Movements: CinemAfrica Film Festival 2016

Movements: CinemAfrica Film Festival 2016

Lola A. Åkerström spotlights Stockholm’s African Film Festival – CinemAfrica – and gets industry insights from producer Sarah Inya Lawal.

Ayanda - The Movie | All photos courtesy of CinemAfrica

Ayanda – The Movie | All photos courtesy of CinemAfrica

Since 1996, CinemAfrica has been bringing films from Africa and its diaspora as Stockholm’s premier African Film Festival. CinemAfrica holds screenings and events all over Sweden and within its organization, it has expertise on the subjects of post-colonialism, current affairs, social structures, and the African diaspora.

Every year, the festival’s schedule is crafted around a theme and this year, “Movements“. In 2015 and continuing into 2016, our global landscape was reshaped by forced migration as well as sociopolitical transformations. “Once again we turn to culture and to the moving image to find meaning and liberation,” shares the CinemAfrica team.

To get some general thoughts on upcoming directors and films people should keep an eye out for when it comes to African talent, I turned to Stockholm-based producer Sarah Inya Lawal who has her finger on the pulse of the African film industry.

Lawal is a producer, talent manager and business development manager working across theatre, film, TV and brand management for artists.  She has co-produced some of the most talked about stage plays in Nigeria and developed and continues to manage the careers of some of the finest talents from Africa and its diaspora. Lawal is currently producing several TV and Film projects and currently runs a dance academy in Sweden.

Red Leaves - The Movie | Al l photos courtesy of CinemAfrica

Red Leaves – The Movie | All photos courtesy of CinemAfrica

“I live in Sweden and it’s really amazing as an African to have access to African films and to know that they are getting seen by a wider audience because distribution is normally the toughest with African Films,” shares Lawal on the proliferarion of the film festival. “CinemAfrica is fast becoming a hub for African films and talents in Scandinavia and I see it as a networking platform and being critical in developing stronger links between the African film industry and Sweden.”

“I’m particularly excited about Victoria Thomas and her film, Hands Of Stone, which is a biopic of Conjestina Achieng – the first African woman to win an international boxing title. Conjestina is currently hospitalized in a mental institution in Kenya after a brain injury from a fight. These are the kinds of stories we should be telling.”

Lawal is also excited about Shirley Frimpong Manso’s TV Series SHAMPAIGN – a drama series that follows a political campaign team that work tirelessly to make history by getting a single mother elected as the first female president.

“And then there’s Tope Oshin who has done a lot of amazing TV and films in Nigeria; and is currently working on a feature film which is a Nigerian and European co-production,” she adds.


More on “Movements” from the directors of CinemAfrica 2016

“We have selected films that reveal the personal politics of Africans in forced migration, asylum or displacement, attempting to explain the reasons for leaving their homelands under threat.


The Eye of the Storm by Sékou Traoré depicts the making of child soldiers and the brutality of civil war that cause the displacement of thousands. Building a new life in a foreign environment challenges every part of a person, from identity to finding a sense of belonging, nothing can replace home.


Red Leaves by newcomer Bazi Gete features living legend Debebe Eshetu (Shaft in Africa) in a story about the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel. In every festival, CinemAfrica aims to give a prominent platform to stories told by African and Diaspora women.


That there is a rich African cinematic history of telling strong, female-centered stories is no secret, but achieving a gender balance in directing is still a challenge film industries face.


That is why we have selected Ayanda as our opening film, by South African director Sara Blecher. Not only is the film female directed, but Ayanda is a modern, South African woman in charge of her own body and destiny, infused with DIY spirit and energy.


Lastly, this festival is dedicated to the many people of African descent lost in racist attacks and those who bravely continue to speak truth to power.


… Dina Afkhampour, Festival Director, and Josette Bushell Mingo, Chairperson.

More on Sarah Inya Lawal

Lawal was head of talent at Restless Talent Management and has worked as the branding and communications director at Uniexcel Limited and Victoria Holding where she developed a slate of highly acclaimed media projects. She holds a Masters in Artistic Performance from Stockholm University in Sweden.

Festival Information

For those interested in attending over the three days the festival will be running, check out the full festival schedule andfilm list which includes playing times, dates, and locations.

Festival Dates – February 25-28, 2016


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Author: Lola A. Åkerström

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning writer, photographer, and travel blogger, and is also the Founder/Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative. She tweets at @LolaAkinmade.

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