Hyde Park Picture House has worked in collaboration with Watershed, Black Cinema Project and Ajabu Ajabu to develop and tour an exciting film programme, a focus on five women’s stories from Morocco, Cuba, Venezuela, Angola and Tanzania.
Curatorial collaborators Mosa Mpetha (Black Cinema Project, Hyde Park Picture House), Darragh Amelia and Jesse Gerard (Ajabu Ajabu) presented five recently digitised or restored works from the Global South that are written by and about women in Cinema Rediscovered Film Festival July 2022. Surrounding each film from this selection existed a uniquely challenging story of ownership and distribution, opening up discussion around the imbalance of power within film cultures perpetuated globally and locally. The strand includes Sambizanga the first film by a woman to be restored by the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the FEPACI and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – presented in person at Cinema Rediscovered by Annouchka De Andrade, daughter of director Sarah Maldoror.
All Titles include: Door to the Sky (Morocco, 1989), De Cierta Manera (Cuba, 1974-77), Araya (Venezuela, 1959), Maangazimi: The Ancient One (Tanzania, 2001) and from Angola Sambizanga (1971).
Launching at this year’s festival – the package of films is available to book for cinemas and festivals across the UK from August 2022 to January 2023 with support from BFI awarding funds from The National Lottery and MUBI.
Hyde Park Picture House screened Araya in the City Varieties on 1 November 2022, and A Door to the Sky is showing on 29 November 2022.
We have an interview between Robb Barham (HPPH Operations & Programme Manager) and Mosa Mpetha (HPPH Creative Engagement Officer) about the curational process for this programme.
Robb: So, tell me how this strand came about, how you were invited to participate in Cinema Rediscovered, and how you built the strand together with the people that you were collaborating with.
Mosa: The strand came together through several separate streams of work, and it ended up being much bigger and better than I initially anticipated.
It started with the film Sambizanga; my friend Samra Mayanja and I created Black Cinema Project together a couple of years ago, and we were really obsessed with this film because it was the first film that we showed to our group. On researching the film we came to learn it had a particularly interesting backstory due to the fact that the filmmaker and her daughters were trying to reacquire the rights to get it taken off youtube where a shoddy version was available, and they were trying to get the rights back so they could restore it. They basically wanted people to see it in its full glory. But the producer of the film had sold the rights to a French distributor in a 50 year contract, and the French distributor wasn’t doing anything with the film.
So it really sparked our interest and when we were researching this, we started to wonder about the politics behind film rights and restitution in the film industry. What are the circumstances that allow a film to become locked away in individual, any individuals basement, uncared for and unseen? So we were particularly interested in this story and followed its journey. Unfortunately, the filmmaker, Sarah Maldoror died in 2020, after which her daughters continued on trying to get the film back. Eventually they did, largely because they got support from Scorsese’s Film Foundation and a wider funded project – the African Film Heritage Project.
They managed to get the rights back in order to restore the film which was screened in Bologna in 2021, and it was just a really exciting moment. So essentially, we knew this film had to be seen and appreciated by lots of people, on multiple big screens, and to be treated with the respect it deserves.
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