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.

20 October 2014

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series – 25-27 October 2014

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series  
25-27 October 2014
Women – Films – Empowerment 
Celebrating women of color across the globe

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series, founded by African Voices magazine and Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn Campus, is the first Brooklyn-based festival devoted to supporting films produced, directed and written by women of color. Since 1997, the festival has been enriching the city with over 500 films by women of African, Caribbean, Latino, Asian, Indian and Native American descent. Reel Sisters attracts more than 800 film lovers from across the nation and globe including California, Chicago, Florida to as far away as Britain. The festival screens 25 films each year.
Reel Sisters also provides scholarships to emerging women filmmakers and offers other resources for women filmmakers. The festival not only showcases films, but hosts panels and workshops as well.
Reel Sisters will be held from 25-26 October 2014 at LIU (Brooklyn, New York, USA).
See complete schedule of films and events at: 
Text: Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival press page.

17 October 2014

And Still I Rise - Women's History Month Film Festival - Women in Media-Newark Call for Entries 2015

And Still I Rise
Women's History Month Film Festival
Call for Entries 2015
Women in Media-Newark

Women in Media-Newark encourages submissions of films by and about women from every country and nationality world wide!

Women in Media-Newark mission statement:

Women In Media – Newark is an organization that advocates for and educates the public about issues affecting the lives of women using film, video and new media as our platform. Merging culture and academia, we also rally behind the brave women who courageously struggle to assume leadership roles in the film industry with their conscious effort to present a balanced image of women, dispelling the stereotypes, and changing public perception of their sisters worldwide.

12 October 2014

Remembering Khady Sylla: Djia Mambu interviews Mariama Sylla, producer and co-director of “A Single Word” (with the late Khady Sylla)

Djia Mambu interviews Mariama Sylla, producer and co-director of the film “A Single Word” (with the late Khady Sylla). 
SOURCE: Translated from French by Beti Ellerson.
"A Simple Word", premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the documentary by the Senegalese sisters/filmmakers, Mariama and Khady Sylla, draws a picture of their traditional oral culture where their grandmother remains one of the last guarantors of genealogical memory.
Khady Sylla, who died in October 2013, left with us a tribute to the ancestors and those who have gone. It is the seventh collaboration with her younger sister, who considers this the most accomplished of their work.

Djia Mambu: Two Senegalese sister filmmakers, this is rather rare in this realm?
Mariama Sylla: I started working with my sister at the age of 17; she is the one who trained me and introduced me to cinema and scriptwriting. The person I am today is the result of this long journey with Khady, the first-born of our family. I am the youngest and she and I often laughed about being at these two ends, despite the difference in age and education, we were able to come together.
DM: How did you come up with the idea to make a film paying tribute to your ancestors?
MS: The idea for the film came one day when, while sitting on a mat next to our great grandmother, her voice broke the silence of the evening sunset and the purple twilight. She sang of her ancestors. Her slightly husky voice, the emotion that it carried, moved us deeply. Though we were not able to record these words that came from the depths of time, we were satisfied with listening to the voice of this centenarian with whom we had woven so many ties.
It is from this moment that we had a desire to make a film about the oral tradition but seen from the perspective of our family, because we had realised that being of a generation of the written word, that this manner of relaying the word had escaped us.
DM: Oral transmission is at the heart of your culture, and it is your grandmother Penda Diogo Sarr who is the guardian. How did you manage to bring it to the screen?
MS: We filmed several takes as Penda Diogo Sarr taught us the words. We asked her to teach us the foundations of oral culture. She was very happy to do so, patiently repeating the words of a verse about three of our ancestors.
Our grandmother lives simultaneous disappearances, that of her own imminent  person because of her advanced age, and that of the world that witnessed her birth into the world of the Wolof peasantry. And that is why every time she meets her grandchildren, this meeting is highly emotional. All of the imperceptible emotion that you see in the film comes from this sense of loss. "A Single Word" is not an ethnographic film about speaking, but it is rather a portrait and a questioning of the world.
DM: These images of you with your grandmother are full of emotion…
MS:  Seen implicitly, read between the lines of the film, is this elder, in the twilight of her life, trying to convey that which risks disappearing with her. That is why we chose the simplest images as possible, in fusion with the bodies. This vision enabled us to film our ancestor while appearing in the film as secondary characters and as spectators.
DM: In your view, what is the real issue at stake if the oral transmission of culture and heritage disappears in Senegal, Africa, and in the world?
MS: The spoken word for the Wolof peasantry is the vehicle of all knowledge. Speech travels through time. The Wolof is often perceived as a person of the word, master of the oratorical art. Our grandmother Penda lived during colonisation at its most difficult moments: forced labour, the conscription of soldiers... She lived during independence, the rule of the new elites, and the gradual hegemony of the written word over oral tradition. She lived through the gradual disappearance of this world. The spoken word defies death and oblivion.
Presently, as a generation of the written word we have come to realise that the spoken word has eluded us through our existence as Senegalese women educated to master the word by writing it down. The disappearance of the spoken word is having a great impact on our lives not only in Africa but also for all humanity. 
DM: Especially with the explosion of social media over the past decade...
MS: In our opinion, all the crises in the world result from the fact that we live in a silent, nebulous world, where the notion of dialoguing, which includes sharing and talking to each other, becomes obsolete. And then we rely on Facebook and Twitter as a stopgap, as a means of communication--at the same time walking by ones sister in the morning without greeting her.
DM: Did the recent passing of Khady in any way influence the ending of the film?
MS: The passing of Khady greatly influenced the final voice-over in the film but the visual editing is the same, as we had completed it just before her death. There are two voices in the film. The first is Khady’s, which was done in her presence, and the second is mine, which I wrote while finalising the film. I went through a moment of shock and anger, then slowly, the phrase in Césaire's work Notebook of a Return to My Native Land was constantly in my thoughts, and all this anger turned into a desire to write about my sister, to tell her a final goodbye, and this is how my voice was laid down in the film.
DM: As the film screens in the cinema houses of Senegal, people will also view Khady's final work. What message from her will you give them?
MS: Khady often asked this question: "What happened to us as human beings, when Facebook and Twitter are rapidly replacing the ties created by speech, family and friends?". I ask this same question to the filmgoers and those who will read this interview, so that the followers of this virtual world can one day respond to this question.

À la mémoire de Khady Sylla : Entretien avec Mariama Sylla, par Djia Mambu. Productrice et coréalisatrice du film Une Simple Parole (avec la regrettée Khady Sylla)


Présenté en Première internationale au Festival international du Film de Toronto (TIFF), le documentaire des deux sœurs cinéastes sénégalaises Khady et Mariama Sylla, Une Simple Parole, dessine un portrait de leur culture traditionnelle orale où leur grand-mère demeure l'une des ultimes garantes de la mémoire généalogique.

Khady Sylla, disparue en octobre 2013 nous lègue ici un véritable hommage aux ancêtres et disparus. Une 7ème collaboration avec sa cadette qui estime cette œuvre comme la plus accomplie qu'elles aient réalisé.


08 October 2014

2015: Festival International du Films de Femmes (FIFF) - Inscriptions ouvertes | (International Women's Film Festival) - Submissions open

37ème edition, 13-22 mars | 37th edition, 13-22 March 

Films de femmes 37 ans: 2015 Inscriptions ouvertes 
37 years of women’s films: 2015 Submissions open

Créé en 1979, le Festival International du Films de Femmes de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne accueille des réalisatrices du monde entier, avec près de 150 films qui défendent avec talent le regard des femmes sur leur société. Lieu témoin de débats historiques, le festival reste attentif aux engagements artistiques, politiques et sociaux des femmes dans le monde, à travers leur cinéma.

Fidèle à ses engagements pour lutter contre toutes formes de discrimination, de race, de sexe, de culture, de classe sociale, il assume son double héritage envers le féminisme et l’action culturelle, en plaçant l’interrogation sur l’image et les modes de représentations au centre de ses réflexions.


Created in 1979, the International Women's Film Festival (FIFF) welcomes women filmmakers throughout the world with almost 150 films that showcase women's perspectives of their society.  A historical lieu for debate and discussion, the Festival continues to be devoted to the artistic, political and social engagement of women throughout the world as expressed by their films.

Faithful to its commitment to fight against all forms of discrimination--race, gender, culture and class--the festival takes on its dual heritage of feminism and cultural engagement by placing at the center of its reflections, the question of the image and modes of representation.

06 October 2014

Sarah Maldoror un perfil

Sarah Maldoror un perfil (Editada pro Juan Carlos Romero)

“Juego un papel cultural como directora de cine. Lo que me interesa es buscar películas sobre la historia africana porque nuestra historia ha sido escrita por otros, no por nosotros. Así pues, si no me intereso por mi propia historia, ¿quién lo hará? Creo que es tiempo de defender  nuestra historia, darla a conocer – con todas as nuestras cualidades y faltas, nuestras esperanzas y desesperos.” Sarah Maldoror 

Para Sarah Maldoror, nacida en Gers, Francia, padres de Guadalupe, descendiente africana, vista respetuosamente como la matriarca del cine africano, hacer cine era un arma de lucha y liberación desde el sus inicios en la experiencia cinematográfica. Leed el artículo completo aquí :

IN ENGLISH On The African Women In Cinema Blog

02 October 2014

W.A.K.A, a/un film by/de Françoise Ellong: analysis/analyse by/par Claudia Muna Soppo

W.A.K.A, a/un film by Françoise Ellong, analysis/analyse by/par Claudia Muna Soppo. 

Source : Terangaweb.comTranslation from French by Beti Ellerson.

The 4th edition of FIFDA (Festival des films de la diaspora Africaine) African Diaspora Film Festival was held this year from 5-7 September in Paris. W.A.K.A the debut feature of director Françoise Ellong released in 2013, was among the jury selection, screened on Sunday under the day’s theme "migration-transmigration."

Shot entirely in Douala by a Franco-Cameroonian crew, the film relates the story of a young woman Mathilde who raises her son, Adam alone. Interpreted by Patricia Bakalack, Mathilde wants a stable source of income to provide for her son but nowhere, as a single mother, is she able to find support. Running out of options, Mathilde’s only recourse is to accept a proposition, with dire consequences: Mathilde becomes Maryline, a W.A.K.A—Cameroonian slang for prostitute. The term derives from the English verb "to walk" and by extension, WAKAs are women who walk at night in search of customers. During the day Mathilde is Adam's mother and at night she becomes Maryline, the WAKA. 

Matilde pampers Adam, drops him off at school and gives him a loving home. But to provide these things Maryline must undergo humiliating, sometimes violent acts, with strangers. There is a fragile, interdependent boundary between these two worlds. Hence, while Mathilde attempts to protect her son from this world of prostitution, several characters and situations influence the fate of this mother-son duo. Family, neighbours, even school buddies, all observe the choice of this mother. Maryline must also deal with the many encounters and unscrupulous intentions that punctuate her nightlife. In this regard, it is impossible to ignore Bruno, the uncompromising pimp who gave her the name. He refuses to see his business affected by Mathilde’s situation, determined that she must work no matter the cost. Will she be able to separate herself from Adam? What price will she have to pay for it?

The film that Françoise Ellong proposes is compelling in many ways. A coherent scenario that keeps the audience in suspense throughout. Remarkable acting, enhanced by serious camera work. Sound, images, shots and editing, together create an atmosphere adapted for every scene: sometimes revealing a low-spirited ambience on a sidewalk of restless prostitutes or tenderness shared for a birthday. In this regard, one admires the particular choice of location that presents a view of a diverse Douala, a city favorable to both day and night shooting.

Bringing all of these elements together, W.A.K.A portrays complex characters enabling the viewer to pose questions about issues of equal importance. They are at the same time endearing and repulsive, and while in some instances we would like to stand by them, we cannot ignore their transgressions and we rush to judgment. Though Mathilde is a prostitute, do the solutions that she choose at a specific time for various reasons negate her past, diminish her struggle, condemn her in relationship to others, deprive her forever of their love? Is it because women are reduced to these measures that they also lose their humanity? These are difficult issues and oh how necessary it is that the viewer be led to reflect on them through this film. 

Hence, one quickly understands that the film's intention goes beyond a plunge into the world of prostitution in Douala, but focuses on the journey of a young mother in difficulty. In fact, prostitution is nothing more than a background, a pretext to relate Matilde’s struggle as a mother. Françoise Ellong explains and justifies this choice elsewhere, in her statement of intent that accompanies the film: 

"By choosing to confront this woman with the world of prostitution, the purpose is clearly to put her in a position deemed degrading in the eyes of society; in order to better reveal her strength and struggle as a mother. Beyond what this barbarism evokes, particularly to Cameroonians, the reading of the title should be done in the form of an acronym. Hence, W.A.K.A in this context, although referring to the global universe of prostitution, means Woman Acts for her Kid Adam."

A heartfelt performance by the actors, interesting cinematography, a touching story, and a committed director, finally W.A.K.A is a Cameroonian film to see and support for a variety of reasons, that ultimately can be summarized in one: it is a GOOD film. 

CLAUDIA MUNA SOPPO has a diploma in literature and is currently studying Humanities, Modern Literature and Political Science at Sorbonne Paris IV. She is a passionate of the classics and very curious about black culture in general, especially African literature. In addition, Claudia Muna Soppo has a growing interest in the cultural, economic and social dynamics that drive the African continent and is considering a career in public affairs.