LAUGH: Kagiso Lediga

With a continent as rich and vibrant as Africa, it was a matter of time for a film festival dedicated to acknowledging the artistic prowess of young African film-makers to be born.

As a part of the pre-events of the SA Global Citizen X Mandela100 Festival in honour of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu’s Centennial, the inaugural Africa Rising Film Festival aims to celebrate the continent’s dynamic growth through film.

The film festival, set to open with Matwetwe by Kagiso Lediga, forms part of the week-long pre-celebrations leading up to the Global Citizen Festival from November 26-29.

Kweku Mandela, one of the curators, said the festival was the brainchild of a group of young filmmakers such as Ayanda Sithebe, Pallance Dladla, Mandisa Vundla, and Ying Poi de Lacy to name a few. The collective, he said, signifies what the rise of Africa stands for; young, diverse, fast and hungry.

“They came up with the name and I think it suits what this festival is about. We are bringing Africa to the world and the world to Africa in a positive and forward-looking way,” Mandela said.

Unlike other film festivals, the Ariff has a stronger digital footprint to enhance festivalgoers’ experience through technological mechanisms.

This was a deliberate decision by the festival organisers to make it more relevant among a younger, more technologically savvy crowd.

“Almost everyone is connected in some shape or form, mainly through our phones. People watch their favourite soapie or soccer team using their phones, but they also learn how to clean shoes or make a meal through YouTube and other programmes.

“MTN has come on board as a proud partner of the Ariff Digital Hub which is a part of the festival that is accessible to everyone for free.

“It’s an important and crucial part of the festival. It will feature the best and brightest talent using social and digital technology to tell their stories
along with pioneering new technology such as virtual and augmented reality content and interactive video such as Eko,” Mandela explained.

The list of chosen films were selected to strike a balance between the art and the commercial to cater to film fundis and regular joes. The opening film Matwetwe, was in produced by Black Coffee.

“We wanted to curate the perfect playlist over four days; not too arty, not too commercial but always authentic and unique voices being shown on screen. A lot of film festivals in South Africa just throw together a series of films without thinking about how they work together and probably more importantly, what will audiences think of them.

Will people come out and see them? “For us choosing all the films, we had to make the film festival to be as accessible as possible the main priority. We chose Matwetwe as opening night film because it shows the promise and heart of South African and African film.

Matwetwe is a small film with big intentions. “Everything from director Lediga’s approach to Black Coffee and Enhle Mbali Maphumulo executive producing the film and Casper Nyovest leading the soundtrack. This is a new era of collaboration and heights for SA artists.”

Tickets for the festival are available at Howler.