Private Project

The Africologist: Chronicles of Africa

In this sensational documentary, director Val Lopes and the imaginary 3D character, the Africologist, embark on a journey through space and time, their mission is to unveil and relate the chronicles of Africa.

  • Valerio Lopes
  • Valerio Lopes
  • Susan Majimbo
    Key Cast
    "Johari (English)"
  • Monica Sizya
    Key Cast
    "Johari (Swahili)"
  • Jamaldeen A. H.
    Key Cast
  • Sophiya Nzau
    Key Cast
  • V Helmbold
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 12 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 8, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    Cape Verde
  • Country of Filming:
    Cape Verde, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, United Republic of
  • Language:
    English, Swahili
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Festival International du Film PanAfricain de Cannes
    October 18, 2022
  • The Pan African Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    February 18, 2023
    Programmers’ Award: Best Documentary Feature
  • L'Afrique Fait Son Cinéma
    September 30, 2022
  • AFRIFF Africa International Film Festival
    November 6, 2022
  • Eastern Nigeria International Film Festival
    November 16, 2022
    Best Documentary
  • African Film Festival New Zealand 2022
    New Zealand
    October 20, 2022
  • Ekurhuleni International Film Festival-EIFF 22
    South Africa
    November 24, 2022
  • Afrikana Independent Film Festival
    United States
    September 15, 2022
  • Quibdó África Film Festival
    Quibdó, Chocó
    September 12, 2022
  • 2 11 17 International Film Festival

    July 18, 2022
    Best Documentary
  • CELLUDROID Sci-Fi Film Festival
    Cape Town
    South Africa
    September 2, 2022
    Jackson, TN.
    United States
    September 17, 2022
  • Bijou Film Festival
    Oakland, CA
    United States
    June 15, 2022
    Best Documentary
  • African Diaspora Cinema Festival
    June 15, 2022
  • Festival International du Cinéma Numérique de Cotonou (FICNC)
    December 9, 2022
  • African Film Festival
    December 16, 2022
  • Out Of Africa International Film Festival
    January 19, 2023
    Jury Award
  • RENDACON (Animation and Visual Effects Film Festival)
    November 23, 2022
  • Mashariki African Film Festival
    November 26, 2022
  • Aporia International Village Film Festival

    Korea, Republic of
  • African Film Festival

    South Africa
Director Biography - Valerio Lopes

Valerio Lopes is a Cape Verdean storyteller and director born in Luxembourg. He considers himself an African who left the continent before being born. Both his parents are Cape Verdean immigrants who left the country before its independence at times of hunger and unemployment. As a director, Cape Verde was at the center of Val's first documentary "Cabralista". He has lived an travelled the continent extensively, using his day job as an enabler and his curiosity as a reason to keep crossing borders while telling the stories of people and places.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

A humble dare.
I dare to say that this is not the typical cliché-filled documentary film on Africa. I make this remark because it seemed precisely what people expected during my research and filming journey. Breaking out of that mould and making something sensational was specifically what I attempted to do from the beginning. Instead of focusing on the usual tribulations, I used peer-reviewed science results to back the truth about Africa's role in humanity.

The script.
The complexity of the underlying story is what led me to base this film on scripted narration. The only way to tell a chronological narrative spanning such a wide range of events while keeping it around the one hour mark was by carefully crafting the wording.

There is a fundamental question at the heart of this tale: what was, is, and will be the role of Africa and its people in the world, generation after generation? What is Africology? When we consider that Egypt and egyptology is just a subset of all the history, science, culture and human evolution in Africa, isn't there a need for Africology?

Another approach to filmmaking.
I tried to take a different approach to documentary storytelling, moving closer to traditional storytelling mediums in Africa while staying faithful to our interpretation of the human condition. To accomplish this and remain genuine to the science and facts that back this film, I decided to take a subjective approach to documentary filmmaking. For the role of the protagonist, I used a fictional character, The Africologist, who embodies the curious and ambitious African of our times striving for attention in the globalized paradigm we live in. It is a purely subjective film – there are no interviews, just voice-overs. The film reveals how people in Africa are increasingly connected to the rest of the world but nonetheless devoted to their cultures and countries. This places the film in the category of docu-fiction, at times interjected with science-fiction sequences but entirely based on scientific facts.

Two canvases.
The film swings between two distinct canvases; on the one hand, there is the science-fictional, imaginary CG-realm representing the experiences of The Africologist on her journey of discovery. Opposed to that, on the other hand, is an authentic, scientific and factual second canvas in which I appear as the narrator. It is a carefully crafted representation of the world we live in, told from an African point of view. To create these two canvases, I travelled to 16 countries in Africa.

To set the scene and expose the viewer to its distinctive realm, it starts with an introduction to the act of storytelling as a scientific tool and a carrier of cultures, traditions and beliefs. This prelude is followed by the eight distinct chapters of the film, namely Cosmogenics, Biogenics, the Golden Ages of Africa, the Dark ages of Africa, re-Africanisation, Anthropocene, Technosphere and Future.

Music, rhythm and editing
The documentary-style is provocative, at times poetic and thought-provoking. Music sets the pace for the camera work; at times, slow shots of beautiful landscapes contrast with fast-paced, carefully juxtaposed 3d graphics and locational images. Repetitiveness is a strong motif in the film, always returning to expansive views of outer space, earth and the African continent. The film creates a frame of recurring motives, different in shape, colour and space, but equal in their desired outcome. The editing is paced by music, always dancing with the soundtrack composed by myself and performed by guest musicians.

I tried to find a way to make the audience perceive each scene's visual and acoustic environment. The journey of the Africologist facilitates the transition from past to present, rural to urban and ultimately, her final journey to space. Every one of the 8 chapters has its place in the narrative, the one that precedes sets the tone for the coming ones. The film culminates with an empowering vision for Africa while pointing out the risks we take while making the leap into the future.

Digital Storytelling
As a filmmaker, I learned in the most humbling way that I was born in times where so many layers of emotion and forms of expression can be achieved with unprecedented ease. I learned that mediums and storytelling methods change over time, but plots, narratives, people, and events always remain central. Therefore, I see computer graphics, digital audio workstations, cameras, music instruments and other storytelling tools as what they truly are, mere tools to craft and tell stories.

As I am fluent in English, French and Portuguese and since I am the only narrator who is visible in the film, it was possible to make it available in the 3 languages. The Africologist is a computer generated character and i worked with different voice artists to allow her to express herself in those languages too. However to make her more relatable to an African audience, there are moments where she speaks exclusively Swahili, these parts are subtitled in French, English and Portuguese respectively.

This is not just the story about the other, the African immigrant or the forcefully exiled former slave living far from the motherland. It is not the story of a different African from another country on the other end of the continent. The Africologist, Chronicles of Africa is the story of humanity, the story that unites us, of ourselves, regardless of who we are.