Prisca Abranches

A summary of the Dutch pre-premiere of “Welcome to the Smiling Coast”

After the European premiere at the Gataway African Film Festival (GAFF) in Ireland, Welcome to the Smiling Coast stopped in Amsterdam for an outdoor screening in front of more than 100 people. ZAM’s intern Prisca Abranches was there and summarizes the film. 

On Friday June 24, I attended the Dutch premiere of Welcome to the Smiling Coast that took place at Pllek, a great space which offers a beautiful atmosphere for the outdoor screening of the documentary. I sat down comfortably and the screening began.

Welcome to the smiling coasttells the story about the tourism sector in Gambia, the smallest country of Africa, also known as the African ¨Costa Del Sol¨. The documentary gets into the daily routine of fifteen Gambian youngsters who struggle to earn their livelihoods from the economic benefits of the tourism industry.

The Gambia has become an appreciated holiday destination for many European tourists seeking sun, sea & sex. Unfortunately, there is a strong contrast between the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the tourists and the lack of opportunities of the Gambian local inhabitants who often live in poor neighbourhoods located close to the high quality tourist area with hotels, restaurants, clubs and beaches.

Due to the illusion of a better future related to the lifestyle of tourists just next to them, many youngsters choose to take the 'back way' which means to make the crossing to Europe with all the risks that it entails.

The youngsters of Welcome to the smiling coastshare with us, viewers, how they deal with the tourism industry to ensure their livelihoods in their motherland using ingenious and original strategies but they also share their intimate dreams and hopes about their future.

This documentary put a smile on my face for two reasons: the first one is the film director´s stance. Through their documentary, they show a positive face of an African country while at the same time highlighting a sad reality and the consequences of occidental tourism in Gambia. The second, is the omnipresence of music throughout the documentary, which has the power to take us viewers on a journey.

Welcome to the Smiling Coast is a feature-length documentary made by Bas Ackermann, filmmaker and art director and Emiel Martens, founding director and chief representative of Caribbean Creativity. The film had its world premiere in February 2016 at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles and the European premiere at the Galway African Film Festival. Read more about the movie here.

Prisca Abranches is based in Brussels and currently doing an internship at ZAM Magazine