<em>Danbé, la tête haute<>/em

The Vues d’Afrique film fest is on

An overview of the fest, beginning today and bringing five days of African and diaspora films to Montreal.

Les rayures du zèbre

Les rayures du zèbre


The 2015 edition of the Vues d’Afrique festival launches today, Tuesday, April 29, and promises five days of programming at the Cinémathèque Québécoise. This festival provides a rare chance to see films from the African and Creole diaspora on the big screen — many of these films will eventually have very limited theatrical releases, if at all.

Danbé, la tête haute<>/em
Danbé, la tête haute<>/em

The film kicking off this year’s edition is Sékou Traoré’s L’oeil du cyclone, a French/Burkina Faso courtroom drama about an idealistic lawyer defending a former child soldier for crimes against humanity. The screening of L’oeil du cyclone (the only one taking place at the Imperial rather than the Cinémathèque) is also part of a $20 opening night ceremony that includes open bar, an hommage to actress Sonia Rolland and MCing by Éric M’Boua.

The majority of the fest’s screenings are shorts, webisodes and other TV-format screenings, though features and other documentaries also pepper the fest’s program. Amongst highlights (or at least points of interests – many of these films do not follow the traditional festival circuit in North America and come to Vues d’Afrique without the customary festival hype) are boxing drama Danbé, la tête haute; Morbayassa (Le serment de Koumba), about a young African singer seeking to find the daughter she gave up for adoption 15 years before; Les rayures du zèbre, about a Belgian soccer recruiter (Benoît Pooelvorde, of Man Bites Dog and Podium fame) who discovers a prospect in Africa; Waka, about a woman who loses her job when she becomes pregnant, and the documentary Victorieux ou morts mais jamais prisonniers, which follows the efforts of five former Haitian army officers and their attempts to overthrow Papa Doc Duvalier.

L'oeil du cyclone
L’oeil du cyclone

Like most people, the prospect of an entirely unknown slate of films sends me reeling. It’s difficult to wrap your head around programming that most likely does not include a single actor or director the average filmgoer would recognize. In that sense the people at Vues d’Afrique have done a bang-up job at laying out the programming. Most films play multiple times (some play on every day of the festival), ensuring that word of mouth spreads if need be, and the festival’s relatively narrow focus hasn’t necessarily resulted in the customary niche-fest padding (films that are several years old, others that seem like they belong at the very end of a Netflix scroll). Of course, it’s impossible to truly know what’s out there without taking the plunge.
See the Vues d’Afrique website for the complete festival program and ticket information.