83 films with 30 international guests in 5 different locations during 10 days… that’s what visitors can expect from this year’s Africa Film Festival in Cologne! It takes place between 15th and 25th September, already for the 14th time. By now, it is not only a regular feature in the city’s calendar of events, but also one of the most important presentations of the contemporary African cinema in Germany.

Especially the personal connection between visitors and film-makers distinguishes Cologne’s Africa Film Festival from others. This year, 30 producers, musicians and actors will be the festival’s guests. Film-makers will introduce their films personally and after the presentation they will offer room for questions and discussions. Additionally, a panel discussion on “Sisters in African Cinema“ will be held. Female directors from South Africa, Tunisia, Cameroon and Kenya will exchange their points of view accompanied by the moderation of the American author and professor Beti Ellerson. A running translation enables the direct understanding, the talks on the different films will consecutively be translated into German as well. Another meeting point for guests and visitors is set up in the foyer of museum Ludwig. This opportunity of getting to know each other and exchanging ideas while having food and drinks from Senegal and Togo was used frequently during the last years.

Who’s behind this enormous project? Since 1988, the association “FilmInitiativ e.V.“ is responsible for organizing and carrying out the various film series, festivals and single presentations. In its beginnings, the Festival “Out of Europe“ didn’t take place regularly, but since 1996 it is organized every two years. Due to the topicality of films and the invitations of international filmmakers, larger audience get attracted. Christa Aretz, the head of the Festival, proudly says that the Africa Film Festival in Cologne is now the largest of its kind in Germany. At the Festival 2014 more than 8.000 visitors attended the movies, the accompanying exhibitions and the live concerts. The response has been consistently positive. The prices for the best movie and the best documentation were chosen with voting cards by the visitors, which was really attractive for the audience and filmmakers.


The selection of the movies was not at all at random. At the most important international Africa Film Festivals, like in Ouagadougou, Carthage and Leuven, the workers are on site. They classify the programme and socialize with the filmmakers and actors. Additionally, there is an internet research of the African productions. Due to the growing popularity of the Festival, FilmInitiativ gets more and more frequently requests from filmmakers. From 300 movies only 83 movies made it into the sophisticated program. Christa Aretz explains what it is all about: “For a selection of the movie there are different important aspects, just as the topicality, dramatic composition, good actors/actresses, editing and music. Issues like children and adolescents, art and design, everyday life and political perspective as well have an influence on the compilation of the program”.

There is no need to worry about a fine grasp. 21 movies were subtitled in German with the assistance of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German federal cultural foundation). Otherwise, the movies were filmed in English, French or the original language of the proper country. The focus on the current festival will be on the subject “Sisters in African Cinema”. Though the participation of women in the international film industry increases, there is no equality for a long time. The festival wants to illustrate that women, especially in African movies, got an important role in front of the camera and also behind it. Thereby, the position and problems of women in everyday life is not portrayed anymore. Instead there is a focus on women and the resistance against patriarchal structures, inequity, violence, human right abuse and also the pioneer in politics and culture.

This kind of focus doesn’t represent the change of the contemporary African art, it shows the new evolution of the Film industry anywhere. “This implies the visible dialogue and the cooperation of different generations, a bigger number of platforms and locations to promote the work and forms of expression of women as well as the possible controversial change of all: the advance of digital technologies and the internet” said Beti Ellerson, USA. Nowadays, the questions raised in films mainly are about nationality, citizenship, integration and migration.

Further details concerning the festival are available in German, English and French on the website www.filme-aus-afrika.de (www.films-from-africa.com / www.films-d-afrique.com). There you can also download the general (trilingual) program of „Sisters in African Cinema“.


All information at a glance:

14th African Film Festival Cologne

  • When? 15.-25.09.2016
  • Where? Filmforum im Museum Ludwig, Cologne
  • 83 films from 25 African countries
  • all genres (Feature / Documentary / Short / Animation / Visual Art)
  • focus: Sisters in African Cinema – with follow-up events in other cities
  • 30 international guests
  • audience awards
  • Live-Music

Further information on www.filme-aus-afrika.de.