Thérèse Sita-Bella entered the world of cinema even before most of the filmmakers that are recognized today as pioneers. Trailblazing journalist from Cameroon, she made Tam Tam à Paris in 1963. The 30-minute film documented the National Dance Company of Cameroon during its tour in Paris.
It was featured at the first FESPACO in 1969, alongside the films of Mustapha Alassane (Niger), Oumarou Ganda (Niger), Urbain N'Dia (Cameroun), Serge Ricci-Sékou-Ouédraogo (Burkina Faso), Ababacar Samb (Senegal), Ousmane Sembene (Senegal), Momar Thiam (Senegal), Paulin Vieyra (Senegal).(1)
Thérèse Sita-Bella had a long, productive career in radio and print journalism. During a 1989 interview(2) she indicated that she had many scripts that she would like to put to film and, upon her retirement, hoped to be able to do so. But she left us in January 2006, forgotten and virtually unknown in her own country. Thus, as we recognize her accomplishments at conferences and in articles about women in the history of African cinema, it must also be emphasized that African cultural producers must struggle nonetheless to produce and work. And now with the increased interest in Africa’s pioneers in cinema, one must ask how this groundbreaking journalist, cineaste, pilot, descended so deeply into obscurity, having defied her own assessment of her place as a filmmaker, asserting: "you know cinema is not a woman's business".(3)
(1) Hamidou Ouédraogo. Naissance et évolution du Fespaco de 1969 à 1973. Ouagadougou : Impressions, 1995.
(2) Interview by André-Marie Pouya. Amina, 233 September 1989.
(3) Cited in "l'Afrique filmée par des femmes" by Elisabeth Lequeret, Le monde diplomatique, August 1998.
A longer version published in the African Women in Cinema Blog: Foremothers in African Cinema: Thérèse Sita-Bella