New films from Africa feature prominently at the upcoming Venice Film Festival’s Final Cut in Venice workshop, which provides post-production support and partnership opportunities to projects from Africa and the Arab world.
Five out of six works-in-progress selected for the prestigious Lido workshop hail from African nations, including Nigerian director C.J. “Fiery” Obasi’s “Mami Wata” (pictured), a female-driven revenge thriller based on the Mermaid Goddess folklore of West Africa. Pic marks the director’s followup to prizewinning zombie thriller “Ojuju.”
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The projects screening during Venice also include Tunisian director Erige Sehiri’s fiction feature film ”Under the Fig Trees,” a depiction of the dynamics of both romantic and also work relationships of female agricultural workers during a summer harvest in Tunisia.
“Fig Trees” is the first fiction feature by Sehiri, who has always been drawn to the world of laborers, as reflected in her 2018 feature-length documentary “Railway Men,” which screened at the Visions du Réel and IDFA fests. Sehiri is also a co-founder of Rawiyat-Sisters in Film, a collective of women filmmakers from the Arab world.
The third Final Cut fiction film project screening on the Lido is “Hanging Gardens” by Iraqi-U.K. writer-director Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji, which is about a 12-year-old boy who, while sifting through garbage in a Baghdad dump that services the U.S. embassy, comes across an American inflatable sex doll, a find that lands him in a dangerous predicament. “Hanging Gardens” is the only non-African project in the lot.
The three Final Cut feature-length documentaries selected this year include “The Mother of All Lies” by Moroccan director Asmae El Moudir, which takes its cue from the director questioning small lies told by her parents about their family history and expands the investigation to national history and a reflection on the country’s 1981 Bread Riots; and “We, Students!,” a look at the life of economics students in overcrowded classrooms in Bangui, Central African Republic, one of whom is the director, Rafiki Fariala, himself.
Rounding off the selection is “The Night Still Smells of Gunpowder,” in which the director, Inadelso Cossa, revisits the fragmented memories of his childhood during the civil war in Mozambique by returning to his grandmother’s village to reveal untold stories that still haunt his generation.
The workshop will run on the Lido for three days Sept. 5-7, with the first two days dedicated to screenings, followed by curated one-to-one meetings between project teams and with producers, buyers, distributors, post-production companies and film festival programmers on Sept. 7.
The winners of several cash prizes will be announced on Sept. 8.
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