OUR AFRICA

a Alexander Markov project, Serious Directions (DE),  85/52 min. – December 2017

 

SYNOPSIS

1957. The Soviets arrive on the African continent to spread socialism. The first independent African nations meet them with great enthusiasm and full of hope for a postcolonial future. For more than 35 years the Soviets expand their geopolitical influence in Africa with humanitarian aid programs based on marxist ideology. Up until 1991 some of the country’s best filmmakers were sent along to document the „glorious advance“ of socialism on the entire African continent. A propaganda featuring all Africans as Lenin fans. Then came the nineties. Soviet Union broke apart and "socialism" became a dirty word. Russia, struggling with an economic crisis, lost all political interest in Africa. Still, thousands of kilometers of film footage remain. The film will recreate the time of the “Great Utopia” and expose the gap between African realities and a continent that only existed on celluloid…

 

STRUCTURE

The film will be assembled as a puzzle out of archival footage. The  narration will be provided by five protagonists, who only appear in audio fragments interviews, diary excerpts, letters and comments. Apart from that we will use news reel footage and the original “propaganda” voice over of Soviet films. These narrations will take us on a journey through postcolonial African history from a Soviet point of view. Music from the era and the extensive use of foleys will create an immersive experience. The Soviet-African relations and the development of Soviet film language between 1955 and 1992 can both roughly be divided in three periods: the structure of the film will build on those, in a "3 acts structure“.

 

PROTAGONISTS

This film will feature personal stories behind historical events. In artistically adapted journals, letters and memoires, we explore the clash of cultures, the absurdities that ensue when bureaucracy and chaos meet. Instead of talking heads, we will rely on audio recordings of written materials from the era. On our journey through “socialist Africa” we will let these protagonists speak for themselves. Engineers, sailors, teachers, camera people, former members of the Politburo – all on a unique experience of traveling abroad and working in Africa, while strictly complying with „socialist guidelines“.  "Our Africa" will provide an entirely new perspective on both African and Soviet history. The film will involve the filmmakers behind some of the film footage. How did the commissioning process work? What was done to control them and the outcome of their expensive trips to Africa? Were they selected and “groomed” in a special procedure? Did they think of the geopolitical implications of Soviet foreign policy or were they just doing their jobs? Did Africa have a personal meaning for them … 

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director - Alexander Markov - Born in Leningrad, Russia in 1973, Alexander graduated from St.Petersburg University of Culture and Arts in film directing. Alexander’s work concentrates on documentaries. His main interest lies with anthropological subjects and intercultural relationships. His films were awarded prizes at various international film festivals like DocPoint, Sheffield Doc, Message To Man, Cinefest, Directors Lounge, Stalker and Kunst Film Biennale. Alexander also works as a curator for The Goethe Institute St. Petersburg , New York African Film Festival and Message To Man IFF and holds a teaching position at St.Petersburg University of Cinema and TV.

 

Production Company: Serious Directions - is a Berlin-based production company, focusing on creative documentaries, commercials and cross media projects in Eurasia. Producers Heleen Gerritsen and Sahand Zamani both look back at more than 10 years of experience in the audiovisual sector.

WATCH TRAILER: https://vimeo.com/156566215  - password: Gagarin