Two pieces of news from the film world came to our notice recently. One was the reporting of the first International Short Films Festival that took place in Addis Ababa, the first of its kind to be staged in East Africa.
And the second, to which we would like to bring everyone’s notice, is that Nick Francis, ex-Link Ethiopia volunteer, and his brother Marc have at last completed their long-awaited film called “When China met Africa”.
The film festival, as reported by the African Press Agency, featured 100 short films from various countries. The five-day gathering was inaugurated by President Girma Woldegiorgis and was aimed at “encouraging the use of film as a personal, social and economic tool for development; boosting production of short films internationally, in particular in the African continent, in the context of unprecedented growth of the African broadcasting area.”
The festival followed hot on the heels of three Ethiopian films winning coveted awards at the 7th African Film Festival in Tarifa, Spain, including in the short-film category. Among the movies that were seen at the festival were Liya Kebede’s ‘Desert Flower’, a movie based on the true story of a former African supermodel who rose from a nomadic life to the top of the international modeling business.
Nick and Marc Francis’s film “When China met Africa”, which has just been aired on BBC 4, can still be found on the BBC iPlayer and should be there for a few more weeks.
The film is described by the BBC as follows:
A historic gathering of over fifty African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming. In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese company, is upgrading the country’s longest road. Pressure to complete the job on time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out. Meanwhile, Zambia’s trade minister is en route to China to secure millions of dollars of investment. Through the intimate portrayal of these three characters, the expanding footprint of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different future not just for Africa but also for the world.
Although Ethiopia is not the focus in this new film, the Chinese relationship with Ethiopia is a very crucial one. The brothers’ previous film, called “Black Gold”, had an extraordinary effect on the world of coffee and its marketing as exemplified by the Ethiopian coffee growers and traders whose activities Nick and Marc monitored for a great many months The film was shown at film festivals all over the world and continues to be aired on television in manna countries.
If the success of “Black Gold’ is anything to go by, this new film must be an essential watch for anyone interested in Africa’s development at the present time.