Afrofuturism: What It's About And Three Films You Need To See

Afrofuturism is often mistaken for black science fiction but it's more than that. It's about imagining different spaces of creative thought that don't put identity in a box. Afrofuturism is a cultural phenomenon that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism, and magic realism. It uses these elements to examine the historical events, analyse present-day dilemmas of black people, and imagine an utopia. Afrofuturism always has some underlying themes. The most recurring being feminism, alienation, water, reclamation and the grotesque.

Although the term was first coined by Mark Dery in the early 90's, it has been around for decades in the music and films of Sun Ra, on the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and in the novels of Samuel R. Delany.

Space Is The Place (Photo: Sun Ra)

Space Is The Place (Photo: Sun Ra)

The style is originally African American but at a point, Africans became tired of having to accept African Americans speaking for them about issues when it came to popular media. Even though African Americans and Africans share the same skin tones and face the same prejudices in an eurocentric world, Africans want to tell their experiences and stories so they started making afrofuturist art too. Here are some African afrofuturist films you should watch:

Pumzi

Pumzi is a Kenyan science fiction film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It is set in the Maitu community of East Africa, 35 years after World War III - The Water War.

To Catch A Dream

Surrealist Kenyan film, To Catch A Dream is a fashion project. Featuring the works of eight Kenyan designers, it follows Ajuma, a grieving widow, who suffers from recurring nightmares. In a bid to put an end to them, she explores a forgotten fairy-tale remedy which leads her to unexpected realisations. The short film was written and directed by Jim Chuchu, produced by Wangechi Ngugi with creative direction and styling by Sunny Dolat. If you like the film’s original soundtrack which is also by Chuchu, you can stream it on Soundcloud here.

Monsoons Over The Moon

Kenyan filmmaker and director Dan Muchina, who works under the pseudonym Abstract Omega, envisions a dystopian Nairobi run by a dictatorial government in the two-part short film titled Monsoons Over The Moon. The story is about a street gang known as The Monsoons, who return to help liberate young people from the oppressive system after their escape. Shot in black-and-white, the film touches on the contemporary Kenyan political themes of surveillance, mass incarceration, and the dangers of totalitarianism.

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Art, music, film and occasional politics contributor that is opinionated about film photography.