Record numbers at africa Eye film festival

Afrika Eye film festival which took place at Bristol’s Watershed over the weekend (28th-30th October), showing films from Africa and the African Diaspora was a resounding success with most of the films on the first two days selling out.

Afrika Eye also held screenings at community venues across Bristol during the month of October – from the Methodist Church in Westbury on Trim to the Malcolm X Centre in St Paul's, and 930 people from all ages and walks of life watched African cinema during the wider month-long festival. Audience numbers reached unprecedented levels with a 36% increase in attendance figures this year.

Several disappointed punters had to be turned away from the full houses for both the opening film, Harry Belafonte's SING YOUR SONG on Friday 28th October, and for the UK premiere of ROBERT MUGABE…WHAT HAPPENED ? on Saturday 29th October. Longer theatrical runs are now planned for these two films in response to popular demand. The Mugabe film will be shown in cinemas UK-wide in the build up to Zimbabwe’s general elections in March 2012.

Simon Bright, co-director of Afrika Eye and director of ROBERT MUGABE…WHAT HAPPENED?, said:

“We showed films to all ages, young and old. The youngest I saw was three months old strapped to his mother's back and the oldest was 91. There were people from all parts of Bristol – from Easton and Bedminster to St Pauls and Clifton. Our aim is always to unite an audience from all cultures through stories from Africa …after all that is where story telling started. ”

Many people came from as far afield as Sheffield, Manchester, Oxford, London and even Finland as Afrika Eye becomes a national and even international event.

The festival’s Eyefull programme year showcased the short films of young Bristolian filmmakers as well as films from Egypt, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Newport. This year the Eyefull competition was won by Juan Landry Ondo, a resident of Bristol who originally came from Equatorial Guinea. The prize was a very generous package of assistance and equipment for his next film sponsored by Icon Films.

Maddy Probst, Programme Developer for Watershed said: “We are delighted with this year’s Afrika Eye festival – we had an excellent turnout and a great reaction to all the weekend’s events, particularly the première of the Mugabe documentary which we could have sold twice over.”

Afrika Eye broke some major barriers this year, as the festival’s co-director Ingrid Sinclair reported: “As we moved through different communities in Bristol in the run up to the festival, we realised that this year, far more people than before have not only heard about us, but appreciate what we're doing. So the crowds trying to get into sell out performances were there because in addition to entertainment, they wanted to find out something useful for their lives.”

Afrika Eye’s films offer a broader understanding of the cultures of African and African Diaspora people who form a rich and important portion of Bristol's communities. As Lord Paul Boateng, who presented a talk at this year’s festival said: “Statistically speaking, the strongest, richest and most democratic countries are those with the greatest diversity.” Bristol is blessed with diversity and Afrika Eye sets out to make the most of it.

Post published in: Arts

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