Out of the 500 top-grossing films just six are set in Africa, but none are about Africans. Two are cartoons from Disney and Dreamworks – The Lion King and Madagascar. Then there’s The Prince of Egypt, about Moses, two Mummy films, and Black Hawk Down, about an American army raid in Mogadishu. Apart from there being a few lions and lemurs about, you wouldn’t learn much about Africa from any of them.
The experience of a person in an African village or township doesn’t figure high in filmmakers’ priorities. It’s not just Africa that misses out. The four top-grossing films set in South and Central America are one Indiana Jones adventure and three trips with Pirates of the Caribbean. You get the picture – we don’t actually get pictures which are about the place.
One of the best at The Native Spirit Festival was a conventionally unclassifiable short, Native New Yorker, about a Native American following an old trail to a burial ground. Its opening brilliantly captures the energy and hubris of the transformation before we see the twin towers of the World Trade Center on fire. In 13 minutes it brilliantly encapsulates aeons. It ought to be – but hasn’t been – widely seen. (www.nativenewyorkerfilm.com)
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