Just a month ago, the Toronto Film Festival hosted one of its most successful and unique event in recent memory.
The well-attended event hosted Hollywood movies as well as featured movies made in Asia via a unique initiative called Asian Film Festival. For TIFF -- it's a catch up to what has been a phenomenal Asian film industry that continues to show popularity and growth worldwide.
TIFF hopes to capture the essence of Toronto's diversity in people and as "Toronto is uniquely placed to be a part of the conversation about that change because of our population, our audience here and how outward-looking we are."
With the new Asian initiative, TIFF hopes to offer financiers, actors, filmmakers and policy makers an international destination to partner and take advantage of an influential booming industry that shows promise.
As TIFF moves forward with its noble growth of a true international destination, I hope it will also recognize African filmmaking that is also emerging all over the world. The African Diaspora as well as Africans in Africa is increasingly captivated by their own movie making and it's slowly becoming just as popular as Hollywood films.
In Canada as well as in the United States, African filmmakers are bringing their stories to a large audience. For instance -- Wondwossen Dikran is collaborating with noted African and North American filmmakers to produce a movie about an America tourist who travels to Kenya in Mzungu.
Mzungu is an African term for white people is the title of a new movie that is on the works by a collaboration of African born filmmakers from North America.
Inspired by actual events, Mzungu (pronounced [muh-zun-gooo]) is about an American traveler's nightmarish vacation in Kenya after waking up from a night of hard partying to accusations of committing a grisly murder. In unexpected scenario, he is forced to see life from the perspective of a local Kenyan with all its shortcomings.
At its core, the movie touches on human relationships, a flawed system of justice, and the cultural boundaries that affect everyone who's ever traveled to a foreign country.
For Wondwossen Dikran, "It's a story that must be told...I knew after reading the script that I had to get involved because I had never seen or heard anything like it, and here came opportunity to be able to tell this unique story in an unfiltered and unmasked manner."
It's an ambitious story that will captivate and move African movie-making forward. It's an organic story told from an African perspective by ambitious movie makers.
The Mzungu movie, for instance, will not be made unless the producers come up with seed money to give it its foundation. That is the reality of most African moviemaking. For the movie to be a reality, it also needs the same support and guidance that was afforded to Asian filmmakers.
The team behind the film has turned to the crowd funding circuit via Kickstarter as a viable alternative to the traditional financing methods of the Hollywood studio system. Actor Matthew Lillard (The Descendants) and writer/director Paul Schrader (Auto Focus) showcased their projects online though Kickstarter.com and independently each raised over $150,000 from fan contributions.
African movies are no different than that of Asian. They need to be nurtured not out of petty but as an investment. African movies are rare. They are art, organic and a human experience that is rarely told especially from an African perspective.
Let us give it a foundation and celebrate it. It just might be a worthwhile investment.
TIFF, are you listening?