The first Africa Rising International Film Festival (Ariff) is underway in Johannesburg as part of the pre-event to the Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival – in honour of Nelson Mandela’s and Albertina Sisulu’s 100th birthdays.
The festival runs from 26 to 29 November and will treat audiences to a series of African and international film premieres and screenings; roundtable, panel discussions and masterclasses; along with a digital lab, where festival-goers will experience virtual-reality screenings and leisure over web series content.
Ariff opened at Ster-Kinekor in Newtown, Johannesburg with Kagiso Lediga’s much-lauded coming-of-age film Matwetwe. Alongside Kagiso, DJ Black Coffee makes his first transition into feature films as the flick’s co-producer.
Ndaba Mandela, Ariff’s chairman, says the festival is to demonstrate the talent that exists in the country and the continent. “Africa can compete on an international stage and this is just the beginning of what is to come in the future of African filmmaking,” he says.
Ariff’s executive producer, Kweku Mandela, says living up to Madiba’s legacy is impossible but Tata’s grandkids can do it one day at a time, by empowering young African youth to follow their dreams and do what they love.
Ayanda Sithebe, Ariff’s director, embarked on the journey to build the festival a few months ago and says many people said the idea wouldn’t work. “I had very little resources and not a whole lot of money but I had support, lots of it from volunteers and dedicated fellow young filmmakers, and momentum began to grow and then the Johannesburg community got involved. It reminded me of something [American novelist] James Baldwin said, ‘Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it’,” Ayanda said.
Executive producer Kweku Mandela
Matwetwe's director and producer Kagiso Lediga and actor Sdumo Mtshali enjoy a good laugh
Actress Renate Stuurman and boyfriend Vuyo Ngcukana
Actress Enhle Mbali Maphumulo attended the event with hubby DJ Black Coffee, who co-produced Matwetwe
Actor Lemogang Tsipa