Arts / A touch of Prince from West Africa

purple-rain-2

Festival “little gem”… the remake of Prince’s movie “Purple Rain” from central Niger, “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai”.

ALICE Taylor has been with the Canberra International Film Festival since last year when producer and filmmaker Andrew Pike and a bunch of colleagues steered the beleaguered event away from the precipice. Now she’s the director of the 20th anniversary festival, a far cry from its modest beginnings at the University of Canberra.

In Taylor’s view they got off to a pretty snazzy start in 2015, with international films including Canberra and Australian premieres, filmmaker events, special guests, industry workshops and she’s now adding a few elements to bring something new to the event and make it unique.

“I’d say that 99 per cent of the films you’ll see in this festival are ones that you won’t see in the cinemas,” Taylor says. “This is important in defining the CIFF’s special role in the festival scene.”

Taylor is a Canberra arts girl through and through, one who remembers with fondness the long lost Festival of Contemporary Arts at Gorman House.

Schooled at Lyneham High and Dickson College, Taylor studied film and television at UCLA, then worked in TV productions in Sydney and the UK before joining Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, CAAMA, she eventually came home to roost with three children to raise.

This year the festival spotlight will be on stories about women, Canberra, people with disabilities, indigenous films and Asia-Pacific films.

Ticking three of those boxes is “Footprints on Our Land”, a documentary centred on Ngunnawal elder Aunty Agnes Shea.

Specifically Canberran in location will be Ché Baker and Dallas Bland’s post-apocalyptic film, “Blue World Order”.

With Canberra filmmakers in mind, there’s “Curator’s Corner”, a free event 4pm-8pm on the Saturdays and Sundays at the NFSA Theatrette where filmmakers can bring friends and family to watch their own films on the big screen.

Naturally, Taylor has showier selections, such as the opener on October 27, the Australian premiere of the magic-realist Russian drama “Zoology” and “Halloween Horror” on October 31.

She is particularly excited by “a little gem we discovered”. With the almost unpronounceable title of “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai”, it’s a remake of Prince’s movie “Purple Rain” from central Niger, just south of the Sahara.

“It’s basically the same storyline, set in West Africa,” Taylor says, “but with the added excitement of some really exciting African music.”

The first feature film ever made in the Tamashek language, it’s an homage to the late performer Prince. The name literally means “Rain the Colour of Blue with a Little Red in It.”

By Taylor’s reckoning, you won’t get anything much more cross-cultural than this movie.

20th anniversary Canberra International Film Festival, National Film and Sound Archive, Acton October 27-November 6. Program details and bookings to ciff.com.au

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