Latitude Africa beyond its clichés

Pumzi | Photo: © Pumzi / Wanuri Kahiu

A competition for short films from Africa, made by producers from all over the continent, from South Africa to Tunisia, from Togo to Mozambique, with the aim to show their own view on their home countries.
That was the idea behind LATITUDE, a Pan African Short Film Competition, which was initiated by the Goethe-Institut together with the Art in Africa foundation in 2007.
Meanwhile the fruits of the project became visible after the films were premiered in February 2011 at Berlinale and have since played at film festivals around the world.

In the movies, visitors interested in Africa are faced with a choice.
It is the choice of watching a movie about Africa as a scene for war, destruction, corruption and famines or as home of happy, dancing Bushmen in traditional clothing.
Even if both clichés are African realities, they are not the only ones and furthermore tighten a one-sided view on the continent.
Especially European and American films are reproducing those stereotypes, which was the reason for LATITUDE to let young producers from Africa draw their own picture of their home countries, to give them the possibility to let the audience view Africa from a different angle.
Not an angle that looks at Africa from outside, but one that depicts, criticises and develops African realities to a further point.

From Mozambique to Tunisia

In 2007 that idea became reality. The Goethe-Institut and the Art in Africa Foundation issued a call for script concepts by African filmmakers. 22 concepts were chosen by a jury whose producers were offered workshops for scriptwriting and cutting in Lomé and Johannesburg.
After one year of conception and production, the participants created 15 movies, together with South African producer Steven Markovitz. The Goethe-Institut supported the production of the films and accompanied the process.
Afterwards a jury selected nine films to be premiered during the Berlinale and released on a DVD.
The movies are speaking about realities which are not always nice: About domestic violence (Mahla, Mozambique), about an Arab family coming to terms with their daughter’s black boyfriend (Prestige, Tunisia). About the live of two brothers, working as perlemoen poachers (The Abyss Boys, South Africa), or the story about a painter, who is getting besieged by his community’s greed and expectation as he becomes successful with his work in Europe (The Painter, Uganda).

Award-winning films

LATITUDE has achieved a lot. The project produced the first DVD with short films made by African filmmakers only and strengthened the cooperation and knowledge of the participants.
The Science Fiction film Pumzi by Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu won the prize for the best short film at the Cannes Independent Film Festival. South African Director Jan-Hendrik Beetge received three awards for his drama The Abyss Boys. The film received a African Movie Academy Award 2010, Best Shortfilm at Edinburgh African Film Festrival and received a special mention by the jury of the Durban International Film Festival.

The DVD with the films is available at all Goethe archives and information centres for non-commercial use.