My love for African movies is few and far between. Once in a while, there are some good hits, but often times the plots are predictable, shameful or unrealistic. If it’s not about a cheating husband or wife, it’s about deceitful family members, backstabbing friends, and the drama that ensues. I tend not to expect much from them, just to be entertained. However, flipping through Netflix, I’ve noticed there are some interesting African focused movies that have some depth to them. Netflix took the time to negotiate for quality African titles. These movies either have enlightened me on an issue or made me proud to be African. So the next time you’re on Netflix, check these out.
1. Queen of Katwe
This Disney film was based on a biographical depiction of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in the slums who becomes a Woman Candidate Master of chess. With the help of her mentor, Robert Katende, played by David Oyelowo, she not only learns how to play chess to occupy her mind but also, excels at it, exposing her to opportunities that transport her out of the slums. This is definitely a feel good, Africans are really smart type of movie. The emphasis on using education and intelligence to create a better life has been a dominant ideology in many African homes, so it’s nice to see it depicted in the film.
2. Like Cotton Twines
This movie was a pleasant surprise for me. Beyond the fact that Jay Ellis gave us a different side to his heartthrob appeal as an American volunteer English teacher based in Ghana, it highlighted sex slavery in the context of religious and cultural traditions. Along with Leila Djansi, Jay Ellis co-produced the film. It opened my eyes to the limitations of hope and fate when culture refuses to progress for the better of those who engage with it. However, I’m still trying to analyze how the film’s title connects with the movie because I didn’t see any appearance of cotton or cotton fields. Nonetheless, it was a hearty film.
3. October 1
This film takes us back to the 1960’s, Nigeria’s independence from Britain through a murder mystery. However, this isn’t a typical arm robber or fetish murder, but has a psychological twist that leaves the viewer slightly sympathetic to the revealed murderer. Overall, the jewel of the film is the detailed cinematography that has a nostalgic appeal to Nigeria. Produced and Directed by Kunle Afolayan a cinematic elite in his own right, the film definitely keeps one guessing until the end.
4. The African Doctor
This is a biographical film of the French musician Kamini’s father, who was an African doctor in a rural French town. He chooses to withstand racial and ethnic abuse in the rural town over becoming a personal doctor to Zaire’s president in order to obtain his French citizenship. It highlights an African’s will to naturalize in a western country to obtain better opportunities that weren’t available to them back home. A lot of the issues that are presented are common to African migration.
This also is a biographical movie that highlights a landmark case in Ethiopia, about the tradition of kidnapping young girls for marriage. Aberash Bekele, named Hirut in the film, was kidnapped at 14, bound and raped by a man that wanted to marry her. While trying to escape she shot and killed her abductor. Before the incident, child marriages was outlawed, but not enforced. This case received international attention and supporters donated money to Bekele after she was sentenced to exile from her family. The jewel of the movie was the dedication of Hirut’s lawyer. She represented a feminine character who’s compassion and convictions propelled her to overcome for the sake of another. Truly being her sister’s keeper.
Your turn: What African movies can you be proud of on Netflix?