There are a number of African film festivals in Europe, the United States, and (of course) on the African continent itself. But there is only one that lies almost exactly halfway in-between: the African Film Festival in Tarifa is taking place on the Spanish coast of the Strait of Gibraltar. The eighth edition of this festival runs from the 11th until the 19th of June, so check your calendar and don’t miss it!
The Tarifa Festival (Festival de Cine Africano de Tarifa–FCAT) will screen over a hundred African films this year and will bring together some of the most distinguished African artists. Though Tarifa lies on the Spanish side of the Strait of Gibraltar, the two continents are in fact only 14 kilometers (about nine miles) apart from one another. It is no wonder that the minarets of mosques in Tangiers, Morocco, are visible while strolling
on the beaches of Tarifa.
A Mirror Facing Africa
The FCAT spreads knowledge about African film production by exhibiting a representative variety of audiovisual African works from dozens of African countries. This year’s edition brings three competition categories (fictions, documentaries, and short films), three non-competitive categories (Open Screen, African Rhythm, and AnimAfrica) and a retrospective section dedicated to filmmaking by members of the African diaspora in the Latin America; a history of cinema in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Moroccan documentaries, and a special section focused on film and censorship in present day Tunisia and Egypt.
The Tarifa festival is not only a competitive African film festival in Spain, offering €48,500 in prize money through eight different awards, but it has also become one of the biggest and best-known film events of its kind both in and outside of Europe. In 2009, the internationally acclaimed Guinean filmmaker, Mama Keita, commented,“The FCAT is a mirror facing Africa.” Similarly, the highly celebrated and Cannes-awarded Malian-Mauritanian filmmaker, Abderrahmane Sissako, insisted on the importance of an African film festival like FCAT, hailing it as “a bridge that politicians never make.”
Not Just Another Film Event
The Tarifa Film Festival is everything but a one-dimensional film ghetto, where visitors spend days and nights closed in projection halls. Quite the contrary: throughout the festival week, African culture literally permeates the entire city. Apart from film projections, visitors can enjoy various workshops, public discussions, concerts, and expositions focused on African presence and history as well as music and art.
This year’s festival will also celebrate the fourth edition of the PhotoAfrica contest, whose purpose is to support and promote African photographers. This year’s theme is “The City and the Urban Space” and the best works will not only be introduced at the festival but will also be awarded three prizes of 1,500, 1,000, and 500 euros, respectively.
From the point of the film industry, FCAT serves as an increasingly important meeting point for African filmmakers, actors, and directors. The third-annual Africa Produce Forum gives them a chance to present their new film projects to Spanish film producers and television-commissioning editors and to find the much-needed co-producers for their movies. This year, the forum welcomes 10 African film directors who will be pitching their new film projects to Spanish producers, including the representatives of the Al Jazeera documentary channel.
The mixture of a film festival, multicultural event, discussion forum, and trade fair enables both ordinary visitors and film fans to connect with African filmmakers, European producers, and journalists in a friendly atmosphere, which is hard to experience anywhere else. Add the unique genius loci of Tarifa, which bridges the two continents, and you have a must-see film festival for every fan of Africa!
To watch trailers of films being shown at FCAT, check out our YouTube page.