Ibrahim Koma, whose masterly acting as Ladji, makes Wùlu unforgettable / Photo: TIFF

Wùlu! African films’ brilliant showing in Berlin

Within a few years, the Sahel has become a region characterized by a dangerous entanglement of fundamentalist religion, terrorism and politics.

From 13-19 November, the 10th edition of AFRIKAMERA – Latest Cinema from Africa mainly presented a selection of current feature and documentary films addressing the political and societal challenges of the West African region.

AFRIKAMERA 2017, christened Talking about Sahel, opened with Wùlu, the feature film debut of French-Malian director Daouda Coulibaly (Mali/France, 2016). A beautiful film in every respect – cinematographically, thematically and acting performance.

It was pure joy seeing such a high quality film made by an African director. Coulibaly has got on to a good start with Wùlu, a thriller about a bus conductor in Bamako, Mali, who became impatient with his social rise. The 20-year-old young Ladji took to a new career as a drug trafficker which ends tragically.

Wùlu has been likened to a West African version of the iconic Mafia thriller Scarface, but it goes even further as it intelligently links a ‘normal’ storyline with the political events that led up to Mali’s 2012 coup d’état.

Wùlu is the best African film I have seen in recent years; technically and artistically satisfying. One can confidently predict a great future for the director and Ibrahim Koma, whose masterly acting as Ladji, makes the film unforgettable.

Placenta, a short film by the Burkinabe filmmaker Bède Modeste Gnafe-Mofedog, is another of the films screened at the festival that would live a lasting impression on you.

The film addresses the unacceptable high infant and maternal mortalities in Africa, whose causes are not only the often-blamed lack of qualified midwives and facilities. The lackadaisical attitude of nurses to their responsibility plays a major role in the problem, which still mainly plagues Africa.

Placenta is a very emotional film that gets you really thinking and reflecting on the situation in Africa and many of its problems. If only everybody would do their job properly, most of the problems will be solved!

AFRIKAMERA 2017 presented many films showing Africa in its normality, challenging a Western audience to reassess its view of the continent. The films address social issues in a very creative manner that gets an African thinking deeper about what have been accepted as normal. That is the major achievement of this year’s festival for me.

Festival director, Moussa Sawadogo, in his opening speech, revealed the challenges which have to be surmounted to stage every edition of the festival. Not an easy task. Kudos to the organising team for again putting together such a successful festival that will definitely whet the appetite of movie-goers for more African films.

With AFRIKAMERA – Latest Cinema from Africa, the non-profit cultural association toucouleur e.V. using the medium of film presents to the Berlin audience the diversity of the African continent, which does not only consist of problems such as violence, diseases and natural disasters. These stereotypical images and opinions are juxtaposed with the diverse facets of everyday life in Africa and brought to life for the moviegoers.

Femi Awoniyi

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