________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2005


African Rhythms: Animated Stories for Children.

Charles Githinji, Cilia Sawadogo and Claire Helman (Directors).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
25 min., 4 sec., VHS, $49.95.
Order Number: C9104 152.

Subject Headings:
Africa-Civilization-Juvenile fiction.
Children's films.
Animated films.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

***1/2 /4

African Rhythms is a collection of three short animated stories made by different filmmakers. Each presents stories from different regions of the African diaspora. All are animations rendered from watercolours and are, therefore, interesting because of the medium as well as the subject. The first, The Magic Lion (2004) is about a boy who travels from the city to a village in the countryside to get a special medicine for his grandfather. On the way, a lion, caught in a net, confronts him. The boy cuts the lion free, and the lion repays the kindness by carrying the boy on his back to the village. The boy gets the medicine, and the lion disappears. The grandfather recovers, and only he and the boy understand that the lion was magical. The second film comes from Burkina Faso. It is based on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that people have the right to love freely, without regard to tradition or social class. In this tale, The Cora Player (1997), the poor boy, a musician, falls in love with a young woman from a wealthy family. When her father sees them together, he threatens the boy with physical violence. However, his own father and the rest of his family reject the father's attitude and accept the poor musician. The couple continues with their relationship. Music, appropriately, carries the narration of this film. Jump-Up: Caribbean Carnival in Canada (1995) reflects the homesickness many immigrants feel when they move to a new environment. Lisa misses her village full of relatives and friends in the West Indies. She is shocked by the snow that seems to be everywhere in Canada, and the new land cannot compare to the ever-present greenery, trees and fruits back home. Her spirits lift when she makes a friend. When the West Indian immigrant community organizes a Jump Up, a traditional parade of costumes and dance, Lisa and her friend make plans to participate next year. Lisa now begins to feel comfortable and at home in Canada. Running a total of 25 minutes, these films can be used to discuss elements of African history. Children will also be able to appreciate and reproduce the watercolour technique. Given access and training in video making and movie editing, children would be able to use these films as models for their own video production.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.


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