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Representing Africa in the UK: Programming the Africa in Motion Film Festival


African cinema has, historically and contemporarily, been hugely marginalized in film distribution and exhibition all over the world, while the productivity and innovations in filmmaking from Africa are multiple, diverse, and exemplary. In this article, I discuss the challenges and opportunities in programming the annual Africa in Motion (AiM) film festival, based in Scotland. Africa in Motion was conceived as an initiative to overcome the underrepresentation of African film, particularly in British film-going culture. The main rationale behind the festival is a strong belief in the importance of creating access to African cinema and providing opportunities for African filmmakers to exhibit their work in the UK. The curatorial approach to programming Africa in Motion emphasizes the diversity of filmmaking practices on the continent and the festival positions itself first and foremost as an arts festival, celebrating creativity, innovation, and artistic excellence. Despite the enormous challenges, economic and otherwise, that African filmmakers face, African directors are increasingly taking on the challenge of rewriting history and recovering neglected and repressed stories and they are doing this with an artistic skill and creative vision on par with the greatest films from anywhere in the world. Africa in Motion represents these hugely significant contributions of African filmmakers to world cinema and makes these films available to British audiences.

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