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Dutch pre-premiere of Welcome to the Smiling Coast: Living in the Gambian Ghetto

June 24th, At: Pllek, Neveritaweg 59, Amsterdam.

After the world premiere at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the European premiere at the Galway African Film Festival, the film will now be screened in the Netherlands for the first time.

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 in search of sun, sea and sex. Since 2005 the country typically receives over 100.000 foreign visitors each year, earning its reputation for being Africa’s Costa del Sol.

The luxury enjoyed by the tourists often stands in sharp contrast with the possibilities of the country’s local inhabitants, who often reside in poor neighbourhoods, not seldom only a few steps away from the tourist hotels and beaches. With this lure of a better future just around the corner, many Gambian youngsters consider taking the ‘back way’, the illegal crossing to Europe across deserts and high seas. Adopting a light (and musical) yet critical tone, Welcome to the Smiling Coast shows the alternative and often creative strategies these youngsters employ to secure their livelihood. They openly and candidly share their struggles, hopes and dreams in front of the camera. Do they eventually try their luck abroad or find their peace at home?

Welcome to the Smiling Coast is the first feature-length documentary made by Dutch film duo Bas Ackermann and Emiel Martens. Ackermann is a filmmaker from The Hague who creates audiovisual productions under the name Upperunder. Martens is a film scholar from Amsterdam who advises, produces and promotes independent film projects through his foundation Caribbean Creativity and company Dudes in your Face. Together they made Welcome to the Smiling Coast with a minimum budget, financed out of their own pockets and without any form of subsidy.

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27 January 2016, dymph