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African cinema is one of the themes for this year’s Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy. The selection of African films were chosen in collaboration with Think Africa, Ubuntu Film Club, various embassies and National Audiovisual Institute.


African contemporary cinema is one of the key themes of the 34th Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy. African Express, a selection of films from different African countries, aims to introduce filmmakers around the continent and showcase the diversity in stories and human experiences.

African Express selection is organised in collaboration with Think Africa, Ubuntu Film Club, the embassies of Morocco and Tunisia as well as the National Audiovisual Institute. Think Africa is a non-profit NGO that aims at strengthening the African community living in Finland and enhancing co-operation between Finland and African countries. Ubuntu Film Club is a collective from Helsinki that organises monthly film screenings and panel discussions.

In addition to the African Express selection, a joint discussion will be organised during the film festival. The National Audiovisual Institute adds historical depth to the selection by bringing two African cinema milestones to the public. After the festival, the history of African cinema is in focus in the Autumn programme of Kino Regina.

”We think it’s extremely important to bring attention to African countries and films, as they have been overshadowed due to the modest resources of the local film industry. The term ‘African Cinema’ is based on geography, but the continent encompasses a vast array of different cultures and traditions. This rich diversity is what we want to address with the African Express selection”, comments Artistic Director of the Helsinki International Film Festival, Pekka Lanerva.

“For generations, the only story for Africa has been one of despair. At Think Africa, we neither wish to pretend that Africa’s many serious problems should be played down or ignored nor encourage the promotion of only positive images. However, we believe that Africans should be able to tell their stories. We need to diversify the larger narrative about African countries and African people”, comments Think Africa’s Chairperson, Myriam Munezero.

“This selection, in particular, means a lot to us. It’s like homecoming through the screen to us and to many others that are part of the African Diaspora in Finland. It’s empowering to see African stories told by Africans. Stories about people like us, about humanity, care and love”, comment Ubuntu Film Club’s founders, Fiona Musanga, Rewina Teklai and Alice Mutoni.


African Express selection includes the following films:


NIGHT OF THE KINGS (Côte d’Ivoire/France/Canada/Senegal, 2020), director Philippe Lacôte

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN (Tunisia/France/Germany/Sweden/Belgium, 2020), dir. Kaouther Ben Hania

BLACK GIRL / LA NOIRE DE… (Senegal, 1966), dir. Ousmane Sembène

CAIRO STATION (Egypt, 1958), dir. Youssef Chahine

CAPTAINS OF ZAATARI (Egypt, 2021), dir. Ali El Arabi

HONEY CIGAR (Algeria/France, 2020), dir. Kamir Aïnouz

NARCISSUS (Tunisia), dir. Sonia Chamkhi

ROCK THE CASBAH (Morocco, 2013), dir. Laila Marrakchi

SOFTIE (Kenya, 2020), dir. Sam Soko

SOUAD (Egypt/Tunisia/Germany, 2021), dir. Ayten Amin

THE LAST SHELTER (Mali/France/South Africa, 2021), dir. Ousmane Samassekou

In addition to the African Express selection, African Express – Short Station selection will highlight African short films during the festival. Among others, the selection will include award-winning shorts by Sofia Alaoui and Sameh Alaa.


The 34th Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy will take place from September 16 to 27, 2021. The programme will be announced on September 2. Serial cards on sale on September 2, single tickets on sale on September 9.