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.


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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

26 January 2011

Showcasing Marie Ka at Cannes 2009

Senegalese filmmaker Marie Ka studied film criticism at the Sorbonne before passing to the other side of the camera. After saving money for a year, she left for the United States in the direction of Hollywood, California and worked as an unpaid intern for two and a half years. Returning to Dakar, Marie freelanced for a year making several commissioned films and then headed back to the United States, this time to Atlanta, Georgia where she lived and worked for three years. Settled back in Dakar, she created her own production company, Picture Box. Based on the text in French by Laure Constantinesco, 

Invited by the Cinémas du Monde Pavillon/Pavilion of World Cinemas, Marie Ka is showcased by TV5 on the Croisette at the 2009 Cannes Festival. In five short episodes, she talks about her film, which is being screened at the Film Market, and her hopes of finding a producer.

The Cinémas du Monde Pavillon, a unique forum for discovery and dialogue, plays host to an artistic delegation of young directors and producers from twelve different countries. The Cinémas du Monde Pavillon, in the heart of the Cannes Film Festival's international village, has a triple aim: to raise the profile of film-making in Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific, Asia, Latin America, the Near and Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe; to provide an opportunity for cinema professionals to meet up and network; to support the development and distribution of films promoted by the artistic delegation.
The five TV5 episodes with French dialogue, are featured here with a transcription of the French to English translation by Beti Ellerson. The short vignettes offer a glimpse of the events in their context at the Cannes Festival.

Episode 1 Le Feuilleton Marie Ka Cannes 2009

Episode 1 - Marie Ka arrives at Cannes. She is looking for a generous producer to finance her first film. Traveling from the airport in Nice to her hotel room in Cannes, she talks about her expectations and her first impressions:

”Picture Box has three pilots for a children’s series that I would like to produce, the short film that I am trying to sell in the Short Film Corner, and a project for a feature film for which I would like to find a co-producer.”

Question: What do you hope to achieve here at Cannes?

”The first thing is to meet as many people as possible, to network, network, network. I noticed while on the plane that there are people from everywhere and that I find very exciting.  Second, if I can get a deal, that would be great. Yes I am looking for funding for a feature film, that is my first objective. I am open for whatever comes my way. I am optimistic and hope for the best.”

Question: What does it feel like to come to Cannes?

”I see behind the scenes that there are a lot of people like myself. What I like about cinema is there are all sorts of people, not just the stars and superstars, but those who dream like me to make films.”

Question: Is coming to Cannes part of that dream?

”Yes, something that seemed so inaccessible, and then things fall into place and here I am at Cannes.”

Episode 2 Le Feuilleton Marie Ka Cannes 2009

Episode 2 Marie Ka participates in a workshop on project financing: a good way to make contacts, and to better understand how to acquire funding for her next film.

“I am going to attend the Producer’s Network Breakfast. I see there are quite a few people in line, so it would be wise for me to also go there quickly to get my badge."

"It is structured around a table of participants and a moderator and different themes. I would like to attend Theme 14 regarding funding for the South.”

Question: Is this the right way to the Producer’s Network?

“Yes, I found the right place.”

Serge Hayat: Here we will talk about funding for projects from the Southern hemisphere.

“So we will be able to decide during a roundtable breakfast about funding?”

Serge Hayat: No, decisions will not be made, but rather, networking and making contacts.

“In fact it was much clearer than I had thought from reading the website, and it has been very useful information. To be able to speak directly to the representative has clarified many things, and to have had the opportunity to ask questions. It was a very good working session. I was able to meet many people from different countries.”

Question: Have you chosen other themes that interest you?

“No not yet, I must look at the program again.”

Question: Did you get many business cards?

“I have business cards from everyone, except those who did not have one, I have probably around eight.”

Question: A good collection of information?

“Yes, very productive.”

Episode 3 Le Feuilleton Marie Ka Cannes 2009

Episode 3Marie Ka sees the glamorous side of Cannes: it is the inauguration of the Pavillon Les cinémas du monde and she goes up the stairs in an evening gown!

“Here we are at the inauguration of the Pavillon Les cinémas du monde. We will spend the day with Abderrahmane Sissako, Juliette Binoche, and meet Gilles Jacob, this is the grand day.”

Juliette Binoche: Welcome, I am happy to have you here. That you make films that awaken, transform, touch…Salif Traoré from Mali…
Abderrahmane Sissako: Marie Ka from Senegal…
Juliette Binoche: Marat Sarulu from Kyrgyzstan

Marie-Christine Saragosse: There are a lot of people who are interested in your series, so let them know because they will be able to follow it on the website…

Marie Ka introduces herself to Gilles Jacob, President of the Cannes Festival.

“I will get dressed first, and put on make-up afterwards."

"This is a robe by Senegalese designer Ndiaga Diaw, the brand name is called Fitt, which in Wolof means courage, and also arrow, direction. I hope it will give me a boost later.”

Question: Is this “the” moment for you?

“I would not say that this is “the” moment, that would be when I will ascend the stairs for my film. This is nice to have the glamorous side, since it does not happen very often.”

The names of the filmmakers of the Pavillon Les cinémas du monde are announced as they advance to ascend the stairs.

Episode 4 Le Feuilleton Marie Ka Cannes 2009

Episode 4Marie Ka attends a workshop on how to pitch one's product. One must know how to summarize the script in a few catchy phrases to successfully sell a film project to a potential producer.

“Today I will attend a workshop on how to pitch your product, working individually with a coach. I will learn how to pitch my script in a short period of time."

"What I got from this was how to connect with the person quickly in order to tell my story, and to do it in a sincere way. There are different approaches, but what is important is to be yourself and to present your product using this attribute. More than anything else, it is a one-on-one conversation.”

Question: Are there any magic words?

“No, unfortunately!”

Question: Do you now feel more self-assured to sell your film?

“The short film, yes, because I had a real problem with explaining it. The feature film, well, I would say that now, I would use fewer words.”

Coach: She convinced me from the moment she talked about what touched her, with a genuine energy.

Question: So if I asked you to “pitch” your feature film?

“It depends on whether you will actually produce it?”

Episode 5 Le Feuilleton Marie Ka Cannes 2009

Episode 5Marie Ka discovers the Film Market, or the "business" side of Cannes. This is where cinema professionals—directors, producers, distributors—from around the world meet. Marie has two objectives: to sell her short film which is being screened at the Short Film Corner, the short film section of the Film Market, and to find a co-producer to finance her feature film project.

“The Short Film Corner is in the Film Market section.”

Question: Did you find where the Film Market is?

“Yes it is here in the catalog.”

Dialogue in the film Didi and Gigi: Gigi, what happened?

“We are on our way to the Film Market, I would like to meet representatives from Belgium and Canada.”

“I would like to get information about co-productions between Canada and Africa, please”

Representative: Of course, here you have access to all information about the co-productions that exist in Canada.  

“I am a filmmaker from Senegal and I am interested in information about co-productions between Quebec and Senegal.”

“It is a feature film about a little girl who wants to go to school in an environment where it is not viewed as important for a girl to go to school.”

“It may not seem like a big thing, to talk with someone and explain what you are looking for, to receive the catalogues, and sometimes the person may highlight certain things, that’s very good to have. There are so many people, so much information, that sometimes you may not be able to have the direct contact with a person right away or to be able to go into detail. There are so many possibilities as well."

"Compared to Senegal it is so much better, because there, it is very little or nothing at all. But things have advanced, after a long period of stagnation. You have to hang in there.”

Question: We’ll see you next year at Cannes?

“Next year? I am not sure, but in two years, yes, with a feature film!”

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