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Swedish film heads to the "African Oscars"

Published torsdag 13 juli 2017 kl 11.00
Director: The language doesn't matter when it's a human story.
(8:12 min)
Boy waving from a boat travelling away from the spectator
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Rapper Adam Kanyama plays Ibrahim in the film. He has been nominated for "Best Young Promising Actor" at the African Movies Academy Awards. Credit: Njutafilms
Porträtt av man med grönska i bakgrunden
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Director Dani Kouyaté in his home town of Uppsala ahead of going to the African Movie Academy Awards. Credit: Ulla Engberg/Sveriges Radio
Woman looking out of a car window, looking thoughtful
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Josette Bushell-Mingo has been nominated for "Best leading actress" at the AMAA for her portrayal of Kandia in the film While we live Credit: Njutafilms
Man sitting in a sofa in from of a painting, hands folded.
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Richard Sseruwagi has been nominated for "Best supporting actor" at the AMAA, for his role as Sekou, Ibrahim's uncle. Credit: Njutafilms
Medan vi lever
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Marika Lindström and Sten Ljunggren play the grandparents of Ibrahim. Credit: Njutafilms

Director Dani Kouyaté spoke with Radio Sweden about the film Medan vi lever which passed relatively un-noticed in Sweden - but it has pulled off seven nominations at what is known as the "African Oscars".

When the Swedish film which translates to "While we live" recieved seven nominations for the Africa Movie Academy Awards, the actor Richard Sseruwagi was annoyed with the lack of attention it was given in Swedish media.

"I wonder if it would have been any different if the director and the actors had been blonde and blue-eyed, and not black," he told Dagens Nyheter.

Director Dani Kouyaté said that while he understands Sseruwagi's frustration, he thinks the issue is more complicated than that.

"I am not making a commercial film, we are not trying to make special effects and so on," he said.

"We are trying to tell stories, to touch people, and say important things. And those kind of films have difficulties in a commercial system,"

"And it is a film made by an African, which makes it a little more difficult. But it is not the main problem," he said.

Then again, he is aware that this probably is the first Swedish film with a majority of black actors, and possibly the first film made here by an immigrant from Africa. And it offers a different perspective than many Swedish, and European films, said Kouyaté.

"We should write stories about the reality of Sweden. You have blacks, you have whites, you have any kind of people here; Swedish people!
The writers could be a little more imaginative maybe, and write stories for everyone," he says.

Click on the link above to listen to the full interview. 

The 13th Africa Movie Academy Awards will be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday. 


Medan vi lever is nominated at the African Movie Academy Awards for:

  • Best Film by an African Living Abroad

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role - Josette Bushell-Mingo

  • Best Young Promising Actor - Adam Kanyama

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Richard Sseruwagi

  • Achievement in Screenplay - Dani Kouyaté and Olivier Guerpillon.

  • Achievement in Soundtrack - Andreas Unge.

  • Achievement in Editing - Philip Bergström.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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