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.

24 February 2016

Djia Mambu, Africiné : Meanwhile, They’re filming… | En attendant, Elles tournent…, report on the/compte rendu du Festival Elles Tournent, 2016

Djia Mambu : Meanwhile, They’re filming… | En attendant, Elles tournent…, report on the/compte rendu du Festival Elles Tournent, 2016

Africiné.org, Djia Mambu, February 2016 Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

[English] Français ci-après

At the eighth edition of the Elles Tournent (they're filming) Film Festival in Brussels, in the span of a few days, forty films of all genres by women filmmakers of all nationalities captivated a loyal and consistently avid public.

While one may hear that there are not enough women filmmakers, that their works are not very profitable, or that they are not sufficiently visible to the public, all these arguments seem out-dated and pointless when it comes to festivals that distinguishes themselves, such as the festival “Elles Tournent”.

According to a Belgian study, "Femmes et cinéma : Derrière l'écran, où sont les femmes ?" (Engender asbl, forthcoming) ["Women and cinema: Behind the screen, where are the women?"] violence, sexuality and the male lead character are much less likely to be on the screens of women directors than those of their male counterparts. Is it the public who makes this choice or is it the funders who drive it, hence undervaluing their interest? "The content should be imposed on the funders, not the makers”, noted a filmmaker from Canada, where the film industry has decided to eliminate the notion of quotas.

Whether fiction, documentary, experimental or advertising, perhaps this is the most common characteristic among all these women makers and their film. If one considers that most of these makers are struggling to be heard, they do not hesitate to bring the voices of other women who are reduced to silence (sometimes mute) on the screen. In Kung Fu Grandma, Korean Jeong-One Park examined the resistance of elderly ladies to sexual assaults, as they are the main prey in the slums in Kenya. By bringing together the associations “Comme Un Lundi” in Brussels and the Burkinabé collective CITO in Ouagadougou, Yund Ya Paang Paagba (Elise Boon) shows the people’s contempt towards women artists. Considered loose women, they are not taken seriously in the art world and are frowned upon by other women who doubt their capacity to manage a household. In Dreamcatcher (World Cinema Directing Award in the documentary category at Sundance in 2015), Kim Longinotto follows American Brenda Myers-Powell in her fight against the prostitution that affects many young girls in Chicago.

Tributes are also devoted to remarkable women in two documentaries about Arab feminism. La Révolution des Femmes : Un siècle de féminisme arabe (The Revolution of Women: A Century of Arab Feminism) by Fériel Ben Mahmoud traces female figures of the African independences of yesterday to the present. Furthermore, Konstanze Burkard focused on the Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi and her legacy in The Free Voice of Egypt: Nawal El Saadawi.

Long Live Feminism

Because today's technology allows it, there is a selection of all types of short films by diverse makers and from various mediums, since sometimes it takes whatever works to show what there is to see. The Smurfette Principle by Anita Sarkeesian ( probes the principle of the Schtroumphette (one lone woman in a man's world) by comparing it to the film industry. In Lima, Peru, an association tricks street stalkers by putting them face to face with their mother in Whistling at your Mom (Siballe A Tu Madre). A documentary from Norway, NRK-Dokument MMAR, goes behind the scenes of the national women’s soccer team by playing on gender bias. More tragic in India, the association Make Love Not Scars films a victim of acid throwing in a full make-up lesson in Beauty Tips: How to Get Perfect Red Lips. Indians Uppekha Jain and Pankhuri Awasthi denounce rape by way of rap in the film Rap Against Rape; a piece that created a buzz on YouTube on its release.

Meanwhile waiting for equal allocation and distribution of funding among male and female filmmakers, for the various European cultural policies as well as others to become inspired by the Swedish model—which consists of equal public funding, and for women in the field to be remunerated as filmmakers as they often are for their work in the area of decor, costumes, sound or editing, They, they, keep filming.

Djia Mambu,
Brussels, February 2016


En l'espace de quelques jours, une quarantaine d'œuvres cinématographiques de tout genre de réalisatrices toutes nationalités confondues ont conquis un public fidèle et toujours demandeur à la huitième édition du Festival du Film Elles Tournent à Bruxelles.

On a beau entendre qu'il n'y a pas assez de réalisatrices, que leurs œuvres sont peu lucratives ou encore qu'elles ne rencontrent pas suffisamment de public, mais tous ces arguments paraissent désuets et dépourvus de sens lorsqu'il est question de Festivals qui se démarquent comme le festival Elles Tournent.

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