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‘We Are Dying Here’ selected as opening film at Ariff 2021

A scene from ‘We Are Dying Here’. Picture: Supplied

A scene from ‘We Are Dying Here’. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 25, 2021


The multi-award winning short film, We are dying here was selected as the official opening film at the Africa Rising International Film Festival (Ariff) today.

Under the theme “Africa In Me, My Story”, the fourth edition festival is set to take place online and on-site in venues across Jozi, at the weekend.

“We seek to package African films for export to the global stage while being at the centre of driving change and being a motivating anchor that unearths authentic African stories,” said festival chair Lala Tuku.

“The films selected for this year’s edition celebrate our collective Africaness but in so doing are not tone-deaf to issues faced by everyday people on the continent,” Tuku said.

In line with Ariff’s vision of being a voice in film for change, some of the films selected make bold statements.

“Our mandate as Ariff is to raise social issues. That’s why we are opening the festival with a film like We are dying here, a short South African film based on a stage production.

“Executive produced by Rachel and Siya Kolisi, the film is a poetic indictment of the prevalence of gender-based violence in South Africa,” said festival director Ayanda Sithebe.

Directed by Shane Vermooten and produced by Bianca Vermooten the film stars Hope Netshivhambe and Babalwa Makwetu.

The film also stars poet and actress Siphokazi Jonas who doubles as lead and producer.

‘#WeAreDyingHere recently won two international awards, Best short film and Female for change awards at the ’Female Filmmakers Festival Berlin’.

The film has also been accepted as part of an Oscar qualifying festival in New York.

The films selected for screening at this year’s festival went through a meticulous vetting process led by Sihle Hlophe.

“We are proud to present a wide array of films that celebrate African cinema and are aligned with our theme, ‘Africa in me #MyStory’.

“We have films from more than 30 African countries (including Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya) as well as films from the African diaspora,” Hlophe said.

A new addition to Ariff’s line-up this year is the Pan-African Cinema Legends Series aimed at honouring creatives who have contributed immensely to the African film industry.

The inaugural honouree is Bafta award-winning filmmaker and actress Xoliswa Sithole.

This year’s festival will culminate with the screening of an LGBTQI+ centred film called “I Am Samuel”.

Filmed over five years in Kenya, “I Am Samuel” is an intimate portrait of a Kenyan man balancing pressures of family loyalty, love, and safety and questioning the concept of conflicting identities. The film was banned by the Film Classification Board in Kenya.

“A hundred years from now, Ariff wants to make sure that we’ll be able to look back at a glorious archive of impactful African stories told by storytellers with an authentically African point of view,” Tuku said.

For more information on Ariff’s 2021 programme click here.

The hybrid event takes from today until Sunday, November 28.

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