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Bristol to Dakar: Afrika Eye Exchange

Pierre Amiral

Pierre Amiral

© A T Morgan

In 2018, we supported Bristol’s Afrika Eye Festival and Dakar’s Image et Vie Festival to deliver their first collaborative cultural exchange since the two cities became members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Made possible by The British Council through the Our City: Your Eyes initiative, the exchange saw two young artists from each city take up a two week residency in the partner city.

Following an introduction to the city by the festival team, the artists visited universities, film and music studios, creative hubs, arts and community projects and shared experiences with other young creatives and professionals.

They were invited to create a short film documenting their impressions and personal responses to the new cultural environment. Resulting films were showcased at each festival and distributed across digital platforms.

Natalie Moore, Bristol UNESCO City of Film Project Manager said: “Bristol’s diverse communities have long contributed to the vibrant film heritage and culture the city has become renowned for. This new collaboration is particularly exciting because it is the first between Bristol and a fellow UNESCO Creative City in Africa. It builds on the creative links that Afrika Eye has been developing and celebrating for many years and we hope it will lead to ongoing collaboration between Bristol and Dakar.”

Bristol filmmaker Pierre Niyongira and rapper/songwriter Joel Douglas (aka Splitz P) travelled to Senegal on in September 2018, exploring the heady cultural landscape of Dakar. Before departing, Pierre said: “I am most excited to experience the Senegalese creative art scene, specifically meeting all the different artists that Dakar has to offer. Senegal is known for its fashion, music and contemporary art that has contributed to some of today’s artistic thinking. I’m also looking forward to being a part of the culture, meeting the people and visiting all the famous landmarks.” Watch Pierre and Splitz P’s film below:

The return visit took place in October 2018 when Senegalese filmmaker Kady Diedhiou and festival event manager Fatou Diabel Mbaye flew into Bristol to embark on a similar journey of cultural discovery.

Festival Directors Khalilou Ndiaye in Dakar and Annie Menter & Andy Morgan in Bristol oversaw the project, liaising in Bristol with Come the Revolution, a collective of curators, programmers and creatives committed to exploring and challenging black life experienced cultural expression through cinema.

Khalilou N’Diaye, Director of Images et Vie Film Festival in Dakar said: “Our festival has a tradition of exchanging and collaborating with foreign organisations and has received young people from many different horizons in the past. Our two representatives, Fatou Diabel Mbaye and Kady Diedhiou have been part of these journeys of exchange, but only to Francophone countries. This trip will allow them to discover British culture, but also to meet other artists and open themselves to new horizons. The enthusiasm of Joel and Pierre, the welcome and the easy interaction they’ve had with Senegalese artists, leads us to think that Fatou and Kady will enjoy a similar experience in Bristol.”

The project contributed to the wider city aims for both Bristol UNESCO City of Film and Dakar UNESCO City of Media Arts. It marked the beginning of stronger creative links between the two cities and fosters collaboration across the global North and South.

Read more about ‘Our City, Your Eyes’ on the Afrika Eye website.