African Festival Verona 2015

African Festival Verona 2015


by Sherif Awad
In Northern Italy, the city of Verona was not only famous
for its artistic heritage and its Roman Theatre, but for being the city where three
Shakespeare’s plays took place; namely Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen
of Verona
, and The Taming of the Shrew.
Also since 1981, Verona started to host an African Film
Festival that was co-founded that year by Nigrizia dei Missionari Comboniani and
il Centro Missionario Diocesano and later promoted and managed by a Committee consisting
of Fondazione Nigrizia onlus and Progettomondo MLAL. In 35 years, the festival
showed films revolving around the African continent and/or made by African and
non-African filmmakers with parallel events like art exhibitions and artistic
talks in order to create a cultural dialog between the not-so-far-away African
continent and European countries. The African festival in Verona also
collaborates with Africa, Asia and Latin America Festival in Milan, ImmaginAfrica
in Padua, Balafon Film Festival in Bari, FESPACO in Burkina Faso and ZIFF in Zanzibar,
Tanzania.
Due to my parallel curatorial work in Luxor African Film
Festival in Egypt, the African Festival in Verona invited me to join a jury
consisting of Tahar Hani, a journalist at France24, Mariarosa Di Nubila, an
intercultural learning trainer who also SMIAFestival (San Marino International
Arts Festival- Festival of young knowledge) and blogger Karim Metref. In
addition to our jury, there is another prizes to be delivered by students at
Verona High Schools and University.
The opening film this year was screened like every year at
the Roman theatre of the city. It was a comedy from Algeria entitled Certified
Halal
by director Mahmoud Zemmouri. The events takes place in a remote village
two young women, Sultana and Kenza, decide to say no to their family
traditions. Director Zemmouri succeeded to show the confrontation between
tradition and modernity, and how Arab women are seen in Muslim society today
with still existing denunciation. From the technical side, the cinematography
by Bernard Vervoort captured the beauty of Algerian landscapes during the night
and the morning. The film is impossible to watch for non-Algerian without
English or French subtitles since the actors really throw their lines in a very
fast speed.
One of the comic yet profound short films we are seeing is Discipline
by Egyptian Swiss writer-director Christophe Saber. The action takes place in a
Lausanne grocery store, where a father loses patience with his daughter, which
prompts a woman to intervene, claiming that he violent towards his daughter and
he can be convicted of violence. Other clients of the supermarket join the
conversation that reflect the cultural borders that are still surrounding
people under the same sky.
Another interesting short Mamans (Mothers) by
Senegalese Maïmouna Doucouré shows the effects
of polygamy on African families which even immigrated to Europe. The story
focus on eight-years old Aida, who lives with her mother, played by
Maïmouna Gueye in a Paris apartment. One day, her  father returns from a trip to Senegal, their
countries of origin, accompanied by the young Senegalese, Rama, who he presents
as his second wife. Aida, sensitive to the distress of her mother, decides to resolve
the situation. More about the selection of Verona festival next week.

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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