The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

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Director/Directrice, Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema | Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinéma

10 August 2020

The Gauteng Film Commission on Women’s Month 2020 - South Africa

The Gauteng Film Commission
on Women’s Month 2020


The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) today launches the month-long Women’s month 2020 programme. The programme will mostly showcase the work and efforts of women in the film and television sector in Gauteng, using virtual platforms across popular social media channels from the 10th till the 31st of August 2020.

The programme is being launched during a very difficult period, when the country is under a restricted lockdown due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. In South Africa, we have witnessed the difficult circumstances and challenges faced particularly by women – the gender-based violence as well as food insecurity among other realities. Under the theme "Generation Equality: Realising women's rights for an equal society now” the South African government has highlighted this year’s focus for Women's Month as gender-based violence and discrimination, the advancement of the rights of women and girls in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres of life.

South Africa commemorates Women's Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, in protest of the extension of Pass Laws to women. It is following on this premise that the GFC has brought in partners to commemorate Women’s month this year. The programme will explore issues faced by women in the industry, and solutions will be discussed in virtual activities, delivered mostly by women, namely a virtual roundtable series, women empowerment lecture with City Varsity and an Online Women Film Festival.

“Reflecting on how women came together in 1956 to fight an unjust system, we have also brought in a variety of stakeholders to work with in executing this programme. We have partnered with City Varsity who will run the virtual empowerment masterclasses delivered by women lecturers, we also have Netflix onboard, a global media company that has made available relief to the distressed industry – they are providing a once off, short-term emergency relief grant to below-the-line workers who are usually hired on a freelance basis, are paid hourly wages and currently have most of their work put on hold” said GFC’s Desmond Mthembu. 

The programme has pulled more than 30 film and TV industry practitioners and will engage on issues ranging from sexual harassment in the sector, diversity, decolonising spaces to women empowerment. All activities will be virtual and will be delivered through the GFC’s social media platforms.

W A T C H O N L I N E ON YOUTUBE @youtube.com/c/GautengFilmCommissionTV

VIRTUAL WOMEN'S AUDIO-VISUAL FESTIVAL

Virtual Round Table by actors and talent behind the camera including Salamina Mosese, Stephina Zwane, Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Dr. Jerry Mofokeng wa Makgetha, Naledi Bogacwi and Carolie Kganyago: 10-18 August

Women Empowerment Lectures with City Varsity seeks to train limited number of women filmmakers. Register here: tinyurl.com/y4rwyu2g

Women's Film Festival a 5 day virtual event noted via GFC YouTube Channel. Watch on YouTube:Gauteng Film Commission TV 25-29 August.


GFC invites entries for the Online Women Film Festival
25 - 29 Aug 2020: Live on YouTube.

Submit a short film (not longer than 25 minutes) and Stand a Chance to Win a Share of R50 000 Filming Equipment.

Festival Open to Gauteng Based Women Producers & Directors Only

Submission Deadline: 20 Aug 2020
http://www.gautengfilm.org.za/2019-news-2/282-august/1932-gfc-invites-entries-for-the-online-women-film-festival

Follow us on all social media platforms for updates and the latest information and register for the masterclasses here

Facebook: @GautengFilm

Twitter: @GautengFilmCom

Instagram: @gautengfilmcommission

YouTube: @youtube.com/c/GautengFilmCommissionTV
#generationequality
#endgenderinequality

For more information, contact:
Siyabonga Mngoma
Communication Manager: GFC

African Diasporic Cinema: Aesthetics of Reconstruction by Daniela Ricci

African Diasporic Cinema: Aesthetics of Reconstruction by Daniela Ricci
Translated from French by Melissa Thackway
Michigan State University Press (August 1, 2020)
304 pages


African Diasporic Cinema: Aesthetics of Reconstruction analyzes the aesthetic strategies adopted by contemporary African diasporic filmmakers to express the reconstruction of identity. Having left the continent, these filmmakers see Africa as a site of representation and cultural circulation. The diasporic experience displaces the center and forges new syncretic identities. Through migratory movement, people become foreigners, Others—and in this instance, black. The African diasporic condition in the Western world is characterized by the intersection of various factors: being African and bearing the historical memory of the continent; belonging to a black minority in majority-white societies; and finally, having historically been the object of negative, stereotyped representation. As a result, quests for the self and self-reconstruction are frequent themes in the films of the African diaspora, and yet the filmmakers refuse to remain trapped in the confines of an assigned, rigid identity. Reflecting these complex circumstances, this book analyzes the contemporary diaspora through the prism of cultural hybridization and the processes of recomposing fragmented identities, out of which new identities emerge.

08 August 2020

Mayye Zayed: Ash Ya Captain | Lift Like a Girl (Egypt) - Toronto International Film Festival 2020

Mayye Zayed
Ash Ya Captain | Lift Like a Girl
Egypt
2020 - 1h35 - Documentary

Description
An observational feature length documentary about the female weightlifting community training in the streets of Alexandria, as it follows the 14-year-old Zebiba as she pursues her dream to become a professional weightlifter. Her coach Captain Ramadan believes so much in her and never takes no for an answer. He has been training world champion weightlifters for more than 20 years, including his daughter Nahla Ramadan; the former world champion, an Olympian and the pioneer of weightlifting in Egypt, as well as Abeer Abdel Rahman; the first Arab female 2-time Olympic medalist. For 4 years, Zebiba goes through victories and defeats, including major losses that shape her, as she finds her way from dust to gold. (Source: imdb.com)

Bio: Mayye Zayed
An Egyptian independent filmmaker who was born in Alexandria in 1985. She studied Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering in Alexandria University. She studied independent filmmaking in many workshops including the Jesuits Cultural Centre's workshop in Alexandria in 2009/2010. Then she was granted a Fulbright scholarship to study cinema and media studies in Wellesley College in USA in 2011/2012 which also enabled her to take the comparative media class "Innovations in Documentary" in MIT. She is a film director, producer, director of photography and editor. In 2013 she co-founded Rufy's; an independent film production house based in Alexandria, Egypt.



Français
« Ash Ya Captain » (« Lift Like a Girl »), un  film réalisé par la cinéaste égyptienne Mayye Zayed, qui raconte le voyage intime dans la vie d'un athlète en devenir.

07 August 2020

RECENT FILMS. Ayten Amin: Souad (Egypt)

Ayten Amin
Souad
Egypt | Égypte 
2020 - Fiction - 1h30


Synopsis
Nineteen year-old Souad and her younger sister Rabab, live in the town of Zagazig with their conservative family. A series of small incidents pushes Souad to commit suicide. The family is swallowed in silence. Rabab dismisses all explanations for her Souad's death and is determined to find out the real cause of her sister's despair. She discovers that Ahmed is the central figure in Souad's virtual life. In search of answers, Rabab goes to Alexandria to see Ahmed.

Souad, une fille de 19 ans, vit avec sa famille conservatrice dans la ville de Zagazig, avec sa petite sœur Rabab. Une série de petits incidents ont poussé Souad à se suicider. Le silence avale tout dans la famille. Rabab jette toutes les explications de la mort de sa sœur et est déterminée à comprendre la véritable cause du désespoir de sa sœur. Elle découvre qu'Ahmed est la figure centrale de la vie virtuelle de Souad. Rabab voyage pour voir Ahmed à Alexandrie, à la recherche de réponses.


Description
The film is part of the Cannes 2020 Official Selection which presents it as follows: For this moving portrait of  young Egyptian women, the fluid camera stays close to their faces. Ayten Amin weaves a precious world, which mixes local traditions and universal hopes. Young girls dream, they want to seduce, to be loved, to wear makeup, to be awakened. In the beautiful Alexandra, the sound is that of life, the noise of the city and the silences of the heroine.

Souad is a film produced by the company Vivid Reels, in co-production with Nomadis Images (Dora Bouchoucha, Tunisia). 

A native of Alexandria, Ayten Amin rose to prominence after the Egyptian revolution with the documentary "Tahrir 2011".

***

Le film fait partie de la Sélection Officielle Cannes 2020 qui le présente ainsi : Caméra fluide et proche des visages pour ce portrait émouvant de jeunes égyptiennes. Ayten Amin tisse un monde précieux, qui mêle traditions locales et espérances universelles. Les jeunes filles rêvent, elles veulent séduire, être aimées, se maquiller, s'éveiller. Dans Alexandrie la belle, le son est celui de la vie, des bruits de la ville et des silences de l'héroïne.

Souad est un film produit par la société Vivid Reels, en coproduction avec Nomadis Images (Dora Bouchoucha, Tunisie). 

Native d’Alexandrie, Ayten Amin s’était fait connaître après la révolution égyptienne avec le documentaire « Tahrir 2011 ».

***

73ème festival de Cannes 2020
Sélection officielle | Official Selection - LES NOUVELLES ET NOUVEAUX VENU(E)S 

20 July 2020

Kis Keya : Creator of Extranostro, the First Afro-Queer Francophone Web Series | Créatrice d’Extranostro, première websérie afro-queer francophone - Interview by/par Laurent Maurice Lafontant (neverapart.com)

Kis Keya : Creator of Extranostro, the First Afro-Queer Francophone Web Series | Créatrice d’Extranostro, première websérie afro-queer francophone - Interview by/par Laurent Maurice Lafontant (neverapart.com)

Source: neverapart.com. 8 July/juillet 2020

In English:
My primary motivation was to act on the homophobia that is rampant in many African and, more broadly speaking, black families. I wanted young (and not so young) people who faced rejection, who feel all alone in the world, and who wonder whether they’re “normal” or not to realize that there are other people ou there just like them. As a matter of fact, that is the reason I chose to do a web series. I wanted Extranostroto be streamed online and be accessible all over the world which is not always possible on TV networks that may have geographical restrictions. https://www.neverapart.com/features/interview-kis-keya-extranostro/

En français :
Ma toute première motivation était d’agir par rapport à l’homophobie qui sévit dans une grande partie des familles africaines et noires de façon plus générale. Je voulais que des jeunes (et moins jeunes) qui sont rejeté·es ou qui sont quelque part dans le monde, seul·es, à se demander s’ils, elles, illes sont « normaux » réalisent que d’autres personnes leur ressemblent. C’est la raison, d’ailleurs, pour laquelle j’ai opté pour une websérie. Je voulais qu’elle puisse être diffusée sur internet et accessible partout dans le monde. Ce qui n’est pas toujours possible sur les chaînes de télévision qui peuvent avoir des restrictions géographiques.

19 July 2020

Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ) - Stakeholders Report 2019: Eradicating Violence against Women and Girls through mainstream women’s audio visual narratives in marginalised urban and rural communities

Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe
WFOZ
Stakeholders Report 2019

Eradicating Violence against Women and Girls through mainstream women’s audio visual narratives in marginalised urban and rural communities

This report summarises the findings of the project by Women Film Makers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ) on Eradicating Violence against Women and Girls through mainstreaming women’s audio visual narratives in marginalised urban and rural communities.

***

The methodologies adopted for this analysis included surveys and interviews. Films that involve violence against women and girls were sought and screened in different communities, followed by discussions. The films were used as tools to gather information in the communities’s understanding of VAWG as well as to raise awareness on issues and impacts of VAWG. A monitoring and evaluation exercise that measures changes before and after the screenings was also
carried out.

***

The purpose of the report is to share information gathered from communities engaged to prevent and obtain feedback on how WFOZ methodologies can be used in the future.

SEE COMPLETE DOCUMENT AT :


13 July 2020

Matamba Kombila: Mundele n: blanche, étrangère - white, foreigner

Matamba Kombila, of French-Gabonese parentage, explores the evolving complexities of her multiple identities and the cultural, geographical tensions of these positionalities. Her short experimental film Mundele n: blanche, étrangère, contextualizes the conversation.

An interview with Matamba Kombila by Beti Ellerson, July 2020.

Matamba, talk a bit about yourself, your evolution into filmmaking.

I had reached a glass ceiling in the fashion industry where I was working as events producer for high-end brands. I had understood I’d never get to the positions my degrees could have led me to because I wasn’t Caucasian. I needed to move on to a field where I would have a sense of community and professional fulfillment after years of feeling used, shortchanged and often alienated. I therefore decided to follow my heart and my innate passion for the moving image and storytelling, and to become a filmmaker. I had actually been teaching myself screenwriting and directing while I was in fashion, and had started developing screenplays. My first experience in film was on the set of Tanya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us, in the production design department. I was always drawn to stories revolving around social justice, so working on a film about the story of the wife of a slain Black Panther leader felt like an omen and confirmed I was on the right path. I started shooting a few years later, after I took amazing intensive workshops at Ela Thier’s Independent Film School. I literally used my cellphone for my few first films. I couldn’t wait to own a camera to start creating, or, for someone who had one, to be available to do it with me. It gave me a good sense of composition and movement in the frame. I realize that editing myself or assisting the editor for all the films I have made since then have allowed me to hone my screenwriting skills. Likewise, producing and managing the production of fellow filmmakers’ shorts or features makes me build capacity while being part of the creative process, which is priceless. I am now working at improving my technical knowledge to understand how to best match the story’s intention and mood with the visual. It's a never-ending, fascinating, growing process.

You film is titled, Mundele n: blanche, étrangère, English subtitled as white, foreigner. What does this title mean?

Mundele literally means white, foreigner in the Lingala language, which is spoken in DRC and Congo, where it was shot. I found through my travels that in many African streets, when you stand out from the crowd, people call out to you. In Congo where I shot the film, I was Mundele. And in many African countries, I am called white, foreigner.

For a short film with a duration of just under 10 minutes, there is a great deal that the spectator must extrapolate. Is that your intention?

It is constructed as avenues of reflection on themes that revolve around the make up of my identity. I don’t want to state anything. I simply want to highlight situations or events that may bring answers to the questioning around it.

You ask questions to your entourage, which appear to be in fact existential, and not really in search of a probing response. On the other hand there are a host of questions that the film provokes. Perhaps I will start with my own questions: what was your objective for making the film? 

The intention of the initial project was to unpack some aspects of my complicated relationship with my mother and show her my love. My objective for making the film was to draw a parallel between what’s commonly called France-Afrique and myself, the offspring of a French woman and a Gabonese man. I wanted to explore the juxtaposition of the complicated relationship between the colonizer and its outposts on the continent and my identity, the mix of the cultures and histories of the colonizer and the colonized.

The film starts with you at the hairdresser’s salon surrounded by a circle of young African women as they each take part in coiffing your hair. A metaphor, a signifier, perhaps of your identity, as it is transformed into a Gabonese hairstyle. What role does hair play for you and why this choice in constructing the film? 

The film was made during a Documentary Filmmaking Workshop for Women at the French Institute of Pointe Noire. The idea of the salon came from the instructor, Rufin Mbou Mikima, who came up with it when we started discussing the story. Interestingly, I had thought about using hair as a vector of identity but wasn’t sure how. My hair is my antenna, my connector to the universe and the cosmic forces. It is also a shield that protects me against the cold and the heat, balancing out my body temperature. At last, it is an element of style that allows me to tell stories about myself and my ancestors; an “identifier”. Therefore getting my hair done is something very intimate that often leads to insightful conversations, so the salon was a perfect setting to broach the theme of my identity. After we collected all of the images, we came up with the structure of the mirror for the film. Its first part, shot in the salon, is the front of the mirror, what I see and am perceived by others; its second part, my walk in the streets of Pointe Noire, is what’s behind it, what I perceive as my identity’s founding elements.

There have been a flurry of films by mixed-raced women especially of African-European origin, who probe the question of color, of identity, of belonging. To name a few: Ngozi Onwurah: The Body Beautiful. Sarah Bouyain: Les Enfants du blanc (Children of the White Man) and Notre Etrangère (The Place in Between). Claude Haffner: Blanche ici, noire la-bàs (Footprints of My Other). In the latter two, echoes of your film title is evident. There is also the film, Métis (Mixed-race), co-directed by Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette and Mélissa Quinet, the latter who is the grand-daughter of one of the two protagonists of the documentary. In addition, Irish-Kenyan Zélie Asava, who is also mixed-race, published her research in the book titled Mixed Race Cinemas, Multiracial Dynamics in America and France. There have even been several films also about mixed-raced girls/women by African women who are not, I am thinking of Sous la clarité de la lune (Under the Moonlight) by Apolline Traoré and Au phantom du père (The Ghost of the Father) by Laurentine Bayala, for example. There is also Isabelle Boni-Claverie, whose grandmother was a white Frenchwoman, who dealt with the subject in her short film, Pour la nuit. Perhaps I could ask you, do you have some thoughts about why this topic may be a specific quest for women?

I am finding out now that there are so many films on the topic. I saw a few of that your mentioned, but didn’t know of all of them. I’ll research and watch. I am curious to see how my fellow lady filmmakers have treated the topic. I will not use the word race because it doesn’t exist within the human realm.

Now back to your question. For me, even knowing quite a bit about genetics, it still is fascinating to know that I come out of the belly of a woman and look nothing like her. It was complicated to construct my identity growing up when I was on one end not allowed to identify to her, and on the other end told that I was only her. Indeed in the West I was always perceived as African or mixed, when in Africa I was perceived as Caucasian. Ultimately, maybe women ponder over the topic because we give life and we are the origin of all these multicultural babies that often find themselves at odds with their environment. The truth is we are the fruit of the love of two individuals of different cultures, the living proof that the divisive concept of race is a hoax. We make a lot of people feel uncomfortable because of their preconceptions and prejudice built-in by 500 years of history. I feel like its onto women to undo this. I am glad to see that several of us talk about our experience being mixed African-European because our testimonies carry elements of solutions to the problems of “racism” and its children, Caucasian supremacy and ongoing colonialism. We are after all the natural link between the opposite sides.

What has been the feedback to the film in African countries where it has been screened?

At the screenings I attended, there was no feedback so I explained the film to the audience. Then some audience members commented that my point of view made them understand aspects of the mixed African-European identity they had never thought about. It gave them insights not only on the personality of some of their mixed friends or relatives, but also on their own makeup, being the descendants of people who used to call Europeans their ancestors. I was asked a few times why the hairdressers don’t answer my questions. In fact they do. But we had sound issues so it turns out to be some sort of monologue with the effect that you describe earlier.

In your experiences, what are the similarities and differences to mixed race-identity in Africa compared to the West?

In my experience, the only similarity to mixed identity in Africa compared to the West is the ever-present unconscious stigma, consequence of the racialization of humans by the Catholic Church to justify the objectification of Africans in order to serve Western capitalism, with the complicity of African traders.

The differences are undeniable. In the African countries I have visited, I was either perceived as a national (Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia), or as a white/foreigner but in the end always accepted for who I am and integrated. Interestingly, my mixed culture may be perceived as an asset because it may allow navigating a multifaceted African world with ease, to the benefit of the community. South Africa is a different story, because colorism defines social class and status. In Cape Town, I didn't quite feel like a human. I was colored, confined to some margins of society. I had a similar experience in France and in the few European countries I have visited where ultimately, the majority of people were uncomfortable with who I am because I don’t quite fit in any category they are familiar with. Except for the UK where the notion of mixed culture seems assimilated. In the USA or Brazil, I am Black. I am denied my European heritage and I institutionally have a very limited space in the Caucasian world, which ironically, is nevertheless equally as mine as the African world. So ultimately, the main difference is that Africa seems to still be welcoming the other with open arms, when the West seems scared of ghosts that it has not made peace with. 

Future works?

I am currently developing my first feature film, a story of revenge in political circles in Gabon, with a female lead. The project results from two residencies, in Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

I should start editing soon the footage that I have been shooting over the past few months in Cameroon where I found myself stranded when Covid-19 hit and borders closed, and where I spent the past 5 months.

I am also just starting a documentary project with a collective of African filmmakers where the objective is truth and reconciliation with our past as accomplices in the slave trade.