Africa is a continent with a rich history and culture and has served as a backdrop for numerous international movies over the years. From epic adventures to heartwarming dramas, Africa’s diverse landscapes, vibrant cultures, and unique stories have inspired filmmakers from around the world. Here are some of the most notable films that have been shot all over Africa, from Cape to Cairo.
Gladiator, Morocco, 2000
This is an epic historical drama about a former Roman general who becomes a gladiator and seeks revenge against the emperor who murdered his family. The scenes were filmed in Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou, and Marrakech in Morocco. The locations were selected because of their resemblance to ancient Rome with other set pieces constructed specifically for the movie.
Hotel Rwanda, Rwanda & South Africa, 2004
Hotel Rwanda is a chilling and moving film based on the true story of a hotel manager who risks everything to save the lives of refugees during the Rwandan genocide. The film was primarily shot in South Africa but the scenes with the hotel that serves as the movie’s central setting was shot in Rwanda. To add authenticity to the film, the filmmakers made a conscious effort to cast local actors.
The Constant Gardner, Kenya, 2005
This is a thriller about a British diplomat who while investigating the murder of his wife uncovers a conspiracy involving pharmaceutical companies and the government. The Constant Gardner was primarily shot in Kenya with scenes shot in Nairobi and the countryside areas.
Blood Diamond, Mozambique & South Africa, 2006
Blood Diamond is a drama set during the Sierra Leone Civil War. It follows a smuggler and a fisherman as they search for a rare pink diamond that could change their fortunes. The film was primarily shot in Cape Town, South Africa and with others shot in Mozambique. Locating it in Africa was significant because of the diamond trade conflicts and other conflicts fueled by local and international interests.
The Last King of Scotland, Uganda, 2007
This political thriller about a Scottish doctor who becomes the personal physician of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, was in part filmed in Kampala, Uganda. Filming in Uganda was important, lending authenticity to the film.
District 9, South Africa, 2009
This Science fiction film set in a future where extraterrestrial refugees are forced to live in slums was filmed entirely in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Captain Phillips, Morocco, 2013
This biographical action-thriller retells a true story about the hijacking of a Maersk container ship by Somali pirates. It was filmed in part in Morocco, particularly the Agadir, a city famous for its beaches. It was initially supposed to be filmed in Egypt but security concerns necessitated the change.
Mad Max Fury Road, Namibia, 2015
Mad Max Fury Road is an action-packed post-apocalyptic adventure film about a woman who teams up with a group of rebels to escape a tyrannical ruler. Filming in Namibia with its unique landscape was part of what made the film so visually stunning.
Beasts of No Nation, Ghana, 2015
This war drama about a child soldier in a West African country torn by conflict was entirely filmed in Ghana with some scenes shot in Accra and others in the countryside. The film cast people who had participated in previous wars. This added authenticity to the film and also provided useful context to the rest of the cast that didn’t have that experience.
Captain America: Civil War, Nigeria, 2016
Captain America is a superhero film about a rift between the Avengers that leads to a battle between Captain America and Iron Man. One of the key action sequences in this major blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was shot in Lagos, Nigeria.
Tomb Raider, South Africa, 2018
Tomb Raider is an American and British co-production action-adventure fantasy that tells the story of Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer. It was filmed in part in South Africa.
Malcolm X, South Africa and Egypt, 1992
This biographical drama about Malcolm X travelling to Egypt and South Africa to learn about their struggles against oppression was filmed in part in Egypt and South Africa. The Egyptian scenes were set in Cairo, including that iconic scene where Malcolm X stands in front of the pyramids. The South African scenes were filmed in Johannesburg and Soweto, including the scene where Malcolm gives a rousing speech at a rally.
It’s interesting to note that the South African scenes were filmed while apartheid was still in effect. Apartheid ended in 1994 when the first free elections were held, and democratic South Africa was formed. The use of Egypt and South Africa as filming locations added to the cultural significance of the movie by emphasizing the global impact of Malcolm’s message and his Pan-African politics.
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