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Check out the African film offerings at the 66th Cannes Film Festival including 'Grigris' by Chadian director Mahamat Saleh Haroun and Tunisia's Abdellatif Kechiche


The 2013 Cannes Film Festival is almost upon us. Now in it's 66th year, the festival will run from 15 to 26 May, with Audrey Tatou hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and Steven Spielberg heading up the jury. Only a handful (or two) of African films have been selected for Cannes since its inception in 1946; and only twice have African directors taken big prizes. In 1975 Algerian director Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina took the Palme d'Or for his Chronicle of the Years of Fire and in 1987 Malian Souleymane Cissé won the festival's Jury Prize with Yeelen (Light). The best decade for African film at Cannes to date was the '90s. In 1991 three films were selected for Un Certain Regard; a year later, Hyenas, Djibril Diop Mambéty's 1992 riff on (loathed GCSE text) Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Visit, was in the main competition; and in 1999 Burkinabé director Idrissa Ouedraogo won the Grand Prix for Tilaï.

So far, this decade looks set to compete with that record (not that it's a particularly good record, but still). Last year one of our favourites, Moussa Touré's La Pirogue competed in Un Certain Regard alongside Nabil Ayouch's Horses of God and Ulrich Seidl who brilliantly took on the issue of white lady sex tourism in Kenya in Paradise Love. 2010 saw Rachid Bouchareb's and Mahamat Saleh Haroun's films screened as part of the Official Selection. In this year's predominantly Francophone selection, there just are two films by directors of African descent in the running for the festival's biggest prize.

Chadian filmmaker Mahamat Saleh Haroun won hearts, minds and a Grand Jury Prize with his quiet and wrenching Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man) in 2010. Like A Separation director, Asghar Farhadi, Haroun too returns to Cannes this year as an Official Selection, and there are high hopes for his  sixth feature Grigris. The French-Arabic-language film tells the story of 25 year old Grigris who wants to be a professional dancer. His paralyzed leg is no obstacle to his dreams, but his uncle falls ill, and in an effort to save him Grigris gets into petrol trafficking.  The title role is played by newcomer Souleymane Démé who stars alongside model Anaïs Monory and familiar-faces Cyril Gueï (Hitman) and Youssof Djaoro (A Screaming Man). Note that Grigris has both French and Chadian financial support; after years of neglect, General Idriss Déby and his government took notice of Haroun after his success at Cannes. Not only did the Chadian government partly finance his latest film, it's also building a film school, and the city’s long-derelict cinema is open for business. It's good news, but also a reminder of whose recognition counts when it comes to convincing governments to fund the arts.

Abdellatif Kechiche's La Vie d'Adele (Blue is the Warmest Colour) runs at just over 3 hours. It's  another long one from the director who a few years ago raised hackles with Black Venus (2010) a retelling of the life of Saartjie Baartman, the KhoiKhoi woman exhibited in 19th century Europe as an exotic 'Specimen' under the name "Hottentot Venus."  This the Tunisian director's fifth feature film, and by the sounds of the blurb we can expect his trademark focus on characters on society's edges and long, sonorous takes which magnify even small gestures. The film is adapted from a graphic novel in which Jocelyne (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a 15 year old who dates boys until it turns out that she might like girls, particularly the blue-haired Emma, played by up and coming French actress Lea Seydoux.

Closing the festival is Zulu, the first English-language effort by French director Jérôme Salle. Apparently Salle's film is quite different in theme and tone from Michael Caine's 'classic' of the same name. Set in apartheid South Africa, Salle's film is adapted from a novel by award-winning crime-fiction writer Caryl Férey. Shot on location in South Africa, with UK, SA and French backing, the film stars Orlando Bloom and Forrest Whitaker (the Oscar-winner was deeply changed by his time in Uganda btw) as cops brought together across the racial divide to solve a series of crimes. Sounds a bit 'rainbow nation', but we'll have to wait and see.

African Film At Cannes 2013

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Watch the Music Video for Rema's New Single 'Beamer (Bad Boys)'

The buzzing Nigerian artists shares a catchy new banger.

Buzzing Nigerian artist Rema shares his first single and music video of the year "Beamer (Bad Boys)."

The track is the first single since the release of his 2019 EP Bad Commando. Produced by Rvssianm, the song features a sultry, drum-heavy beat and a catchy hook in which a chorus of female voices sing of their love for "bad boys."

The steely music video features several love interests and flashy cars as Rema moves through the city on an undisclosed mission. The video features crisp, scenic shots directed by Fxrbes.

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The ornate gilded copper headgear, which features images of Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles, was unearthed after refugee-turned-Dutch-citizen Sirak Asfaw contacted Dutch 'art detective' Arthur Brand. (Photo by Jan HENNOP/AFP) (Photo by JAN HENNOP/AFP via Getty Images)

A Stolen 18th Century Ethiopian Crown Has Been Returned from The Netherlands

The crown had been hidden in a Dutch apartment for 20 years.

In one of the latest developments around art repatriation, a stolen 18th century Ethiopian crown that was discovered decades ago in the Netherlands, has been sent back home.

Sirak Asfaw, an Ethiopian who fled to The Netherlands in the '70s, first found the relic in the suitcase of a visitor in 1998, reports BBC Africa. He reportedly protected the item for two decades, before informing Dutch "art crime investigator" Arthur Brand and authorities about his discovery last year.

The crown is one of only 20 in existence and features intricate Biblical depictions of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. Historians believe it was given to the church by the warlord Welde Sellase several centuries ago.

Read: Bringing African Artifacts Home

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Passes Away

The former Egyptian president, who was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring Uprising, was aged 91.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak passed away yesterday according to reports by the BBC.

The former statesman's death comes barely a year after his successor and Egypt's first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi, suffered a fatal heart attack.

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Moonchild Sanelly. Image courtesy of the artist.

Emerging Artists: Submit to Be a Part of MIDEM Talent Exporter

The new program will select a group of 22 artists from across the world through an open call for entries.

MIDEM, the music world's leading conference and trade fair that takes place in Cannes, France, has announced their new accelerator program for emerging artists across the globe.

The MIDEM Talent Exporter will select a group of 22 artists from across the world through an open call for entries.

"This live matchmaking format will shine a light on the most promising export-ready talent," a message from MIDEM explains, "and connect them with today's finest international talent buyers, including agents, promoters, festivals, media, PR, curators, music editors and A&R. They will also gain access to 10 music supervisors with the specific objective of building concrete business partnerships."

MIDEM Talent Exporter is born out of the Midem Artist Accelerator, a talent discovery and mentorship program that OkayAfrica has had the opportunity to be a part of. In the past artists like AKA, Bez, Moonchild Sanelly, Tshego, La Dame Blanche, Kyan, and other have been part of the program.

As MIDEM explains, the program gives artists the opportunity to "meet international business partners, be scouted by international festival bookers, find an international booking agent, find local promoters, find local PRs, get your music placed in film, TV, gaming, sign publishing and/or sub-publishing deal(s), sign recording deal(s), integrate music playlists, be spotted and highlighted by international media & journalist," and more.

Emerging artists can submit now for MIDEM Talent Exporter 2020.

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