Like South Africa, Mozambique has a buzzing independent cultural scene. And as with SA, a legacy of geographical and historical isolation hinders artists efforts to connect themselves into global networks. But, fortunately, there are individuals and organisations that are tackling these systematic challenges head on. Now in its third year of operations, the Maputo Fast Forward Festival is a platform for celebrating the cultural scene in Mozambique’s capital city. Taking place over one month, the wide-ranging line up of creative interventions includes an academic conference, exhibitions, workshops, debates and its own film festival.
Rui Trindade, the festival’s program director, told me that this transdisciplinary approach is inspired by a desire to stimulate conversation among the many different artistic areas that make up the cities vibrant culture. “We are especially interested in helping the younger generation, who are still very much under the radar to gain a much deserved visibility. So this was our starting point and we decided to create a platform for people from very diverse backgrounds to network, discuss their creative processes and share their skills.”
This year’s curatorial theme is ‘The Future of The Future/ Reinventing Narratives from Africa’. The lineup for the film week reflects this sense of challenging stereotypes about the complexities of the contemporary Global South. Defying rigid distinctions between realism and the fantastical, it includes a politically charged puppet film about Palestinian refugees (The Tower), a surreal drama about the emotional fall out of FeesMustFall (High Fantasy) and a revisionist South African western (Five Fingers for Marseilles).
As Rui describes it the theme of the future emerged from conversations at last year’s event. Many of the projects “addressed the notion that the future of the continent is dependent, up to a certain point, on the ability to create new narratives that can disrupt old models and explore alternative aesthetical forms and languages”. This theme became only more timely as they prepared for the latest festival “especially during this year, we have seen how afrofuturism has gone mainstream and attracted the attention of the global media. Not to mention, of course, all the excitement, and controversy, surrounding Black Panther.”
The festival lets African artists drive the formulation of these alternative imaginaries. At the same time its rooted in the specific context of Maputo and its own future orientated scene: “Because so much is happening right now, it’s difficult to give you an extensive overview of all that is going on. Nevertheless, one other area I would like to mention is, for lack of a better definition, new media art. In particular during the last year some younger artists started experimenting with things like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. It’s something that is in a very early stage but from what I have seen looks very promising”.
The 3th edition of the Maputo Fast Forward (MFF) festival takes place between the 11th October and the 11th November 2018 in Maputo, Mozambique. For more information visit their website.