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.

28 March 2011

African Women Professionals in Cinema: 20 Years On

The birth of an organized movement of African women of the image may be traced to the 12th edition of FESPACO in 1991, the groundwork having been set during the women’s forum at Vues d’Afrique in Montreal in 1989. As an organizational body, what have African women in cinema accomplished since that historic moment?

In tribute to African women film professionals, a meeting was organized under the title, "Women, Cinema, Television and Video in Africa". With Senegalese Annette M'Baye d'Erneville as chair, some fifty women from more than fifteen African countries assembled to accomplish several objectives: to offer a forum for the exchange and sharing of experiences; to highlight the concerns of women professionals; to propose strategies to ensure that women are equally represented, particularly in the areas of training and production; to formulate a structure for continued dialogue and plan of action; to discuss the importance of creating and disseminating images that reflect women's realities, social contexts, cultures, and histories.

After much discussion and debate, African women film professionals put forth the ground rules for an infrastructure to publicize and promote their interests: to create a repository database listing of African women visual media producers and their films; to promote their work across a wide range of networks continentally and internationally; to establish an itinerant training workshop composed of a group of trainers who circulate throughout Africa; to train instructors in the various spheres of visual media production; to seek funding so that women may attend and participate regularly at film festivals.

With an organizational body firmly in place, during the next two decades, local associations, regional bureaus and women-focused initiatives have sprouted throughout the continent and its diasporas.

In 1991, a local bureau of the continental organization and the National Union of Women Film Professionals were created in Burkina Faso. The Zimbabwe-based Africa Women Filmmakers Trust (AWFT) was established in 1992. In 1993 and 1995 respectively, Kenyan and Gabonese affiliates of the Pan-African Union of Women in the Image Industry were formed.

The Pan-African Union of Women in the Image Industry (AFAPTV) met at the Fifth Women’s Regional Conference in preparation for the Beijing Conference in November 1994 emphasizing the importance of presenting African perspectives at this international event and that women filmmakers on the continent should take the lead in the visualization of these perspectives. During the same year, Femmes d'images de l'Afrique francophone is published. Compiled by Tunisian Najwa Tlili, it was one of the direct results of the 1989 Vues d’Afrique meeting.  The index brings together the biography and filmography of women in cinema from francophone Africa, as well as a listing of other relevant contacts.

In 1995, l'Association des femmes africaines professionnelles du cinéma, de la télévision et de la vidéo/The Association of Professional African Women in Cinema, Television and Video reorganizes under the name, The Pan-African Union of Women in the Image Industry/l'Union panafricaine des femmes de l'image (UPAFI).
The next year,  Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe is formed, the objectives of which are to train more women for the film industry, collect funding for the continuation of the work plan, the distribution and exhibition of films made by women, and the organization of production workshops.

In 1996, the Senegalese-based Rencontres Cinématographiques de Dakar (RECIDAK) focuses on “Women and the Cinema” with a special tribute to Safi Faye. From this meeting comes the slogan “When women of the cinema take action, African cinema moves forward.” Women-focused events such as this will become a trend both within and outside of the continent. In 1997, the Paris-based cinema house Images d’Ailleurs, organizes a film forum entitled "Cri du coeur des femmes". The following year, the Festival international de film de femmes/International Women's Film Festival at Créteil presents an impressive platform devoted to women of Africa, with a gala for Safi Faye. During the same year, the Southern African Film Festival organizes the African Women Filmmakers’ Forum.

The millennium ushers in a host of women-focused initiatives throughout the continent. Women of the Sun, is launched in 2000 and two years later the Zimbabwe-based International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) is founded by Tsitsi Dangarembga. The next year in 2003, Les Premières Rencontres Cinématographiques "Films Femmes Afrique" (Cinematic encounters: Films, Women, Africa) is held in Senegal. The African Women's Film Festival is established in Johannesburg in 2004 under the theme "film from a woman's perspective". Seipati Bulane-Hopa of South Africa is elected as secretary-general of FEPACI, Fédération Panafricaine des Cinéastes/the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers during the 7th congress of FEPACI held in Pretoria, April 2006.

During the next two years African women are on the agenda in European-based venues: 2007: Africa in Motion (AiM) Edinburgh African Film Festival focuses on women among the three themes; 2008: Ladyfest London showcases several African women filmmakers; 2008: Cinemas of the South at the Cannes Film Festival hosts a Pavillon des Femmes under the theme: l’Engagement des femmes cinéastes. African women among twenty-three women of the South present their films and discuss various topics regarding production, distribution and networking. During the same year, the theme of the 12th edition of Ecrans noirs du Cinéma africain, held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, has as its theme, Women, Cinema and the Audiovisuel.

The second decade of the new millennium begins with a burst of activities highlighting the accomplishes of African women and promoting their work. The first edition of the Mois du cinéma féminin à Dakar (Women's Cinema Month in Dakar), was launched by l’Association sénégalaise des critiques de cinéma-ASCC (the Senegalese Association of Film Critics), to take place every Saturday during the month of March. To note, women-focused events during the month of March in honor of International Women's Day is a longstanding practice. The first Mis Me Binga International Women's Film Festival, based in Cameroon is launched as well as the Burkina-based Journées cinématographiques de la femme africaine de l'image (A film event focusing on African women of the image), both during the month of March. The 32nd Festival international de film de femmes/International Women's Film Festival at Créteil presents the program Trans-Europe-Afrique from 2-11 April. Later during the year in September, the Goethe Institut hosted the African Women Filmmakers Forum in South Africa, a gathering of twenty-five women film professionals of all levels of experience from sub-Saharan Africa, the USA and Germany, culminating with the Women of the Sun Film Festival.

These African women-focused initiatives spanning the globe attests to the significant strides that have been made towards the promotion and appreciation of African women in cinema and their work.

Based on the African Women in Cinema Timeline, Center for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema

23 March 2011

Focus on Yewbdar Anbessie

Yewbdar could you talk a bit about yourself?

A bit of my personal background, my full name is Yewbdar Anbessie Setegn. I was born June 25, 1973 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am married and a mother of two sons and a daughter. Professionally, I studied directing at the Blue Nile Film and TV Academy in Addis Ababa. For the past twelve years I have participated in various film productions, which include TV dramas and feature video films. In addition, I have acted in stage plays and worked as an advertising model.

What was your experience with cinema while growing up?
Fortunately, I grew up in Addis Ababa, where one of the largest cinema halls, Ambassador Cinema, is situated. So I had the exposure of cinema since my childhood.

Ethiopia is slowly developing a cinema culture, could you talk about this development?
Our country has been in a deep sleep for a long time without making significant achievements in this domain, although it is a country with an ancient civilization attracting international interest. This is unfortunate especially for those in the film profession and for film enthusiasts.

According to the documents available, it was before 1917 that the first film was screened in Ethiopia. At that time people considered cinema as something evil, and for that reason the first cinema hall was named “Satan Bet” which means the house of the Devil, and continues to hold that name today.

The number of cinema halls increased and started attracting a greater number of viewers at the time when fascist Italy temporarily occupied Addis Ababa between 1935–1940.

The first 35mm feature film, Hirut Abtwa Manewu? was produced in 1971. This 90-minute film, which means who is the father of Hirut?, was shot in black and white. The next film, Guma (To pay in blood) was produced in color, as was Bhiywot Zuriya (Round Lives). This period was considered the Golden Age in the history of Ethiopian art, music, literature, and painting because of the significant advancement and changes that occurred.  Nevertheless, this era that provided such a sense of hope for the future of modern Ethiopian culture was forced to take another path following the socialist revolution of the military regime which came to power in 1973. During this time the film The Unknown Famine by British documentary filmmaker Jonathan Dimbleby was broadcast in Ethiopia revealing the truth of the disastrous famine in Ethiopia, igniting people’s consciousness of the importance and necessity of filmmaking as a means to contribute to the advancement and progress of society. These events influenced the formation of the government-run Ethiopian Film Corporation developed in 1986, encouraging young Ethiopians to travel to Eastern Europe to develop knowledge and skills in the various areas of filmmaking.

Though there were not many efforts in creating a filmmaking infrastructure, the government did give critical attention to using expertise in documentary filmmaking for promoting and propagating its own agenda and mission. By then Aster by Solomon Bekele was the only 35mm color feature film that had been produced.

The fate of the sole filmmaking center since the fall of the Derg regime was unfortunate. Under the proclamation made in the year 1999, it lost all of its facilities and equipment, sold to the highest bidder, and all of its employees were fired.

Since the past few years, Ethiopian cinema is going through tremendous change and progress in video production, originally initiated by individuals who have a burning passion and desire to promote the profession, in which not less than 450 video films have been produced and screened to the public in the past seven years in cinema halls all over the country. 

Nevertheless, the quality of the film production is still under question. There is a need for more energy and courage to take it further, and for this reason we are making a variety of efforts to enhance its professional capacity.

The Ethiopian Film Initiative supports Ethiopian filmmakers and the development of an Ethiopian film industry. Are you involved with it in any way?

Not directly, however once, I had a chance to attend a documentary filmmaking workshop organized by the Initiative through Blue Nile Film & Television Academy.
What role do you see yourself playing in the development of Ethiopian cinema?

Because my husband Tesfaye Mamo is a renowned author, playwright, and pioneer film director in the Ethiopian video film industry, our daily life is directly connected to film and related professional activities. Tesfaye Film Production and Promotions (TFP) established in 2000, is one of the pioneers in the Ethiopian Film industry. Tesfaye Mamo is the founder, owner and managing director of the company. I am the Assistant Manager and Production Manager.

What are the objectives of the company, Tesfaye Film Production?
It is an Ethiopian-based production company engaged in the production of feature and documentary films, TV series, educational radio and TV spot dramas and various promotional activities. 

Could you talk about your film 40:60?

My short film 40:60 is a student film of the first group of students in the Blue Nile Film and TV Academy directing class. However the film focuses on the major and common problems of corruption in Ethiopia and third world countries in general, which is a huge challenge for the young generation. 40:60 is the code for a bribe, which forces a young inventor to share his “cake” in order to win an award for his project.

What are your current projects?

In addition to our company’s many projects, I work as an independent filmmaker with all the challenges that go with it. I am currently in preproduction on a docudrama, at a remote location about 700 kilometers from Addis Ababa. “Geda System, a Blueprint for Democracy” traces the traditional democratic governance practices of the Oromo people of Ethiopia compared to modern democracy.



Interview by Beti Ellerson (March 2011)


40:60 (2010) by Yewbdar Anbessie

10 March 2011

Oshosheni Hiveluah: A Portrait

Oshosheni Hiveluah
Oshosheni please talk a bit about yourself? What was it like for you growing up in terms of films and images that you were exposed to?

Well in terms of growing up, I was born in exile in Angola. Since I was born during the war my perception was for a very long time very militant because of propaganda songs, videos and the lifestyle that I lived. Then I spent part of my childhood in the former GDR and my first cinema experience was so magical and enchanting-I think it was the 1984 film, Neverending Story and I was fascinated with cinemas from that day forth. This was the total opposite of what moving images had been for me before this, so as any child would have, I fell in love and hard. We didn't go to the cinema often but when we did I could not hide my enthusiasm for days ahead. Most of the regular weekly stuff I was exposed to were the TV shows like Batman etc. you know 80's shows-sitcoms, Cosby show, etc., but because we lived in a communist state the shows that were screened had to be in line with communistic ideals and of course all channels were majorly censored. Back in Namibia from 1990 I was exposed to a lot of commercial blockbuster Hollywood films and very few African films which made filmmaking in my eyes appear to be an exclusive and distant thing and for a selective few. Because I always wanted to tell stories however I opted for theatre at the time, because it was open to me to explore. Then I remember seeing Sarraounia (Med Hondo, 1986) one evening as a teenager, a film shot in Burkina Faso, and it changed my outlook and perception on African cinema. I then started digging and searching for more foreign films, going to embassies for film screenings and trying to expose myself to films I was not accessing and films that had that heart, that passion that I shared when telling stories. Then I moved to Cape Town to study and I felt like I had arrived, there were alternative theaters (cinema nouveau and Labia) that screened independent films and it was during that time that I was also learning more about filmmaking, work on set, etc.
So what finally brought you to cinema?

I studied multimedia at City Varsity and during 2003/4 year I was renting with a friend and our landlord and landlady were a producer and an art director. I found their work fascinating and went on set once or twice and laid my eyes on the wonderful world of cinema and film. I was in awe, but did not get in contact with film until a year later. I went to work in the theatre, because it was safe I had always been exposed to theatre and had always been part of theatre groups during high school, until I wrote a script for a student film which was selected for a workshop during our local film festival (which has since died-Wild Cinema International Film Festival), which I then directed and decided to take on a job as a production assistant in 2005 to learn about filmmaking because I realised this was something I could see myself doing for a while to come. I spent four years with the company working and exploring almost every area of film (I was hungry and just wanted to learn what it takes to make a film) from casting, grips to light, make up etc, but was most intrigued by directing and did a lot of 2nd and 1st AD jobs as well as producing and production coordinating. Yea so that's kind of my summarized journey and now I work as a freelance casting agent, director and writer in Windhoek.

What was your experience making the film Cries at Night?

Cries at Night is my debut short film as a film director and how exciting it has been. I have done a couple of student films I am interested in the human psyche, I am interested in how we as people relate to one another and exploring human emotions within the context of conflict, love, understanding, peace, etc.

Interview by Beti Ellerson (March 2011) 



Cries at Night by Oshosheni Hiveluah
Synopsis of the film Cries at Night

Lazarus meets Victor during an accident in which his niece is involved. Something about Victor leaves Lazarus restless and he can’t forget the encounter or the man. His restlessness turns into obsession when he begins to follow Victor and kidnaps him and locks him in a dark cellar. There they embark on a trip down memory lane. Victor is revealed as Lazarus’ former torturer who tormented and traumatized him in the dungeons before Namibia’s independence. Lazarus finds it hard to deal with his past, which has haunted him in his dreams ever since and craves for forgiveness and healing.

Director's Statement

Being born during the time of the Namibian liberation struggle I have always had a keen interest about the happenings of that time, mainly because I was raised in an environment with strong political motives. When I was younger and living in a refugee home with several other children there were always stories about certain traitors of SWAPO, who had betrayed our soldiers.

Now that I have grown older and more open minded I am keen to explore how it must feel for traitors to be living in a country they were accused of betraying. I strongly feel that regardless of our histories and past, especially amongst African people themselves, we need to learn to overcome our differences and reconcile, but this can only happen if we address the issues that have caused us pain in the past. It’s definitely a personal journey that every person chooses to walk or to not walk. With this film I hope to inspire first and foremost healing of self, which can hopefully trigger bigger things. I would also like to encourage discussion and debates around sensitive issues in order for us as a nation to overcome as opposed to licking our wounds and crying over spilt milk and learn to forgive ourselves and others.

Producer Statement (Media Logistics Nambia CC For Film and Performing Arts)

Namibia is a country, extremely popular for its film location for foreign productions, but however even if there are plenty of Namibian stories waiting to be told, local filmmakers still struggle considerably to tell their own stories. To me as a producer it is of great importance to work with local crews and being able to tell truly Namibian stories.

The main theme of ‘Cries at night’ explores the issue of reconciliation amongst the inhabitants of Namibia. Following fifteen years of independence and the election of Namibia’s second president in 2005 it is slowly time for a new Namibian generation to emerge. It is a generation that is growing up in a democratic state, open minded and not pre - occupied with the trials of the apartheid regime. It should be a generation honoring their forefathers for creating this nation but also a generation discussing and addressing issues concerning the past, the present and the future of their country. Only by confronting these issues we can find ways of overcoming them and to grow stronger as a nation. With this film we want to create awareness and initiate discussions on reconciliation within the borders of the country.



07 March 2011

FESPACO 2011: Women's Presence at the Awards Ceremony

FEATURE FILM

The Oumarou Ganda Prize awarded to Sarah Bouyain of Burkina Faso for the film Notre étrangère/The Place In Between. The award is presented for a director's first feature film.  The award amount is two million (2,000,000) CFA and trophy. In addition, Sarah Bouyain was laureate of the Special European Union Award. The award amount is eight million (8,000,000) francs CFA.

The prize for best female actor awarded to Samia Meziane in Voyage à Alger  by Abdelkrim Bahloul of Algeria. The award amount is one million (1,000,000) francs CFA and trophy.

SHORT FILM

Meriem Riveill of Tunisia received the 2nd Prize: Special Jury Prize, the Poulain d’Argent de Yennenga for the film Tabou/Taboo. The award amount is two million (2,000,000) francs CFA and the Poulain.

DOCUMENTARY FILM

The first prize for the Best Documentary Film awarded to Jane Murago-Munene of Kenya for the film Monica Wangu Wamwere: The Unbroken Spirit. The award amount is three million (3,000,000) francs CFA and trophy.

Yaba Badoe of Ghana received the second prize for the documentary film, The Witches of Gambaga/Les sorcières de Gambaga. The prize amount is two million (2,000,000) francs CFA and trophy.

05 March 2011

Musola Cathrine Kaseketi: You Can Make a Difference

Musola, please talk a bit about yourself, your background.
Born in October 1968 the eighth of nine children, I grew up as a healthy and happy child. I was left with a permanent disability at the age of five from an injection in the nerve of my left leg; nonetheless, my family treated me as a normal child. I also lived with my stepmother who taught me to be independent and a fighter. Because of the caring way that people in my surroundings responded to me, I had no idea that there was discrimination towards persons with disabilities. In Sunday school I was involved in bible plays, the church choir and did poetry, and went on to primary school. It was in high school that I started to realised that I was not always accepted in society and therefore, not able to do certain things. Often my feelings were hurt after the many instances when the school authorities isolated students with disabilities from the enabled so that they could not get to know each other. My disability became a motivation to work harder and use art as a tool to communicate. I wrote poems, plays, stories and songs—though not making their message the main issue.

I first wrote Suwi as a stage play under the title “Rejection of Reality” after extensive research on disability. It was during that time that I met a man without hands who led a normal life and could even eat using a fork and knife. This encounter motivated me very much and inspired me to write a story about self-determination in 1989. It was very successful and was a catalyst for the change in attitudes towards disabilities in Zambia. In 1990 the production was shot as a teleplay and shown on the Zambia national television (ZNBC). The response was very good, though some viewed it as having a political subtext. From the latter response I came to realize the power of media. I continued to use dramatic poetry, writing and stage acting as a tool to foster the spirit of self-confidence and self-help, and to impart self-acceptance, self-determination and independent living.

Evolving from my role as actor, I had the privilege of attending the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg, becoming the first Zambian woman filmmaker/director, and the first student there with a disability. While some of my fellow students and lecturers under-estimated my abilities to become a successful filmmaker, I graduated with honours including the award for Best Student of the Year 2000. Returning home to be a part of the development of the local industry in Zambia, I worked for Picture Perfect Production (PPP) in 2001 for a year and a half. There I accomplished many firsts, as a woman director of Zambia’s first soap opera, Kabanana. For a combination of reasons—being a woman and with a disability, I had to prove myself to some of the well-known actors who attempted to undermine me—within a few weeks skepticism changed to positive impressions among them and the press. Wanting to share my skills with aspiring filmmakers, in 2002 I established Vilole Images Production, where I have trained a number of young filmmakers.

Zambia is now developing a film culture and you have been part of that process. What is the state of cinema and filmmaking in Zambia?
Zambia is a nation filled with artists who have great potential in the area of acting and production. Unfortunately it lacks the institutions and financial means to develop these skills and because of this the documentary and drama productions are of poor quality, though there is a gradual improvement and with it an increasingly appreciative Zambian audience for local and African productions. The Zambian economy has declined significantly due to the weakening of its main industry, mining. Perhaps the development of a cinema industry may provide employment opportunities. Of course the government and the private sector must invest in this effort. On the other hand, the film industry is far from the point of reaching international standards, which is attributed to little or no experience in film production. There are only a handful of individuals who have experience, hence the need to train more filmmakers, including persons with disabilities, if the industry is going to improve.



Musola Cathrine Kaseketi talks about Suwi


Suwi is a film that deals with important issues related to physical challenges and adapting to the dramatic changes in one’s life. Suwi also has an autobiographical element. What have been your challenges and how have they influenced the Suwi story?
Initially I hesitated about dealing with disability issues as the subject of my first film because I did not want people to think that I was telling my own story. Unfortunately or fortunately it became literally impossible to raise money for what I thought would be my first feature, "Kamukola", since I did not have a show reel. In 2004 I decided to shoot Suwi, which at the time was called “Rejection of Reality”. I was not happy with the sound and camera work, so I decided to put the project on the shelf. What I appreciate most is that this experience helped me to mull over the script and rewrite it to reflect the life of anybody with or without a disability. I have had my own challenges as a woman, as a woman with a disability and as a woman filmmaker, and thus I consider every challenge as a motivation to forge ahead. Since I was not accepted in society because of my disability, but because my family helped me to accept and appreciate myself, I sometimes turn my experiences into humour and speak openly about my disability when I meet people for the first time. Some of these aspects are incorporated in Suwi. The character Suwi is very strong and refuses to sit at home and do nothing when she incurs this life-changing situation; this portrayal may encourage people to not give up. In one way this could reflect my childhood. I refused to accept people’s excuses for why they are this or that way. Despite my disability I walked about seven kilometres to school in a torn uniform and shoes. I had it hard at home and as a stepchild and was stigmatised in the community as a child with a disability, but I never gave up. And as a woman filmmaker with a disability from a country where the industry is still in its infancy, challenges continue, but I carry on with my life.

Today, so many people in our community are either infected with HIV/AIDS, or affected because someone has it. That is why I portrayed Suwi caring for a street kid who lost her parents to AIDS. I have seen and visited many women with disabilities who are looking after orphans or who are HIV positive themselves, nonetheless, society still believes a woman with a disability cannot have AIDS because she is not normal. And yet this woman breathes, smells, eats, loves and has feelings. So Suwi to some extent was influenced by some of my personal challenges.

How has Suwi been received? 

Suwi has been well appreciated, not only at home but also elsewhere, especially outside Africa. I am proud to say that it has attained many firsts as the Hon. MP Given Lubinda states to the Minister of Community Development Hon. Michael Kaingo: “The production is a first in many respects: the first Zambian woman director, first by a woman with a disability addressing a diversity of issues affecting women in the modern community, and first to be received so positively with awards internationally.” The film is an important contribution to Zambia’s budding film industry and a motivation to artists and women. So far it has had a positive influence on various people including some women with disabilities who have since left the streets as beggars and embarked on a path to reclaiming their dignity. It has also been used in medical institutions for students by the university teaching hospital in Zambia, for fundraising for the Cardiac Trust of Zambia, Habitat for Humanity Zambia, the Occupational Therapists Africa Congress in Malawi, and the Verona Film Festival will be using the film in schools and non-profit institution for the next three years.

What are some of the reflections of your audience regarding the film?
Sympathy, laughter, satisfaction, appreciation, upset with some characters.

Future projects?

I have three projects in the works. A 90 mn feature film “Kamukola” (Trapped), dealing with diverse themes: women’s rights to decision making, culture and tradition, freedom of choice, love, dishonesty and true friendship. As stated earlier, this was supposed to be my first feature. Now I am looking for funding and hope to start shooting early next year. I am working on a medical drama series, “The Doc, Sam Chileshe” set in a small village. It will address the clash between modernity and tradition in a health centre set in the rural area: challenges and beliefs in relations to AIDS, heart problems, witchcraft, love, among others. “Ndema Ikasa-Hold my hand” is a series of 26-minute short films on disability and accessibility.

Interview by Beti Ellerson (February 2011)


Suwi - Faith Beyond Limit (2009) by Musola Cathrine Kaseketi

02 March 2011

Mis Me Binga International Women's Film Festival 2011 2nd Edition

The 2nd International Women's Film Festival Mis Be Binga (The Eyes of Women) will be held in Yaoundé from 8-12 March 2011. The goal of the festival is to promote the creativity of women from Cameroon, Africa and the whole world; to establish a network among women filmmakers from different parts of the world and to bring about a better understanding of different cultures and of each other. The purpose of the festival is to use the medium of film to address issues of violence, inequality, discrimination and other problems related to women's rights and gender issues. Moreover, to let the world discover the pressing concerns of society and the evolution of a changing world as seen by women. The training workshop, "When the Idea Becomes a Film" will be held again this year under the theme: How to Make a Low Budget Film".  A conference will be organized 10 March 2011 under the title "Cinema and Freedom".  

Interview with Évodie Ngueyeli, Artistic Director of Mis Me Binga by Sitou Ayité for Africiné.org on the occasion of the first festival in 2010. Translation from French to English by Beti Ellerson

Sitou Ayité: Please introduce yourself?

Évodie Ngueyeli: My name is Évodie Ngueyeli from Cameroon and I am in charge of the artistic direction of the International Women's Film Festival Mis Be Binga.

What was the idea behind the creation of the festival?

The festival was born from the fact that in Cameroon women like to be in the forefront, though when they are behind the camera, they hold the positions of make-up artists, script supervisors and set designers. However, the cinema was greatly influenced by a woman, Sita Bella, her real name Thérèse Mbella Mbida, the first woman in Cameroon to become a pilot, a journalist and a director, and one of the first Africans to explore cinema in Europe. Women are denied the right to speak, to be in charge, and to talk about how they view the world. In other words, the position of director has not been in their purview. As it were, of the fifty films made in Cameroon, only ten of them are by women. And yet, when women do decide to take the road into filmmaking, their films are a hit. This is the case of the films of Oswalde Lewat: Un amour pendant la guerre (A Love during War), Une affaire de nègres (Black Business), in which she gives her point of view and her vision of society on some highly delicate issues. There is also Hélène Ebah’s Les blessures inguérissables (The Unhealing Wounds), which is of a truly remarkable and unique aesthetic. And of course, the film, Paris à tout prix (Paris or Nothing) by Joséphine Ndagnou, which packed the movie houses in Yaoundé for weeks.

In view of these facts it was important to establish a women’s film festival that could encourage women to make films, that would showcase and promote their work and also provide training via the workshop “Quand l’idée devient un film” (When the idea becomes a film).

What is the meaning of "Mis Me Binga”?

In fact, Mis Me Binga is from the local Cameroonian language Éwondo. Mis refers to “the eyes” and Me Binga means “women”. So Mis Me Binga translates to “The Eyes of Women”. And to put it into the context of the festival, it means “A Woman’s Perspective”, since we would like women to speak up and express their vision of society.

Is the festival a way to promote women’s liberation?

Not really, in fact we promote female talent. We give women the opportunity to have a platform to showcase their films, encourage them to produce more and express and share their view of the world.

In your opinion, what is a woman’s perspective of the world?
 
I cannot say how women view the world because there are thousands and millions of women on earth and each of them has a particular sensibility. Therefore one cannot talk about a single vision but a diversity of viewpoints.

Do you think that at present African women have a visible place in cinema?

If one speaks about a prominent role, in the sense that women actually have their say on important issues, I think there are very few in this position. As I stated earlier, women produce very little in Cameroon and in Africa in general, only Burkina Faso is the exception where women produce more than men. In order for women to play a more prominent role they must first of all produce more and I think there still is some way to go.


LINKS:

01 March 2011

Tiana Rafidy: Lorety sy Mardy

FESPACO 2011 WATCH: Panorama TV/Video

Born in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tiana Rafidy began her career as a model and later developed a passion for dancing. Her career took another turn when she played the heroine in the cult series Revy sa Ditra, the first Malagasy television series which ran for four years. Afterwards, she hosted several television programs and acted in a variety of films. After professional development in France and Canada, Tiana Rafidy accepted the challenge of writing and directing her own film, Lorety sy Mardy.  Tiana is now based in Canada.


Synopsis of the film Lorety sy Mardy


Lorety and Mardy is a story about a few days in the busy life of two young women caught up in the harsh realities of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.  Under the influence of a con man, Mardy, who is from the countryside, goes to the capital in search of glory and wealth. Lorety, restless and undisciplined, lives in day-to-day survival mode in this huge city. The film is both a satire and drama of the situation of several thousands of people who live with little means in Antananarivo. A glimpse at the ins and outs of the residents of the capital, the film presents a fresh perspective on the rural exodus and the relationship between urban and rural Malagasy.

LINKS:

Tiana Rafidy Website (no longer active)

Lorety sy Mardy trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz1ueqilMP0

Correction: The original post stated that Tiana Rafidy created the company, Agence Lolita. Presently she is no longer the owner.