The Berlin Annual African Film & Media Festival 2013 – “Africa on Screen: Through the Eyes of Africa”
(Berlin, Germany; August 22nd – 25th, 2013)
As part of the International Symposia on Cultural Diplomacy, and the Experience Africa Program, the ICD launched a new annual initiative, the ‘Berlin Annual Film & Media Festival’. Stemming from the intention to both explore the novel opportunities inherent in the digital revolution in Africa, as well as to give expression to the artistic talent of young African filmmakers, this year’s festival proved to be a true celebration, gathering speakers and participants from all corners of the world and from all sectors of society.
The African diplomatic community in Berlin played an active role in the success of this pioneering event. The ICD was honored to welcome H. E. Amb. Sitona Abdalla Osman – Ambassador of the Republic of South Sudan to Germany- as one of the first speakers of the conference, followed by a reception graciously hosted at the Embassy of Egypt by H.E. Amb. Dr. Mohamed Abdelhamid Ibrahim Higazy – Ambassador of Egypt to Germany. In addition, the Moroccan Embassy hosted a film screening, exposing the talent of Moroccan filmmakers. These were but some of the many highlights of the conference, and set the precedent for the following days of experiencing Film & Media as forms of Cultural Diplomacy.
The conference was extremely dynamic in nature, addressing both the impact of media on the development of Africa as well as directly exposing the works of artists from the diaspora and the continent itself. Cross-continental initiatives to support African filmmakers were highlighted, such as the World Cinema Fund, exploring international opportunities to help artists overcome frequent barriers such as lack of funding and censorship. The event surpassed a mere focus on film, but extended to media in general, looking at immense potential that increased access to internet holds for both the arts and freedom of expression. One such example was provided by Leon Willems, Director of Free Press Unlimited, an organization dedicated to the universal provision of reliable news and information. Inspiring instances, such as Radio Dabanga, a radio station set up by Free Press Unlimited “to break the information vacuum in Darfur”, the conflict stricken region in Sudan, displayed the power of media in making people’s voices heard and uniting them in their quest for justice and accountability. The implications of such developments were reaffirmed throughout the conference by experts in the area such as Marion Lieser, the Managing Director of OXFAM Germany.
Film screenings formed a major part of the conference, giving expression to contemporary political and socio-economic issues pertaining to the African continent. For instance, One Fine Day Films, a production company supporting African artists, screened its internationally successful project ‘Something Necessary’ which revolved around the post-election violence that erupted after the 2007-2008 elections in Kenya. The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by members of the production team of One Fine Day Films as well as the actors involved in their projects. This gave participants a unique insight into the challenges and opportunities involved in realizing their dreams as young African artists.
The success of the African Film & Media Festival has added great impetus to the ICD’s Africa Program, commencing a new phase in Film & Media as Cultural Diplomacy. An annual project, the ICD hopes to further amplify and develop this initiative on a yearly basis.
John A. Kantara Author, Producer, Journalist
“The Impact of New Communication Technologies in promoting African Development & Prosperity”
Adetoun Küppers-Adebisi, President of AFROKTAK TV cyberNomads
“Film as a Vehicle for Cultural Diplomacy in Africa”
Hadja Kaba, Founder, Mama Afrika e.V.
“The Treatment of the Theme of Female Genital Mutilation in the Film Industry”
(Girne American University; Certificate Student, Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies)
Alex Kem (Organizer, the Kenako Festival, Afrika Medien Zentrum e.V.)
“Internet: the North-South Gate”
Anna Shivute (Commissioner, The Namibian Film Commission)
“Film as an Educational Tool: A Visual Insight into Africa”
Marion Lieser (Managing Director of OXFAM Germany)
“The Impact of Mass Media in Africa”