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African Films

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Welcome to our foreign films page, featuring foreign movies in video and DVD format in languages from a host of countries. Note: unless stated otherwise, all videocassettes are in VHS and NTSC format, and all DVDs are for players that support Region 1 encoding (United States and Canada) and are in NTSC format. Check our DVD Compatibility FAQ for more information about region encoding, television formats, and other specifications. If you can't find what you need, please email us.

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Featured Selection


Yeelen (Brightness)
Souleymane Cisse
Hailed as "one of the great experiences of world cinema" (The Los Angeles Times), master filmmaker Souleymane Cisse's stunning feature is set in the ancient Bambara culture of Mali during the 16th century and follows a young warrior whose growing strength and knowledge force a confrontation with his father. "Conceivably the greatest African film ever made, sublimely mixing the matter-of-fact with the uncanny, this wondrous work provides an ideal introduction to a filmmaker who, next to Ousmane Sembene, is probably Africa's greatest director" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes. In Bambara and French with English subtitles. Malai, 1987, 105 mins.
DVD | $44.95  



Max And Mona
Teddy Mattera
A sweet and engaging comedy from South Africa about a boy named Max who leaves his village to one day pursue medicine in Johannesburg. Upon his arrival, he's introduced to rough streets, seductive sirens and wicked gangsters. This mythic road movie has plenty of clever narrative twists and turns, which is why Max is lucky to have his best friend by his side, his goat Mona. "A quirky combination of love, tears, death and comedy, Max and Mona is a charming and deftly made film" (London Film Festival). In English, Tswana, Afrikaans and Zulu with English subtitles. South Africa, 2004, 98 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

South African Films

21 Up South Africa
Angus Gibson
Inspired by Michael Apted's Up Series, this documentary from Academy Award Nominee Angus Gibson (Mandela) meets back up with the group of South African children first profiled in 1992 at 7 years of age. Now 21, this compelling film tracks how the lives of these black and white, rich and poor boys and girls have been shaped by the social and political upheavals that occurred in South Africa since the dismantling of apartheid. Tragically, AIDS has already claimed the lives of three of these children. South Africa, 2006, 70 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony
Lee Hirsch
The history of black South African music and its central role in the fight against apartheid is the focus of this rousing documentary. Filmmaker Lee Hirsch spent nine years compiling interviews and performance footage that reveal the spiritual dimension behind both the music and the struggle for freedom. Winner of the Documentary Audience Award and the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. "One of the most emotionally charged musicals you're likely to see" (Andrew Lewis Conn, Time Out New York). South Africa/USA, 2002, 108 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Bunny Chow: Global Lens Collection
John Barker
Up-and-coming comedians Kags, Joey and Dave make clear that life in the ‘new’ Johannesburg is not just about hardship and townships. It’s also about finding humor in relationships, hanging out with friends and celebrating life on a raucous road trip to Oppi Koppi – South Africa’s largest music festival. English and Afrikaans w/English subtitles. South Africa, 2006, 95 mins.
subtitles. South Africa, 2006, 95 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

The Gods Must Be Crazy I & II
Jamie Uys
Jamie Uys' two unlikely comedies about an African bushman coming face-to-face with 20th century modernity are featured on this special DVD. An international sensation, The Gods Must Be Crazy (1984, 109 mins.) follows a bushman named N!Xau as he discovers a discarded Coke bottle which leads to his first contact with modern man. The sequel, The Gods Must Be Crazy II (1989, 98 mins.), sees N!Xau encountering Westerners while searching for his children who have been kidnapped by poachers. South Africa/USA/Botswana, 1984/1989, 207 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Malunde
Stefanie Sycholt
Set in the new South Africa, this odd couple road movie follows two forgotten souls who find each other. Wonderboy, a homeless young black boy, and Kobus, a white, middle-aged, former Apartheid-era soldier, cross paths when the boy takes refuge in the elder's van. Traveling to Cape Town, the pair experience the beauty of their changing country and form a bond in spite of their differences. South Africa, 2001, 119 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Mama Africa
Ngozi Onwurah/Bridget Pickering/Zulfah Otto-Sallies
All three English-language, African-made film shorts in this anthology present a universal message of how the promise of youth can be threatened by temptation. In Hangtime (Ngozi Onwurah, Nigeria), a promising basketball star is lured by a gang leader. In Uno's World (Bridget Pickering, South Africa/Nigeria), a single mother foolishly gets involved with a diamond smuggler. Then, a woman struggles to leave her drug-dealing past behind her in Raya (Zulfah Otto-Sallies, South Africa). Talented singer, rapper, and actress Queen Latifah introduces each film. "...well-acted, no-frills films...blunt and challenging..." (Stephen Holden, New York Times). Letterboxed, includes three bonus films: Bintou (Fanta Nacro, Burkino Faso), Riches (Ingrid Sinclair, Zimbabwe), and One Evening in July (Raja Amari, Tunisia). Nigeria/South Africa/USA, 2001/2002, 89 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Max And Mona
Teddy Mattera
A sweet and engaging comedy from South Africa about a boy named Max who leaves his village to one day pursue medicine in Johannesburg. Upon his arrival, he's introduced to rough streets, seductive sirens and wicked gangsters. This mythic road movie has plenty of clever narrative twists and turns, which is why Max is lucky to have his best friend by his side, his goat Mona. "A quirky combination of love, tears, death and comedy, Max and Mona is a charming and deftly made film" (London Film Festival). In English, Tswana, Afrikaans and Zulu with English subtitles. South Africa, 2004, 98 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

Pure Blood
Kenneth Kaplan
The first post-apartheid film to be financed by South Africa's Department of Arts & Culture and the National Film & Video Foundation, this gory horror satire stars Carl Beukes as a white police rookie whose "pure Aryan blood" is capable of resurrecting his dead father--a bigoted ex-general in the Apartheid regime. Writer/Director Kenneth Kaplan undermines notions of "racial purity" by exposing the cop's family as a dysfunctional grab bag of incest and perversion, thereby offering an astute commentary on South African social history. Includes behind-the-scenes documentary, stills gallery, cast and crew bios, trailers, Lloyd Kaufman introduction, coming distractions, tribute to Rue Morgue Magazine, bonus music video (Goldfinger, "Free Me"), and more. South Africa, 2002, 96 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

Sarafina!
Darrell Roodt
Based on Mbongeni Ngema's stage play, Darrell James Roodt's film alternates between stylized dance numbers and a naturalistic depiction of the brutal human rights abuses of apartheid, set during the Soweto uprisings of 1976, and the detainment of Nelson Mandela. Leleti Khumalo is superb in the title role, with Whoopi Goldberg as a fiercely individualistic history teacher who insists her children be taught social responsibilities and acknowledge their African heritage and rituals. USA, 1992, 98 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

Senator Obama Goes To Africa
Bob Hercules/Keith Walker
Released during Senator Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, this twofold documentary chronicles his emotional journey to his father's homeland--Kisumu, Kenya--while also focusing on Obama's diplomacy in action. He travels from South Africa to Darfur to Chad, visiting the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 21 years, speaking to crowds, and seeing the effects of genocide firsthand at refugee camps. Obama narrates, accompanied by interviews with experts on African affairs and U.S. politics. USA, 2007, 60 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

Wooden Camera
Ntshaveni Wa Luruli
In a South African township, two thirteen-year-old boys -- Madiba and Sipho -- come across an attache case holding a gun and a video camera. Sipho (Innocent Msimango) takes the gun and Madiba (Junior Singo) takes the camera. Director Ntshaveni Wa Luruli follows their respective journeys in this bittersweet and poignant coming-of-age parable. "Like the wooden shell that covers Madiba's Handycam, the film hides sophistication within its rough-hewn surface" (Philadelphia City Paper). South Africa, 2003, 90 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Other African Films

Abouna (Our Father)
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Fifteen-year-old Tahir and his eight-year-old brother Amine attempt to adapt to life without their absent father, who has left their small village in Chad near the Cameroon border to find work. Poignant and beautifully shot, the film carefully follows the boys as they struggle to stay together and find hope while the realization that their father may never return sets in. In Chad Arabic with English subtitles. The DVD is letterboxed and includes director interview, two film shorts by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Goi Goi and B 400), trailer, and liner notes by film critic Phil Hall. Chad/France, 2002, 84 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Black Girl / Borom Sarret
OUT OF PRINT
Ousmane Sembene
Two films from "the greatest of all African filmmakers" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Comment). Black Girl (1966, 60 mins.), Ousmane Sembene's first feature-length film, is a major statement against the lingering culture of colonialism. A Senegalese woman, working as a governess for a French family, finds her duties reduced to those of a maid after the family moves from Dakar to the south of France. In her new country, the woman is constantly made aware of her race and mistreated by her employers, causing her to fall into isolation and despair. Borom Sarret (1963, 20 mins.) follows a horse-cart driver in Dakar struggling through the day and witnessing the immense gulf between the poor and the bourgeoisie. "The most seminal work of African cinema" (Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia). Both films in French with English subtitles. Senegal, 1963, 1966, 80 mins.
DVD | Out of Print | $99  

Daresalam
Issa Serge Coelo
Two friends, Dijmi (Haikail Zakaria) and Koni (Abdoulaye Ahmat) find their relationship strained to the breaking point when political turmoil causes them to join rival factions of a revolutionary movement. Issa Serge Coelo's beautifully photographed debut lends an unforgetable human face to the violent strife plaguing central Africa. "A poignant essay on civil war in modern-day Chad... achingly beautiful" (L.A. Weekly). In Arabic and French with English subtitles. Chad, 2000, 105 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Faces of Women
Desire Ecare
Eugenie Cisse Roland, Sidiki Bakaba and Albertine N'Guessan star in this vibrant, adventurous film about contemporary Africa. Two women try to balance the demands of tradition and modern life in their changing world. It's a sensual, joyous combination of raucous comedy and pulsating African music. In indigenous languages and French with English subtitles. Ivory Coast, 1985, 105 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Genesis
Cheick Oumar Sissoko
Cheick Oumar Sissoko's Genesis is a beautiful adaptation of the story of the house of Abraham, transported to Mali with a cast of African actors. Based on the book of Genesis, chapters 33-37, the film follows the bitter rivalry between brothers Jacob and Esau and the resulting cycle of violence, with Sissoko mixing relevant allusions to African history and culture into the Biblical tale. "A work of deep conscience and imagination, of great visual beauty, stunning" (Stuart Klawans, The Nation). Mali/France, 1999, 102 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Guimba the Tyrant
Cheick Oumar Sissoko
One of the most acclaimed African films of recent years, Cheick Oumar Sissoko's Guimba is a dark political satire in the guise of a colorful fairy tale. A tyrant cruelly rules the people of his kingdom until his son's sexual obsession leads him to a decision that weakens his control. Sissoko, a committed spokesperson for African cinema, is considered Mali's most accomplished director. "Guimba comes off the screen like a wave of pure pleasure. Eyepopping…gorgeous…not to be missed" (Stuart Klawans, The Nation). Honored as Best Film at the Pan African Film Festival. Bambara with English subtitles in letterboxed format. Mali/Burkina Faso/France, 1995, 93 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Hotel Rwanda
Terry George
Don Cheadle powerfully and effectively inhabits the role of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who secretly intervened to protect 1200 Tutsis from the brutal and astoundingly swift genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. Terry George's gut-wrenching and harrowing film captures the political events that led up to the massacre, including the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers and American and European personnel who were the last hope for nearly a million defenseless Tutsis. In Rusesabagina, George locates a focus of courage, determination, and heroism in a cyclone of unfathomable violence. Cheadle rises to the challenge, and Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, and Sophie Okonedo are also devastatingly effective in ancillary roles. "I can hardly think of another movie in which sheer intelligence and decency have been made to see so attractive or effective" (David Denby, New Yorker). A multiple Oscar nominee, including Best Actor (Cheadle) and Best Supporting Actress (Okonedo). USA, 2004, 122 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Hyenas
Djibril Diop Mambety
Based on Friedrich Durrenmatt's play The Visit of the Old Woman, Hyenas is the story of Linguere Ramatou (Ami Diakhate), a woman who returns to the village she was banished from 30 years before. She left poor, unmarried and pregnant, and now returns wealthy, free - and vengeful. Linguere promises the people of the village of Colobane her entire fortune in exchange for the life of Dramaan Drameh (Mansour Diouf), the man who betrayed her and sent her into exile. A brilliant metaphor for post-colonial Africa. "A crowd pleaser... a wicked tale told with wit and irony" (Georgia Brown, The Village Voice). In Wolof with English subtitles. Senegal, 1992, 113 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Jit
Michael Raeburn
An old-fashioned romantic comedy from Zimbabwe which features the irresistible beat of African jit-jive in the story of UK, determined to win the heart of Sofi, who is closely guarded by her gangster boyfriend. UK's efforts to win Sofi's heart are hilariously hindered by an ancestral spirit. English language, Zimbabwe, 1993, 98 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Karmen Gei
Joseph Gai Ramaka
The legendary story of Carmen, made famous by George Bizet's opera, receives an imaginative reworking by Senegalese director Joseph Gai Ramaka. The film stars Djeinaba Diop Gai as Karmen, a lascivious female inmate whose flirting draws the attention of the prison warden. Karmen's seduction enables her escape, but it isn't long before a military policeman catches up with her. Throughout her ordeal, Karmen stays afloat on the strength of her insatiable lust for life and her sexual magic - until her tragic and inevitable downfall. "[This] may be the most magnetic, most beautiful and bravest Carmen ever to grace a stage or screen" (San Francisco Bay Guardian). In French and Wolof with English subtitles. Letterboxed, includes interview with Joanna Grabski, Professor of African Visual Culture at Denison University, and stills gallery. Senegal, 2001, 82 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

La Vie Est Belle (Life Is Rosy)
Ngangura Mweze/Benoit Lamy
A farce infused with the Zairian sense of belief in Systeme-D or debrouillardise (the art of hustling for survival), this film explores the rich musical world of Kinshasha. It follows a young man who uses wit and guile to trick his greedy boss, attain the woman he loves, and sing his favorite song ("La Vie Est Belle") on national television. French with English subtitles. Zaire/Belgium, 1987, 85 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Life on Earth
Abderrahmane Sissako
In this poetic docu-drama, French-based director Sissako plays a character very close to himself who returns to the poor village in Mali where he was raised to visit his father (played by the filmmaker's real-life dad). As news of the New Year's celebrations in Paris are heard over the radio, this small, struggling community is barely affected at all as a new millennium dawns. This very personal reflection on the state of Africa was made for the 2000 Seen by project, a series of films with millennial themes commissioned for French television. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. Mauritania/France, 1998, 61 mins.
DVD | $37.95  

Madame Brouette
Moussa Sene Absa
Mati (Rokhaya Niang) is a proud and independent woman who sells produce from a wheelbarrow on the streets of Sandaga, Senegal. Together with her daughter Ndeye and her friend Ndaxte, Mati hopes to open a small restaurant that will allow her to earn an income with dignity. But her budding relationship with slick-talking policeman Naago threatens to upend Mati's dreams and endanger her family's lives. Includes director's notes, production notes, photo gallery, and optional English subtitles. In French with English subtitles. Senegal, 2002, 104 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Mandabi (The Money Order)
Ousmane Sembene
This was Ousmane Sembene's first film in color and in a native African language (Wolof). It was also his first comedy, but none of the director's sharp social criticisms have been lost in the biting humor. An unemployed man receives a money order from his nephew, but his windfall becomes a nightmare of bureaucracy and corruption as he is pursued by creditors, family members, and friends, while unable to secure the necessary I.D. to cash the money order. "It works not only as political allegory but as a social comedy, rooted in the African experience" (Faber Companion to Foreign Films). In Wolof with English subtitles. Senegal, 1968, 90 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Quartier Mozart
Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Winner of the Prix Afrique en Creation at Cannes in 1992, this humorous and magical tale is filled with the sexual antics that enliven a working class neighborhood in Yaounde. A girl takes on the body of a man and learns the true sexual politics of the men around her. In addition, the woman who helps her achieve this transformation metamorphoses herself into Panka, a comic figure who can make a man's penis disappear with a handshake. French with English subtitles. Cameroon, 1992, 80 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Sometimes in April
Raoul Peck
Raoul Peck's searing docudrama is one of a handful of recent films to portray the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but Peck's is the first to be shot in Rwanda with local actors and crew. Told in a series of flashbacks, the film stars Idris Elba as Augustin Muganza, a middle-class Hutu with a Tutsi wife. Initially complicit in the bloodshed that goes on around him, Augustin and his family weather turbulent events in a desperate campaign to survive. Photographed with an unflinching eye, Peck's film never relinquishes its African perspective on one of the most chilling events of the 20th century. Letterboxed. Closed-captioned. Includes English, French, and Spanish subtitle options. Rwanda, 2005, 140 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Tilai
Idrissa Ouedraogo
One of the most highly acclaimed contemporary African films. In this troubling drama, a young African man is engaged to the woman he loves until the man's father decides that he should marry this woman himself. This fateful decision forces the young lovers into an illicit affair. On the run, they find tradition and the law will play a large role in their fate. More with English subtitles. Burkina Faso, 1990, 81 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Touki Bouki
Djibril Diop Mambety
Mory and his girlfriend Anta imagine an escape from the difficult life they share in Dakar. Paris is their destination, and like the heroes of French New Wave films, they are utterly alienated from their surroundings. A series of adventures ensue as they plot ways to raise money for their trip, but only one can face up to the reality that awaits them. DVD includes short film by Djibril Diop Mambety (Contras City, 1969, 21 mins.). Wolof with English subtitles. Senegal, 1973, 85 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Wend Kuuni (God's Gift)
Gaston Kabore
The measured rhythms and formal compositions of African oral traditions give shape to this metaphoric film about Mossi values. A young mute boy, orphaned when his mother refuses to marry, is found and adopted by a village, which names him "Wend Kuuni," or "God's Gift." This remarkable film won a Cesar and numerous other international awards. More with English subtitles. Burkina Faso, 1982, 70 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Xala
Ousmane Sembene
Upon marrying his third wife, a rich and powerful Senegalese businessman finds himself unable to perform in the bedroom on his wedding night. Shortly thereafter, his empire starts to crumble. Far from a simple sex comedy, Ousmane Sembene's fourth feature is "...a biting satire of the 'independence' supposedly enjoyed by Senegal after the end of French rule" (Chris Dashiell, CineScene). In Wolof and French with English subtitles. Senegal, 1975, 123 mins.
DVD | $44.95  

Yeelen (Brightness)
Souleymane Cisse
Hailed as "one of the great experiences of world cinema" (The Los Angeles Times), master filmmaker Souleymane Cisse's stunning feature is set in the ancient Bambara culture of Mali during the 16th century and follows a young warrior whose growing strength and knowledge force a confrontation with his father. "Conceivably the greatest African film ever made, sublimely mixing the matter-of-fact with the uncanny, this wondrous work provides an ideal introduction to a filmmaker who, next to Ousmane Sembene, is probably Africa's greatest director" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes. In Bambara and French with English subtitles. Malai, 1987, 105 mins.
DVD | $44.95