Mama Africa

Mama Africa
Director: Mika Kaurismäki

Suomija, Germany, South Africa, documentary, 2011, 90 min
Miriam Makeba (1932–2008) was a Grammy Award-winning singer from South Africa, as well as a civil rights activist. After losing her citizenship and right of return while actively campaigning against the Apartheid, she came to the United States, where Harry Belafonte helped to launch her American career. More controversy erupted when Miriam married Black Panther member Stokely Carmichael, resulting in her U.S. record deals and tours being cancelled. In protest of an American brand of racism, Makeba moved to Guinea, where for the next fifteen years she continued to perform primarily in Africa, Europe and Asia. Moreover, Makeba kept being politically active and became the first black female representative to the United Nations. “Mama Africa” pays homage to this extraordinary woman who grew to incarnate the voice and the hope of Africa. Mika Kaurismäki's inspirational tribute to the great singer is packed with rare archival footage, interviews, and excerpts from the legendary performances that exhilarated and inspired millions.
2011 – Audience Award at the 62nd International Berlin Film Festival (Germany).
About the director:
Mika Kaurismäki was born in Finland, in 1955. He studied cinema in the University of Television and Film (Munich, Germany) and made his graduation film “The Liar” in 1980. The film was an overnight sensation when first shown in Finland. It marked the beginning of cinema of the Kaurismäki brothers and started a new era in the Finnish cinema. After this success, Kaurismaki founded the production company Villealfa Filmproductions, which soon became a home of vital low- or no-budget filmmaking and by the end of the 80’s it was the third biggest film production company of all times in Finland. The 90’s meant a gradual disappearance of the Villealfa spirit and both Mika and Aki started to produce their films through their own production companies. Mika had founded Marianna Films and created several award winning documentaries, including “Ghost Train” (1991). In 1994 Mika returned to the Brazilian jungle with Samuel Fuller and Jim Jarmusch and made the feature length documentary “Tigrero – A Film That Was Never Made”. The film was awarded the International Critics’ Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1994. In 2008 Mika directed the award winning “Three Wise Men”. “The House of Branching Love” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2009. His latest film, “Vesku from Finland”, was released in September 2010.
Section: Music Moves the World

Screenplay: Mika Kaurismäki, Don Edkins

Dir. of Photography: Jacques Cheuiche, Wolfgang Held, Frank P. Lehmann, Martina Radwan, Eran Tahor

Music: Andreas Schilling

Cast: Miriam Makeba, Zenzi Monique Lee, Nelson Lumumba Lee, Hugh Masekela, Angélique Kidjo