Afrika Film Festival Köln celebrates 25th anniversary

The biggest festival dedicated to African filmmaking in Germany will mark an important milestone from 21 September to 1 October 2017. About 80 new feature films, documentary films and short films will be presented in the presence of 20 directors as Afrika Film Festival celebrates 25 years of its existence in Cologne.

In June 1992, the organisation FilmInitiativ Köln e.V. presented, under the motto “Beyond Europe”, 22 feature films, documentary films and short films from West Africa in the Cologne Filmpalette, the smallest cinema in the city.

“Not only is Africa for many in Europe a white spot: even in the cinema, Africa practically does not exist,” was stated as the reason for holding the event in the introduction of the small program booklet.

Jean-Marie Teno from Cameroon was the only director invited for a film talk. (Teno returned with a complete film crew in 1996 to shoot the European part of his first feature film CLANDO with the help of FilmInitiativ in Cologne.) In addition, Mamady Keïta travelled from Brussels to Cologne with his band Tam Tam Mandingue to present the documentary DJEMBÉFOLA about his life as a musician in Guinea and to perform at the festival.

This was the beginning of the Afrika Film Festival in Cologne. It took place irregularly at first, but since 1996 it holds every two years and is now offered annually.

French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis, whose “Félicité” won the Golden Yennenga Stallion award at the 25th edition of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco), will present the film in Cologne / Photo: Berlinale/RFI


Since 1992, FilmInitiativ has shown more than 750 films from 40 countries in Africa (documented in a trilingual database on the website and invited 150 film makers to participate in discussions with the audience at the film festival.

The Afrika Film Festival in Cologne now offers the most comprehensive presentation of contemporary African cinema in Germany, and today the ‘Filmforum in Museum Ludwig’, a large cinema hall in Cologne’s Museum of Modern Art, serves as festival venue.

For the jubilee edition of the festival from 21 September to 1 October 2017, about 80 new feature films, documentary films and short films will be presented in the presence of 20 directors, including prize winners from FESPACO 2017 in Burkina Faso and the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage in Tunisia as well as awarded films from the Berlinale 2017.

The main focus of the festival this year is on films from Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon, Benin and Morocco. An exhibition will be presented on “Land Grabbing & Migration”, and African environmental and human rights activists will discuss how to counter the new manifestation of colonialism in the form of the appropriation of huge land areas by international investors and speculators and the associated displacement of traditional rural populations

Moreover, to be screened at the festival are new films against homophobia from Tunisia and South Africa, documentary double features from the Congo and Mozambique, a music film from Réunion, current productions from Morocco, Algeria, Mali and Benin as well as films from the African Diaspora such as AFRO.DEUTSCHLAND. In which the director, Jana Pareigis, discusses with Black Germans such as the rapper Samy Deluxe, the footballer Gerald Asamoah, the blogger Esther Donkor and the survivor of the Nazi regime Theodor Wonja Michael (patron of the 15th Afrika Film Festival) about their personal experiences of exclusion and racism in Germany. The film will also be shown in a school demonstration.

In a second dialogue forum, director Berni Goldblat from Burkina Faso will discuss his feature film WALLAY with German students; the film story is told by a rebellious 13-year-old, who is sent to the West African family of his father and has to deal with strange traditions and mannerisms.

Three short film nights offer a diverse cinematic panorama of contemporary filmmaking in Africa, and to be discovered in other late presentations are witty and twisted comedies such as GOOD LUCK ALGERIA about the first Algerian cross-country skier at a winter Olympics, the road movie ALI, THE GOAT AND IBRAHIM about two mentally-impaired men who travel with a goat through Egypt, and HEADBANG LULLABY, a surrealistic drama about a Moroccan policeman who has to guard a bridge over an almost unused highway bridge because the king’s convoy is supposed to pass through it.

An audience prize will be awarded for the best feature and the best documentary film at the 15th Afrika Film Festival in Cologne. All film discussions with African guests will be simultaneously interpreted into German. Initiatives and organizations will offer information, literature, DVDs, music CDs and specialties from Senegal and the Congo in the foyer of the Filmforum in Museum Ludwig.

There are cheap festival passes for all performances (40 € / 30 € discounted) and refugees have free admission to all film screenings.

The 25th anniversary of the festival will, of course, also be celebrated – with lots of live music. Kenyan singer whose band Steven Ouma Band is named after him will perform at the opening on 21 September while the Togolese Donia Touglo will play at the concert for the exhibition opening (25 September).

A spectacular Jubilee concert by the KASAI ALLSTARS from Kinshasa will crown the Jubilee celebrations in Cologne / Photo: IFY


Congolese DJs will provide the right sounds for the anniversary party (30 September) and a spectacular Jubilee concert by the KASAI ALLSTARS from Kinshasa (3 October at the club station Ehrenfeld) will crown the celebrations.

The band contributed the track music to the feature film FÉLICITÉ, portraying a barber in Kinshasa, which won the main prize at the FESPACO 2017 in Ouagadougou and the jury’s prize at this year’s Berlinale. Director Alain Gomis will present the film on 30 September at the Afrika Film Festival in Cologne.

Contact and Information:

FilmInitiativ Köln e.V., Heidemannstr. 76a, 50825 Köln / Tel: +49-221-46 96 243 / /

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