Sweden’s While We Live awarded an “African Oscar”
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- The Swedish identity drama – Burkinabe director Dani Kouyaté’s first Swedish feature – was nominated for seven prizes at the Africa Movie Academy Awards
On Saturday (15 July), African director Dani Kouyaté’s first Swedish feature, While We Live, received the Award for Best Feature by an African Who Lives Abroad at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, Africa’s largest film gala, which took place in Lagos, Nigeria.
Kouyaté, who lives and works in Uppsala, was nominated in seven categories for the film, which has previously been awarded at three African festivals, but also screened at showcases in Montreal, New York and Los Angeles. It will next be on show at Tunisia’s Kélibia International Film Festival in August.
Scripted by Kouyaté and Olivier Guerpillon, and shot mainly in Swedish, While We Live follows Kandia, an African woman in her fifties, who has lived in Sweden for 30 years and has now decided to move back to Gambia with her son, Ibbe, who dreams of a career in hip-hop and is about to make his breakthrough.
In the “warm, broad comedy-drama” produced by Maria Larsson Guerpillon and Julien Siri for Sweden’s Digital Filmmakers, and co-produced by Swedish regional film centre Film i Skåne and Creative Way, Kandia and Ibbe’s encounter with their homeland does not turn out the way they had imagined.
Swedish rapper Adam Kanyama stars alongside Swedish-British actress Josette Bushell-Mingo and Swedish-Ugandan actor-singer Richard Sseruwagi in the movie, which Sweden’s Njutafilms distributed domestically and which is now available on AF Anytime/Vioplay. Swedish pubcaster SVT has programmed it for the autumn.
“It is strange because when I showed the film in New York, people said, ‘This is my story,’ and the same happened in Canada and Africa. ‘Who are we?’, ‘where are we from?’ and ‘where are we going?’ seem to be universal problems,” concluded Kouyaté, who is planning new Swedish productions for both stage and screen.
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