • BRONZE STALLION: Fatwa by Mahmoud BEN MAHMOUD (Tunisia)
  • BEST ACTOR: Marc Zinga in The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
  • BEST ACTRESS: Samantha Mugatsia in Rafiki by Wanuri KAHUI (Kenya)
  • THE BEST SCRIPT: Regarde-moi (Look at me) by Nejib BELKHADI (Tunisia)/Keteke by Peter SEDUFIA (Ghana)
  • BEST IMAGE: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
  • BEST SOUND:  Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
  • THE BEST MUSIC: Sew the Winter To My Skin  by Jahmil XT Qubeka (South Africa)
  • BEST SET: Desrances by Apolline TRAORE (Burkina Faso)
  • BEST EDITING: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
  • OUMAROU GANDA PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE: Jusqu’à la fin des temps Yasmine Chouikh (Algeria)

COURTS-METRAGES FICTION

  • GOLDEN FOAL: Black Mamba by Amel GUELLATY (Tunisia)
  • SILVER FOAL: Une place dans l’avion by Khadidiatou SOW (Sénégal)
  • BRONZE FOAL: Un air de Kora by Angèle DIABANG (Sénégal)

DOCUMENTARY CATEGORY

  • GOLDEN STALLION: Le loup d’or de Baolé by Aïcha Boro (Burkina Faso)
  • SILVER STALLION: Au temps où les arabes dansaient by Jawad RHALIB (Morocco)
  • BRONZE STALLION: Whispering Truth To Power by Shameela SEEDAT (South Africa)
  • DIASPORA PRIZE PAUL ROBESON: Meu amigo Fela (Mon ami Fela) by Joel Zito ARAUJO (Brazil)

COURTS-METRAGES DOCUMENTAIRE

  • GOLDEN FOAL: Against all odds (Contre toute attente) by Charity Resian NAMPASO/ Andréa IANNETTA (Kenya)
  • SILVER FOAL: Zanaka-Teny Nomen’i Felix (Ainsi parlait Félix) by Nantenaina LOVA (Madagascar)
  • BRONZE FOAL: Tata Milouda by Nadja HAREK (Algeria)

SERIES TV

  • FIRST PRIZE: Petites Histoires, Grandes Vérités (PHGV) by Ambrose B. COOKE (Ghana)
  • SECOND PRIZE: Blog by Akre Loba Diby MELYOU (Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast)

COMPETITION ANIMATION

  • FIRST PRIZE: Briska by Nadia RAIS (Tunisia)
  • SECOND PRIZE: A kalabanda ate my homework by Raymond MALINGA (Uganda)
  • JURY AWARD: Da Tsysy Da by Tojo Niaina RAJAOFERA (Madagascar)

SCHOOLS CATEGORY

  • FIRST PRIZE: Incompris by Jaurès KOUKPEMEDJI from l’Institut Supérieur des Métiers de l’Audiovisuel (ISMA) – Bénin
  • SECOND PRIZE: Maison de retraite by N. Ismaël Césaire KAFANDO from l’Institut Supérieur de  l’image et du Son/ Studio Ecole / ISIS/SE – Burkina Faso

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Books

The Story of William Kamkwamba’s Ingenuity Is Coming to Netflix March 1st 2019

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind on Netflix March 1

Netflix is set to release the movie, ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’ on March 1, 2019. The movie is a true story adaptation of a book of the same title. Earlier, it screened at the Sundance Film Festival in preparation for its global debut.

When William Kamkwamba built a windmill, he never thought he was doing anything special. He had been forced to drop out of school as a result due to famine, that made it difficult for his family to afford his tuition. The young Malawian did not want that to deter his education so he frequented the village library. It was there that he discovered his love for electronics. After he read a book called “Using Energy“, he decided to make practical use of the information in the book and create a makeshift wind turbine. He experimented with a small model using a cheap dynamo and eventually transitioned to a functioning model. With it he was able to power up electrical appliances in this family’s house. This piqued the interest of the local community and soon the buzz of his ingenuity caught international attention.

The Book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Former Associated Press reporter, Bryan Mealer had been reporting on conflict across Africa for five years when he heard Mr Kamkwamba’s story. The story was just the kind of tale he loved to tell so he worked with Kamkwamba for a year to write the best selling book entitled “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind“.

In an interview with the BBC, Mealer said Kamkwamba represents Africa’s new “cheetah generation”, young people, energetic and technology-hungry, who are taking control of their own destiny.

“Spending a year with William writing this book reminded me why I fell in love with Africa in the first place,” he said, “It’s the kind of tale that resonates with every human being and reminds us of our own potential.”

According to Harpercollins Publishers, the book had already won praises from the bestselling author of ‘The Alchemist’, Paolo Coelho and Noble Laureate and former Vice President, Al Gore. You can get the book from Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor makes directorial debut

The movie is a directorial debut of Chiwetel Ejiofor who doubles as an actor in the movie. The ’12 Years a Slave’ actor and Oscar nominee said he was charmed by the book and wanted to experience it. Speaking about the movie, Ejiofor said,

“To get emotional truth of the story, I spent a lot of time with William. I came to Malawi to experience the book from the actual ground. I met his family, friends and saw the village where everything took place. [Experiencing stories]…from one point of view is not very rewarding ultimately. I’m just looking forward to being a continuing part of that positive change.”

TED Global Talk

This is not the first time that William Kamkwamba’s story will be told to an international audience. In 2007, he was on Ted Talk sharing his story to a cheering audience. Several venture capitalists at the conference pledged to facilitate his secondary education. In 2013 he was named one of TIME magazine’s “30 People Under 30 Changing The World”.

A Broader Audience

However, the movie adaptation will take Kamkwamba’s story to a wider audience. Speaking on the adaptation of his book for a movie Kamkwamba said,

“It’s very exciting to me because at the time I was writing the book I wanted to reach out to as many people as possible. Having this chance of getting this story into a movie is going to reach more people than the book could have managed to do.”

 

 

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Celebrities

Egyptian American Rami Malek’s Oscar Win Is A Win For Movie Diversity

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It was a star-studded gathering of the Hollywood’s biggest stars on Sunday, February 24, 2019, for the 91st Oscar Academy Awards. The 91st annual red carpet had its surprises too. However, it is understandable that with 7,900 voting members, the odds can swing anywhere. From having no host to an African-American winner, the tales will reverberate for a long time.

Kevin Hart was supposed to host the Oscar this year. However, he withdrew over past tweets that were considered homophobic. The last time the Oscars held without a host was about three decades ago. The absence of a host quickly shifted the attention to tennis superstars like Serena Williams, comedian Trevor Noah, Jennifer Lopez and many more.

Rami Malek wins Best Actor in Leading Role

Rami Malek has always been the favorite to win in the category for his role in the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Before heading to the Oscars, Malek had earlier bagged the British BAFTA award, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Golden Globes award for the same role. He dedicated the award to all the young people struggling to find their voice. On accepting the award Malek talked about his experience as an immigrant. He said,

'I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. ...a first-generation American, and my story is being written now. I cannot be more grateful to each and every one of you.' - Rami Malek at the Oscar 2019 Click To Tweet

Egyptians on Monday hailed the 37-year-old actor as the new ‘Pharaoh’ following the award. Malek’s parents originally from the Upper Egypt province of Minya are immigrants in the United States. In the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Rami Malek also played the role of a gay son of immigrants. His cousin, Fady Essam said,

“[The] entire village was up until 5 o’clock in the morning. We called his mother to congratulate her and urge her to bring him to Egypt to hold a huge celebration for him.”

The ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

The movie, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, is based on the true story of the ‘Queen’ rock band and the life of their lead singer Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek). The events of the movie portray the buildup to their performance at the Live Aid concert (1985) in Wembley Stadium. The movie portrays Freddie Mercury’s journey from a struggling immigrant to a world-famous artist.

ALSO READ: Netflix Will Release It’s First African Original Series in 2019 Starring This African Actress

‘Black Panther’ took home three awards

Rami Malek made many African proud but he was not the only beacon of the night. ‘Black Panther’, the first black superhero movie also shone at the 91st annual awards. The movie about Wakanda, a mythical country in Africa received seven nominations and won three. Black Panther took the award for the best original score, costume design, and production design. The movie broke box office records becoming the second highest grossing movie of 2018 with over $1.3 billion in revenue worldwide.

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