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SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES AFRICAN PICTURES 2015

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In the first lineup announcement of the 41st Seattle International Film Festival (May 14 – June 7, 2015), SIFF unveils the 14 feature films of its third annual African Pictures program. Since 2013, African Pictures has presented documentaries, narrative features, and short films from 25 African countries. With something for everyone — from ethereal and experimental to gritty and provocative — African Pictures showcases a microcosm of world cinema available only at SIFF. Link into the festival line-up here at http://www.siff.net/festival-2015

Topping the 2015 program is The Boda Boda Thieves, an absorbing urban narrative from SIFF sophomore Donald Mugisha (The Kampala Story, 2012), who will be in attendance for the North American premiere of his new film. Fans of U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (2005) will be glad to see the North American premiere of director Mark Dornford-May’s striking modern South African opera, Breathe Umphefumlo, adapted with deftness and compassion from Puccini’s “La Bohème.”

Also traveling to Seattle, up-and-coming director Cheick Fantamady Camara will appear at screenings of his expansive drama Morbayassa in its North American premiere, representing Guinean film in African Pictures at SIFF for the first time. This story of inter-generational and inter-continental culture clash is anchored by a masterful performance from Fatoumata Diawara (Timbuktu, 2014). SIFF 2015 will also feature the North American premiere of Sugarcane Shadows, the first film from the island nation of Mauritius ever to play in a US festival.

Making its North American premiere among four short films in African Pictures 2015 is I’m Not Here by 15-year-old South African Jack Markovitz, presented as part of SIFF’s youth-centered FutureWave program. The African Pictures Film & Party will feature Excuse My French, a coming-of-age comedy from Egyptian director Amr Salama (Asma’a, 2011; Tahrir, 2011: The Good, the Bad, and the Politician, 2011). A lively celebration will follow at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle.

African Pictures is supported by a multi-year grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and generous support from Delta Air Lines.

The following African Pictures titles are the first films to be announced among official selections of the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival. Screening details to follow on April 30.

Alyam, Alyam

d: Ahmed El Maanouni, Morocco 1978, 80 min

Following his father’s death, Abdelwahad is expected to provide for his mother and his seven brothers.  But faced with the cycle of poverty that rural farmers seem doomed to repeat, he dares to hope for something better. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.

Beats of the Antonov

d: Hajooj Kuka, Sudan/South Africa 2014, 65 min

Set in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions of Sudan, Beats of the Antonov celebrates South Sudan’s vibrant musical culture surviving by any means necessary in the face of their prolonged civil war.

Beti and Amare

d: Andy Siege, Ethiopia/Germany 2014, 94 min

In this dreamy sci-fi fantasy, teenage Beti is forced to hide away in her uncle’s isolated hut to avoid Mussolini’s troops. Her strange dreams lead her to fall in love with a man who emerges from a glowing egg and may be a vampire.

Black Girl (La Noire de…)

d: Ousmane Sembène, Senegal/France 1966, 65 min

This 1966 film explores the complex dynamics and larger post-colonial implications that arise between a young Senegalese maid and the French family that employs her. This quiet, observational drama was esteemed African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène’s first feature film. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with the Sembène Estate, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, INA and Centre National de Cinématographie, CNC.Restoration carried out at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory; 4k scan performed at Eclair laboratories.

The Boda Boda Thieves (Abaabi ba boda boda)

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

d: Donald Mugisha, Uganda/Kenya 2015, 85 min

On teenage boy Abel’s first day of work as a boda boda (moto-taxi) driver to support his poor family, his bike is stolen, leaving him in pursuit of the ruthless thief who stole their livelihood. A Bicycle Thieves for urban Africa.

Breathe Umphefumlo

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

d: Mark Dornford-May, South Africa/United Kingdom 2015, 89 min

Combining “La Boheme” with the tuberculosis epidemic in South Africa, Breathe Umphefumlo provides a dynamic twist on the classic opera through a uniquely African context and emotional urgency that’s not to be missed.

Challat of Tunis (Le Challat de Tunis)

d: Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisia/France 2014, 90 min

A masked assailant rides through the Tunisian capital on a motor scooter slashing the backsides of women in jeans and short skirts in Kaouther Ben Hania’s genre-bending mockumentary about sexist attitudes in Arab culture.

Décor

d: Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt 2014, 116 min

An overworked film production designer begins to lose her grip on reality, slipping into the life she is creating on her latest movie set. This meta-movie playfully comments on the conventions of the classic “women’s picture.”

Excuse My French (Lamoakhzaa)

AFRICAN PICTURES FILM & PARTY

d: Amr Salama, Egypt 2014, 99 min

In this family comedy and Egyptian box office smash, 12-year-old Hany, a precocious kid from a privileged Coptic Christian family, must adjust when a change in circumstances sends him to the local majority-Muslim public school.

I Am the People (Je Suis le Peuple)

d: Anna Roussillon, France 2014, 111 min

I Am the People chronicles the 2011 revolution in Egypt and subsequent events from the perspective of a poor farming family in the country’s south, a depiction of world events refreshing in its warmth, wit, and humanity.

The Malagasy Way (Ady Gasy)

d: Lova Nantenaina, Madagascar/France 2014, 84 min

Filmed with a fascinated lens, this documentary explores the way of the Malagasy people and a third-world community portrait that is anything but bleak, as it celebrates a culture where wealth isn’t needed to find happiness and joy in the things you do.

Morbayassa

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

d: Cheick Fantamady Camara, Guinea 2015, 122 min

Bella befriends a UN worker who promises to help her escape her domineering pimp and find the daughter she gave up for adoption 15 year ago in this tense, female-centered drama.

Run

d: Philippe Lacôte, Ivory Coast/France 2014, 97 min

After assassinating the Prime Minister, Run looks back on the varied mentors in his life, from a village rainmaker to a professional eater to the imperious revolutionary who’s living the gangster life, in this striking feature debut which reflects Ivory Coast’s recent, tumultuous history.

Sugarcane Shadows (Lonbraz Kann)

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

d: David Constantin, Mauritius/France 2014, 88 min

Residents of Mauritius fight to maintain their culture despite a pervasive tourism economy and increased globalization. Gorgeous cinematography and non-actor authenticity ground David Constantin’s first feature.

The following short films will screen during SIFF 2015 as part of African Pictures.

The Call

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

d: Zamo Mkhwanazi, South Africa 2014, 11 min

An emotionally disconnected taxi driver realizes that he does not want his prostitute girlfriend to abort the child that could be his.

I’m Not Here

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

d: Jack Markovitz, South Africa 2014, 9 min

After his calls are repeatedly ignored, a young man turns to Facebook to tell a girl what he thinks

A Quiet Memory (Uma Memória Quieta)

US PREMIERE

d: Inadelso Cossa, Mozambique 2014, 14 min

Langa dramatically details his history as a political prisoner in 1970s Mozambique.

Treat (Zawadi)

d: Richard Card, Kenya 2014, 12 min

In the Kenyan slums of Kibera, a ten-year-old boy hustles to provide for his family, taking him away from his crush on her birthday.