After two years of virtual adaptations, the Sundance film festival recently commences at its home in Park City, Utah, for a full-fledged physical edition.
The film festival, considered the most important event in film festival calendar, especially for independent films, converges filmmakers to celebrate the brightest and the newest. The festival’s international appeal is expanding, and its programming reflects this.
These are the African films and filmmakers making a splash at Sundance this year.
Moroccan filmmaker Sofia Alaoui returns to Sundance following her Grand Jury Prize win for the short So What If the Goats Die in 2020. Her feature debut, Animalia, which appears in the World Cinema Dramatic category, is an imaginative sci-fi adventure that dares to reimagine the status quo, exploring the anxieties of an unrecognisable world.
Animalia follows the story of a wealthy woman who unexpectedly finds emancipation and the possibility of reclamation in the new world order when a state of emergency is declared nationwide because of mysterious phenomena. The film explores the tensions between faith and purpose with a hypnotic visual sensibility. Yet, little is off the cards as Alaoui shatters myths and challenges class prejudice while delineating how people are connected.
From Burkina comes the film Bravo, a debut feature by Walé Oyéjidé.
Bravo is the audacious tale of a Burkinabè boy who migrates to Italy but later discovers a way to return to regain what was lost. The film is fluid, with an assured Oyéjidé bending time to explore dual existences and states of mind.
Mami Wata, a highly anticipated feature from fast-rising Nigerian director C.J. Obasi is a vivid and singular take on the enduring and terrifying folklore. At the oceanside village of Iyi, Mama Efe (Rita Edochie) acts as an intermediary between the people and the all-powerful water deity, Mami Wata.
From South Africa, Milisuthando narratives a story of the coming-of-age personal reflection and is the brainchild of Milisuthando Bongela, a writer and editor who grew up middle-class in a Xhosa community in the Transkei. This unrecognised state – now dissolved – was a social experiment designed to pretend that the worst of apartheid did not happen.