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African Film Festival in Tarifa

Africa on the big screen. Every spring Tarifa plays host to a rare and unique film festival which offers a window onto the cinema of the African continent across the Straits of Gibraltar. “A miracle of the gods,” according to the Sevillan director Benito Zambrano.


By:  José Lorenzo Benítez
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African Film Festival
2011 programme
Birth: 2004
Founded by: Asociación Al-Tarab
Ubicación: Tarifa (Cadiz)
Stands out for: helping discover a new kind of cinema
Did you know? the festival collaborates with Intermón Oxfam

If you are born in Africa and want to make films you have a difficult journey ahead of you. Showing these films in Europe is usually nothing more than a pipe dream. “We are aware of the fact that this is both difficult and different to create an African film festival. The language is more complicated and people here are also not used to watching films with subtitles. But in the end it is a learning experience for everyone”, explains Mane Cisneros, director of the African Film Festival in Tarifa (FCAT). Little by little, the local audience is getting used to this different style of cinema that is made on a continent only 14 kilometres away. “Many people from outside Tarifa come to the screenings but the locals are a little more wary.”

Tarifa lies on the natural frontier of Europe with Africa and is characterised by strong winds, sand dunes and its surfer-travellers. Residents, film buffs and professionals mingle in the old town and inside the movie theatres to watch dozens of films including fiction, documentaries, shorts and animations. There are also photographic competitions (PhotoAfrica), exhibitions, concerts, workshops and educational screenings (more than 2000 children taking part in 2011). Alongside festivals held in Tenerife and Mexico City, the FCAT is one of the few festivals in the world that specialises in films from Africa and is a unique opportunity for filmmakers from the area. “This festival is ensuring that Tarifa is getting known for something more than water sports,” highlights Cisneros.

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Al-Tarab founded the festival in 2004 with a clear objective in mind: “to promote African cinema amongst Spanish speakers to ensure mutual understanding as a means of development for both Africa and Spain”. For Cisneros, cinema is not just a gateway to another continent, but a fundamental player. For this reason, the industry events grow in importance year by year.

Cine Nómada has grown out of a desire to allow the festival programme to be seen in other locations throughout Spain once the celebrations come to a close in Tarifa. FCAT collaborates closely with festivals such as the L’Alternativa Independent Film Festival in Barcelona and Cines del Sur in Granada, and institutions such as the Spanish Embassy and Casa África in order to promote the African cinema industry. The festival also has a practical objective: to promote Spanish-African co-productions. “We hope to transform Tarifa into a meeting point for professionals in the industry,” concludes Cisneros.

African cinematography also involves certain risks, as the team at FCAT know this only too well. Obtaining the films and organising the festival each year is a risky adventure. But when the lights are turned down and the show begins, spectators are transported from their seats into the reality of Africa. Only this time, told by Africans themselves.

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6 comments

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El 25 May 2009 a las 12:51 PM, lourdes y Juan dijo...

¿Cómo se podria traer algunas de esas pelicula a pueblos que no tienen cine y que una vez al mes se proyecta alguna pelicula en el auditorio?.
Si me decis el procedimiento se lo expondré a la de cultura del Ayto de Rota, que seguro lo intentara. Gracias


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El 26 May 2009 a las 4:11 PM, Lorenzo dijo...

Lourdes, Juan…Es cuestión de contactar con Mane Cisneros, la directora. Seguro que os puede facilitar la manera de hacerlo, a título particular o con la ayuda de la Diputación Provincial, que también colabora con el FCAT. Un abrazo.


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El 10 June 2011 a las 8:58 AM, Marta dijo...

Ole por este festival, me parece imprescindible, lo es cuando mucho antes de que la televisión se ocupara de ellos nuestros vecinos ya eran perseguidos por la guardia civil por las playas gaditanas y nadie lo sabía y los vecinos los escondían en sus casas.


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El 12 December 2011 a las 9:01 PM, Fernanda Lopez dijo...

Cine africano es algo que me fascina, por eso quisiera ver peliculas que estuvieron en el festival, qué gusto que diferentes culturas ya hayan empezado a intercambiar de contenido.



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