Cannes 2024: Shining Spotlight on Africa’s Rising Filmmakers

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At the Cannes Film Festival, the emergence of a generation of African filmmakers was notable in 2023, showcasing a new wave of talent from countries like Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, Cameroon, and beyond. However, for the 77th edition opening on Tuesday, May 14, the presence of African films, while still significant, is less pronounced than before.

In the backdrop of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, African cinema reminisces about the notable presence of twelve films in various selections in 2023. This year, although still notable, the African representation is less substantial. Unlike in 2023, no African film competes for the Palme d’Or. In contrast, two filmmakers from the continent, Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania and Franco-Senegalese Ramata Toulaye Sy, were part of the official competition.

For this year’s Cannes edition, Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch, a regular at the festival’s official selection, presents his film “Tout le monde aime Touda” at “Cannes Première,” a recent event dedicated to French and/or experimental cinema. The film portrays the life of Cheikha, a traditional Moroccan artist. Additionally, the latest work of Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz is showcased out of competition.

Highlights of the films in attendance include a new wave of East, West, and Sub-Saharan African filmmakers, as noted by festival delegate Thierry Frémaux since 2021, contrasting with the more traditional presence of North African cinema. In the “Un certain regard” selection, primarily focusing on emerging global cinema, a Somali film by Mo Harowe depicts a family surviving the chaos of the country. Zambian director Rungano Nyoni explores gender dynamics in her country.

In the same section dedicated to debut or sophomore directorial efforts, French-Moroccan Saïd Hamich’s debut feature set in Marseille portrays the life-changing encounter of a young immigrant with a police officer. Ethiopian director Beza Hailou Lemma’s short film “Alazar” is also part of this competition.

In parallel sections, at the Directors’ Fortnight, only one African film is featured: “Sharq 12” by Egyptian director Hala el Koussy. Egypt also participates in the Critics’ Week with “Les filles du Nil” by Nada Riyadh and Ayman el Amir, following the journey of young girls challenging their families in a village where they form a street theater troupe.

African or Afro-descendant creators also serve on various juries, including Franco-Senegalese actor Omar Sy on the official competition jury, Moroccan director Asmae al Moudir and Senegalese director Maïmouna Doukouré on the “Un certain regard” jury. Rwandan actress Eliane Umuhire participates in the Critics’ Week jury. Finally, Belgian-Congolese rapper and filmmaker Beloji co-presides over the Caméra d’Or jury, which awards the best debut film across all competitions.


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