Annual Salaam Kivu International Film Festival (SKIFF) takes on its 9th edition

Guest Blog by Gaius Kowene and Timo Mueller

The 9th edition of the Salaam Kivu International Film Festival (SKIFF) will take place in Goma, in the east of Congo from 4-13 July. SKIFF is a 10-day festival that regularly brings together over 14,000 people from around the globe. Through workshops, community discussions, film screenings and debates SKIFF provides an opportunity for the communities of the Great Lakes Region to come together in dialogue.

According to Roger Tumbula, cultural councillor of North Kivu’s provincial government, “the fact of having united artists from the sub-region – DRC, Rwanda, Burundi – and the international level in this film festival over ten days is a marvellous sign against existing prejudices that these people may not be willing to co-exist and collaborate in peace.”

Ever since its onset, SKIFF has been an independent festival organized annually by the cultural center Yole!Africa that offers local populations alternative education and tools of non-violent self-expression to participate actively in shaping their own realities. SKIFF was founded in 2005, when the war in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was escalating and the region, as defined by international press outlets, was exclusively a place of violence and despair. To combat both the frustration of the local community and the misrepresentation of the international media,
internationally acclaimed filmmaker and activist Petna Ndaliko Katondolo launched the festival in Goma. When SKIFF began, it was the first event of its kind in many ways. Not only was it the first venue that brought a diverse selection of international films and videos to Congo, it was also the first time the local community gathered together with force around their artistic talents.

“Since its inception, SKIFF has been a vehicle for peace, positive socio-political transformation, and has provided the wider world with an increasingly diverse vision of the east of Congo, one that includes exceptional talent, beauty, and joy despite the challenges of the region,” Petna Ndaliko Katondolo says.

This edition of SKIFF is centered around the thematic question: “Tutajenga Ao?” meaning “are we going to build or are we going to destroy?” The festival seeks to unite individual efforts prioritizing local agendas and ideas.

Ganza Buroko, coordinator of SKIFF’s organising body Yolé Africa explained, “the festival’s prime aspiration is to offer a moment of reflection to local communities to develop creative ideas towards peace and reconciliation in the region and to provide a forum to local and regional artists devoted to these themes.”

This year’s edition of the festival will feature Congolese music superstar and actor Papa Wemba (Congo), award winning filmmakers Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda (Congo/France), Mathieu Roy (Canada), and Eric Kabera, artists and activists Mama Charlotte O’Neal (USA/Tanzania) and Ndungi Githuku (Kenya), acclaimed rapper Oracle (Congo), producer Atieno Odenyo (Sweden/Kenya), musicians Nazizi (Kenya) and Mack el Sambo (Congo), video Artist Jen Cohen (USA), and many more.

After an Opening Night Gala on Friday 4 July, the SKIFF will be running the Great Lakes Regional Network NYAVU annual summit on Monday and Tuesday 7-8 July, an encounter of the best dance groups of North Kivu on Saturday 12 July and a feature on the best Congolese films of the year on Friday 11 July. On Sunday 13 July, the closing ceremony will be framed by Open Air Concert while plenty of other activities including film screenings and workshops (film directing, experimental video art, and others) will be ongoing over the whole time between 4 and 13 July.

Below is a detailed programme of 2014’s edition of the SKIFF:

SKIFF 2014 Program

For more information about SKIFF 2014, please see http://www.salaamkivu.org; http://www.facebook.com/salaamkivu; @Yole_Africa, #SKIFF2014. For inquiries, contact Gaïus Kowene via communication@yoleafrica.org, +243 (0)81 231 9597 or +243 (0)97 362 4699.

Gaius Kowene is a Goma-based freelance journalist  

Timo Mueller is a researcher in Goma

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