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.

06 September 2013

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah talks about the 2nd African Women in Film Forum (23-25 September 2013) Accra, Ghana


Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Communications Specialist, AWDF and the designated staff member leading on the organisation of  the 2nd AWIFF talks with Beti Ellerson about the 2nd African Women in Film Forum, its objectives and desired outcomes. It will be held in Accra, Ghana from 23-25 September.

Nana, please give a bit of a history of the African Women in Film Forum

The first African Women in Film Forum (AWIFF) was held in 2010 in conjunction with the Lufudo Academy of Performing Arts led by Joke Silva, the internationally recognised Nigerian actress. The theme for that event was 'Nollywood: Women and the Dynamics of Representation', and the focus for that first forum was very much focused on the Nollywood industry. The rich dialogue on the representation of women in Nollywood was kicked off appropriately by a paper presented by Dr Abena Busia, with the title 'Of Cooking, Cars and Gendered Culture'. Professor Busia's paper really spoke to the importance of the Nollywood industry, and its influence on how the rest of the world sees African women. This gave a solid foundation to the subsequent panels and discussions which delved deeper into the issues that arise from limited representations of African women in film.

One of the sessions that got everybody buzzing was entitled 'Saints, Whores, Nags and Witches'. Dedicated viewers of Nollywood might recognise some of these familiar tropes. The evil mother-in-law, the conniving-husband-stealing woman, the Sugar-Daddy-seeking-school girl, the dedicated-church-going wife. These one dimensional characters are not complicated enough, and the AWIFF stressed the importance of showing the full breath of African women's lives. Bibi Bakare Yusuf of Cassava Republic Press who also participated in the forum spoke about the importance of creating artistic works and films that speak to the kind of future we wish to inhabit. That for me was a very important point to make, and one that I also believe. Our reality should not limit our creativity. Our creative expression can also help shape and guide our future reality.

What are the overall objectives of the African Women in Film Forum?

AWDF conceptualised the AWIFF in order to utilise the power of film to accelerate efforts towards gender equity and social justice. We think filmmakers have a powerful role to play in shifting or reinforcing patriarchal attitudes, and we want to work with filmmakers to create a better world for women, and the community at large. 

What were the responses to the First Women in Film Forum?

The response to the first AWIFF was extremely positive. We had many stakeholders in the Nollywood industry represented including key players such as Amaka Igwe, Tunde Kelani and Emem Isong. Time and time again during the first AWIFF participants expressed the importance of creating such a space, and the relevance of maintaining this space. 

What were some of the outcomes? Were there initiatives that followed?

One of the most significant outcomes from the first AWIFF was the decision AWDF took to include the thematic area of 'Arts, Culture and Sports' in our work. This allows us to dedicate more resources towards creating change through popular culture and the Arts. At the first AWIFF, AWDF also committed to support the work of filmmakers telling compelling stories which portray African women in our full diversity. As part of this initiative we are supporting the production of Akin Omotoso's next film, 'Tell Me Something Sweet'. Akin Omotoso of Tom Pictures was a participant in the 1st AWIFF. AWDF also committed to continue to convene the AWIFF as a space for African filmmakers to dialogue around issues of gender, and African women in the film industry more broadly. This is why the 2nd AWIFF which is scheduled for the 23rd-25th of September is Pan-African in nature with representation from across the continent and Diaspora including Burkina Faso, France, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Zimbabwe.

Is an objective also to rotate the AWIFF throughout the continent?

Absolutely. The first AWIFF took place in Nigeria because it was aimed at the Nollywood Industry, and so Lagos was the logical city to host the AWIFF. This time round the forum is in Accra, Ghana. The next forum will definitely be held outside of West Africa, and perhaps in a Francophone country. 

What would you like to achieve at the 2nd AWIFF?

Our goals for the 2nd AWIFF are broadly as follows:
- Promote diverse representations of African women in the African film industry
- Provide an opportunity for established and emerging scriptwriters to share and discuss how to make social justice content compelling
- Showcase African films that address social justice issues in fresh and exciting ways
- Engage with the Ghanaian public on the importance of diverse gender representation in the film industry.

Interview with Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah by Beti Ellerson, September 2013.

PROGRAMME

Day 1
23 September

9:00 – 10:00 – Registration
10:00 – Welcome and update on the 1st AWIFF - Sarah Mukasa, Director of Programmes, African Women's Development Fund

10:15 - The state of the African film industry today - Prof Linus, Rector, National Film and Television Institute, Ghana

10:30 – African women in film – Yaba Badoe, Writer and Documentary Filmmaker

10:45 – 1:30
‘You want funding? Is your film about AIDS?’ – Facilitator, Sefi Atta, Writer and Playwright
This roundtable discussion on writing compelling social issues for the screen will raise and aim to address issues such as:
- What types of scripts are African women dramatists/film makers producing? 
- What are the practicalities and challenges of producing a script? 
- Where do women find the money to write? 
- What agendas do NGOs have in filmmaking? 
- Which audiences are women dramatists aiming to reach?
- What distribution channels are women filmmakers using?

10:45 - 1:30 (Parallel session)
Script writing master class - Facilitator, Ade Solanke, Playwright and Scriptwriter
This master class on script writing will provide tips and techniques on how to write a compelling script and identify ways in which social justice issues can be explored in film
1:30 – 2.30: Lunch Break

2.30 – 3.30
Donor panel on funding for the film industry
This session is an opportunity for funders and filmmakers to have an open conversation about funding opportunities, challenges and to identify ways of working together .
Korkor Amarteifio - Associate Director, Institute for Music and Development 
Sarah Mukasa - Director of Programmes, African Women's Development Fund Stéphanie Soleansky - Cultural Affairs Attaché, Institut Français du Ghana
Facilitator: Tsitsi Dangaremgba, Writer, Filmmaker, and Founder of the International Images Film Festival for Women

3.30 – 4.30
Identifying Producers, Co-Producers and Film Project Development
This session will focus on how to find producers and co-producers for your film project. This will include the artistic development of a project, and practical insights on how to meet key people in the film industry, whilst gaining recognition in the international film world.
Facilitator: François d'Artemare, Producer and founder of Les Films de l'Après- Midi

6:00pm - 9:00pm
Film screenings and Q&A at Alliance Française
On the Border - Tsitsi Dangarembga
The Witches of Gambaga - Yaba Badoe

Day 2
24 September

10:00 – Screening of a TV episode with script written by Lodi Matsetela

10:30 – 12:30
In Conversation with:
Yaba Badoe - Writer and Documentary Filmmaker
Sarah Bouyain – Writer and Director
Lodi Matsetela – Writer, Producer and Director
Facilitator: Dr Beti Ellerson, Director, Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema

12:30-1:30 – Lunch

1:30 – 3.30
The Ghanaian Film and Television Industry: Challenges, opportunities and the way forward.
Kwaw Ansah – Writer, Director and Producer
Anita Erskine - TV Host, Producer and Communications Professional
Veronica Quashie – Writer and Film Director
Facilitator: Vincentia Akwetia, Dean of Studies, NAFTI

6.00pm - 9.00pm
Film screenings and Q&A at NAFTI
Perished Diamonds - Anita Afonu
Notre Etrangere/The Place in Between - Sarah Bouyain

Day 3
25 September

10:00 – Screening of Kwaku Ananse - Akosua Adoma Owusu

10:30 - 12:30pm
The Way Forward: African Women in Film
Tsitsi Dangaremgba - Writer, Director and Founder of the International Images Film Festival for Women
Amaka Igwe – Writer and Director
Akosua Adoma Owusu - Director
Ade Solanke – Playwright and Scriptwriter
Facilitator: Dr Sionne Neely, Knowledge Management Specialist, AWDF

12:30 – 1:30
Action group meetings

1:30 – 2:20 Lunch

2:30 – 3:30
Closing address
Dr Yaba Blay, Co-Director and Assistant Teaching Professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University. Consulting Producer for CNN Black in America 5 – “Who is Black in America?” – a television documentary


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


Report on the 2nd African Women in Film Forum (AWIFF) - Accra, 23-25 September 2013. Follow link


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

Women and Film in Africa: Overcoming Social Barriers, University of Westminster, London, 19–20 November 2011. A report by Bronwen Pugsley. 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

Proceedings from the 1st African Women in Film Forum - Lagos, 16-17 June 2010. Follow link