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.

21 May 2012

Fatma Zohra Zamoum: Kedach ethabni | How Big Is Your Love?


Fatma Zohra Zamoum discusses her film Kedach ethabni | How Big Is Your Love? (201s) which examines love, tradition and modernity through the lives of a three-generation Algiers family.

Fatma Zohra, through Adel and the world that surrounds him, your film examines tradition and modernity within an intergenerational context. Talk a bit about your interest in dealing with this theme and your approach.

Tradition and modernity are not historical periods separated and compartmentalised in the lives of individuals or societies outside of the West (seen in Japan or other cultures). In each individual there are progressive and reactionary aspects. Everyone does his own synthesis of tradition or has her own way of being modern. It is this complexity in individuals and in societal dynamics that interests me. The critical level that some societies reach before addressing the demands of compliance (to tradition) are embedded in social, religious, cultural practices and even fads.

I wanted to deal with this in the present context of a three-generation middle-class Algiers family. And it is above all, about feelings, sharing, and communicating among individuals of the same family.
The grandmother Khadidja asks her grandson Adel: “How much do you love me”? Thus, the title of the film…

Yes, the title of the film presents the intentions of the film itself: the question of love. This question, posed between adults and children, is a bit of a ritual in Algerian society. It indicates the strength of their bond but also the need to build it. The film’s intention is to see this love grow between child and grandmother during the film. There are other romantic relationships in varying stages: the love that ends between the child’s parents, the love that begins between the two young neighbors, and the love that is built throughout time between the grandparents based on a system of reason or of necessity, etc.

Your portrait of the grandmother Khadidja and the neighbor Farida, is it a feminist gaze on the two generations of women?

Yes, most certainly. I am very interested in female characters and the complexity of their inner lives. I admire a great deal, though not understanding it, the immense availability that some women have for their families, such as the grandmother Khadidja, as well as my mother, and other women of that generation who are now in their seventies.

As for Farida, she is a young woman in her twenties who lived during the dark decade of Algeria without understanding it. She deals with the codes and constraints that emerged during that period (a new form of religiosity or its manifestation). She deals with her burgeoning love affairs and her desire for freedom but at the same time she learns things from Khadidja in order to envision a future (an ellipsis in the film).

The relationship between Khadidja and Farida is initially based on their relationship as neighbors, but transforms with the arrival of Adel and the changes that Khadidja makes in her life as her love for him deepens.

How was the film shooting, your experiences with the actors and on location in general?

The film shoot was rather difficult in terms of shooting during five weeks with a child as the main character as well as older people. But it was great from the point of view of working with very talented actors and a close-knit and very professional crew.

The fact that I was both director and producer was a tremendously exhausting workload. Though there was no other choice. That was how it had to be or otherwise it would not have been possible.

There were some incredible moments but because I was so busy directing and producing I was not able to share them with the crew. I was not able to enjoy the moment and even during the festivals it was the same thing, too much work tied to the distribution of the film. Well, that’s the way it is!  

And the audience response? In Algeria and elsewhere?

Everywhere the audience reception was fantastic. The film was embraced as a story that speaks of a neighbor or of oneself. Everywhere, in Palm Springs, as well as in Tubingen and in Saint-Denis, the viewers liked the characters and understood their problems. It was truly a cause for satisfaction.

The film will open this week in Algeria and I am excited about meeting with the audience. Aside from those who may feel that it is too long or for those who may think that the subject is too obvious, almost familial, the preview has already been received with much enthusiasm.

Interview with Fatma Zohra Zamoum and translation from French to English by Beti Ellerson, May 2012

Fatma Zohra Zamoum : Kedach ethabni | Combien tu m’aimes ?


Fatma Zohra Zamoum nous parle de son film, Kedach ethabni |Combien tu m’aimes ? (2012) qui examine l’amour, la tradition et la modernité à travers trois générations d’une famille algéroise.

Fatma Zohra, à travers Adel et le monde qui l'entoure votre film examine la tradition et la modernité dans le contexte intergénérationnel, parlez-nous de votre désir d’aborder ce thème et votre approche.

La tradition et la modernité ne sont pas des périodes historiques séparées ou cloisonnées dans la vie des individus ou des sociétés extra occidentales (on peut le voir au Japon ou dans d’autres cultures). Dans chaque individu il y a des aspects progressistes et d’autres réactionnaires. Chacun fait sa propre synthèse de la tradition ou de la façon d’être moderne, c’est cette complexité qui m’intéresse chez les individus ou dans les dynamiques des sociétés. Le niveau critique que peuvent atteindre certaines sociétés pour discuter les impératifs de conformité (de la tradition) qu’ils se logent dans les pratiques sociales, religieuses, culturelles ou même de phénomène de mode.

J’ai voulu discuter cela dans le contexte d’une famille algéroise de classe moyenne sur trois générations de nos jours. Et il s’agit avant tout de sentiments, de partage et de transmission entre les individus d’une même famille.

La grand-mère demande à son petit-fils Adel : "Combien tu m'aimes ? D’où le titre du film...

Oui, le film porte le titre du propos même du film : l’amour en question. La question est assez rituelle dans la société algérienne entre les adultes et les enfants. Elle dit la force du lien mais aussi la nécessité de le construire. Le projet du film est de voir cet amour grandir entre l’enfant et sa grand-mère pendant la durée du film.

Au-delà de cette relation, il y en a d’autres où se déclinent les relations amoureuses : l’amour qui se termine entre les parents de l’enfant, l’amour qui nait entre des jeunes voisins, l’amour construit sur la durée entre les grand parents sur un mode raisonnable ou de devoir, etc.

Votre portrait de la grand-mère Khadidja et de la voisine Farida, c'est un regard féministe sur deux générations ?

Oui certainement, j’ai un grand intérêt pour les personnages féminins et pour la complexité de leur intériorité. J’admire vraiment, sans comprendre, l’extrême disponibilité de certaines femmes pour les membres de leur famille, comme l’est la grand-mère Khadidja, comme peut l’être ma mère et de nombreuses autres femmes de cette génération, autour des soixante-dix ans.

Quant à Farida, c’est une jeune fille d’une vingtaine d’années, ayant vécue la décennie noire en Algérie sans la comprendre, elle se débrouille donc avec les codes et contraintes qui sont nées de cette période (une nouvelle forme de religiosité ou d’exhibition de celle-ci). Elle se débrouille avec ses amours naissants et ses désirs de liberté mais elle apprend également des choses de Khadidja pour imaginer un futur (ellipsé dans le film).

La relation qu’il y a entre Khadidja et Farida tient d’abord à leur voisinage, elle se transforme avec l’arrivée de l’enfant Adel et les changements qu’apporte Khadidja a son mode de vie par amour pour l’enfant.

Comment s'est passé le tournage, votre expérience avec les acteurs, dans l'environnement ?

Le tournage a été difficile du point de vue des conditions, 5 semaines de tournage avec comme personnage principal un enfant et des personnes âgées. Mais il a été formidable du point de vue de la rencontre avec des comédiens de grand talent et avec une équipe soudée et très professionnelle.

Le fait de réaliser et de produire en même temps pour moi a été une charge de travail énorme et épuisante mais il n’y avait pas le choix, c’était comme ça ou alors cela devenait infaisable.

Il y avait des aventures formidables mais j’étais trop occupée à réaliser et produire pour les partager avec l’équipe, je n’ai pas pu apprécier le moment et même pendant les festivals cela a été la même chose, trop de travail lié à la distribution du film. Enfin, c’est comme ça.

Les réactions du public ? En Algérie et ailleurs ?

L’accueil du public a été partout formidable. Le film a été reçu comme un film qui parle du voisin ou de soi-même, partout, à Palm Springs autant qu’à Tubingen ou à Saint-Denis, les spectateurs ont aimé les personnages et compris leurs problèmes. C’est un motif réel de satisfaction.

En Algérie, le film sort cette semaine et la rencontre avec le public commencera maintenant, donc j’attends beaucoup de cette rencontre. Mais à l’avant-première déjà, l’accueil a été très enthousiaste à part pour ceux qui ne supportent pas la durée du plan au cinéma ou ceux pour qui le sujet paraît trop évident, domestique presque.

Entretien avec Fatma Zohra Zamoun par Beti Ellerson, mai 2012.

16 May 2012

The politically committed cineaste Yamina Benguigui becomes minister in the Ayrault Government


The politically committed filmmaker Yamina Benguigui has been named Minister-delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of the French abroad and the French-speaking world in the newly formed Ayrault government, following the inauguration of the Socialist President François Hollande on 15 May 2012.

The 55 year old Franco-Algerian, elected Deputy Mayor of Paris in 2008, is known for her politically-engaged films focusing on memory, issues regarding immigration, violence against women and the disparity among young graduates from immigrant backgrounds.

Gouvernement Ayrault : La cinéaste engagée Yamina Benguigui devient ministre

Yamina Benguigui AFP/MARTIN BUREAU
France Soir -16/05/12

Yamina Benguigui, 55 ans, est une cinéaste engagée qui s'est distinguée par des films consacrés à la question de l'immigration, à la violence contre les femmes et aux inégalités. Ce mercredi, elle est entrée au gouvernement comme ministre déléguée des Français de l'étranger.

Changement radical de carrière. Yamina Benguigui va passer du monde du cinéma à celui de la politique. Cette cinéaste engagée de 55 ans, qui s'est distinguée par de nombreux films consacrés à la question de l'immigration, à la violence contre les femmes et aux inégalités, entre en effet ce mercredi dans le gouvernement de Jean-Marc Ayrault. Elle a été nommée ministre déléguée des Français de l'étranger. Algérienne née en France, elle possédait déjà une petite expérience politique.

14 May 2012

Moikgantsi Kgama's ImageNation


Moikgantsi Kgama, founder and executive director of ImageNation Foundation, talks about its mission and the importance of audience-building.

Moikgantsi, you have South African and African American roots. How did this transnational Africa-African Diaspora experience influence you?

Being half South African and half African-American has everything to do with my career choice. In my home, I was exposed to people from throughout the world. My parents had a broad mix of friends from different parts of the world. However, they raised us to be self-aware and to be proud of our Black heritage. I always saw Black heritage as one identity that manifests itself through different cultural expressions. To me Black: South Africans, African-Americans, Dominicans, Parisians, Brazilians, etc, were essentially the same.  I was surprised that my peers didn’t share my view and were pretty ignorant about both African-American and Black world culture. I always felt that there was power in Black pride and in being able to identify beyond the confines of the United States. I wanted to share that power. 

You are founder and executive director of ImageNation Foundation. What inspired you to create the foundation? What is its history and projects?

Well again I was inspired by my upbringing. I remember when I was about four years old, I drew a picture of a white family. My father questioned me about it. He wanted to know why – even though all of my dolls and books depicted Black people - I’d decided to draw a white family, instead of drawing a family that looked like mine.  And at that young age, I realised that I had been influenced by what I saw on television, in movies and in magazines. From that day on, I created and sought images that affirmed my racial and ethnic background. In that pursuit, I discovered that I was absent from most mainstream media.  I also realised that many of my peers held impoverished notions of their cultural identity and of themselves, and they lacked the positive reinforcement I received at home. Over time, I realised that this lack of representation had a long-term impact on the personal choices and professional aspirations of my Black peers.  
I always had an intense love of the cultural arts. And in college, I was introduced to Marcus Garvey and his vision for the UNIA. I also took an African-American Studies course where I learned that there were more than 45 Black-owned cinemas in the US prior to integration, and that had dwindled to none.  When I moved to New York City and immersed myself in the independent film community, I saw very few outlets for filmmakers of colour. I also noted that even after Black auteurs had managed to raise the funds and make beautiful films, they were in need of venues that would exhibit and market their works. These combined factors inspired me to create ImageNation, a vehicle for exhibiting and distributing progressive images of Black people worldwide through special events and a chain of boutique cinemas dedicated to progressive cinema from the African Diaspora.

   
The ImageNation mission states: “We edify our viewers' imaginations and galvanise their spirits with cinema, Soul Cinema.” What are the characteristics of Soul Cinema?

Soul Cinema consists of movies from any genre that explore history, examine social issues, highlight the humanity of pan-African people, stimulate the mind, and stir the spirit. Soul cinema must exhibit artistic excellence, it must interrogate, and it must inspire. It is highly stylised and it is gritty and real like James Brown and Erykah Badu; infectious like Stevie Wonder and Fela; classic like Miriam Makeba and Celia Cruz; and irresistible like collard greens, maduros, fat cakes, jerk chicken and truly inspired fashion. Some recent examples: The Prep School Negro, Rise Up, Restless City, Night Catches Us, Kinyarwanda, Gun Hill Road, Pariah and Better Mus’ Come. Trailers for most of these can be found at http://imagenation.us. We’d love to hear comments.

The 2011 Reel Sister Film Festival paid tribute to you as a trailblazer, and several years ago you were named by Essence Magazine as one of 25 women who are shaping the world. Congratulations on these accomplishments! A few reflections on the role you see for yourself as visual media professional, activist!
Thank you! Ultimately, I’d like to inspire others to look outside of commercial models and vehicles to empower themselves and their communities. I’d like to influence peoples’ perceptions of Blackness and help create new ways for the global Black community to connect. And I’d like to demonstrate sustainability. In pursuing my goal to establish a chain of cinemas, I realise that intention is not enough. And it is very important that we learn how to manage resources effectively, understand fiscal and government compliance, and to raise the capital needed to support our visions and dreams. And we must build institutions so that our creations outlive us. I have been able to inspire many people with my work. The challenge will be to build this concept into a sustainable institution. Haki Madhubuti said, “One of the most revolutionary things we can do is make payroll.” So, once I figure out how to feed my community progressive images, while helping to actually feed families through sustained employment, I will have reached my goal. Ultimately, I hope to offer a model that will edify our minds, instill pride, stimulate economic development and demonstrate sustainability. On that note, every bit helps. To make a contribution please visit us at http://imagenation.us.    
Audience development, your area of expertise, is becoming increasingly important, as the focus on spectatorship and audience response are key to the film industry’s interest in engaging with its viewers. What does this activity entail and how did you become interested in it?

I have been involved in the arts since I was a young girl. I used to draw, act, dance, and sing a bit. I ran a dance troupe with some friends; and I was entrepreneurial. So, developing audiences has always been integral to my efforts. It’s pointless to stage a great play, dance program or film screening if no one is there to enjoy it. So, I’ve always been promoting the arts in some way. When I started working in independent film, I saw a dearth in black film exhibition and marketing vehicles; and a natural niche for my skills. I was blessed to be a part of some really amazing projects and to work with serious arts activists like Kay Shaw and Jamal Joseph. Audience development is pretty simple. You must identify every and anyone with whom the film will resonate and then enlist their active support. By active, I mean they must become your drum majors, they must purchase tickets and they must enlist other to do the same. That’s how it works. And now, we have the Internet it’s easier to connect, but we have a lot to compete with so it’s important to offer offline experiences to support the online outreach. It’s about connecting, inspiring, passing it on, and reminding. Here we have shared the tip sheets that we distribute during our outreach campaigns. On our website, look under Restless City, Kinyarwanda and I Will Follow on http://imagenation.us.

Since the emergence of a democratic, multi-racial South Africa, a cinema representing the realities of the black majority is taking root. At the same time, South African cinema is positioning itself to be an important player on the continent. What ties does ImageNation have or would like to make in South Africa?

We presented a film festival in Mogale City, South Africa, in 2004, and we’d like to go back. Right now, we’re focused on opening our first cinema in Harlem, which will feature a monthly series called South African Cinema Now. So, we’ll offer a continuous vehicle for exposing South African cinema here in the US. We are producing a 100th Anniversary of the ANC celebration in partnership with Central Park Summer Stage on August 14th. Goapele and Yolanda Zama will perform and we’ll screen the classic Come Back Africa.

So, once we stabilise our New York venue, we’ll start implementing programs in South Africa to begin developing an audience that side. Our goal is to open our Harlem venue by the fall of this year.  We are a 501c3 nonprofit and are accepting contributions for our cinema fund at http://imagenation.us/support/capital-campaign/

Interview with Moikgantsi Kgama by Beti Ellerson, May 2012.

L'ImageNation de Moikgantsi Kgama

Moikgantsi Kgama, ayant des racines sud-africaines et afro-américaines, a été fortement influencée par son expérience transnationale à l’intersection de l’Afrique et la Diaspora africaine. Fondatrice et directrice exécutive de la Fondation ImageNation basée à New York, le Reel Sister Film Festival lui a rendu hommage en tant que pionnière en 2011, et plusieurs années auparavant le magazine de femmes, Essence l’a nommée parmi les 25 femmes qui façonnent le monde. Elle nous parle de la mission de ImageNation qui a pour but d’édifier l'imagination de leurs téléspectateurs et galvaniser leur esprit avec le Soul Cinéma. Elle examine également l’importance de la dynamisation d’audience, une stratégie qui prend le plus en plus d’ampleur étant donné que l'industrie cinématographique met l'accent sur la réponse des spectateurs pour mieux comprendre leurs intérêts et leurs motivations. Lire l'entretien avec Moikgantsi Kgama par Beti Ellerson en anglais sur l'African Women in Cinema Blog



07 May 2012

Report by Bronwen Pugsley - Women and Film in Africa: Overcoming Social Barriers


Women and Film in Africa: Overcoming Social Barriers, University of Westminster, London, 19–20 November 2011. A report by Bronwen Pugsley (Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies, February 2012), University of Nottingham, UK


In his introductory talk, co-organiser Winston Mano stated that this third annual conference on African film, hosted by the University of Westminster, would focus on a cinematic production that exists against the odds: due to oppressive patriarchal values and a dire lack of funds, the African women who work as actresses, filmmakers, producers, promoters, and distributors are engaged in a permanent struggle for their voices to be heard. Mano‘s statement echoed throughout many of the papers and discussions that took place during the two-day conference. Recurring questions included the systemic lack of funding, distribution, and exhibition opportunities. These key issues were first raised by keynote speaker Yaba Badoe, who presented her latest film, The Witches of Gambaga (2010), a documentary that denounces the ostracism of women accused of sorcery, a growing Ghanaian social phenomenon. In her talk, Badoe described the arduous process of making the film and insisted on the importance of properly “packaging” a film in order to obtain funding. This particular point was later reiterated by the second keynote speaker, filmmaker Jihan El Tahri — part two of whose documentary, Cuba: An African Odyssey (2007), was screened on the second day of the conference. El Tahri discussed at length the difficulties involved in attaining recognition “beyond labels”: although she dislikes being defined foremost on the basis of her gender, origins, or nationality, rather than by the specificities her filmmaking practice, El Tahri recognises that such labels are regrettably essential to the efficient commercialisation of her films. Read the entire report at www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/February_2012/conf_reports.pdf (Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies).


Also read about other proceedings on conferences, forums and meetings of African Women in Cinema on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Keynote: "40 years of cinema by women of Africa" by Beti Ellerson. Colloquy: Francophone African Women Filmmakers: 40 years of cinema (1972-2012), Paris, 23 and 24 November 2012. Follow link

Report on the Colloquium-Meeting "Francophone African Women Filmmakers: 40 years of cinema (1972-2012)" - Paris, 23-24 November 2012. Follow link

Report on Afrikamera 2012 Women on and behind the screen. Follow link

Report on the International Images Film Festival for Women 2011 (Harare, Zimbabwe). Follow link

Report on the African Women Filmmakers Forum 2010 - Johannesburg. Follow link

Compte-rendu par Bronwen Pugsley - Les femmes et le cinéma en Afrique: surmonter les obstacles sociaux


Les femmes et le cinéma en Afrique: surmonter les obstacles sociaux. Université de Westminster, Londres, 19-20 Novembre 2011. Compte-rendu par Bronwen Pugsley (Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies, février 2012), Université de Nottingham, Royaume-Uni.

Dans son discours lors de l’ouverture de la troisième conférence annuelle sur le cinéma africain organisé par l'Université de Westminster, le co-organisateur Winston Mano déclare que cette occasion mettrait l'accent sur une production cinématographique qui existe contre toute attente. En raison des mœurs patriarcales oppressives et un manque cruel de fonds, les Africaines qui travaillent en tant qu’actrices, réalisatrices, productrices, promotrices, distributrices sont engagées dans une lutte permanente pour que leurs voix soient entendues. La déclaration de Mano résonnait dans les présentations et les discussions qui ont eu lieu au cours de la conférence de deux jours. Les questions récurrentes se posaient notamment sur le manque systémique de financement, la distribution et l'exposition. Ces questions clés ont été soulevées par la conférencière d'honneur Yaba Badoe, qui a présenté son dernier film, Les Sorcières de Gambaga (2010), un documentaire dénonçant l'ostracisme des femmes accusées de sorcellerie, un phénomène social en croissance au Ghana. Dans son discours, Badoe décrivait le processus ardu de la réalisation du film, insistant sur l'importance du « paquégique » d’un film dans le but d'obtenir du financement. Ce point spécifique a été renouvelé par la deuxième conférencière d’honneur, la cinéaste Jihan El Tahri, dont son documentaire Cuba: une odyssée africaine (2007) a été projeté pendant la deuxième journée de la conférence. El Tahri a longuement discuté sur les difficultés de se faire reconnaître « au-delà des étiquettes ». Même si elle n'aime pas être définie particulièrement sur la base du sexe, des origines, ou de la nationalité, plutôt que par les spécificités de sa pratique cinématographique, El Tahri reconnaît que de telles étiquettes sont, bon gré mal gré indispensable à la commercialisation efficace de ses films. Lire l'article en intégralité en anglais sur www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/February_2012/conf_reports.pdf (Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies).

04 May 2012

"Le dos de la veuve" (the back of the widow), the politically committed documentary by Cameroonian Mary-Noël Niba, critique by Maturin Petsoko.


Le dos de la veuve, (the back of the widow), the politically committed documentary by Cameroonian Mary-Noël Niba. Critique by Maturin Petsoko. Journal du Cameroun, 26/04/2012. Translated from French to English by Beti Ellerson. 

Le dos de la veuve (The Back of the Widow) is the story of two protagonists: Pauline and Patience. The main heroine, Pauline, in her forties, is a mother of six children whose life was devastated by the death of her husband. By the forces of ancestral tradition she is compelled to accept the youngest brother of her deceased husband as the heir to his estate. Moreover, the law accords the successor the conjugal responsibility of the widow. Sexually harassed by the young brother of the deceased, she refuses to capitulate to this child that she has practically raised. Along with her children, she ends up being expelled from the same house that she built. With only moderate means, Pauline stands up against taboos and decides to fight, denouncing the abuse and excesses of this tradition.

The two young widows left in destitution, plead their cause before the Fon, the traditional chief. In search of a solution, the customary court vacillates, nonetheless, even while fearing the Koms god, the two women seek justice based on Republican laws. The Back of the Widow brings into view the overwhelming struggle of these women who, though feeling disenfranchised, abused and abandoned by society, have verve and audacity, with a mixture of submission and willpower. One thing is certain: Neither they nor their daughters submit to the customs and traditions that give all the rights to the men.

When asked what was the underlying motivation that led her to make such a work, Mary-Noël Niba responded: I want to be the voice of the voiceless. This is the feeling that drove me when I decided to make this documentary; to discover the basis of the tradition of succession among the Koms and their impact on society. Based on a woman's story, I wanted to put under the spotlight, the courage of some of the victims of a form of enslavement of women in the name of tradition; to highlight the women who decided to rebel despite the threats, and to raise their heads as they face the magnitude of the phenomenon. In short, a vision of women who fight with and against tradition…somewhere in Cameroon the death of the “spouse” who forced a woman and her children to live under the yoke of the brother of the deceased husband ... and where the words of the woman is not worth its weight in gold against the tradition. To assert their rights, the application of Western laws is the last resort.
Only a year after the official release of the documentary, it was presented at the Festival Regards sur le cinéma du Monde in Rouen in February 2012 and premiered in Yaoundé in 3 March 2012. Screenings were also held in Douala and Bamenda in March 2012. Moreover, it was broadcast on several television channels, such as STV, TV5 Monde (8 March 2012), CFI (2012) etc. In terms of audience responses there was quite a bit of positive feedback. Le Dos de la Veuve is a film to watch again and again. This 68-minute film is a Luman Communications production with original dialogue in English, Pidgin, Kom and French, subtitled in French.

Mary-Noël Niba was trained in cinema at the ESRA (school of cinema, sound and film animation) in Paris, received a DEUG (general university studies diploma) in Plastic Arts at the University of Valenciennes and a Masters in Science and Techniques in Sound and Image at the University of Aix in Marseilles. Recruited at the CRTV (Cameroon National Radio and Television) in 1992, she began her career as director of news programs (newscasts and news programs such as Thermomètre and Recto Verso). She later created "Le Français Tel Quel", a news magazine about the specificities of French spoken in Cameroon, which made her famous throughout the country. She would later occupy high positions at the television, serving as Deputy Director of Production before taking the strategic post as Deputy Commercial Director of Marketing and Publicity. After working as a consultant in charge of the project "Maisons des Savoirs" with the International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF), Mary-Noel Niba is currently in charge of public relations for the Cameroon Embassy in Paris, parallel to this position she wears the hat of independent filmmaker and executive producer of Luman Communications, a Yaoundé-based production company and film distribution and communications consultancy. Her current project is a feature film entitled "Claire ou l’enfant de l’amour" (Claire or the child of love).  

«Le dos de la veuve», le documentaire engagé de la camerounaise Mary-Noël NIBA, critique par Maturin Petsoko


Le dos de la Veuve, le documentaire engagé de la camerounaise Mary-Noël Niba. Critique par Maturin Petsoko. Journal du Cameroun, 26/04/2012.

« Le dos de la veuve », c’est l’histoire de deux protagonistes: Pauline et Patience. L’héroïne principale (Pauline) est une mère dont la vie a été foudroyée par la mort subite de son mari. A peu près la quarantaine, mère de six enfants, elle est contrainte par la force des traditions ancestrales d’accepter le frère cadet de son défunt mari comme l’héritier des biens de celui-ci. Ce statut accorde également au successeur une responsabilité maritale sur la veuve. Harcelée sexuellement par le successeur, petit frère du défunt, elle refuse de se laisser conquérir par cet enfant qu’elle a pratiquement élevé, et finit par se faire chasser avec ses enfants, de la maison qu’elle a construite. Bravant les tabous, Pauline décide de se battre et dénonce avec ses petits moyens, les abus et dérives de cette tradition. Les deux protagonistes (Pauline et Patience), jeunes veuves abandonnées dans le dénuement, vont plaider leur cause devant le Fon, chef traditionnel. Devant les hésitations du tribunal coutumier à trouver des solutions, même dans la peur des dieux koms, elles veulent trouver dans les lois de la République le verdict juste. « Le Dos de la Veuve », met donc en scène le combat bouleversant des femmes battantes, qui se sentent spoliées, abusées et abandonnées par la société, mais qui ont de la verve et de l'audace, mâtinée de soumission à la volonté divine. Une chose est sûre: Ni elles ni leurs filles ne courbent l'échine devant les coutumes et les traditions qui donnent tous les droits aux hommes. Lire l'article en intégralité sur http://journalducameroun.com/article.php?aid=11200

Interview translated from French to English by Beti Ellerson.

01 May 2012

Dyana Gaye: The Cinéfondation Atelier, Cannes 2012


Des étoiles, directed by Dyana Gaye (France-Senegal), is among the fifteen films selected for the Cinéfoundation Atelier (a workshop to assist the achievability of the film project).

In the Cinéfoundation Project Catalogue, Gilles Jacob, President of the Festival de Cannes and the Cinéfondation, details the goals and objectives of the Atelier:

By creating L’Atelier in 2005, our first objective was to select film projects varied in their themes, their geographical distribution and creative invention. The second was to ensure that these projects, each supported by a producer who has already gathered part of the funding, could be made quickly. The third was to limit the selection to 15 projects to ensure greater exposure for them and get the best results for everyone.
For this eighth edition 15 unique voices from 14 countries can be heard, from the newly-discovered director to the well-known filmmaker. The projects, carried along by independent producers, reflect their battle for the defense and illustration of a demanding and innovative cinema.

Biography of Dyana Gaye

Dyana Gaye was born in Paris in 1975. She majored in Film Studies at Paris 8 University. In 1999, she won the Louis Lumière-Villa Médicis grant for her script Une femme pour Souleymane, that she directed the following year. In 2004, she directed a musical one-shot-sequence film, J’ai deux amours for the project “Paris la métisse” and was a finalist for the Rolex Mentor and Protége Arts Initiative. In 2006, her film Deweneti received numerous distinctions all over the world and was nominated at the Césars 2008 for Best Short Film. In 2009, she directed the musical Un transport en commun, which premiered at the Locarno Film Festival and was selected in numerous festivals, such as, Sundance and TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). She received for this film a second nomination at the Césars 2011 for Best Short Film. She is currently working on a stage adaptation of Un transport en commun for the season 2013-2014 of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

The presentation of the project Des étoiles begins with a citation from the poem Sand and Foam (1926) by Khalil Gibran:

My house tells me, “Do not leave me, your past dwells here.” 
The road tells me, “Come, follow me, I am your future.” 
And I tell them, “I have no past, nor have I a future. 
If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; 
and if I go there is a staying in my going. 
Only love and death will change all things.”

Synopsis

Over one winter, through the cities of Dakar, Torino and New York, we follow the exiled paths of several interconnected characters. For her husband’s funeral, New Yorker Mame Amy returns to Dakar with her 19-year-old son Thierno, who takes his first ever steps on African soil. Sophie, 24-years-old, leaves Dakar for Torino to join her husband Abdoulaye. He is missing. Abdoulaye has just arrived in New York with his cousin through an organisation of clandestine migrants. As the days go by, their destinies begin to echo one another, through the diversity of the cities they are crossing, somehow all united under the same starry sky. 

Filmmaker’s intentions 

Des étoiles is a testimony on Senegal today as seen from its Diaspora’s point of view. As many of their countrymen, Sophie, Mame Amy, Thierno, and Abdoulaye are torn between Africa and the West, the past and the future, dream and reality, one’s ancient culture and their longing for freedom. The purpose of the film is not to judge the good and the bad in migration, but to rather focus on destinies often reduced to nothing more than footnotes and statistics. These destinies, though distinct, echo one another, the same way as a constellation, which is nothing more than a design shaped by several stars, are thousands of miles away from one another. This film is for me the opportunity to pay tribute to what we all are: just passing by.

(Photo of Dyana Gaye and text from the Project Catalogue of the Cinéfoundation)

Dyana Gaye: L’Atelier de la Cinéfondation, Cannes 2012


Des étoiles, réalisé par Dyana Gaye (France-Senegal) est parmi les quinze films sélectionnés à L'Atelier de la Cinéfondation (atelier de projets, pour faciliter la faisabilité d'un projet de film).

Dans le Livre des Projets de Cinéfoundation, Gilles Jacob, Président du Festival de Cannes et de la Cinéfondation, détaille les buts et objectifs de l’Atelier :

En créant L’Atelier en 2005, notre premier objectif était de sélectionner des projets de films très variés par leurs thèmes, leur distribution géographique et leur invention créative. Le second était de s’assurer que ces projets, soutenus chacun par un producteur ayant déjà réuni une partie du financement, pourraient être réalisés rapidement. Le troisième était de limiter la sélection à 15 projets pour assurer plus d’impact à ceux-ci et obtenir le meilleur résultat pour chacun.

Pour cette huitième édition s’expriment ainsi 15 voix singulières originaires de 14 pays, du réalisateur juste remarqué au cinéaste reconnu. Les projets, portés par des producteurs indépendants, traduisent le combat qu’ils mènent pour la défense et l’illustration d’un cinéma exigeant et novateur.

Biographie de Dyana Gaye

Née à Paris en 1975, Dyana Gaye étudie le cinéma à l’université Paris 8 où elle obtient une Maîtrise d’études cinématographiques. En 1999, elle est lauréate de la bourse Louis Lumière-Villa Médicis hors les murs pour son premier film Une femme pour Souleymane, qu’elle réalise l’année suivante. En 2004, elle réalise J’ai deux amours pour le projet « Paris la métisse » et est finaliste du programme Rolex de mentorat artistique. Son film Deweneti réalisé en 2006 connaît une très large diffusion nationale et internationale, reçoit le prix du jury au Festival international du court métrage de Clermont-Ferrand en 2007 et est nominé au César 2008 du meilleur court métrage. Pour Un transport en commun, une comédie musicale qu’elle réalise en 2009, présentée en première mondiale au Festival de Locarno, sélectionnée à Sundance et à Toronto, Dyana est de nouveau nominée au César du meilleur court métrage. Elle travaille actuellement à son adaptation pour la saison 2013/2014 du Théâtre du Châtelet à Paris.

La présentation du projet Des étoiles commence avec une citation du poème, Le sable et l’écume (1926) de Khalil Gibran :

Ma maison me dit :« Ne me quitte pas, ton passé est ici. » 
La route me dit : « viens suis-moi, je suis ton avenir. » 
et je leur dis : « je n’ai ni passé ni avenir. 
dans sa maison du passé, le moi aspire à l’avenir. 
dans son chemin vers l’avenir, le moi porte avec lui son passé. 
seuls l’amour et la mort peuvent tout changer. »

Synopsis

Le temps d’une saison (un hiver), dans trois villes : Dakar, Turin et New-York, nous partageons les chemins d’exils de différents personnages. À l’occasion de l’enterrement de son mari, Mame Amy la new-yorkaise, revient à Dakar accompagné de son fils Thierno, 19 ans, dont c’est le premier voyage en Afrique. Sophie, 24 ans, quitte Dakar pour rejoindre son mari Abdoulaye à Turin. Il est introuvable. Abdoulaye arrive à New-York avec son cousin par l’intermédiaire d’un réseau de passeurs. À mesure que les jours passent, des résonnances se créent entre les parcours de ces personnages, dans la diversité des villes qu’ils traversent, pourtant toutes unies sous un même ciel étoilé.

Intention de la réalisatrice

Des étoiles parle du Sénégal aujourd’hui mais du point de vue de sa diaspora. Comme beaucoup de leurs compatriotes, Sophie, Mame Amy, Thierno, Abdoulaye et les autres sont tiraillés entre Afrique et Occident, passé et avenir, rêve et réalité, culture ancestrale et désir d’émancipation individuelle. Le propos du film n’est pas de juger des avantages ou des contraintes de l’émigration, mais d’être au plus près de ces destins, qui la plupart du temps ne sont réduits qu’à des statistiques. Car ces destins apparemment distincts, résonnent entre eux, à la manière d’une constellation, qui n’est autre que le dessin formé par plusieurs étoiles, qui se répondent à des milliers de kilomètres les unes des autres. Ce film est pour moi l’occasion d’honorer ce qu’au fond nous sommes tous : des gens de passage.

(Image de Dyana Gaye et textes cités proviennent du Livre des projets de l’Atelier de la Cinéfoundation)