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DOK.fest Turning a Spotlight on Issues of African Women

DOK.fest is an International Documentary Film Festival in Munich which takes place every year in the first week in May. This year it celebrates with 157 films from around the world the 32nd festival edition. Africa day is a special program dedicated to films from and about the African continent. In this interview, we speak to Barbara Off, Head of Dok.network Africa at the organisation.
  1. Why did your organisation decide to have a specific day just for the African continent.

    Credit: Dok.network Africa                              Panel Africaday 2016: YOUNG AFRICAN REALITIES! Should I stay or should I go?

That’s a very good question. Because we think that we still know too less about the African continent. And that it is urgently needed to tell stories of real people beyond shortlived headlines of the press. What do you know about Gabon or Angola? What else is there in the Congo than war and corruption? On the other hand also the perception of Europe in African countries is a stereotyped and false one: Europe is not the Eldorado which is often communicated.

  1. Africa Day has been at DOKfest for several years now. How has the reaction been?

Especially last year the reactions were very good. After the film screenings we had a great and lively panel discussion with the filmmakers and the audience. There was real exchange of different perspectives going on.

  1. Which audience do you target for this event?

Well, everybody is welcome really! Men and women, young and old. People from Munich and abroad, from African countries and Germany.

  1. You also do have some cooperations with other Film Festivals in some African Countries. Could you tell us a bit about them?

We have collaborations with the iREP International Documentary Film festival in Lagos, Nigeria. They were our first partner in 2013. They play every year end of March for four days. Then we have a cooperation with the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in Harare, Zimbabwe. Since this year we are also in cooperation with the ENCOUNTERS South African and International Documentary Film Festival in Capetown. We collaborate with these festivals on different levels. We exchange films, we advise on curating the documentary film section (Zimbabwe), we had festival staff doing internships at DOK.fest (from Zimbabwe and Nigeria); this year we did for the first time together with a German filmmaker a workshop for first time documentary filmmakers in scriptwriting and treatment development.

  1. What is the programme for this years Africa Day. Why should people attend?

This years program focuses on women’s perspectives in African societies. Under the motto “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE” we want to know more about the role of women. With three films we will explore the theme. First with FRUITLESS TREE / L’ARBRE SANS FRUIT by Aicha Macky from Niger. She is talking about childless mariages and what it means for a women not to be a mother in the muslim society in Niger. The Suisse filmmaker Heidi Specogna with her film CAHIER AFRICAIN also puts the women in the Central African Republic in the centre of her film. It’s them who suffer the most during violent conflict in unstable states like the CAR. And then there is MAMA COLONEL by Dieudo Hamadi. An hommage to a female police officer in Congo – Honorine Munyole – widow and mother of seven. She is recklessly fighting for the rights and the respect of women and children in the dysfunctional state of the Democratic Republic Congo.
After the three films we will be discussing the different issues which have been touched in the films but also beyond. I will be discussing with Heidi Specogna, Dieudo Hamadi, a filmmaker from Gabon Samantha Biffot and Porcia Mudavanhu from the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Credit:Barbara Off
Interviewee: Barbara Off is a freelance journalist, political scientist, tour guide, moderator and curator/ cultural manager in documentary film. She studied communication, social and political science at the University of Erfurt (BA) and international politics at the University of Aberystwyth (MScEcon) in Wales, UK.
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