Africa Direct (Season 2)
Directed by 25 filmmakers
Produced by Steven Markovitz, Brian Tilley, Angèle Diabang and Tamsin Ranger
African stories by African filmmakers. Perspectives from a diverse continent; storytelling in the hands of local talent.
Watch the films: YouTube playlist »
First Dance Steps
Director: Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou Producer: Andrey S. Diarra ‘First Dance Steps: Don Sen Folo’ by filmmaker Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou takes us into the creative world of a Malian contemporary dance company as they take inspiration from ancient ancestral moves for their modern choreography. Lassina Koné is a dancer, choreographer and the artistic director of Don Sen Folo (meaning ‘first dance steps’) who is committed to raising the profile of dance as a profession in Mali. He and his dance company travel to Bancoumana village where they meet tribal leaders, learn the traditional dance of the Donso hunters and integrate old and new moves for a local performance. This creative
journey between ancient and modern artistry reveals aspects of Malian society rarely seen beyond its borders.
Director/ Producer: Mutiganda Wa Nkunda Hairdresser Minani Saleh is reviving Rwanda’s Amasunzu hairstyle, an eye-catching traditional style of extraordinary shapes, crests and partings. The style was worn as a form of identity in pre-colonial times, with each Amasunzu style communicating information and telling its own story. The tradition died out during colonial times but its making a comeback and Minani is an expert stylist. ‘A Legacy’ by filmmaker Mutiganda Wa Nkunda takes us into Minani’s salon where he shapes and shaves patiently and relates the history of this unique look – a man dedicated to protecting this legacy for generations to come.
The Last Speaker
Director/ Producer: Nadine Angel Cloete Claudia Snyman is a language researcher trying to save the N/UU language from extinction. She is creating a dictionary with her grandmother, Katrina Esau, who is the last living fluent speaker of this ancient San, or Bushman, language, believed to be 25,000 years old. Claudia is determined that N/UU, once oppressed and derided in colonial times, will come back into use. She painstakingly records the clicks, sounds and words from her grandmother’s memory, and teaches her own children, to keep the spoken language alive. ‘The Last Speaker’ by filmmaker Nadine Angel Cloete, celebrates a disappearing tongue, the proud Bushman identity of Claudia and her grandmother and a deep personal relationship across the generations.
Studio Of Archives
Director: Benjamin Kent Producer:Timothy Edzeani Do Ibrahim Mahama is an internationally acclaimed artist in Ghana, known for his monumental installations. In ‘Studio Of Archives’ by filmmaker Benjamin Kent, we follow him at work, collecting artefacts and textiles for his installations, which explore the significance of historical memory through everyday objects. Ibrahim lives and works in his Red Clay studio in Tamale, Ghana. It’s a treasure trove of relics, from small domestic items to a collection of huge abandoned aircraft, where visitors can explore their history through these installations.
He’s built this studio archive as a place for new conversations about the past, and new imaginations for the future, for young and old alike.
Giant Little Choppers
Director: JJ Nota Producer: Mickey Fonseca and Pipas Forjaz Luciano Armindo is a bright 12 year old with a fascination for engineering and a remarkable hobby. He collects cardboard and wire scraps and meticulously designs and builds life size models of helicopters and cars outside his home in southern Mozambique. He hopes one day to turn these scrap models into real vehicles, or even a space rocket, and his engineering dreams are pinned on a possible scholarship. Meanwhile, he and his brother create their striking replicas, as witnessed in ‘Giant Little Choppers’, a delightful film by JJ Nota.
Kenya Ice Lions
Director/ Producer: Moses Makokha Obuye When Covid hit, Kenya’s ice hockey team was grounded and the only ice rink in the country closed - but this did not deter Benjamin Mburu. He is the captain and assistant coach of the Ice Lions, the only ice hockey team in east and central Africa, which had competed internationally until the pandemic hit. He rallied the skaters and found innovative ways to keep their skills, and the team’s finances, alive. ‘Kenya Ice Lions’ by filmmaker Moses Obuye follows the action in Kikuyu Township in Nairobi and shows a seldom seen aspect of Kenyan sport and society.
Director/ Producer: Dorcas Sheffy Bello Hamsatu Izang sings out as she hammers rocks into small gravel pieces, to earn a living. Singing brings her a sense of joy and peace, she explains, amid this hard manual labour. But this Nigerian grandmother’s fortunes take a surprising turn when a music producer hears her song, and a whole new world opens up. ‘A Stone Crusher’s Song’ by filmmaker Dorcas Sheffy Bello observes Mama Hamsatu as she navigates her two very different realities, that of a life-long stone crusher and now a social media star, in the hope that her new success might bring lasting change.
Director/ Producer: Omelga Mthiyane The Ujamaa Guerrilla Gardening Collective stands out in stark visual contrast to the surrounding sand dunes and tin shacks of Khayelitsha, a sprawling apartheid-era township outside Cape Town in South Africa. Guerrilla gardener Qaba Mbola has turned this windswept disused public space into a food forest for local residents. ‘Guerrilla Garden’ by filmmaker Omelga Mthiyane shows how this garden not only provides food but also an important sense of belonging. Residents plant, harvest, sell or exchange produce. They share food, seeds, compost and skills. They plan sustainable solutions to looming drought. This is a community built on the spirit of agency, self-help and action in the face of huge social and environmental problems.
Modern Peanuts of Cameroon
Director: Christelle Otse Producer: Nathalie Mbala Mpesse Hassan Mounpé stands out from the crowd in the markets of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. He is taking his peanut selling business to new and stylish heights and has plans for a bigger, better future. ‘Modern Peanuts of Cameroon’ by filmmaker Christelle Otse explores Hassan’s work, ambition, imagination and style, a man on a mission who sees the humble peanut as the source of a great potential enterprise.
Medine, The Heritage
Director: Andrey S. Diarra Producer: Ousmane Samassékou Bréhima Sissoko is the heritage guide at the Fort of Medine in the Kayes region of Mali. For nearly three decades he has worked to preserve this historical site, restoring the crumbling building, collecting historical stories and documents, and guiding visitors through the history. Now he’s training his son Boubacar to take over. In ‘Medine, The Heritage’ by filmmaker Andrey S. Diarra we witness this cultural passing of the torch, as knowledge, insight and a sense of duty is passed from the older to the younger generation.
Making Her Future
Director/ Producer: Amédée Pacôme Nkoulou Diouck Saï comes from a varied West African background and in turn takes a mixed, multi-faceted approach to her own future. She personifies a modern, cross-national young African and runs a portfolio of careers. We meet her in Libreville, Gabon, where she is a shop owner, restaurateur, DJ and is setting up a new philanthropic foundation. ‘Making Her Future’ by filmmaker Amedee Pacome explores her story to reveal her motivation, drive and compassion as well as her determination to bring light into the world.
Conservation from Above
Director/ Producer: Rahab Wambui Daniel Zuma says he has “a beautiful view from above” in his work as a surveillance pilot in Kasigau Corridor conservation area in Kenya. But his gyrocopter does more than provide stunning scenery - it enables him to accurately monitor game numbers, gather vital data and track illegal human activities including poaching. ‘Conservation From Above’ by filmmaker Rahab Wambui shows Daniel’s birds-eye-view and also his on-the ground work in conservation, including with local communities. This dedication to conservation comes from a man who grew up in this very area and has an important message and legacy to pass on.
Joy In The Traffic
Director/ Producer: Achor Yusuf Rush hour can get chaotic in the streets of Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State in Nigeria, but traffic director Joy Onoja has found a way to keep cars moving and drivers cool-headed – she dances. ‘Joy In The Traffic’ by filmmaker Achor Yusuf gets behind the moves, motivation and mindset of this energetic traffic policewoman, to reveal a delightful side of urban life in this city Feeling the Game Director/ Producer: Samuel Ishimwe Leonidas Ndayisaba is a sports journalist in Kigali, Rwanda, covering games, analysing team management, discussing player transfers and commenting on the action on and off the pitch. He sits in the football stadium, absorbing the boisterous atmosphere, feeling the game, while his colleagues describe the play to him. Because Leonidas is almost fully blind - he has had very little sight since childhood and can only see large shapes. ‘Feeling the Game’
by filmmaker Samuel Ishimwe follows him in action, from pitch-side interviews to his radio show, unfolding the story of this man who doesn’t let his disability define or stop him in his dedication to sport in his country.
Director/ Producer: Mbabazi Sharangabo Philbert Aimé
Queen Kalimpinya juggles her career in fashion with the high-speed world of rally driving in Rwanda. She has been a co-driver for the past three years - now she is taking hold of the steering wheel herself in her first rally race, the Mountain Gorilla Rally. ‘The Driver’ by filmmaker Mbabazi Sharangabo Philbert Aimé follows Queen on and off the road as she navigates the highs and lows of her latest challenge.
Director/ Producer: Moimi Wezam Professor Marie-Claire Yandju has worked for years to improve the health and environmental impact of cassava, a staple food in the Democratic Republic of Congo and across Africa. Congo’s colonial laws forbade the use of anything other than wheat flour for bakeries, but 2020 laws relaxed this and allowed some cassava flour to be used. Microbiologist Professor Marie-Claire’s award-winning research focuses on detoxifying cassava, improving processing techniques and developing conservation technologies, all to help combat extensive malnutrition and to survive climate change. ‘Reinventing Cassava’ by filmmaker Moimi Wezam glimpses the world of professor Marie-Claire and her students as they make and bake their cassava-based products and test them on local consumers.
Director: Isabelle Christiane Kouraogo
Producer: Andrey S. Diarra It’s night-time at Roc Dougbalé Beach in Grand-Bereby, Ivory Coast and Hie Amiral Picard is on guard – turtle guard. Like many other locals, Picard used to catch and eat sea turtles and their eggs, but now he is a custodian of this endangered species. ‘Turtle Guard’ by filmmaker Isabelle Christiane Kouraogo observes Picard’s poacher-turned-protector life as he works with a conservation organisation, educates local school children and tirelessly records, raises and releases baby turtles.
Anime In Zambia
Director: Misheck Chiza Banda
Producer: Monde Kawana In Zambia’s capital, 20 year old Tabitha Mwale is glued to her flickering screen, painstakingly bringing to life the characters in her long-held idea for an supernatural animation series. She and her partner are trying to bring The Super, Zambia’s first anime series, to local audiences. It’s a long, hard road but with talent, passion and determination they are making progress. ‘Anime In Zambia’ by filmmaker Misheck Chiza Banda charts their creative and production challenges in this emerging industry in Zambia.
Taste Of The Sun
Director: Ary-Misa Rakotobe
Producer: Patricia Haingo Malalaharisoa In the drought-hit southern region of Madagascar, farmer Zafisolo Louis sees goat farming as the best way to provide a future for his family. Goats don’t compete with humans for food, nibbling on the barren branches caused by deforestation. Their milk is nutritious - and makes delicious cheese. This, claims Zafisolo, makes goat farming an economical and appropriate response to the growing impact of the climate crisis he witnesses around him. In ‘Taste of the Sun’ by filmmaker Ary Misa Rakotobe, Zafisolo and his children tend their herds under the blazing sun and produce their unique tasting cheese under challenging circumstances, defying the elements to secure their future.
Director: Alsanosi Adam
Producer: hajooj kuka Salma Al Majidi is the first FIFA-recognised Arab woman to coach men’s football and an increasingly familiar presence in the game in Sudan. She started assistant coaching in her teens and later teamed up with her now husband Ahmed Yakini. A retired national player, Ahmed is happy to work as Salma’s assistant coach, pooling their skills to improve the team. ‘Football Love’ by filmmaker Alsanosi Adam weaves their love story through Salma’s football experiences, charting the challenges she faces and the results she achieves. Together they share a devotion to the beautiful game, and to each other.
Director: Michel K. Zongo Producer: Amina Abdoulaye Mamani A chocolatier in Burkina Faso and a creative makeup artist in Senegal have both found different ways to empower local people. Chef André Bayala in Burkina Faso was named Africa's best chocolatier in 2016 –a man who didn’t even know what chocolate was in his youth. For Chef André, chocolate is both a passion and a revolution. He takes inspiration for his ideals of self-reliance from Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara: “consume what you produce and produce what you consume.” In ‘Chocolate Revolution’ by filmmaker Michel K Zongo, he runs his two restaurants in Ouagadougou, making chocolate delicacies and pastries, determined that Africans should cultivate, enjoy and profit from its raw materials. He is committed to passing on his skills too, training the next generation of Burkinabe chocolatiers.
I See Beauty
Director/Producer: Ata Messan Koffi
In Senegal, Fredde Tchibinda uses creative makeup as a powerful and imaginative way to portray strong African women. In ‘I See Beauty’ by filmmaker Ata Messan Koffi we observe her at work, in her studio and out in the streets of Dakar, designing and creating striking artistic portraits that enhance and celebrate women’s strength and confidence. Her subjects include eco-feminists and women protecting Dakar’s street children, and her portraits are built around the issues that concern African women, from the environment and rights to confidence-building. Her stunning creations offer a sense of power and optimism to the next generation.
A Future With Fish
Director: Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou Producer: Andrey S. Diarra
In Niger, Abdoul Majid Hamadou looks to fish farming for his future. The fish market in Niamey imports most of the fish and they are expensive. Abdoul wants to get in on the fish farming business and provide cheaper, locally farmed stock. He has struggled for years to find work, despite having two Masters degrees, and he wants a business that can sustain him and make his family proud. In ‘A Future With Fish’ by filmmaker Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou he researches the industry, sources hatchling fish and builds his own small tank - his future business looks finally set to take off.
Director/ Producer: Chisom Ifeakandu
Her Royal Majesty Obi Martha Dunkwu is the Omu of the Anioma people of Nigeria’s Delta State. An Omu, or Queen Mother, is a leader of women, custodian of the market, a spiritual guide to the community and the traditional ruler – a role that goes back more than 820 years and one which was greatly reduced by colonial rule. In ‘The Queen’ by filmmaker Chisom Ifeakandu we witness the ceremonial practices of this important institution and hear the story, and the challenges, of today’s Omu.
Director: Simpa Samson Producer: Chris Stokoe
‘Bats are cool creatures’ is the message from renowned bat biologist Iroro Tanshi. Bats dominate her life, day and night. She and her biologist husband Ben Obitte, comb the caves high up in Nigeria’s Afi mountains to research, monitor and understand different bat species, in order to protect them. Iroro was the first person to discover the seemingly lost short-tailed round leaf bat, last seen in the wild 45 years previously. In ‘Bat Couple’ by filmmaker Simpa Samson, we follow Iroro and Ben up the steep mountains and into dark caves, as well as at home on the ground, to understand their dedication to bat conservation and their award-winning research. They share their inspiring story, not only of their love of bats, but also of each other.
Director/Producer: Rahab Wambui
In Nairobi, Kenya, Wanjiru Koinange and her co-founder of Book Bunk, Angela Wachuka, are turning the page on the past. Their project is dedicated to restoring and transforming some of the city’s oldest public libraries, which date back to colonial times - and attitudes. Working together with the city council, and engaging the public directly, they ensure these libraries and their contents reflect today’s Kenyans and make way for future readers. ‘Rewriting Libraries’ by filmmaker Rahab Wambui details their work, past and present, and hears their ideas. They don’t want to erase the past - even those who tried to erase Africans from their own history – and instead choose to confront colonial views through public engagement. At the same time, they concentrate on including books by Africans rather than about them, to support multiple versions of Kenyan history that go beyond the previously dominant colonial perspective.