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Photo from the film Africa United
Africa United

Posted on 30 August 2010, 20:45

I went to a pre-release screening yesterday of Africa United, a film which will get its big screen premiere on 22 October. We watched it at Greenbelt in the cavernous Centaur Hall, on a very small screen, and yet the film was so engaging that we were all very quickly sucked into the picture.

The movie opens with Dudu, the central child character, blowing up a condom, putting it into a plastic bag and tying it up with a net of string to make a decent football. And all the while he’s talking like the huckster he is to a rapt audience of street kids about the importance of condoms.

The scene sets the agenda for the film as Dudu and his friends are quickly plunged into a Quixotic 3,000 mile journey from Rwanda to South Africa. They’re determined to get their friend Fabrice – ‘the best footballer I’ve ever seen,’ says Dudu – to Football City in time for the opening of the World Cup. On the way they encounter a refugee camp, child soldiers, corrupt officials, child sex workers and a HIV clinic, and yet the movie rises above what might have been a checklist of African issues with an inspiring story of courage, sacrifice and hope.

Africa United was made in just 18 months, from idea to editing, and some locations such as the Burundi shore of Lake Tanganyika have never been seen in a feature film before. It’s directed by Debs Gardner-Paterson, her directorial debut. I’m going to write a full review of this soon.

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