Restless City: Nigerian film wins at Colours of the Nile Festival

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By Kevin Kriedemann

Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless City was named Best Long Feature Film at the inaugural Colours of the Nile Film Festival, which ran in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 7-11 November 2012. The Nigerian film also won Best Cinematography.

The jury was made up of French/Tunisian filmmaker Karim Dridi; Ethiopian director Solomon BekeleWeya; South African producer Letebele Masemola-Jones; African Screens editor Don Dewale Omope; and Ioana-Frederique Westhoff from the ACP Films Programme.

Praising Restless City for dealing with “a rarely-touched–upon subject” in “the struggles of African migration to the USA,” the jury said, “Told with care and attention to detail, the winning film shows a very high level of originality, high artistic merit, an innovative approach to storytelling and profound cinematographic flair.”

Speaking about the festival as a whole, the jury said, “The choice of films for the inaugural Colours of The Nile International Film Festival 2012, has been a compelling and visually inspiring cinematic feast from every corner of the African continent.”

Ambassador Xavier Marchal, the head of the European Union delegation to Ethiopia, spoke at the awards night, where he presented the Best African Short Film Award to Hisab by Ethiopia’s Ezra Wube. In his speech, the ambassador said, “The Colours of the Nile International Film Festival is making a new landscape in African cinema.”

While the films dealt with diverse subject matter, the jury was struck by a common thread – that of the displacement involved in migrant and immigrant lifestyles.

“This is perhaps not surprising, as it is very much a sign of the times throughout the world in which we live today,” said the jury. “Migration from one country to the other is something we can all relate to.  It happens for a variety of reasons that ultimately lead to people seeking a better life forthemselves and their families. It is an issue that is top of the socio, economic and political agenda of most countries of the world.”

Other awards

Best Short Film – Hisab by Ezra Wube (Ethiopia)

The jury was struck by Hisab’s “highly original, innovative and creative way of depicting the hustle and bustle of life in a capital city.” Hisab “mixed live sound with artistic animation techniques and used animals that are a distinct part of life in the city to portray, in a humourous way, the behaviour of humans.”

Best Documentary Film: Voyage of Hope by Michel K. Zongo (Burkina Faso)

The jury was “unanimously moved by the soberness and love with which the director goes on the journey from onecountry to another to trace the trail of his brother, who left the country for economical reasons 17 years ago and is rumoured to be dead.”

Best Screenplay: The Repentant by Merzak Allouachi (Algeria)

The jury was impressed with “how this story dealt with a very dramatic issue in contemporary Africa without the introduction of drama effects.” They said The Repentant “epitomizes what a good film is about: a great story well told.”

Best Sound: 1Ž2 Revolution by Karim El Hakim and Omar Shargawi (Egypt)

The jury says, “This award goes to an outstanding documentary, which worked with live sound recorded and adapted during a dramatic turn of events, while maintaining the original tension of the environment as the action occurred.”

Best Soundtrack:  Otelo Burning by Sara Blecher (South Africa)

The jury felt Otelo Burning “deserved recognition for its superior and original soundtrack that adds to the visual appreciation of the film and firmly sets the story in the South African context.”

Best Actor: Kenneth Nkosi in Otelo Burning (South Africa)

Although Kenneth Nkosi seems to have a minor part in Otelo Burning, the jury felt he “conveys, with tremendous strength and humility, his emotional frustrations and sadness about the dramatic course the lives of his belovedones has taken.”

Best Actress: Elizabeth Melaku in Scent of a Lemon (Ethiopia)

The jury felt Elizabeth’s Melaku performance showed “highly remarkable and convincing screen acting” in her “transformation from a cheerful loving woman and caring wife to an introverted, bitter and struggling woman following unjustified societal pressure.”

Special mentions went to Abraham Gezahagne’s film Scent of a Lemon (Ethiopia); Theresa Traore-Dahlberg’s short film Taxi Sister (Senegal and Sweden); and Eric Miyeni’s documentary Mining For Change (South Africa).

CNIFF was made possible with the generous support of partners The Ministry of Culture and Tourism; Seagull Films; Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival; and Institut Francais/ Cinémathèque Afrique, as well as sponsors European Union; French Embassy Addis Ababa; French Embassy Kenya Alliance Ethio-Francaise; Italian Cultural Institution EUNIC; Egypt Air; Fana Broadcasting Corporation; NyalaInsurances Share Company; BGI Ethiopia; Timret Le Hiowt Ethiopia/Wise Up; BRC Tour and Travel and Tizez Hotel Addis Ababa.

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