African Films That Made It to the 2023 Oscars
In 2015, the Oscars were criticized for not having enough people of color in any of the four acting categories. There were only nominations for white actors, which led to the Twitter campaign #OscarsSoWhite. For the second year in a row, all 20 acting nominations in 2016 went to white actors. Again, there were a lot of #OscarsSoWhite posts on social media that were critical of the Academy Awards for not being inclusive enough.It started up again in 2020, when Cynthia Erivo, who played Harriet Tubman in the movie “Harriet,” was the only person of color nominated for an acting award.
According to an article published by BBC, The race problem at the Oscars was all of a sudden on the front page of newspapers around the world. It was also talked about on TV, and well-known black filmmakers like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith decided not to attend. The Academy went into crisis mode, called an emergency meeting, and set an ambitious goal to double the number of women and people of color in its membership by 2020. Since then, there has been some progress. In fact, ABC10’s Eric Escalante stated that the buzzword for the 2022 Oscars is diversity.
In this article, you will be introduced to the 8 African films that made it to the Oscar 2023. According to Amplify Africa (2023), these eight African films made it through the selection and submission processes and are competing to represent Africa this season. The final five nominees, along with the other categories, will be revealed on January 24th, 2023.
Our Brothers (Algeria)
Rachid Bouchareb, a three-time Oscar nominee (all in the category of foreign film), continues with Our Brothers, his career-long investigation of the legacy of French colonialism in Algeria. The crime thriller, based on true events from December 1986, depicts the difficulties faced by a police inspector as he attempts to investigate a drunken officer’s murder of a French-Algerian student on the same night that students are protesting for higher education reforms.
The Planter’s Plantation (Cameroon)
Nigerian superstar Nkem Owoh appears as a supporting character in Dingha Young Eystein’s musical drama The Planter’s Plantation. The film, set in the 1960s, follows the struggles of Enanga (Nimo Loveline), a strong young woman who fights valiantly to protect a plantation left to her late father by a departing colonial official. The film is marketed as a look at neo-colonization in the region.
In a fictitious Nairobi city, a group of African superheroes band together to stop an ancient wizard from destroying the planet with a powerful artifact. TeraStorm, a computer-animated science fiction film directed by Kenyan filmmaker Andrew Kaggia, was a risk.
The Blue Caftan (Morocco)
The Blue Caftan, directed by Maryam Touzani and premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, is the film on this list that is expected to advance the most. The Blue Caftan mocks a topic that is still taboo in many conservative communities, and it questions the boundaries of honor and covert obsessions while balancing them against the essential desire for independence and sexual emancipation.
Veteran director Moussa Sène Absa is in fine form with this vibrant, richly detailed drama about a 15-year-old student and her twin brother who dream of a better life in Europe. Xalé is a visually stunning and exquisitely stylized story that blends narrative traditions and styles ranging from regional folklore to traditional musicals and Western-inspired soap operas.
Tug of War (Tanzania)
A captivating historical romance set in colonial Zanzibar from the 1950s. Tug of War, directed by Amil Shivji, is based on Shafi Adam Shafi’s award-winning novel of the same name, written by a prominent figure in Swahili literature.
Under the Fig Trees (Tunisia)
In Erige Sehiri’s brilliant debut feature film, the world is reduced to a single summer day for a group of fig harvesters working on the side in an orchard whose dishonest management wants to take advantage of them.
Tembele, an award-winning drama directed by Morris Mugisha about the title character, a garbage collector played by Patriq Nkakalukanyi, is Uganda’s first Oscar submission. Tembele is a mentally ill garbage man who begins to lose touch with reality after his young son dies. The film examines how the tragedy affects Tembele and those around him. Tembele “suggests that it is OK for a man to cry and that vulnerability is not a crime, especially when you’re grieving,” according to filmmaker Mugisha.