This has been sitting in my queue for a while and I’m glad I’m finally getting to it! M-Net launched the African Film Library in late September. The site has a feature films, shorts, and documentaries from the last 50 years and is available at http://www.africanfilmlibrary.com. It’s in beta. Unfortunately I think I may still be reviewing it a bit too early.
You can browse the site by a variety of factors or you can search by keyword. When I browsed for everything alphabetically I got 12 pages of results that could hold nine listings at a time, so I would guess something over 100 films are available here.
I browsed the films by the highest rated. The first page included the films Camp De Thiaroye (“During WW2, a group of black soldiers fight on the side of France”), La Vie Sur Terre (“Sissako, a Mauritanian filmmaker living in France, returns to Sokolo, a small and remote village in Mali to visit his Father. The arrival of the 21st century is hardly noticed by these people, who are still struggling so hard to merely enter the 20th century”) and Nothing But the Truth (“An impassioned and compelling debut feature film from award winning South African actor and writer John Kani. This gripping story is a forthright indictment on the Truth and Reconciliation process in post-Apartheid South Africa, yet also serves as a poignant memoir of a fractured family trying to come to terms with the past and present.”)
Click on the title and you’ll get details about the film, including a synopsis, length, date it was produced, and language (most of the films I saw were not in English, of course, but every film I saw had at least English subtitles.) Each film I looked at also had material from the film either in the form of a trailer or just an excerpt.
And the material is very well done … it’s just enough to get you interested, darn it. I reviewed the trailer for a film called Ta Dona, directed by Mamadou Kaba. I had a bunch of questions after watching it (Why did the guy set the fire? Was the kid going to be okay?) but when I clicked the Rent button next to the detail page I got the following message: “Thank you for your interest in renting this film. The film rental service is not currently available but will be launching soon.” GAH!
The idea is that you’ll be able to buy credits with your credit card, then rent/stream the videos to your computer. I love the content here (I want to see Ta Dona! I want to watch Ouaga Saga!) and while of course there are some details lacking (how much, exactly, is it going to cost to watch a film?) I’m looking forward to African Film Library getting out of beta and launching its video rental service.