Why “Viva Riva!” Matters…

June 8, 2011

Okay, so I’ve been raving about this film for weeks now. Yes, it’s super hot, yes it’s super sexy, yes its action-packed and all else. Fantastic. But believe it or not, I’m not just a groupie. (Well, not JUST a groupie!) Let me explain why Viva Riva! matters in the African film world and why you (yes YOU!) should be making plans and demanding a screening in your local city now!

One simple question: When is the last time you saw an African film with all African leads AND an African director and NOT a “We are the World” film receive theatrical distribution in the US? (Seriously, if you can think of something please let me know!)

I have no memory of such.

African films which actually make it to theaters in the US are overwhelmingly African because of the location, issue at hand or background extras (and maybe one or two supporting actors…okay, so The First Grader had a lead…that’s a whole other blog post though, I’ll get to it.) The idea that Africans are qualified to tell their own stories in front of and behind the camera AND have the film marketed and distributed in the US has not been the trend for sure. Could this be the start of something?

Okay, so one could ask why the chosen film has to be so violent and sex-packed? I agree, you could and should say that by all means. Go ahead. But nonetheless, its happening, and in my opinion the sex and violence do work for the story, so yaay for that.

My point is that some dude took the risk. For whatever reason: sex sells, the lead actress is hot, its got a banging soundtrack, it’s a first-timer…whatever. Point is, someone put money on the table. And if Music Box Films makes money on this film it could open the door in a major way for a lot more  non-“woe are we”, non-“faux African accent”, non-“white savior” African films and THAT would be a major, fucking victory!

So get out your calendars people! Go see the film opening weekend, bring your friends, let’s actually MAKE (or TAKE?!) some theater space for African film! And as an added bonus, its a pretty fun ride too!


Viva Riva! opens in New York , LA  and Portland on June 10th. Click here for the US release schedule.