In a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa, the film follows Enock Alu, a Malawian boy from a rural village growing up between the contrasting worlds of his traditional African culture and the strict discipline of the Confucian, Buddhist value system of the Chinese. Once the star performer with dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li, Enock, in his final year at school, has to make some tough decisions about his future and finds himself torn between returning to his relatives in the village or going abroad to study in China. Against the backdrop of China’s expanding global influence, the film evokes some of the tensions surrounding the growing relationship between China and Africa.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Nicole Schafer has lived in Malawi where she produced video features for Reuters pan-African magazine show Africa Journal. Born in South Africa, Nicole has an MFA degree from the University of Cape Town. Her thesis film, The Ballad of Rosalind Ballingall (2005), about the disappearance of a young woman into South Africa’s Knysna forest, was shown at the Frijbourg International Film Festival (2006). She has also worked in the areas of research and production for local and international film and television productions.
Buddha in Africa received the IDFA “Most Promising Documentary Award” at the Durban Film Mart Doc Circle Pitch in 2011. The project has received production funding from the IDFA Bertha Fund and Hot Docs Blue Ice Fund. The film was part of the Hot Docs Deal Maker program at the Hot Docs festival in 2013, and was selected to participate in the IDFA World View Summer School Script Development program in 2013.