Youth, migration, and documentary decolonisation

AFRICAN FILM: Don Edkins and Tiny Mugwe discuss the Generation Africa project.

Could one small step for African doc-makers lead to one giant leap in the decolonisation of nonfiction filmmaking itself? That seems to be the premise behind Generation Africa, «a documentary film project to produce a new narrative on migration through stories made by African filmmakers». Comprised of 25 films (of various running times) from 16 mainly West and East African countries, this cinematic brainchild of STEPS (Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) in South Africa is currently making its global mark through two extraordinary features.

Malian director Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou’s The Last Shelter (screening both CPH:DOX, winning its Dox:Award, and Hot Docs) is a rich glimpse inside the House of Migrants, a way station on the edge of the Sahel desert where hopeful travellers headed to Europe cross paths with those returning home lugging dashed dreams. Aïcha Macky’s (Visions du Réel and CPH:DOX-selected) Zinder – its title taken from Niger’s second-largest city from which the filmmaker herself hails – is an eye-opening dive into the lives of a group of lawless bodybuilders (raised to embrace a toxic masculinity perhaps best exemplified by naming themselves the Hitler gang).

To find out more about Generation Africa, from origin story to global distribution strategy, Modern Times Review reached out to STEPS. And via email from several time zones away, the project’s executive producer Don Edkins and producer Tiny Mungwe graciously gave us the scoop on this righteous Pan-African cause.

The Last Shelter, a film by Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou
The Last Shelter, a film by Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou

So how did Generation Africa come about?
Don Edkins and Tiny Mungwe: Africa has the largest demographic of youth in the world, with a median age of 18 years old. We wanted to create a project that would focus on issues affecting youth in Africa and help . . .

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Lauren Wissot
A US-based film critic and journalist, filmmaker and programmer.

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