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Theme: Africa from Within

1.  Barcelona or Die / Idrissa Guiro, France
2.  Behind this Convent / Gilbert Ndahayo, USA
3.  Forced to Flee / Peter Murimi, Polly Renton, Kenya
4.  Iron Ladies of Liberia / Daniel Junge, Siatta Scott Johnson, USA
5.  Keiskamma – A Story of Love / Miki Redelinghuys, South Africa
6.  Love, Positively / Peter Murimi, Kenya
7.  Slum Survivors / Peter Murimi, David Gough, Kenya
8.  The Dancing Forest / Brice Lainé, UK
9.  The Silent Monologue / Khady Sylla, Charlie Van Damme, France
10.  Victims of Our Riches / Kal Touré, Mali, France

“The humanitarian crises in Africa are overwhelming, but they’re also now such a familiar fixture in our 24/7news-and-entertainment spin cycle that it can be hard to keep up”, mentions New York Times  film critic Manohla Dargis in one of her recent articles.On top of that, the contemporary viewer has his conscience exhausted, as most films and documentaries that deal with race issues, and African ones in particular, are composed as if they wish to instill guilt and not a productive dialogue. A director might indeed have earnest intentions and he/she may be genuinely calling for action, but the camera captures its own, undisputed truth – one that reveals human despair much more powerfully and honestly,while stressing the immutability of the African reality. As a result, the journalist concludes, such films have a temporary affect on us, while serving “as balmfor our media-saturated, fatigued hearts and minds”.
This year, the main thematic section of the 11th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival – Images of the 21st Century focuses on Africa. For the first time in Greece, and also the greater Balkan area, African documentaries made by African filmmakers are presented as a stand alone tribute, with films relating directly to the contemporary reality of the African continent – as told from within, and not from an external, western point of view.
The truth that is revealed from the films’ images is no longer coincidental, as the native filmmakers are by definition not Others in relation to their subjects. They capture their own experiences, filming their fellow beings and citizens with an empathy that only they themselves are able to achieve. Hence, a fully creative process takes place as a result, where by the viewer is immersed straight into the heart of – and not opposite to – the narrative.
This year, the documentaries thatmake up the tribute cover two different aspects. On the one hand, pressing matters that have an immediate impact on the African world and beg for urgent solutions are presented and analyzed. On the other hand, another side is revealed, one where people, being fully aware of the importance of local action, form resistance and activation groups with remarkable,hands-on results for the various local communities. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the classic stereotype of the passive African woman is being subverted. Women not only attain their own voice–in front of the camera, as well as in their own lives – but also become leaders,with extraordinary strength, of the every day struggle to survive and to restore their human rights.
This year’s tribute stands as a continuation of the 8th TDF’s main thematic section “Africa: Unresolved Issues”,which was accompanied by a – highly successful – conference with a panel of experts. This year too, along with the film program, a second conference will be held, with a panel made up of prominent speakers and African filmmakers,who will address, analyze and place the current situation of African developing countries within a global context, raising questions and suggesting solutions.
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