"The Bride" (2023), Directed and written by Myriam U. Birara

AfryKamera 2023 Showcases the Strength of African Women Editor’s pick: Five Films That Define the Essence of African Cinema.

AfryKamera (12.-17.12.2023) serves as a tribute to African cinema, pioneering as the first film festival in Central and Eastern Europe exclusively dedicated to the culture of the African continent, influencing the Polish festival landscape since 2006. The festival fosters intercultural artistic dialogue, incorporating music, debates, workshops, and presentations alongside its film selection to amplify the voices of African creators. Since 2006, it has been a prominent fixture in the Polish festival landscape, nurturing an often overlooked relationship between Africa and Poland through film and fostering a meaningful dialogue between the two regions. As it celebrates its 18th edition with a focus on the theme of WOMAN, we recognize five films that encapsulate the bold identity of the continent.


dir. Safi Faye

Safi Faye, affectionately known as the Mother of African cinema, blazed a cinematic trail in the early post-independence era of African countries in the 1960s. As the first African woman to helm a commercially distributed film, she now takes the spotlight as the festival opener, headlining the ‘One&Only: Safi Faye’ section in harmony with the festival’s theme. In the wake of her departure in February 2023, Faye found her final curtain call in the quaint embrace of her hometown, Fadial, the very hamlet that would steal the show in her second feature film, “Fad’Jal” (1979). A film, which premiered at Cannes in 1979, is screened on the festival’s second day and unfolds as a love letter to a village in southern Senegal—a place, where griots impart profound wisdom on the children, juggling the dual education of French history in formal classrooms. 

“The Archive: Queer Nigerians”

dir. Simisolaoluwa Akande

Closing the curtain on the festival, the final day showcases the Polish premiere of “The Archive: Queer Nigerians,” a film that not only graced the Official Selection at the BFI London Film Festival 2023 but also strutted away with the crown in the Short Film Competition. Lens by Simisolaoluwa Akande, currently residing in the UK, the documentary spotlights five queer Nigerians carving out lives in the UK and weaving through the universal themes of family, love, and self-discovery within the intersections of blackness, African-ness, and queerness—ensuring they are not forgotten, just as queer history remains absent from the Nigerian narrative. The film debuts in the ‘Beyond Nollywood’ section, showcasing cinema that captures a fresh film language emerging from Nigeria, challenging the traditional and commercial norms of Nollywood.

“Blessed by Sunlight”

dir. Sebastian Krolak

Sebastian Krolak, an accomplished director and cinematographer based in London, presents “Blessed by Sunglight” in the section dedicated to the work of Polish filmmakers. With a goal to raise awareness and engage a global audience, Krolak collaborated with the Youth Film Platform Africa in March 2020, conducting cinematography workshops for film students in Kenya. For his 14-minute short film, originating in Kenya and the United Kingdom, he provides a poignant exploration of Jua’s life, a girl with albinism in Tanzania, who faces the unjust label of the ‘white devil,’ blamed for bringing affliction and condemned to a life marked by misunderstanding and violence. Karolak’s directorial approach delicately unveils a compelling story that transcends borders, shedding light on societal prejudices and showcasing the resilience of the human spirit. The film has earned recognition at events like the Bengaluru International Film Festival and the Aesthetica Film Festival.

“The Bride”

dir. Myriam U. Birara

Another Polish premiere comes from Rwanda, courtesy of Myriam U. Birara, an award-winning filmmaker recognized for her debut film “Imuhura” at the Locarno Film Festival, earning the Medien Patent Verwaltung AG Award. At Afrykamera, she showcases her feature-length debut, already acknowledged at major festivals like Berlin and Las Palmas. “The Bride” unfolds Eve’s story in Rwandan hills, where her dream of university and becoming a doctor takes an unexpected turn with her abduction by Silas, her family’s chosen future husband. Despite initial resistance, Eve adapts to her new reality and forges an unlikely friendship with Silas’ cousin, who reveals the tragic fate of her family. Myriam U. Birara skillfully portrays Eve’s quest for independence in a subtly powerful film, shedding light on the struggle against traditional norms in a small Rwandan community. The unhurried narrative invites reflection on resilience and the unexpected paths to self-determination. 

“Spektrum Boko Haram”

dir. Cyrielle Raingou

Since 2014, Boko Haram has been targeting villages and people in Cameroon’s Far North Region. Cyrielle Raingou, a celebrated filmmaker native to the region, invites viewers to delve into the poignant contrasts of a war zone: hope and despair, innocence and terrorism. Raingou subtly observes and follows those impacted by the extremist organization—individuals whose parents have fallen victim to terrorists, women who have lost their husbands, and young boys who have escaped the Boko Haram camp. This unfolds in the village of Kolofata in the far north of the country, where lives navigate the perils of armed conflict. Approaching the subject with subtle observation, Raingou lets them shape the narrative through their own words, movements, and perspectives.

About The Author


Freelance editor and producer, currently based between India and Poland. In 2021, she completed a master's degree in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths University, where she was awarded a distinction for her research on the issues of racism and identity in post-Soviet countries. Her portfolio includes the production of a biannual magazine, CLOAKROOM, among others.

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