africa / Calendar / Entertainment

African Films at the Mpls – St. Paul International Film Festival

by Nelima

The 27th Annual Minneapolis – St. Paul International Film Festival is upon us peoples! The Festival which runs from April 16th – 30th features about 150 films from 63 countries of which the following are from Africa. I sifted through the calendar to pick out the African – themed films, but you can get more info on the festival here. Make sure you catch at least one film 🙂

Heart of Fire

The true story of a young female soldier who comes of age during the Eritrean civil war in East Africa…


The true story of a young female soldier who comes of age during the Eritrean civil war of in East Africa. After spending the first 10 years of her life in a Catholic orphanage, the young and fiery Awet excitedly learns that she is soon to be reunited with her family. But her hopes for a normal life are dashed when her father, a fanatical supporter of the Eritrean Liberation Front, places Awet directly into the military forces’ hands. At first willing to join the fight, she soon realizes that their enemies are just as human as she, and Awet makes a solemn vow never to kill … Labeled a traitor by the group’s commander, the young Awet nevertheless courageously stands by her convictions and fights the violence in the disarming way that only a child could. Director Falomi, 38,  is known to world audiences for his 2003 doc, The Weeping Camel.

(In Kiswahili; English subtitles)


St. Anthony Main  4/20 Mon 9:15pm and 4/26 Sun 8:45pm


Rough Aunties

Sundance Grand Jury Prize, about a remarkable group of women unwavering in their stand…


Fearless, feisty and resolute, the “Rough Aunties” are a remarkable group of women unwavering in their stand to protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. This latest documentary by internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto (Sisters in Law, Divorce Iranian Style) follows the outspoken, multiracial cadre of Thuli, Mildred, Sdudla, Eureka and Jackie, as they wage a daily battle against systemic apathy, corruption, and greed to help the most vulnerable and disenfranchised of their communities.

Despite the harsh realities of violence, poverty, and racism in the women’s work at the Bobbi Bear child welfare organization and in the heartaches of their personal lives, the portraits that emerge on screen are filled with grace, wisdom, friendship, and a deeply stirring conviction. Neither politics, nor social or racial divisions stand a chance against the united force of the women. Once again Longinotto has managed to bring us an intimate portrait of change from Africa, this time from post-apartheid South Africa, a nation being transformed with hope and energy into a new democracy.  Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2009.


St. Anthony Main 4/27, Mon. 6:30pm



Confident, conniving, humorous Kunene dons a suit of philanthropy, hijacks apartment buildings in rare crime thriller…


Rumored to have been filmed with the help of local gangsters,  Jerusalema is the engrossing tale of a a poor kid from the Soweto slums who grew up to become J-burg’s top crime boss and a man whose life of crime seemed inevitable. Adolescent car thief Lucky Kunene attempts to the leave the life of a gangster behind with his youth, but his resolve weakens when he finds himself a victim of crime. A confident, conniving, humorous man, Kunene dons the suit of philanthropy and makes a living hijacking apartment buildings through a series of elaborate scams. He is an appropriately vague Robin Hood for a film that allegorizes Johannesburg as a post-apartheid Jerusalem. Lucky Kunene tries to balance on the line between crime and legality, between black African gangster and wealthy man belonging to the white elite. His downfall seems as unavoidable as that of Johannesburg as the failed Jerusalem. Writer-director Ziman fills his sublime and violent tale with a moral ambiguity that seems like the predestined product of a “promised land” born of corruption. Jerusalema is a rare crime thriller that invokes not morality, but inescapability. Was South Africa’s Oscar submission.


St. Anthony Main 4/24, Fri.  9:45 PM and 4/27, Mon. 9:00 PM


A Walk to Beautiful 

Stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devasting childbirth injuries embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity…


A Walk to Beautiful tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women are left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. They make the choice to take the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life.

“A Walk to Beautiful was truly a labor of love for everyone at Engel Entertainment. Our field crews even took months of lessons in Amharic, the Ethiopian language, from one of our interns who happened to be of Ethiopian descent.” 
Thanks to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), for making this film available.


St. Anthony Main 4/23 Thurs. 7:15 PM


Sleepwalking Land (Terra Sonambula)

Two wanderers wind their way through scorched countryside encountering fellow travelers, each with their own story…


Teresa Prata’s feature debut explores both the impact of storytelling and the shape of things in her native Mozambique. The lives of elderly Tuahir (Aladino Jasse) and young Muidinga (Nick Lauro Teresa) intersect when they seek refuge from one of the many gangs of wandering thugs that are a byproduct of the country’s endless civil war. Striking up a friendship, the pair soon comes across the diary of a dead refugee (Helio Fumo), which the young man reads aloud as a way of passing the time. The journal is filled with many all-too-familiar horror stories, but also with some surprising details that give Muidinga an unexpected hope.

As the two wanderers wind their way aimlessly through the scorched countryside, they encounter a broad range of fellow travelers, each with his or her own story to share. Some are stark, some are uplifting and some are just plain bizarre, but all of them speak to the strength of a long-suffering people and the redemptive power of story. Director Teresa Prata split her childhood between Mozambique, Brazil and Portugal and directed several acclaimed shorts before starting work on this “parable for a society struggling to cope with its evisceration.” 


St. Anthony Main 4/26, Sun. 9:45pm and 4/27, Mon. 5:15pm


What a Wonderful World

Saoud is a prostitute whose best friend is Kenza, a tough traffic cop in Casablanca…


Souad is a prostitute whose best friend is Kenza, a tough traffic cop. Kamel is a stony–eyed contract killer who receives his hit orders via the Internet; he is also Souad’s favorite customer. When Kenza falls in love with Kamel, the two begin a bizarre courtship doomed by their disparate lines of work, and a persistent cyber–snooping hacker who stumbles upon the site where Kamel receives his murderous contracts. Moroccan actor–director Faouzi Bensaïdi’s promiscuously stylish film is a new vision of an old culture, unveiling an uncommon Casablanca caught in a world wide web of associations and consequences.


St. Anthony Main 4/27, Mon. 9:45pm and Oak Street 4/19, Sun. 7:00pm


Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders

Two volunteers are new recruits struggling to cope under the load of emergency cases…


 This film trails two new recruits and two veteran aid workers at field hospital in Liberia and the Congo, in a candid and often shocking documentary that gets inside the minds of the volunteers of Doctors Without Borders — people who push their own limits to make a difference. Two volunteers are new recruits: a 26-year-old Australian doctor stranded in a remote bush clinic and an American surgeon struggling to cope under the load of emergency cases in a shattered capital city. Two others are experienced field hands: a dynamic Head of Mission, valiantly trying to keep morale high and tensions under control, and an exhausted veteran, who has seen too much horror and wants out. Amidst the chaos, each volunteer must confront the blood and sweat, the tough choices, and the limits of their own idealism. ” . . .it received a 10-minute standing ovation at its premier at the Venice Int’l. FF.” 


St. Anthony Main 4/19, Sun. 2:35 pm


Pride of Lions

An eye-opener about the recent 11-year old civil war in West Africa, and two Americans against all odds…

PRIDE OF LIONS presents Sierra Leone in a new light — the story of what it means for a country and its people brutalized by an 11-year civil war to move beyond their scars.
Through personal stories of human suffering, loss, and recovery, the Sierra Leoneans reveal universal truths about the strength of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness to move us forward.  The amputee, the boy soldier, the doctor, the high school principal – each has a unique perspective and a powerful story to tell. Witnessing their ability to overcome inconceivable human atrocities and reclaim their legacy is inspirational for most, but for the two Americans in our story it has been life changing.


St. Anthony Main 4/26, Sun. 3:00pm


Liberation Day (Munyurangabo)

Two youngs boys, in brutal Rwandan genocide, test their freindship…


Arkansas native Lee Isaac Chung’s Independent Spirit Award-nominated feature debut takes a closer look at the ongoing fallout from last decade’s brutal Rwandan genocide. The story follows Munyurangabo (Jeff Rutagengwa) and Sangwa (Eric Ndorunkundiye), two young boys from opposing tribes who test their friendship on a quest for some measure of justice. Munyurangabo, in search of the people who killed his father, a Tutsi, in the wave of genocide that swept the nation in 1994, steals a machete from a Kilgali market. Hutu-born Sangwa agrees to take his friend from their refugee camp to his family’s native village. When the boys arrive in the seemingly peaceful Hutu town, they learn that old hatreds run deep, and that the ethnic lines they are so ready to overlook still carry a lot of weight for others.


Korean-American director Chung studied medicine at Yale before launching his filmmaking career. While teaching film at a Christian youth outreach in Rwanda, he recruited a local cast of non-professional actors and filmed Munyurangabo over the course of 11 days. The first film ever made in the Kinyarwandan language, Chung’s multiple award-winner has been called “one of the decade’s most moving feature debuts” (Eye Weekly Toronto) and “a voyage to the heart of African history, memory and identity.” (International Herald Tribune


St. Anthony Main 4/18 Sat. 2:30 PM and 4/30 Thur. 5:45 PM


The Secret of Grain

A dockworker in the south of France decides to open a fish restuarant with the help of his indomitable step-daughter…


 A dockworker in the south of France decides to open a fish restaurant with the help of his indomitable stepdaughter.  In The Secret of the Grain (titled Couscous in some translations), and set in the rustic port of Sete in southeastern France, Slimane has worked in the same shipyard job for over 35 years, when his growing dissatisfaction leads to a big dream.  His contagious conviction and persistence work their way into the hearts of his loyal but dispersed family;  the four children from his marriage his ex-wife, current girlfriend and her bright, outspoken daughter, Rym (played to great acclaim by the stunning newcomer Hafsia Herzi).  This grand film about ordinary people is a deliciously slow-burning drama about fate, food and family, and the awards that it has won would take up the rest of this page.  This remarkable depiction of a family of North African immigrants introduces a large group of characters you’ll soon warm to as members of your own family . . . except they make better couscous.

“Couscous (La Graine et le Mulet), Abdellatif Kechiche’s third feature, which was awarded the Silver Lion in Venice, as well as being a César winner and recipient of the Delluc Prize, was an absolute triumph.  Combining the humour of Pagnol and the realism of Pialat, it reveals an energy and a daring seen too rarely on the screen today.” —Michel Ciment, Parisian critic (Positif) 


St. Anthony Main 4/21 Tues. 6:45 PM and 4/23 Thur. 9:15 PM




4 thoughts on “African Films at the Mpls – St. Paul International Film Festival

  1. Thank you Nelima. I am so looking forward to this and will go to some of the screenings. I did not even know this was going on right now. You do not know how grateful I am for this. Again, thanks!!!!

  2. Pingback: What are YOU doing this weekend? « MinneAfrica

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