The next 2 Sundays + Africa United!

Don’t forget the prayer meeting is on tomorrow morning 6.30am.

This Sunday Matthew Price is speaking on “the Prodigal Son.”

Next Sunday will be part 3 of the Joshua-Strong & Courageous series, “Mercy for the Outsider.”

Also, a plug for the newly released film “Africa United” directed by a Christian director who’s a friend of ours – “25% of net to projects benefiting African kids” -good excuse to go to the cinema – if interested to know more see below, or visit

Debs Gardner-Paterson 27 October 2010 at 23:13

Subject: AFRICA UNITED – now or never!

Dear friends,

I’m writing to ask – have you taken your family and friends to see Africa United yet?

The film was pick of the week in the Sunday Times, and got 4 stars in the Metro & from Jason Solomon amongst others, and is a funny, engaging and tear-jerking movie – aimed at a family and tween audience predominately, but still thoroughly enjoyable for grownups.

However, AFRICA UNITED didn’t find a big cinema audience when it opened at the weekend – we were outstripped by animated wolves, and the owls & moon-thieves left us for dust!

If you have ever said to yourself or someone else that you would like to see more heart-felt, uncynical, socially engaged but genuinely creative and entertaining films in your local cineplex, then you need to vote with your feet this week and take a group to SEE AFRICA UNITED THIS WEEK!

If you have been in the UK over the last couple of weeks, you will hopefully have heard that Africa United is a fictional feature film about a group of incredible Rwandan kids who roadtrip to South Africa for the world cup. We have had an amazing audience response at both Toronto and London premieres and test screenings – BUT we didn’t find an audience over the weekend – so unless we find an audience fast – ie get significant numbers of bums on seats in the cinema VERY SOON – the thing might vanish. So this is to ask – can you help?

The heart behind the film was to tell a different kind of Rwandan story – and perhaps African story – one which empowers rather than criticises, shows creativity and hope in bad situations, and elevates a new generation of African kids – in a very funny, very touching and hopefully contagious narrative. It’s a buddy movie – an adventure story, a comedy with a huge heart at the middle of it. Football is its metaphor – the power of friendship & hope to overcome is its message.

The film has been the labour of love of quite a few ‘rookies’ – it’s my first feature directing project, our screenwriter Rhidian’s first produced feature script, the kids & Emmanuel Jal’s first onscreen acting roles, Bernie the composer’s first feature soundtrack, the amazing animators’ (led by Simon Willow’s) first feature, and one of the producers (Jackie’s) first one too. It’s also pretty much the first time that serious industry players like Pathé Films (Slumdog, The Queen), BBC Films and the UK Film Council have found themselves backing such a gamble! No track record, no stars, a totally different kind of kids film out of Africa. More to the point it’s definitely the first time that all of these financiers have rewritten their contracts so that if we make it to profit (no mean feat) they will give away 25% of net to projects benefiting African kids (via a fund managed by Comic Relief).

You may or may not know, but the success of a film is pretty much entirely dependent upon how it performs in the OPENING WEEK of a cinema release. It’s insane to think that all of that work, from all of those people, comes down to this, but it does. The cinemas pull a film if it doesn’t perform well, and sadly our opening weekend was pretty dreadful. Because we have also opened in the UK first – international distributors will plan their release accordingly. It it bombs in the UK, that sends out a strong message for its potential in the rest of the world.

We believe that Africa United is a film that is MASSIVELY LIFE-AFFIRMING, and HUMANITY-AFFIRMING, as well as hugely FUN. It’s themes are FRIENDSHIP, FORGIVENESS, HOPE (NO MATTER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES) and TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR OTHERS. It is not ‘poverty porn’, neither is it apologetic for dealing with the big issues of HIV, child soldiers, child sex trade and safe sex in a family-friendly way. The film’s test screening BETTER AUDIENCE RESPONSE THAN ANY OTHER FAMILY FILM that the experienced screening company had ever had when it had a test audience (invited off the street in London) during post-production. We received massive standing ovations at both our Toronto and London Film Festival premieres. But we have had a mix of glowing and very average reviews – the critical ones seeming to feel that you’re not supposed to make films like this – comedies that make you cry; kids films that tackle serious issues; mainstream films whose heroes are African kids.

I can promise you the following:
– it is a really fun film to watch – the lead kids are brilliant, really funny and very moving

– it is entertainment that is also a great discussion starter for talking to kids about big issues in the world. They are dealt with really lightly, but you tell me the kid that hasn’t heard of AIDS or child soldiers? This offers an opportunity for kids to engage with the issues in a way that doesn’t destroy innocence, and maintains a human connection, and hope and faith that things can be better

– kids love being able to relate to the journey and characters of the 5 East African stars of the film. To their dreams, and the way that they encourage each other, and convince others, to achieve them. The film’s young lead characters are brilliant heroes NOT victims.

– adults love to remember what it was like before circumstances dictated what is possible – remembering what it’s like to ask ‘why not?’, and to believe that ‘impossible is nothing’

– it has some of the best one-liners and footy jokes you’ll hear all year

– Dads usually laugh loads and cry twice, Mums too. Kids, tweens & teens LOVE IT. So do non-cynical adults! We have had an ace response from 20somethings as well.

– it is a miracle that this thing exists at all.

The film has a 12A cert is because it touches – very sensitively – on issues of child soldiers, the sex trade and HIV. This is with a heart to embrace kids from those backgrounds, and to encourage our kids and families to be engaging and not hiding from those issues. It is a safe and sensitive family environment for your kids to engage – with you – with big and important global issues in a safe and compassionate way.

SO here’s what I’m asking.

If you are in any way thinking of going to see the film – PLEASE GO THIS WEEK! If we don’t find an audience this week, the film will be gone from cinemas – and it will probably be buried internationally. It’s as simple as that. We have had coverage on CNN and as far afield as China – there is interest and fantastic audience response, but a UK cinema audience has to prove it has the box office chops for releasing internationally

If you are – or know – a youth leader, please take your youth group. There is LOADS of potential for discussion and exploration following a trip – plus it will be FUN.

If you have already seen the film – PLEASE TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW that it is now or never to go and see it. Half term COULD be our get-out-of-jail card, if attendances are good. Yesterday (Tuesday) saw daily attendances rise – this means good ‘word of mouth’ – can we keep it rising?

If you are a parent, and know other parents looking for half-term activities, please recommend

If you are a 20-something – please don’t think this is not for you! Some of our warmest reviews have come from 20somethings – particularly those who have traveled. The advertising makes it look like it’s just for kids – it’s not!

That’s it from me. This 18 months has been the most epic learning curve – both on a professional and personal level. But – by the grace of God(!) – we have ended up with a film that I, the film-makers & Pathé & the BBC are very proud of, and believe is a life-enriching and very entertaining cinema experience. Whether or not the film finds an audience is now beyond our control – but if you would like to help, please do!

With much much love, and – as our lead character Dudu would say – ‘keep the prize in your eyes’ 🙂


PS – some links if you would like to know more:;;;;;;
‘Film of the year’ – Empire’s Nev Pierce @nevpierce



Posted October 28, 2010 by silklifechurch in Community updates

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