CPAR's 2021 Movie List
In honour of the 2021 Oscars, CPAR has put together a list of recommendations, both from staff and from our followers on social media, of fantastic movies about Africa and international development. Find the full list below!
Queen of Katwe (2016)
Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair and starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Malwanga, is a movie based on a true story. Taking place in Katwe, in Uganda, it is the story of how a young woman, Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), learns chess and starts competing in national, then international competitions.
The film highlights the difficulties of raising oneself out of the poverty they were born in, and the actors play their parts to perfection. Queen of Katwe is a family-friendly movie that we believe you and your children will love.
Queen of Katwe is currently available on Disney +.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)
Of course, CPAR has a soft spot for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It was selected as the British entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards but was not nominated.
This film, based on a true story, is about William Kamkwamba who works to save his village from a terrible drought during the 2002 famine in Malawi. Thanks to the education he receives at school, he believes he can accomplish the building of a windmill.
Watch The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind now on Netflix.
Continuing on our Oscars-inspired theme, when a tough story is so expertly told, you hardly notice how much you’re learning. Moolaade is both a movie and a word – it means magical protection in the Mossi language and it’s a fitting title for a film about a mother’s efforts to save her about-to-be-married daughter from female genital cutting – a prerequisite for marriage in their village. We follow Colle (Fatoumata Coulibaly) in her village in Burkina Faso as she refuses to let her daughter undergo the procedure, and she shelters four girls in her home, defying their mothers and the village traditions. Moolade highlights the hidden struggle of women who have undergone female genital cutting, and those who are trying to protect others from the same fate. The full movie is available on Youtube with English subtitles.
Girls Rising (2013)
If you enjoy a good documentary, Girls Rising might be for you! Girls Rising is a documentary that follows nine girls from nine different countries on their journey to education.
These girls come from Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India and Cambodia. Each girl has her story written by a writer from her country and narrated by renowned actors. Through these stories, we see each girl’s struggle with societal or cultural barriers.
Girls Rising can be watched on YouTube or on Google Play.
Town of Runners (2012)
Let’s start the run for the weekend with this amazing film about the world class runners that come from a small village in Bekoji, Ethiopia. It’s the home of 4 Olympic gold medalists. For a town of 16,000 people, they definitely produce a lot of star athletes!
Through this movie, we follow 3 athletes who live in Bekoji and who go through running training, as they move from the school track to national competitions, and it follows them from childhood to adulthood.
Town of Runners is available on Amazon Prime.
His House (2020)
Fans of horror, this one’s for you! His House, directed by Remi Weeks and starring Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu is a story that follows a refugee couple named Bol and Rial from South Sudan who are trying to adjust to their new life in England. After being granted probationary asylum from the British Government, they are given a run-down house and strict instructions that they must follow, or face deportation.
Within the confines of the house, Rial becomes convinced that they are haunted by an apeth, or a night witch. As they struggle to rid themselves of the apeth, we see flashbacks to their time in South Sudan, and what led them to fleeing the country.
His House is available on Netflix, and has been the recipient of a few awards, including Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer at the British Academy Film Awards.
Half the Sky (2012)
Continuing our pre-Oscars search for movies that are overlooked and uplifting, called Half the Sky, produced by PBS and based on a book with the same title, is a documentary that follows the book’s authors and a few celebrities to developing countries. In each country, we are introduced to women and girls who are bravely fighting for equality and working to rise above their difficult realities. Some of the themes explored in this documentary relate to sex trafficking, forced prostitution, maternal mortality and gender-based violence.
Carolyn See, a book critic for The Washington Post, said in her review: “’Half the Sky’ is a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contribution, but also a call for volunteers. It asks us to open our eyes to this enormous humanitarian issue.”
Half the Sky can be found on Itunes, or can be rented from Netflix.
Poverty, Inc (2014)
Here’s a must-see that just happens to be on Amazon Prime right now - the documentary Poverty, Inc. This documentary discusses what happens when international development organizations don’t take into consideration the needs of the locals, and don’t work alongside country governments and grassroots organizations. Activities like distributing food helps, but if the organization is importing the food from out of the country instead of purchasing it from the locals, it doesn’t do much to actually help the community. This documentary explores what happens in communities where their voices aren’t heard.
Poverty Inc. can be found on Amazon Prime, Vimeo and Itunes.
The First Grader (2010)
In this inspiring true story, we follow an 84 year-old man from Kenya as he attempts to get an education. The First Grader is directed by Justin Chadwick and stars Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris and won the 2011 Satellite Award for Best Educational Film.
The First Grader follows Kimani Maruge, as he tries to learn to read and write following the 2002 announcement to provide a free primary school education to its citizens.
This is a wonderful movie with a PG-13 rating due to adult themes, so if you’re planning on watching this with your family, please ensure it is right for you. The First Grader can be found on Amazon Prime.
Half of a Yellow Sun (2013)
If you’re looking for a good movie based on a book, look no further than Half of a Yellow Sun, based on the book with the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Half of a Yellow Sun follows two sisters and their partners during the Nigerian Civil War.
The film begins on the first Nigerian Independence Day, which took place on October 1st, 1960 and ends with the conclusion of the Nigerian Civil War, in 1970. We follow twin sisters as they return to Nigeria after completing their studies abroad.
You can find Half of a Yellow Sun on Amazon Prime.
The Fisherman's Diary (2020)
For our last movie this week, we have The Fisherman’s Diary, which was recommended through the comments on an earlier movie. The Fisherman’s Diary is a Cameroonian movie released in 2020 and was nominated for Best Feature Film at the 2020 Paris Art and Movie Awards.
The Fisherman’s Diary tells the story of Ekah (Faith Fidel), a girl who wants to attend school. Inspired by the story of Malala Yousafzai, she goes against her father’s wishes and listens to school lessons from outside the classroom in her village in Cameroon.
The Fisherman’s Diary is currently available on Netflix.
Thank you for joining us in this year's movie recommendations! We'll be back next year with some more movies to recommend.