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Africa Utopia Is Back: First Names Announced For 2014

Following 2012′s sensational first edition, Africa Utopia is back for 2014 to once again look at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African diaspora.

Established in 2011, Film Africa is the Royal African Society’s annual festival celebrating the best African cinema from across the continent and the Diaspora.  Ahead of Film Africa 2014, they will present a special pop up film event at Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia festival with a selection of shorts from new young African film makers, including the screening of the meditative documentary about the legacy of Nelson Mandela.


There will also be a special event where a panel of experts discussing contemporary African cinema today. This event features June Givanni, Director of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, and Tendeka Matatu, Co-Founder of Restless Talent Management & Founder of Ten10 Films.

The events are part of Africa Utopia at Southbank Centre. Taking place from September 11 – 14,the weekend long festival  looks at how African art and ideas can change the world for the better and how Africa can lead the way in thinking about culture, community, technology, fashion, sustainability and ethical wealth creation.

Festival highlights include:

-       A one off gig from Mulatu Astatke – the father of Ethio-jazz – at the Royal Festival Hall.

-       World premiere of dance solo work by Qudus Onikeku, with spoken word by Zena EdwardsMy Exile is in My Head.

-       An insight into North Africa break dancing culture – banned during the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia – from Say it through Breakdance, a project artistically driven by Hakeem Onibudo of Impact Dance.

-       Talks including those from Edna Adan Ismail, former Somaliland Foreign Minister who set up the first maternity and teaching hospital in Somaliland, Dr. Ola Orekunrin who founded the first ever Nigerian Flying Doctors after a personal tragedy inspired her, Mariemme Janne, technologist and founder of Africa Gathering, and Nimco Ali, anti-FGM campaigner.

-       Multi-award winning USA based comedian Gina Yashere returns to her hometown with her new show.

-       A fashion show of designers who originate or are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Africa presented in collaboration with Creative Director Ola Shobowale.

-       Africa 39 – of Hay Festival – will relocate to Southbank Centre for a special one off event and celebrates 39 of the best African south of the Sahara writers under the age of 40.

-       New work by contemporary artists and designers will be presented across the site, including video, wall works, photography, performance art, and design collaborationsincluding life size craft paper figures by Mary Evans and textile and sound installation by Yemi Awosile.

-       The L’Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste –an orchestra and choir from the Demographic Republic of Congo – visit London for the first time. Based in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the group is Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra.

The films will include:

Young African Voices: Shorts Programme

(Total running time: 84 minutes)

10 – 11.30am & repeated at 3.30 – 5pm

The Film Africa Baobab Award for Best Short Film exists to recognize and support new talent from emerging African filmmakers. This selection of stunning shorts includes past winners and one new candidate for the annual prize.


Dir. Frances Bodomo. USA/Ghana. 2014.

14 min.

It’s July 16, 1969. America is preparing to launch Apollo 11. Thousands of miles away, the Zambia Space Academy hopes to beat America to the moon in this short based on true events.

When They Slept

Dir. Maryam Touzani. Morocco. 2013.

18 mins.

When Sara’s grandfather, Hashem, suddenly dies, as women, Sara and her mother are forbidden to be with him before his burial. Whilst her mother reluctantly complies, eight-year-old Sara boldly defies tradition and spends the night with her beloved grandfather.

Mwansa the Great

Dir. Rungano Nyoyi. Zambia/UK. 2011.

23 min.

This multi award-winning short tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who aspires to be a hero – with unexpected consequences.


Dir. Matthew Jankes. South Africa. 2010.

29 min.

A bewitching fantasy thriller about an orphaned child with supernatural powers who is ‘adopted’ by a violent but empathetic tsotsi from the streets of Johannesburg.

Nelson Madela:

The Myth & Me

Dir. Khalo Matabane. South Africa/

Germany. 85 min.

11.30am – 1pm

A profound meditation exploring Nelson Mandela’s legacy and refl ecting on South Africa’s 20 years of freedom and democracy.

1pm – 2pm

A panel of experts discuss the dynamic changes taking place in contemporary African cinema, both on a creative and industry level. Speakers include; June Givanni, Director of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, Tendeka Matatu, Co-Founder of Restless Talent Management & Founder of Ten10 Films, chaired by Sheila Ruiz, Programme Manager at The Royal African Society.

Tickets can be purchased to see these films and the discussion and also experience a wider day of talks and debates which explore a range of topics from the role of data, reporting Africa to women and leadership. Tickets are £12 for a day.

Visit www.soutbankcentre.co.uk/africautopia for further information.


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