Image via FCAT's Flickr

​Here Are the '10 Best African Films of All Time,' According to Top International Critics

The list includes classic selections from Senegal, Chad, Mauritania, Ethiopia and Mali.

The 15th annual Tarifa-Tangiers African Film Festival (FCAT) wrapped this past weekend in Tarifa, Spain. The festival is dedicated to promoting and "subtitling the most relevant cinema productions" from the continent.

This year, the organization has added to its repertoire by commissioning a group of 10 well-respected critics and authorities on film to vote on, what they believe, are the best African films in the history of cinema. The organization calls the list "the first classification based on expert opinions of a cinematography which has gradually gained a foothold in Spain in recent years."

The film critics who created the list come from a number of backgrounds and countries and include journalists, directors, professors and more. You can see the full list of contributors below.

Their choices include selections from across the continent, with a notable number coming from Senegal and Mauritania. The titles include works from celebrated filmmakers Ousmane Sembéne, The Father of African Cinema; Med Hondo, Djibril Diop Mambéty and more.

These 10 films provide a crash-course on African cinema and are certainly worth diving into, if you haven't already.

Check out their choices below, beginning with Touki Bouki, the classic Senegalese film that's inspired everyone from bright-eyed filmmakers to Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

1. Touki Bouki by Djibril Diop Mambéty (Senegal, 1973)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

2. Yeelen by Souleymane Cissé (Mali, 1987)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

3. La noire de…by Ousmane Sembène (Senegal, 1966)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

4. Teza by Haile Gerima (Ethiopia, 2008)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

5. Daratt (Dry Season) by Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Chad, 2006)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

6. Hyènes by Djibril Diop Mambéty (Senegal, 1992)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

7. La Vie sur terre (Life on Earth) by Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritania, 1998)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

8. Sarraounia by Med Hondo (Mauritania, 1986)

Image via FCAT's Flickr

9. Soleil Ô by Med Hondo (Mauritania, 1967)

IImage via FCAT's Flickr

10. Xala by Ousmane Sembène (Senegal, 1975)

Image via FCAT's Flickr


Contributing critics:

  1. Manu Yáñez (Spain) | Film critic at Fotogramas
  2. Javier H. Estrada (Spain) | Critic at Caimán Cuadernos de Cine. Programmer at Seville European Film Festival and Film Madrid.
  3. Beatriz Leal (Spain)| Art historian and film critic. Programmer at New York African Film Festival and university professor.
  4. Djia Mambu (Congo-Belgium) | Film critic and co-founder of the magazine specialising in African film criticism Awotele
  5. Olivier Barlet (France) | Film critic at Africultures, a portal specialising in contemporary African culture, author of numerous books on African cinema and programmer at Apt African Film Festival, France.
  6. Samir Ardjoum (Algeria) | Film critic for several Algerian and international media outlets specialising in African cinema. Programmer at Béjaïa Film Encounters (Algeria).
  7. Aboubacar Demba Cissokho (Senegal) | Film critic at the Senegalese Press Agency (APS)
  8. Leonardo de Franceschi (Italy) | Director and critic at Cinemafrica portal and professor at Rome 3 University. He has published several books on African cinema.
  9. Thierno Ibrahima Dia (Senegal) | Editor in chief and critic at the Africiné portal for African cinema. He is professor of Film Studies at Bordeaux Montaigne University.
  10. Luísa Freitas (Angola) | Film critic at Awotele magazine
Still from 'Road to Yesterday'

Kayode Kasum’s Quarantine Watchlist

From 'Wives on Strike' to 'Goodwill Hunting' here's what the Nigerian filmmaker is watching while stuck at home in Lagos.

Kayode Kasum, like most filmmakers, has been stagnated by the coronavirus pandemic. The director behind the blockbuster Sugar Rush and the critically acclaimed Oga Bolaji was working on the post-production of his upcoming movies, The Fate of Alakada: Party Planner and Kambili—a collaboration between FilmOne Entertainment and Chinese Huahua Media— when the Nigerian government announced the lockdown order.

While post-production on Alakada has concluded, the stay-at-home orders have delayed work on Kambili. "Since the team cannot meet at a single point, we are moving hard drives left and right," he says to me over the phone from his home in Lagos. "It is a challenge, but the beautiful thing about a challenge is, when you make it work, it is fulfilling."

Still from 'Kambili'

Kasum has turned to books and films for an escape from the unpleasant realities of the pandemic. "I have been reading Elnathan's books: Born on a Tuesday and Becoming Nigeria," he tells me. "I have also been reading film directing books, Directing Actors by Judith Weston." However, Kasum longs for the movies. "I miss going to the cinemas; I miss that experience," he says. "There are times during this pandemic that I'm like 'na wa o, I wish I can go to the cinema.'"

Below are five films he recommends you watch during this pandemic.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Listen to Mr Eazi's New Song 'I No Go Give Up On You'

The Nigerian artist also recently announced an upcoming EP.