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5 must-see African films at the Joburg Film Festival

by: Lebohang Ntoele - 26 October 2016

The Joburg Film Festival starts this Friday and will be on until November 5. Up to 60 films will be screened at 20 different venues across Jozi and Soweto, so it’s also a great way for you to see the city. Here are 5 films from across the continent that you should definitely check out:

Vaya by Akin Omotoso (South Africa)

Vaya follows the lives of three characters we meet on a train that is travelling from Kwazulu Natal to Joburg. The film is set mostly in the city and parts of Soweto and is directed by Nigerian director, Akin Omotoso. The film’s three main characters Nkulu (Sibusiso Msimang), Nhlanhla (Sihle Xaba) and Zanele (Zimkhitha Nyoka) do not know each other but their lives cross paths, in interesting ways, as they move through the city.

The Wedding Party by Kemi Adetiba (Nigeria)

This romantic comedy is from Nigerian filmmaker Kemi Adetiba. The story follows a couple that is about to get married and how they go about bringing their two families together. The Wedding Party’s cast includes popular Nigerian performers like Banky W and Adesua Etomi. If you’ve never been to a Nigerian wedding, you might want to after watching this because the wardrobe is fantastic and you will find yourself laughing throughout too.

Lamb  by Yared Zeleke (Ethiopia)

This feel-good film is about a boy named Ephraim and his relationship with his pet lamb called Chuni. Following the death of his mother, Ephraim is sent away to live with his relatives. He spends his time learning some cooking skills (which displeases his uncle) and chilling with Chuni. His uncle then threatens to slaughter the lamb, which leads to Ephraim hatching a plan for them to escape. Yared Zeleke’s debut feature film’s use of beautiful landscapes, non-professional actors and a simple story were enough to make us want to see Ephraim win.

The Pearl of Africa  by Jonny von Wallström (Uganda)

This doccie captures the story of the Ugandan activist Cleopatra Kambugu and her soft-spoken husband Nelson. Cleopatra came to be known for sharing her story of living in Uganda as a transgender woman under the life-threatening conditions of living in a country with harsh anti-LGBTQIA legislation and stigma. The film captures her hardships as well as the heart-warming triumphs she made after making very difficult decisions for her own survival. The Pearl of Africa is ultimately a love story that needed to be told and is done so with great care.

Hatchet Hour  by Judy Naidoo (South Africa)

Hatchet Hour dives into the life of criminal defence lawyer, Isabelle Sudlow. Isabelle drags her childhood best friend, Jade, into covering up a murder. Then we basically follow the plot of the story to see what happens next. Judy Naidoo brings together this bold story with a variety of new as well as familiar faces (such as Petronella Tshuma (from soapie Scandal!).

You can view more films showing at the festival here.