The African Film Library, the world’s largest archive of award-winning African cinema, is now live at africanfilmlibrary.com. A project more than 3 years in the making, the African Film Library (AFL) allows users to rent and view hundreds of films from the continent’s best filmmakers via a secure website, worldwide, for just US$5.
A vast catalogue of short films, feature films and documentaries from across the continent is available in a variety of languages and includes films by – amongst many others - Senegalese legend Ousmane Sembène (Borom Sarret, La noire de…), Egypt’s Youssef Chahine (Le Destin, Saladin, The 6th Day, The Land and The Sparrow), Senegal’s Djibril diop Mambéty (Badou Boy, Hyenes, Le Franc and Touki Bouki), Haile Gerima, Knaw Ansah, Flora Gomes, Jean Rouch and Idrissa Ouedragou.
Head of the AFL, Mike Dearham, says that the library seeks to restore, preserve and promote Africa’s rich excellence of film and television production and promote a sense of African identity and belonging. “The advent of the AFL has also established a new market for African content. Where previously, old films that completed a commercial cycle – from theatrical window to sell through – gathered dust, the AFL has established a new source of revenue for old films whilst simultaneously breaking new ground with delivery of content via new media platforms,” he says.
Dearham sees the AFL as a stepping stone towards the revitalisation of the African film industry. “The vast majority of African filmmakers have struggled to effectively engage the challenge of promotion and distribution of African films. M-Net promises regular television broadcast of these films as well as distribution through other media platforms like the online AFL portal,” he says.
At launch, the AFL boasts approximately 100 titles. The launch rollout sees various themes being explored and eminent African personalities honoured. The initial set of films will showcase the work of Ousmane Sembène, followed by a series honouring FESPACO winners.