Locarno: Amka Films Carries on With Timely Doc ‘L’Afrique Des Femmes’ and Collective Animation Pic ‘Only a Child’ (EXCLUSIVE)

L'Afrique Des Femmes
Courtesy Amra Films

Amka Films, the Swiss indie shingle founded by prominent producer Tiziana Soudani – who sadly passed away in January – is carrying on its activities under a trio of women led by her daughter Amel Soudani.

The company is known for its involvement in prizewinning films by prominent directors from nearby Italy, such as Alice Rohrwacher (“The Wonders”), Silvio Soldini (“Bread and Tulips) and Fabio and Damiano D’Innocenzo (“Bad Tales”) as well as by emerging talents in Switzerland and Africa.

Among Amka projects in the pipeline is high-profile doc “L’Afrique Des Femmes,” selected for the lineup of the Locarno fest’s The Films After Tomorrow initiative that will award cash prizes to works-in-progress forced to halt production due to the pandemic.

The long-gestating doc portraying strong resourceful women from different African nations and social classes was close to completion when the coronavirus crisis struck, blocking the editing process, which was being done in Italy.

Doc is directed by Tiziana Soudani’s husband Mohammed Soudani, a prizewinning documaker most recently of “War Without Images – Algeria, I Know that You Know,” shot in his homeland. It is co-produced by Amra with the Ivory Coast’s Nikady’s PICS, and with co-financing from Swiss TV RSI and national TV SSR SRG, Cantone Ticino, TV5 Monde, and Suissimage.

The basic idea behind “L’Afrique Des Femmes” is that since African countries became independent from colonialism some 75 years ago “nothing has changed,” says Mohammed Soudani. “Children want to leave because they can’t aspire to do anything there,” he notes, pointing out that “African men have not found any solutions.”

Tiziana had read Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming,” he recounts, which inspired them both to try and provide some impetus to “get women to run things in Africa’.”

Shot with a skeleton crew in Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Mozambique, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Burundi, “L’Afrique Des Femmes” portrays women in different fields such as the manager of a large collective vegetable market entirely run by women; the leader of a struggling fish processing plant also run by women, that is fighting competition from China; as well as humanitarian, health, conservation and education activists. The doc will be dedicated to Tiziana Soudani.

“I am very happy that this film is close to completion and I know Tiziana up there is happy about this. It’s the most important thing for me,” Mohammed Soudani said.

Amel Soudani is now running Amka, along with her mother’s longtime partners Michela Pini and Gabriella De Gara.

Other projects in the Amka pipeline include collective animation film “Only a Child,” described in promotional materials as a “visual poem” that takes it’s cue from the impassioned call to action for the future of our planet at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 by Canada’s then 12-year-old Severn Suzuki. It comprises 20 segments by Swiss animators under the artistic supervision of Simone Giampaolo (“Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small.”)

Also, Berlin screenplay prize-winner “Bad Tales” – which Amka produced alongside Italy’s Pepito Produzioni – will finally be released in Swiss move theaters in October via distributor Filmcoopi.