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African cinema has come a long way ? from the trial days through to the present where at least four out of five standardized movies released are certain of hitting platinum either at home or overseas. The journey has been exciting as the players would expect but in another breadth, it?s been taxing.

Away from the regular story lines of war, famine, voodoo, affluence, culture, and tradition that features regularly in its films, and which most movie watchers the world over have come to identify the industry with, the players and movers of the trade, have their own stories to tell.

They are stories of how in one way or the other, they were able to wow the world with their futuristic productions, a case study that has got almost everybody who matters to believe in what they do. These days, the standards of production in most African films are exceptionally high ? a guarantee that things can get better.

And yes of course there are challenges with budget, logistics, et al but considering the fact that those obstacles also do exist even in deep-rooted jurisdictions like Hollywood, it makes the argument of an uneven grounds a bit flawed and enough a motivation for Africa?s filmmakers to rise to the occasion.

Some have stood up to be counted, damning the obvious obstacles and have been producing some excellent movies in the past decade.

We take a look at TOP 15 Contemporary African Films released since 2000, which have gone on to achieve enormous success, popular amongst movie enthusiasts and industry professionals, commercially successful and have gained widespread recognition.

These are movies directly set in Africa, or shot with the continent in mind, and have since the millennium given African filmmaking a new sense of direction.

In no particular order, here is a guide to the TOP 15 Contemporary African Films.

Daratt (Dry Season) 2006:

Written and directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, the award-winning movie took the world by storm in 2006 when it debuted. It has been hailed as a well thought-out, clean and fascinating production.

The thing about Darratt, which makes it interesting for viewing, watchers have said, is the director?s ability to tell the story ? a usual line in most African films, woven around civil war and corruption ? in manner that presents it as a sensation.

Darat is exceptional, simple yet intriguing and also lays credence to the skill and know-how of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, an all too familiar name in the industry, described by many as a courageous director who is able to tell a difficult story in a subtle manner.

Set in Chad, Daratt tells the story of a four-decade civil war, where a government?s amnesty to war criminals ignites a sixteen year old (Atim) to go in search of his father?s killer(s).

A beautifully-shot, spellbinding movie, Darrat is a fine piece of creative work that guarantees a second viewing after a first.

Tsotsi ? 2005

Set in Soweto, South Africa, Tsotsi, released in 2005, is by far one of Africa?s best productions since the year 2000. It is a piece that tells of the pace at which filmmaking in Africa is growing and what the world should watch out for.

An Oscar-winning production for Best Foreign Movie in 2006, Tsotsi is a breathtaking work that was well executed.

Shot in 2004, the emotional thriller tells the story of ?an angry young man living in a state of extreme urban deprivation. His world pumps with the raw energy of ?Kwaito music? ? the modern beat of the ghetto that reflects his troubled state of mind?.

A story of hope, triumph and accountability, Tsotsi is futuristic in every sense of the word.

Directed by Emmy Award-winner Gavin Hood, an industry professional with years of acting and directing to his credit, Tsotsi is a unique portrait of filmmaking in Africa.

The Mirror Boy ? 2011 

It travelled across the world in 2011 to some loud cheers and presented a fine case study to the millions who paid to watch it in the cinemas that a lot has changed about African cinema, from what they used to know of it.
The Mirror Boy is an awesome piece of work, rich in picture, acting and diction, and also drives home the inter-cultural nuances of both Africa and the United Kingdom.

For a first time viewer, The Mirror Boy is likely to come across as a well-researched movie that went through a thorough process.

Shot with an estimated 250, 000-pound budget, The Mirror Boy was written and directed by Obi Emelonye. It stars Osita Oheme, Genevieve Nnaji and Edward Kagutuzi, who played the role of Tijani, the 12 year old London-born African around whom the story was mostly built.

The Mirror Boy was produced by Patrick Campbell, and shot in England and The Gambia.

Johnny Mad Dog ? 2008

The 97-minute long movie is built around the widely fought Liberian Civil War that ravaged the West African state for so many years.

Jean-Stephane Sauvaire, a French filmmaking professional who has several titles to his credit, directed what has been tagged as ?a brutal but thrilling film?.
It stars Christopher Minie, Daisy Victoria Vandy, Barry Chernoh, Dagbeh Tweh and Joseph Duo among others.

Based on the 2002 novel Johnny Chien M?chant by the Congolese author Emmanuel Dongala, Johnny Mad Dog gives a very shocking insight into the Liberian conflict.

It chronicles the activities of a group of child soldiers who fought at the end of the second Liberian civil war in 2003.

Ties that Bind ? 2011 

Released in 2011, Ties that Bind is a Turning Point Pictures production, directed by Ghanaian director Leila Djansi.

A touching, psychological piece, Ties that Bind is the movie with it all.

It is a multiple-award-winning movie and has also received several nominations across the world.

Ties That Bind is a story of three different women bound together by a similar pain; the loss of a child. In a destined meeting in a small village in Kroboland, in the eastern part of Ghana, West Africa, the women journey together to redemption, love, life and forgiveness as they renovate a dilapidated clinic for the villagers.

In ?Ties that Bind?, Leila blends an array of old and pretty new faces apart from her three lead characters Kimberly Elise of Diary of a mad Black Woman, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and Ama K. Abebrese.

How to steal 2 million ? 2011

Director Charlie Vundla got the whole of Africa to fall in love with this masterpiece. It was no wonder the film scooped four awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Editing and Best Directing at this year?s Africa Academy Movie Awards.

This was after it had received some 11 nominations.

How to steal 2 million is fast, fittingly furious and splendid. It is an epitome of modern day South African and African cinema.

It stars an impressive array of actors including Terry Pheto, Menzi Ngubane, John Kani, Hlubi Mboya, and Rapulana Seiphemo.

The Last King of Scotland ? 2006

The multi-million dollar movie is based on the events recorded during the reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. The story is told through the eyes of his personal physician during the 1970s.

It was directed by Kevin McDonald and hit record box office numbers after release. Two main languages English and Swahili were used in adapting the story which is based on Giles Forden?s novel. It runs for 123 minutes and stars Forest Whittaker, who played the role of the dictator, as well as Simon McBurney, Gillian Anderson, James McAvoy, and Kerry Washington among others.

Winner of multiple awards, The Last King of Scotland was received globally for re-telling a not-too-tasty past story in a very unique way.

Invictus ? 2009

The biographical sports drama is directed by Clint Eastwood.

It stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon, Patrick Mofokeng and Tony Kgoroge among others.

The story is based on John Carlin?s novel Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.
It chronicles events leading to and after the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

It was shot on an estimated 50-million dollar budget. It received several awards and nominations after it was released.
Invictus runs for 135 minutes.

Anchor Baby ? 2010

Produced and directed by Lonzo Nzekwe, Anchor Baby is a tale of an illegal immigrant couple from Nigeria, West Africa, on a quest to seek for a more comfortable life for their yet-to-be-born child.

The film goes a journey of the good, the bad and the ugly in the life of the couple. It tells the everyday story of African immigrants and life and how it is lived in another man?s land.

In the year of its release, Anchor Baby won the award for Best Film at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York while lead actress Omoni Oboli was awarded the Best Actress. The film was also nominated for 2 African Academy awards.

District 9 ? 2009

It?s been described as the most exciting science-fiction film to come along in ages. And this is true for so many reasons.

Shot on an estimated 30-million budget, District 9 is yet Africa?s widely known Science-Fiction film.

The112-minute film was directed by Neill Blomkamp, and was shot on location in Chiawelo, Soweto.

It stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Eugene Khumbanyiwa and David James among others.

The plot is a 1982 large alien spacecraft that makes a stopover in Johannesburg, amidst an investigation that is targeted at ?discovering a population of sick and malnourished extraterrestrials?. The aliens are then sent to District 9, a government camp just below the ship.

District 9 is based on the 2005 short film Alive in Joburg, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp.

Hotel Rwanda ? 2004  

A Terry George and Keir Pearson screenplay adaptation, the movie is based on real life events in Rwanda during the war of 1994.

It stars Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, Nick Nolte and Jean Reno.

It explores into totality, the genocide and the other illegalities that came with it including but not limited to greed, corruption and violence. Hotel Rwanda is a proud recipient of multiple awards, including Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.

Hotel Rwanda was principally filmed in Kigali, Rwanda and Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was directed by Terry George.

Waiting for Happiness ? 2002

Written and directed by Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, it stars Khatra Ould Abder Kader, Maata Ould Mohamed Abeid and Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed.

The core of the movie is woven around a westernized young man who visits his native land.

The movie is heavy on the reality that confronts most Africans living in the diaspora and the need to connect with their roots. At its core, Waiting for Happiness portrays a melancholic African society struggling to adapt to the influences of western culture.

It runs for 95 minutes and stars Khatra Ould Abder Kader, Nana Diakit?, Fatimetou Mint Ahmeda, Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamed, Makanfing Dabo Maata Ould Mohamed Abeid.

Blood Diamond ? 2006

Staring Leonard DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond is directed by Edward Zwick.

It is set during the Civil War in Sierra Leone from 1996-2001, and depicts a country torn into complete shreds by the struggle between government soldiers and rebel forces.

The award-winning movie also highlights how, diamonds became a major attraction during the war and how it was mined in African war zones and sold to finance the conflicts.

It was shot on an estimated 100 million dollar-budget.

Sometimes in April ? 2005

A 140-minute historical drama television film that also tells the story of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, Sometimes in April was written and directed by Raoul Peck.

It is noted for ?it?s more gruesome and graphic portrayal of the violence?, and how it succeeded in painting a near perfect picture of the scenes as they happened.

It centers on ?two brothers: Honor? Butera, working for Radio T?l?vision Libre des Mille Collines, and Augustin Muganza, a captain in the Rwandan army(who was married to a Tutsi woman, Jeanne, and had three children with her: Anne-Marie, Yves-Andr?, and Marcus), who bear witness to the killing of close to 800,000 people in 100 days while becoming divided by politics and losing some of their own family?.

It stars a list of actors including Idris Elba, Carole Karemera, Oris Erhuero, Debra Winger, and Prudence Bushnell, who helped the director to tell what could have been a difficult tale to tell.

IJE ? 2010 

Shot with an estimated 2.5 million dollars, IJE (The Journey) is a Nigerian-American drama film written by Samuel Tilson and Chineze Anyaene.

The cast include Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Odalys Garc?a and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde.

?IJE, The Journey, is a story of two sisters with unbreakable bonds of loyalty and the power of the human spirit?.

Shot in Los Angeles and Nigeria, ?IJE captures the viewer from the very first scene and delivers a powerful message through the moving conclusion?.

The award-winning movie runs for 107 minutes and was directed Chineze Anyaene. It was produced by Paula Moreno and Chineze Anyaene.

Source : MSN

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