Director Ike Nnaebue / Photo credit: Jide Tom Akinleminu


No U-Turn: Exploring The Tough Realities of African Migration

Director Ike Nnaebue / Photo credit: Jide Tom Akinleminu

No U-Turn captures the perilous journey thousands of Africans take every year to Europe and why they deem the risk worth it

By Takunda Chimutashu

October 2023

No U-Turn, released earlier this year, follows a poor 20-year-old, who attempts to illegally migrate to Europe by road to seek a better life. In the film, director Ike Nnaebue retraces his steps as a young illegal immigrant, “I had finished my apprenticeship, and I was stranded with no startup capital to start my business. I was frustrated and hopeless.” Nnaebue continues, “So, when I heard that it was possible to travel to Europe by road without a visa and with very little money, I thought that was exactly what I needed,” he added.


Originally hoping to make money and return to Nigeria, Nnaebue quickly discovered it wasn’t as easy as he was told. 


“The desert is a deadly place, and crossing it is almost impossible without being kidnapped. People are being sold into slavery and forced to pay their own ransom. Then, when they eventually get through that and make it to North Africa, they are faced with a different kind of suffering as well. The Mediterranean Sea itself has become the biggest graveyard in the world,” he says.


Nevertheless, people continue to migrate to Europe for a better life. A report by UNICEF places the number of children who die at the Central Mediterranean Sea weekly at eleven, with an estimated 11,600 children having made the dangerous crossing so far in 2023.


Nnaebue’s experience, and that of many West African migrants trying to find safety and a better life in Europe through what is referred to as “the back door,” led the filmmaker to create No U-Turn. “The doc is me retracing the journey I took in my late teens, 27 years ago. It is an opportunity to go back and understand the decision I made. “I [always] wanted to go back [to Europe], and then I realized that 27 years later, people are still trying to go through that route despite the dangers.”


This journey itself led him to filmmaking. He describes how patient he had to be and how he waited for the right opportunity before starting this journey. 


“I also wanted the European audience to understand that migrants are humans with valid dreams and aspirations, just like any other person in other parts of the world. If anybody has ever thought of moving from New York to New Jersey or Houston to Atlanta for a better life, it’s really no different between that and a migrant who thinks they would find better opportunities in Europe.”


There have been articles documenting what it means for Africans who migrate through the dangerous routes from Nigeria to Benin to Morocco, but with No U-Turn, we don’t only hear the stories from these people, but we see how their lives are impacted by their decision to migrate to Europe. For audiences, the journey is equally as emotional, leaving us with the memory of their faces and their stories every time a news outlet recounts a migration tragedy.


It’s a documentary filled with African voices, which Nnaebue says was the goal. “The film was part of a cohort called Generation Africa, founded by the amazing people at Steps, South Africa — a collective of African filmmakers who were encouraged to tell different stories around migration. The goal was to help African voices be heard worldwide instead of African stories being told by non-Africans,” he told STATEMENT. “Steps and Generation Africa helped with the entire fundraising process and were instrumental in the process of making this film.”


While Nnaebue agrees that many people who leave, do so seeking greener pastures, they also decide to leave in part because of the suffering back home. This understanding has led him to be part of a project called “Returning Migrants Reintegration Project,” to provide a safe space, support, and whatever they need when they come back to the continent. “That’s why many people would rather languish in the desert than come home because they don’t have anything to return to. So we want them to know they have a home to return to. We want to help them recalibrate their lives.”


The filmmaker has come a long way since his journey in 1998. He recognizes that he was fortunate enough to have not attempted it more than once. “I recently met somebody who said he would rather die on the road than go back home, and that’s sad. It paints a picture of what Africa has become over the years, where things are getting worse for a majority of the populace instead of things getting better, which is why we’re doing this work. We want everybody to care enough and bring their attention to it.”


No U-Turn had its festival run in 2022 and the first few months of 2023 at the New African Film Festival, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, where it won a special jury mention award, and FESPACO where it won the best film on ECOWAS Integration.

Film & TV

Ellie Foumbi Wants Africans To Tell Stories On Their Terms

Our Father, the Devil explores the effects of violence on children in the Cameroonian director’s new psychological thriller

By Jerry Chiemeke

September 2023

Our Father, the Devil asks – is repentance possible? Ellie Foumbi reunites a woman scarred by unspeakable tragedy with the very man responsible for it. Ultimately, Foumbi grapples with the notion (choice) of devout forgiveness, in contrast to being given the perfect opportunity for revenge through what could be argued is divine intervention itself. 


With an MFA in Directing from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, Foumbi took her first directorial swings with shorts like Zenith (2017) and No Traveler Returns (2019), which caught the attention of the creators of the BET anthology series Tales, and they invited her to direct an episode. 


“The director had seen a short of mine that he loved, but I hadn’t directed a feature, and it’s difficult to get an episode of television without a feature. I was in LA about to start doing a lab when they asked me to meet with the network. I didn’t realize that I was being considered, and I was shocked when they said they would hire me to do the episode. There was a lot of fear going into that episode because it was so sudden,” she tells STATEMENT.


Foumbi’s time at BET was transformative for developing her confidence. She immediately began working on her directorial debut, Our Father, the Devil, which has drawn out all the plaudits. The psychological thriller, which premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, follows the story of Marie (Babetida Sadjo), an African refugee who leads a quiet life in a small French town, but who is reminded of her dark past by the emergence of the charismatic Father Patrick (Souleymane Sy Savane). Described as “stirring” and “a tour de force”, the film has received several awards, including Best Feature Narrative at the 2022 Indie Memphis Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Heartland Film Festival. 


STATEMENT spoke to Foumbi about her filmmaking journey, the influence of Nollywood on African cinema, and future prospects for Black filmmakers.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


STATEMENT: You strongly identify as Cameroonian. How would you describe filmmaking back home? What do you think can be improved, and how can Africa export storytelling in a more expansive way?


Foumbi: We don’t have the resources that we need. I think the infrastructure just isn’t available; people are finding ways to put out work in the manner they know best, but there is a considerable gap as far as funding is concerned. From a national perspective, we still have ways to go, and I would love to be part of that wave of filmmakers that helps to put the spotlight back on filmmaking. 


Nollywood has also been a model for many African filmmakers. When you have an industry on the continent that has grown and has had the impact that Nollywood has had, in your mind, it becomes less of a pipedream and more of a possibility. We need to keep creating more structures like that, which let African filmmakers know that no matter where you are, there is a model of success that you can follow.


What inspired the screenplay of Our Father The Devil?


My dad did a lot of work in Africa, particularly in Rwanda. When he was there, one of his colleagues got me to make contact with a survivor of the (1994) Genocide. As he shared his lived experiences, those were some of the things I became interested in. I wanted to explore the perspective of child soldiers who get caught up in conflicts of this nature. When I started researching, I found that all the movies were about the conflict and very little about the aftermath. I also wanted to explore this concept of redemption because, in my research on child soldiers, one of the biggest hurdles in their healing process is their shame. A lot of these kids don’t know what they are doing. They are roped into violence, watch their families being murdered, and must do the same to stay alive. It’s a vicious cycle.


The lead actors in this film – Babetida Sadjo and Souleymane Sy Savane – have received praise for their performances, and deservedly so. Sadjo, in particular, brought an edgy dimension to the character of Marie. What influenced your casting choices?


I just follow my gut. In 2015, Souleymane (Sy Savane) and I were in a film together. I felt he was excellent, and I was surprised he wasn’t doing more. Meeting him actually inspired me to write this role for him. A year earlier, a friend of mine had been in a film with Babetida (Sadjo) called ‘Wasteland.’ He had sent me the trailer for the film, and her face completely transfixed me. However, I didn’t connect with her until 2019, and I hoped she would accept the script because if she had turned it down, I had no idea who else would have taken on that role. Thankfully, she loved the story and said she knew what to do with the character.


Would you say that for African filmmakers, things that play out in the home continent influence the kinds of stories we tell?


It’s part of our subconscious framework, how we view the world. Still, part of the reason I made ‘Our Father, the Devil’ is because I felt that African filmmakers are placed in some sort of box, and I think that what this film does is step out of that: we’re doing a different facet of a character. The stories about illegal migration are valid, but they are tired. We have other stories to tell. I think that African filmmakers have to push back against those tropes. When it comes to issuing grants in Europe, the stories that reinforce those stereotypes tend to be rewarded. They (European financiers) need to ask themselves why they do not want to see other kinds of stories.


You are the 2nd Black female director to feature at Venice. What would you say about the opportunities for Black women filmmakers? Are there still glass ceilings to be broken? Are there opportunities for collaboration?   


A whole wave of women are killing it out there: Alice Diop, Chinonye Chukwu, Mariama Diallo, Ekwa Msangi and Nana (Mensah), among others. However, there’s still much to be done in terms of access. For every ten white filmmakers who enter the door, you only find one Black person in the room. Beyond that, I have had several discussions with Black women filmmakers about their respective journeys, and there is still a certain expectation about the kinds of stories that Black filmmakers should tell.  I am curious about the opportunities made available for Black women filmmakers and what they are being ‘allowed’ or encouraged to make. We should have free rein to tell whatever type of story we want, especially since it will still be told through the lens of our Blackness.


Our Father, the Devil is currently screening at select theaters across the U.S.

Photo credit: Best Friend Forever

Film & TV

African Cinema on the Festival Circuit: A Renaissance Story

Photo credit: Best Friend Forever

These top tier festivals have allowed for filmmakers to build a following on a global scale

By Sughnen Yongo

August 2023

In recent years, African films have gained well deserved recognition at the most prestigious international film festivals. There was a time when festivals like Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and Tribeca Film Festival predominantly showcased Western productions, but the tides have changed. These festivals are now embracing a rich tapestry of narratives and talents from the African continent, signifying a remarkable turning point in the world of cinema, as African filmmakers receive their long-overdue spotlight on the global stage.


At the heart of this burgeoning success is a new generation of African filmmakers who have unleashed their creativity, ingenuity, and cultural perspectives to captivate audiences worldwide. From Kenya to Nigeria, Ghana to South Africa, and beyond, these filmmakers have woven tales that are both unique and universally resonant. Their films celebrate diverse identities, explore poignant social issues, and offer glimpses into African traditions, all while challenging outdated stereotypes and tropes.


Sundance, once a haven for independent American cinema, has now become a melting pot of global talent with African films capturing the attention of audiences and industry professionals alike. This year, several African films received critical acclaim at the Utah-based festival including CJ Obasi’s Mami Wata and Sofia Alaoui’s Animalia, two films that won jury prizes at the festival.


African films are increasingly finding their place in this cinematic haven, capturing the attention of audiences and industry professionals alike. One such personal essay film, Milisuthando by South African director Milisuthando Bongela, left a profound impact at Sundance with its evocative storytelling of the apartheid regime in South Africa and negotiating the complex world against the backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa


For Love Nafi, a DMV-based native, African entertainment as a whole, is getting its just recognition, although there are still some challenges.


“Similar to Africa’s takeover of music, African cinema has definitely permeated the global stage and I feel that there’s a budding amount of exceptional films gaining traction and being recognized at major film festivals,” Love Nafi said. “However, equity and representation within these mediums can sometimes still remain an issue. While African films are being included, all of our stories aren’t necessarily being amplified in comparison to our counterparts. As a whole, I think it’s important for Africa to continue to find ways to create its own stage.”


The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has also embraced the richness of African cinema. In the festival’s Africa Hub, an exclusive platform dedicated to African films, vibrant voices from the continent resonate across the world, and festival goers this year will have the opportunity of seeing many of such films by talented African filmmakers, including I Do Not Come to You By Chance, executive produced by Nigerian veteran actress and producer, Genevive Nnaji.


Tribeca, nestled in the vibrant heart of New York City, has also embraced the renaissance of African cinema. The festival has demonstrated its commitment to showcasing the diversity of African stories, be they tales of urban life, ancient folklore, or historical events. Nigerian Prince by Nigerian director Faraday Okoro stunned Tribeca audiences with its portrayal of a troubled American teenager Eze, who is sent away to his mother’s native Nigeria against his will, and gets entangled in a web of criminal activity. Okoro’s masterful direction, combined with a compelling screenplay, unraveled the temptations and showcased his grip on artistic direction.


The rise of African cinema has not occurred in isolation but as a result of concerted efforts from both filmmakers and festival organizers.


Uwe Boll, a German filmmaker, who has become renowned for his adaptations of video game franchises says that Africa is gaining a grip. “This year, at Cannes it was all about Africa, one of the most discussed and hyped continents. More than five films ran at the festival and in the market even more — which is fantastic,” he said.


Four Daughters, crafted by the visionary Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania — renowned for The Man Who Sold His Skin, along with Banel & Adama, the remarkable inaugural work by Senegalese-French filmmaker Ramata-Toulaye Sy, formed an intriguing cinematic pair at the festival this year.


Boll also added that countries in the Middle East, such as Morocco and Tunisia, have been long-time active locations for various big Hollywood productions. “Movies like Mission Impossible or Gladiator have utilized several Middle Eastern locations to shoot, and recently, significant investment funds have been entering the scene, contributing millions of dollars to co-produce films.”


Another catalyst for the recognition of African films has been the growing demand for diverse narratives in the global film industry. Audiences hungry for fresh perspectives and untold stories have welcomed African films with open arms, eager to be transported to new worlds and immersed in rich cultural experiences. This demand has prompted film distributors and streaming platforms to acquire more African films, extending their reach to viewers across the globe. In 2022, Netflix and UNESCO collaborated on an African Folktales competition, which was a chance of a lifetime for rising Sub-Saharan African filmmakers and storytellers to breathe new life into ancient tales, flaunting their brilliance to the world in their very own languages by seizing the moment, rewriting the narrative, and embracing the global stage.


There’s also the co-productions between African filmmakers and global partners helping to bridge the gap and unravel African cinema to wider audiences. Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman, a historical drama was co-produced by Ebonylife Films and Netflix. In 2022, it was selected for screening at TIFF and now streams globally on Netflix.


In spite of the resurgence of African films and the support African governments and institutions provide to local film industries — a UNESCO study shows that merely 19 out of 54 African countries provide financial support to filmmakers — there is still a long way to go in terms of funding and support, especially when many filmmakers across the continent encounter obstacles such as restrictions while filming.


Chrissy Collins, the Chief Communication Officer for Pan African Chamber of Commerce also agrees that there is still a long way to go.


“It’s a powerful step towards breaking stereotypes and fostering a deeper understanding of African cultures. However, we still have a long way to go and we must continue to support and uplift African filmmakers to ensure this progress is sustained and amplified,” Collins said. “This way, we can break the stero-typical films that Hollywood creates based on an americanized view of Africa.”


Beyond the immediate success at international festivals, the rise of African cinema has ignited a collective sense of pride and hope within the African film community. As a result of this newfound recognition, a new generation of filmmakers have been empowered to tell their stories. This cultural renaissance has sparked a virtuous cycle, nurturing a vibrant ecosystem that fosters creativity, innovation, and artistic expression across the continent.


According to Nataleah Hunter-Young, an International Programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), African cinema has long been celebrated under the franchise.


“TIFF has had a long and unique history of spotlighting African cinema, so for us, the African presence isn’t new. We celebrated 25 years of that presence in 2020 with ‘Planet Africa 25’ screenings, panels and parties, much of which is documented online, but as the African industries on the continent grow, so too does their presence at the Festival, and that growth is reflected in the strength and creative breadth of the productions in each year’s Official Selection,” she said.


The entertainment landscape is evolving, and with that comes the increased demand for African stories. “What has changed, from a global perspective, might be the audience demand for African content and as a result, African creators are receiving more and more attention from European and North American industry stakeholders, particularly from streamers which is still the easiest way for North American audiences to watch African productions,” Hunter-Young added.


In spite of the expansion of the streaming era, Hunter-Young believes that streamers alone can’t dictate industry growth, so festivals will continue to play a major role in audience development and in pushing industry expectations. 


The recognition of African films at these international festivals is not merely a matter of tokenism; it reflects a growing awareness of the exceptional talent emanating from the continent. Gone are the days when African cinema was limited to niche audiences or considered exotic novelties. Today, these films transcend cultural boundaries, resonating with viewers from all walks of life, igniting empathy, and fostering cross-cultural curiosity.

Credit: Gazmadu Studios

Film & TV

Toyosi Etim-Effiong on Taking Nollywood to New Orleans

Credit: Gazmadu Studios

Etim-Effong has partnered with the Essence Film Festival to bring visibility to Nollywood productions

By Chisom Peter Job

August 2023

Nollywood made its Essence Film Festival debut last month with “Nigeria Day.” Made possible by Toyosi Etim-Effiong, founder and CEO of That Good Media, the partnership is devoted to the movers and shakers of the Nigerian film industry.


“We screened a Nigerian film last year at the festival, but I saw a huge gap there,” Toyosi Etim-Effiong tells STATEMENT. “So we went back and said, ‘if you’re organizing a Black film festival, are you sure it’s Black or simply African American? Because if it’s Black, then Nollywood has to be included; after all, we’re Black too, the most populous nation of our race, and have the second largest film industry in terms of output, so that must count for something… And they were open to it this year. It grew from screening a film to having our own day.”


The Essence Film Festival, which ran from June 29 to July 3, showcased films from South Africa, Ghana, and other African countries.


Toyosi Etim-Effiong spoke to STATEMENT about partnering with Essence, and showcasing Nollywood in New Orleans.


How long have you been working on the partnership with Essence?


So we facilitated the screening of a Nollywood film last year, the first ever at the film festival, and there was a panel with Nollywood players, and that has now progressed into an actual Nigeria day where we have a full day for content and conversations around Nigerian film and TV. So yes, it’s year one.


You’ve worked in media for a while, taking up different roles in different organizations. What has that been like for you?


It’s been an interesting and aggressive journey, and the house is being built brick upon brick. I enjoyed working at Folio, and some of the other roles that I’ve taken. Some have been projects, not full time jobs, and have led to this point. I now run my company ‘That Good Media’ and we’re in partnership with Essence for the first ever Nigeria Day, which has been interesting. Not hitch free, but an interesting and progressive journey.


What do you mean when you say ‘Not hitch free’?


I mean, I’ve had challenges. I’ve had to deal with things that I’d rather not have dealt with. There have been money shortages on projects, issues with people that are not aligned with the vision, and things like that that have been problematic, but also contributed to my  growth as an individual and also my progress in the journey.


Now that the vision of having a ‘Nigeria Day’ is happening, what are some of your goals for it?


My goal for the day really is to secure strategic collaborations and partnerships. I hope that people come from all over The United States, Africa, and they connect with our talents — filmmakers, directors, producers — and decide they want to partner. You know, I’m working on setting up for key attendees like production studios to have meetings with local studios as well. 


Besides the Essence Film Festival Activation [ the ‘Nigeria Day’] we’re also meeting with Film New Orleans. Now, Film New Orleans is the film board of New Orleans, linked or attached to the mayor of New Orleans’ office. And so they’re going to be hosting us for a cocktail reception and a forum, which is to get us acquainted with how things work in New Orleans for those who want to end up going to film there because they realize a lot of Nigerians tend to film in Atlanta, maybe Houston or New York, but nobody’s really giving much thought to New Orleans. But that’s about to change because New Orleans is such a rich and culturally vibrant place, and having the film board decide to host us along with other local production companies and local producers so that there can be an interaction and exchange of ideas is huge. It’s what I’m hoping will lead to big projects and more recognition for Nollywood.


From the Essence Film Festival to meeting the New Orleans Film Board, what do you think this looks like for the future of Nollywood?


It’s started already. If Afrobeats can do it, then Nollywood can too because they are from the same father and mother, and we refuse for Nollywood to be the child that doesn’t make it. We’ve seen how these music collaborations have helped the Afrobeats space and we’re hoping the same would apply to the film industry by the time Tyler Perry decides to partner with EbonyLife for example or Oprah Winfrey Network decides to partner with the Filmone or Inkblot or any of our major guys doing major things here. It will definitely have ripple effects that will positively affect the Nigerian film industry.


Okay. So away from the Film Festival, what’s something you and your team are currently working on?


We [That Good Media] run a talent management division, so we are constantly looking for the best opportunities for our talent, and positioning them well, not just for local gigs and local collaborations with brands, but with international brands as well. So the Talent management Division is one that is growing and we’re working a lot on. What else are we working on? We’re also working on securing more collaborations and partnerships like the one we have with Essence. It would be great to do this with other major platforms. It will also be great to do this across the United States and even the rest of the world. So it’s all about partnership. It’s all about cultural exchange to improve what is currently the norm.


You worked in bringing people from Hollywood to the 2022 AMVCA. What other plans like this do you have in the future?


You know, the thing I say is ‘my network becomes your network.’ So the more I build my network, the more I build a network for Nollywood, and there are other people doing the same thing as well. So again, I’m not coming here as a savior or to rescue a broken system. It’s just my contribution to an industry that has been in existence for a long time, is doing relatively well, and can do much better. I’ve seen gaps that I’m trying to fill. And so in terms of, um, getting people on board to the AMVCA’S, AMAA’s, or anything really that requires the presence of Hollywood, I am ready and available to provide my services.


Right. What has the reception been like from people in the industry?


Oh, that’s a loaded question. For someone who is doing this for the very first time on this scale, of course, there’s been some caution. People are like, “hmm, what is she up to? What is she doing?” So there’s that. But there are also people that are like, “this is great. We know of Essence, and love that you have been able to secure a partnership with a brand like them, which is fantastic and we want to support you. And whichever way it goes, it’s good for the industry.” So I’m happy with the reception that we’ve gotten so far, especially from the press, and I want to say thank you again for actually talking to me about this partnership.


How to Find and Apply to African Film Festivals

By Wale Oloworekende

July 2023

There has never been a more exciting time to be an African filmmaker. With the eye of the world tilting towards cultural output from the motherland, titles from Africa are already starting to have global traction thanks to the impact of streaming platforms and the global brand of African actors. The rise of African films has similarly inspired a number of festivals across the continent dedicated to curating, celebrating, and platforming some of the most exciting movies made by Africans with a focus on their technical merits and narrative styles.


At STATEMENT, we decided to compile a list of some of these festivals, where to find them, and how to apply to them.


The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO)


Founded in 1969, The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is a film festival that takes place biennially in Burkina Faso with a specific focus on African filmmakers and works chiefly made in Africa. Accepting all sorts of entries from short films to documentaries and feature films, the festival traditionally holds two weeks after the last Saturday in February but held its 2023 edition from the 25th of February to the 4th of March. The next edition of FESPACO is scheduled for 2025 and filmmakers can keep up with more information on the festival’s website.


African Film Festival


Committed to spotlighting films that capture the infinite possibilities in African films and stories, the African Film Festival founded in 1993 has grown to become one of the leading tastemakers and authorities on movies, shorts, and documentaries coming out of Africa. The 2023 edition of the festival was held from May 10 to June 1 and was billed as a “journey through a landscape of cinematic possibilities, where creativity knows no limits and boundaries are mere suggestions.” The African Film Festival welcomes submissions in both feature and short film categories. Applicants looking to showcase their work next year might find some information on the About page and look out for more extensive information on the Submissions portal.


Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF)


Alternatively known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries, the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) is the largest film festival in East Africa and is held in Tanzania annually. Film entries are considered from all over Africa and the African diaspora with entries from parts of the Arab world and Asia also considered. The Zanzibar International Film Festival places a primary focus on feature-length movies and is especially popular for its Golden Dhow award given to the best movie at the festival. The deadline for 2023 entries has already passed with the event taking place from June 24 to July 2, 2023, but filmmakers interested in applying in the future can check for updates on the ZIFF website.


Durban International Film Festival (DIFF)


Founded in 1979 by Teddy Sarkin and Ros Sarkin, Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is one of the oldest film festivals in Africa. DIFF accepts entries from African and international filmmakers but African filmmakers are given priority. The 44th edition of the Durban International Film Festival is set to take place from July 20 to 30th at the University of KwaZulu-Natal after a three-year hiatus and the deadline for application has since elapsed. With the 45th edition sure to come along next year, filmmakers can follow the festival’s social media pages and website for more information for admittance.


Carthage Film Festival


The Carthage Film Festival, alternatively known by its French name Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (JCC) is an annual film festival founded in 1966. Originally held biannually, the festival has taken place annually every year since 2014 in Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia with a hyper-focus on shorts and feature films by African and Arab filmmakers. 2022’s edition took place from October 29 to November 5, 2022. Preparations for this year’s event are happening in earnest with the festival expected to take place from October 28 to November 4. Applicants for the festivals are encouraged to apply through the application links on the festival’s website.


African International Film Festival (AFRIFF)


Widely regarded as the most popular film festival in Africa, the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) was founded in 2010 by Chioma Ude with the task of providing total immersion into the world of African filmmaking from shorts to documentaries, feature films, and student films. Since its inaugural edition was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in 2010, the festival held annually in Nigeria has grown to be an annual celebration of African filmmaking across these formats. The 2023 edition of AFRIFF will be held from November 5-10, 2023. Applicants for the festival can head to the AFRIFF website where updates about upcoming events and instructions for registering for the festival are shared.


Africa in Motion (AiM)


Africa in Motion (AiM) is an annual African film festival that celebrates the best of African talent across all visual formats with a strong focus on feature-length movies. Traditionally taking place in Scotland and open to African-based filmmakers and diaspora-based Africans, it has been running for over 15 years. Last year’s edition was its 17th with a series of screenings and panels held from the 11th of November till the 20th of November. Details have not been announced for the 2023 edition but filmmakers and prospective attendees can keep an eye on the Africa in Motion Instagram page and website for additional info.


Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF)


Founded in 1976, the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is the only international competitive feature film festival recognized by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) in Africa. CIFF places a heavy focus on feature-length submissions with its highest prize, The Golden Pyramid, being awarded for the best film at the competition. The 45th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival will be held from the 15th to 24th of November 2023 with submissions from Africa and the Middle East being considered. Submissions are still ongoing for CIFF and prospective attendees can find more information on the application process on the festival’s website and social media pages.