25 March, 2015
Filmhuis Den Haag

Spui 191, Den Haag

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Welcome to the Smiling Coast (Test Screening)

Welcome to the Smiling Coast: Living in the Gambia Ghetto, a new documentary about tourism in the Gambia, West Africa, that is co-produced by Caribbean Creativity, will enjoy its first test screening on Wednesday March 25 at the Movies that Matter Film Festival in The Hague.

Welcome to the Smiling Coast offers a rare insight into the daily lives of fifteen youngsters who are struggling to make ends meet in the margins of the Gambian tourism industry. Although the smallest country on mainland Africa, the Gambia has become a popular holiday destination for European tourists, especially among older white women. Since 2005 the country typically receives over 100.000 foreign visitors every year, earning its reputation for being Africa’s Costa del Sol. Just a 5-hour flight away, the all-inclusive hotels give them the perfect package for the ‘triple-s’ African adventure of sun, sea and sex.

Ironically, many Gambians, particularly youngsters, reside in poor neighborhoods only a few steps away from the tourist hotels and beaches. With this lure of a better future just around the corner, the dangerous ‘back way’ across deserts and high seas to Europe is always lingering in their minds. Do they eventually try their luck abroad or find their peace at home? Taking a light but critical tone, Welcome to the Smiling Coast shows the varied and creative alternative strategies Gambian youngsters employ to secure their livelihood. Capturing their struggles, hopes and dreams, the documentary puts a human and positive face on the informal economy that lies behind the glitter of the Smiling Coast of Africa.

The screening of Welcome to the Smiling Coast at Movies that Matter, the annual human rights film festival of Amnesty International, will be introduced by alderman Joris Wijsmuller and followed by a Q&A with director Bas Ackermann (Upperunder / State of Mic), story editor Emiel Martens (Caribbean Creativity / Dudes in your Face) and Alhagie Manka, one of the Gambian youngers appearing in the film. After the screening, there will be a modest afterparty with DJ Jon Bon Gianni, who will bring fresh African highlife, soul and raw funk.