Interview with Viva Riva! director Djo Munga and actor Hoji Fortuna

July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment


Director Djo Munga takes questions after the AFI screening

It’s a delicate dance that some new African film directors have to do when aiming for worldwide success with their films. By success I speak in terms of both critical acclaim and sales. This issue came to my mind when I attended a special screening of the Congolese movie Viva Riva! at the AFI theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland early last month. The movie opened in New York and LA on June 10th, and in the UK and DC on June 24th. It has already won a number of awards, most recently an MTV Movie Award for Best African Film. It trounced the competition at the African Movie Awards – it took 6 – and won Angolan actor Hoji Fortuna a best supporting actor award for his role as Angolan gangster Cesar in the film. Viva Riva! also won best feature Film at the 2011 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was during the question and answer session at the AFI with the film’s director Djo Munga that a woman in the audience took issue with the film’s scenes of sex and violence, that she felt would serve to reinforce stereotypical images of Africa.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Viva Riva! Congolese MTV Movie Award Winner at AFI Silver June 7!

June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Director Djo Munga at the British Film Institute in March

Congolese Director Djo Munga was talking excitedly about his film when I saw him at an event at the British Film Institute in London. He must be bursting with pride now that his first feature film – and reportedly the first from the Congo in decades – Viva Riva! has garnered another award to add to its growing list: Best African Film at the MTV Movie Awards. If you live in the DC area you can get a chance to see it tonight at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland. The show starts at 7:30pm and the director will be in attendance, with a question and answer session afterwards.

The movie is a thrilling African crime drama set in Kinshasa, revolving around a fuel shortage that’s threatening to cripple the Congolese capital. Small time operator Riva comes in to take full advantage of this, getting embroiled in conflicts with an Angolan crime boss, a local gangster and his seductive girlfriend, all set to the rhythm of the vibrant, shadowy, gritty streets of Kinshasa. Viva Riva! won Best Feature Film at the 2011 Pan-African Film Festival, and ran off with 6 2011 African Movie Awards. The film is in French and Lingala with English subtitles. The movie opens in London on June 24, with a pre-launch opening night party at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. It opens in New York and LA June 10th. You can check out the trailer below. Bless…

Namibian Feature Film Selected for FESPACO and LA’s Panafrican Film Festival

February 19, 2011 § 5 Comments

Joel Haikali, Director of "My Father's Son"

Joel Haikali, Namibian actor and director, already scored a first for his nation when his film My Father’s Son became the first Namibian film to get a distribution deal. Joel was last seen onscreen with Danny Glover and Carl Lumbly in Charles Burnett‘s epic film Namibia, in which he played the young Sam Nujoma. Now he’s on the brink of his own success as a director, with his feature one of many new African films in competition at the Pan African Film Festival – or FESPACO – that kicks off in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso February 26, and runs until March 5. My Father’s Son was also an official selection of the 2011 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, one of the biggest film festivals in the world. FESPACO is Africa’s largest film festival, and occurs every two years. It tells the story of two brothers, one living in a village and another living the city life in the capital Windhoek, who returns with his “colored” wife after 21 years to “rescue” his « Read the rest of this entry »

A New Movement in Black Cinema

January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

Ava DuVernay, founder of AFFRM (Photo: Mariemaye)

It’s called AFFRM, and it stands for African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement. Started in 2011 by filmmaker and publicist Ava DuVernay (My Mic Sounds Nice), it is an attempt to bring black-themed movies to a wider viewing audience by releasing them in cities where the most popular African-American film festivals are already experiencing growing success. DuVernay’s wish is to expand theatrical distribution for black film using social media, email, and other grassroots distribution networks. In keeping with their dedication to quality, alternative independent films, the first one out the box from AFFRM is I Will Follow, a film written and directed by Ava DuVernay herself, which is scheduled for release on March 11, 2011. It will benefit from what AFFRM calls “a high-profile collaboration of the nation’s finest black film festivals.” Those festivals are LA’s Pan-African Film Festival,   « Read the rest of this entry »

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