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.


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Director/Directrice, Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema | Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinéma

13 July 2020

Matamba Kombila: Mundele n: blanche, étrangère - white, foreigner

Matamba Kombila, of French-Gabonese parentage, explores the evolving complexities of her multiple identities and the cultural, geographical tensions of these positionalities. Her short experimental film Mundele n: blanche, étrangère, contextualizes the conversation.

An interview with Matamba Kombila by Beti Ellerson, July 2020.

Matamba, talk a bit about yourself, your evolution into filmmaking.

I had reached a glass ceiling in the fashion industry where I was working as events producer for high-end brands. I had understood I’d never get to the positions my degrees could have led me to because I wasn’t Caucasian. I needed to move on to a field where I would have a sense of community and professional fulfillment after years of feeling used, shortchanged and often alienated. I therefore decided to follow my heart and my innate passion for the moving image and storytelling, and to become a filmmaker. I had actually been teaching myself screenwriting and directing while I was in fashion, and had started developing screenplays. My first experience in film was on the set of Tanya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us, in the production design department. I was always drawn to stories revolving around social justice, so working on a film about the story of the wife of a slain Black Panther leader felt like an omen and confirmed I was on the right path. I started shooting a few years later, after I took amazing intensive workshops at Ela Thier’s Independent Film School. I literally used my cellphone for my few first films. I couldn’t wait to own a camera to start creating, or, for someone who had one, to be available to do it with me. It gave me a good sense of composition and movement in the frame. I realize that editing myself or assisting the editor for all the films I have made since then have allowed me to hone my screenwriting skills. Likewise, producing and managing the production of fellow filmmakers’ shorts or features makes me build capacity while being part of the creative process, which is priceless. I am now working at improving my technical knowledge to understand how to best match the story’s intention and mood with the visual. It's a never-ending, fascinating, growing process.

You film is titled, Mundele n: blanche, étrangère, English subtitled as white, foreigner. What does this title mean?

Mundele literally means white, foreigner in the Lingala language, which is spoken in DRC and Congo, where it was shot. I found through my travels that in many African streets, when you stand out from the crowd, people call out to you. In Congo where I shot the film, I was Mundele. And in many African countries, I am called white, foreigner.

For a short film with a duration of just under 10 minutes, there is a great deal that the spectator must extrapolate. Is that your intention?

It is constructed as avenues of reflection on themes that revolve around the make up of my identity. I don’t want to state anything. I simply want to highlight situations or events that may bring answers to the questioning around it.

You ask questions to your entourage, which appear to be in fact existential, and not really in search of a probing response. On the other hand there are a host of questions that the film provokes. Perhaps I will start with my own questions: what was your objective for making the film? 

The intention of the initial project was to unpack some aspects of my complicated relationship with my mother and show her my love. My objective for making the film was to draw a parallel between what’s commonly called France-Afrique and myself, the offspring of a French woman and a Gabonese man. I wanted to explore the juxtaposition of the complicated relationship between the colonizer and its outposts on the continent and my identity, the mix of the cultures and histories of the colonizer and the colonized.

The film starts with you at the hairdresser’s salon surrounded by a circle of young African women as they each take part in coiffing your hair. A metaphor, a signifier, perhaps of your identity, as it is transformed into a Gabonese hairstyle. What role does hair play for you and why this choice in constructing the film? 

The film was made during a Documentary Filmmaking Workshop for Women at the French Institute of Pointe Noire. The idea of the salon came from the instructor, Rufin Mbou Mikima, who came up with it when we started discussing the story. Interestingly, I had thought about using hair as a vector of identity but wasn’t sure how. My hair is my antenna, my connector to the universe and the cosmic forces. It is also a shield that protects me against the cold and the heat, balancing out my body temperature. At last, it is an element of style that allows me to tell stories about myself and my ancestors; an “identifier”. Therefore getting my hair done is something very intimate that often leads to insightful conversations, so the salon was a perfect setting to broach the theme of my identity. After we collected all of the images, we came up with the structure of the mirror for the film. Its first part, shot in the salon, is the front of the mirror, what I see and am perceived by others; its second part, my walk in the streets of Pointe Noire, is what’s behind it, what I perceive as my identity’s founding elements.

There have been a flurry of films by mixed-raced women especially of African-European origin, who probe the question of color, of identity, of belonging. To name a few: Ngozi Onwurah: The Body Beautiful. Sarah Bouyain: Les Enfants du blanc (Children of the White Man) and Notre Etrangère (The Place in Between). Claude Haffner: Blanche ici, noire la-bàs (Footprints of My Other). In the latter two, echoes of your film title is evident. There is also the film, Métis (Mixed-race), co-directed by Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette and Mélissa Quinet, the latter who is the grand-daughter of one of the two protagonists of the documentary. In addition, Irish-Kenyan Zélie Asava, who is also mixed-race, published her research in the book titled Mixed Race Cinemas, Multiracial Dynamics in America and France. There have even been several films also about mixed-raced girls/women by African women who are not, I am thinking of Sous la clarité de la lune (Under the Moonlight) by Apolline Traoré and Au phantom du père (The Ghost of the Father) by Laurentine Bayala, for example. There is also Isabelle Boni-Claverie, whose grandmother was a white Frenchwoman, who dealt with the subject in her short film, Pour la nuit. Perhaps I could ask you, do you have some thoughts about why this topic may be a specific quest for women?

I am finding out now that there are so many films on the topic. I saw a few of that your mentioned, but didn’t know of all of them. I’ll research and watch. I am curious to see how my fellow lady filmmakers have treated the topic. I will not use the word race because it doesn’t exist within the human realm.

Now back to your question. For me, even knowing quite a bit about genetics, it still is fascinating to know that I come out of the belly of a woman and look nothing like her. It was complicated to construct my identity growing up when I was on one end not allowed to identify to her, and on the other end told that I was only her. Indeed in the West I was always perceived as African or mixed, when in Africa I was perceived as Caucasian. Ultimately, maybe women ponder over the topic because we give life and we are the origin of all these multicultural babies that often find themselves at odds with their environment. The truth is we are the fruit of the love of two individuals of different cultures, the living proof that the divisive concept of race is a hoax. We make a lot of people feel uncomfortable because of their preconceptions and prejudice built-in by 500 years of history. I feel like its onto women to undo this. I am glad to see that several of us talk about our experience being mixed African-European because our testimonies carry elements of solutions to the problems of “racism” and its children, Caucasian supremacy and ongoing colonialism. We are after all the natural link between the opposite sides.

What has been the feedback to the film in African countries where it has been screened?

At the screenings I attended, there was no feedback so I explained the film to the audience. Then some audience members commented that my point of view made them understand aspects of the mixed African-European identity they had never thought about. It gave them insights not only on the personality of some of their mixed friends or relatives, but also on their own makeup, being the descendants of people who used to call Europeans their ancestors. I was asked a few times why the hairdressers don’t answer my questions. In fact they do. But we had sound issues so it turns out to be some sort of monologue with the effect that you describe earlier.

In your experiences, what are the similarities and differences to mixed race-identity in Africa compared to the West?

In my experience, the only similarity to mixed identity in Africa compared to the West is the ever-present unconscious stigma, consequence of the racialization of humans by the Catholic Church to justify the objectification of Africans in order to serve Western capitalism, with the complicity of African traders.

The differences are undeniable. In the African countries I have visited, I was either perceived as a national (Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia), or as a white/foreigner but in the end always accepted for who I am and integrated. Interestingly, my mixed culture may be perceived as an asset because it may allow navigating a multifaceted African world with ease, to the benefit of the community. South Africa is a different story, because colorism defines social class and status. In Cape Town, I didn't quite feel like a human. I was colored, confined to some margins of society. I had a similar experience in France and in the few European countries I have visited where ultimately, the majority of people were uncomfortable with who I am because I don’t quite fit in any category they are familiar with. Except for the UK where the notion of mixed culture seems assimilated. In the USA or Brazil, I am Black. I am denied my European heritage and I institutionally have a very limited space in the Caucasian world, which ironically, is nevertheless equally as mine as the African world. So ultimately, the main difference is that Africa seems to still be welcoming the other with open arms, when the West seems scared of ghosts that it has not made peace with. 

Future works?

I am currently developing my first feature film, a story of revenge in political circles in Gabon, with a female lead. The project results from two residencies, in Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

I should start editing soon the footage that I have been shooting over the past few months in Cameroon where I found myself stranded when Covid-19 hit and borders closed, and where I spent the past 5 months.

I am also just starting a documentary project with a collective of African filmmakers where the objective is truth and reconciliation with our past as accomplices in the slave trade.

11 July 2020

Iman Djionne (Coura + Oulèye) : La Fabrique 2020 - Les Cinémas du monde

Iman Djionne (Coura + Oulèye)
La Fabrique 2020 - Les Cinémas du monde
Projet de film en development
Film project in development

Bio: Iman Djionne

Iman Djionne is a Senegalese director who has written and directed short films and audiovisual content. Her last short, Boxing girl (La Boxeuse) was selected at several festivals, such as Louxor, POFF Shorts and Cologne. She is also a casting director for local and international productions such as Amin by Philippe Faucon (La Quinzaine 2018) and the Amazon series ZeroZeroZer’. She was also a member of the casting team for Atlantics (Atlantique) by Mati Diop (Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes 2019). Iman is currently working on her first feature film, Coura + Oulèye. She took part in the Realness Screenwriters’ Residency in 2019 and Berlinale Talents in 2020.

Iman Djionne est une réalisatrice sénégalaise qui a écrit et réalisé des court-métrages, ainsi que du contenu audiovisuel. Son dernier court La Boxeuse a été sélectionné dans plusieurs festivals tel que Louxor, POFF shorts ou Cologne. Elle est aussi directrice de casting pour des productions locales et internationales comme Amin de Philippe Faucon (La Quinzaine ’18), ou la série Amazon Zerozerozero. Elle a également fait partie de l’équipe casting de Atlantique de Mati Diop (Grand Prix du Jury à Cannes ’19). Iman développe actuellement son premier long Coura + Oulèye. Elle a participé à la résidence d’écriture Realness en 2019 et Berlinale Talents en 2020.

Synopsis : Coura + Oulèye

Born into a polygamous family, two young sisters get to know each other after the death of their father, on a journey across Senegal.

Coura and Oulèye, two teenage sisters whose mothers are co-spouses, are forced to travel together across Senegal, as they search for their father’s testament. But their search takes an unexpected turn when they meet Ngoné, a young woman with a shady past.

Issues d’une famille polygame, deux jeunes soeurs se découvrent après la mort de leur père lors d’un périple à travers le Sénégal.

Coura et Oulèye, deux sœurs adolescentes dont les mères sont co-épouses, sont contraintes de voyager ensemble à travers le Sénégal à la recherche du testament de leur père décédé. Mais leur quête prendra une tournure inattendue lorsqu’elles rencontrent Ngoné, une jeune femme au passé trouble.

Note d'intention - Statement of Intent

Coura + Oulèye is a story about women, where three generations clash, help each other and evolve together. I wanted to explore what it means to be a woman in our African societies today. What is the right balance between tradition and modernity? How can we stay true to ourselves in a society where the group is prioritized? The starting point for this film was the desire to explore the relationship between two young sisters born into a polygamous marriage. Polygamy, which is common in Senegal, has often been addressed from the women’s perspective, but rarely from the perspective of children with different mothers and their relationships. Fraternity is a strong yet complicated bond, so I wanted to follow these sisters’ journey in that sense. This journey, which will bring them far from the pressure of their family and the society, enables them to question their identity and their role in their community.


Coura + Oulèye est une histoire de femmes où trois générations s’affrontent, s’entraident et avancent ensemble. Je cherche ainsi à explorer la place de la femme aujourd’hui dans nos sociétés africaines. Quelle position adopter entre tradition et modernité, mais surtout comment être soi-même dans une société où le groupe prime ? Le point de départ de ce film était un désir de sonder la relation entre deux jeunes soeurs issues d’un mariage polygame. La polygamie, assez répandue au Sénégal, a souvent été traitée du point de vue des femmes mais rarement de la perspective des enfants, de mères différentes, et de leurs relations. La fraternité est un lien fort mais complexe, je voulais donc suivre le parcours de ces sœurs dans ce contexte. Ce voyage leur permettra de questionner leur identité et leur place dans leur communauté, loin de la pression de leur famille et de la société. 

02 July 2020

African Women in the time of COVID-19 : 10 selected films announced

African Women in the Time of COVID-19 : 10 selected films announced

The ten selected films, in alphabetical order, are:

Being: Malak El Araby (Egypt)
Blunder: Fezeka Shandu (South Africa)
Face Mask for Sale: Neha Manoj Shah (Kenya)
I’ll Call You Later: Aurelie Stratton (South Africa)
Loop: Every End Has a Beginning: Faith Ilevbare (Nigeria)
Love, Zawadi: Wambui Gathee (Kenya)
Moyo: Hellen Samina Ochieng (Kenya)
My Sunshine: Chioma Divine Favour Mathias (Nigeria) 
The Tempest: Skinnor Davillah Agello (Kenya)
Worlds Apart: Yehoda Hammond (Ghana)

The Ladima Foundation, in partnership with DW Akademie, announces the ten selected films in the African Women in the Time of Covid-19 Short Film Competition.

These films will PREMIERE via a live stream on July 10th 2020 and then be available for viewing on various platforms from July 11th.

The short film competition invited African women to share their stories about the personal, economic, and social impact of Covid-19 in Africa. The brave and powerful films that were submitted sadly have reflected the extremely difficult circumstances that many African women are facing.  The stories have shown how in too many cases that the pandemic has indeed impacted women harder and in different ways than on their male counterparts.

An overwhelming response saw just under 200 women from 18 African countries sharing their moving and honest stories on a diversity of topics with dominant themes of domestic violence, altered access to opportunities, increased burden of care, although also of resilience and hope.

The ten films will be premiered on the Ladima Foundation Facebook page at 15:00 CAT on FRIDAY JULY 10th 2020.

From July 11th films will then also be available to watch and stream on The Ladima Foundation website,, MyMoviesAfrica™️, a proudly Kenyan, mobile-first digital cinema platform, offering movies on smart devices, including phones, tablets, laptops and televisions, via the internet.

MyMoviesAfrica™️ can be accessed via on the web, and the Android App can be found here:

The films will also be broadcast on the True African channel on Premium.Free. True African is a TV channel that embodies being “the contemporary African”. The channel delivers the best series and movies from across the continent. True African introduces rising talent and presents established stars as the channel captures the spirit of Africa today – the prefect channel for these 10 short films, showcasing developing new talent across the continent.

Premium.Free is a free bouquet of channels available across Sub Saharan Africa via satellite in West Africa, East and Southern Africa as well as Francophone Africa. Broadcast schedule and details can be found on


Being: Malak El Araby (Egypt)

Malak El Araby is a 21 year old film major graduating senior at The American University in Cairo. Malak is passionate about filmmaking and photography, winning third place UIFF in South Korea and working on multiple movies in Egyptian cinema. Malak’s short films are always inspired by women empowerment, portraying their struggles and stories.

Synopsis: The film is about how everyone took everything for granted before the pandemic. How the little things in life is what matters most. How we never realize what we have until it is lost. What we miss and what we should appreciate in life after all of this is over.

Blunder: Fezeka Shandu (South Africa)

Fezeka Shandu is a 26 year old  aspiring filmmaker who grew up in the dusty streets of Umlazi, KZN South Africa. Growing up she always had a love for films and theatre. She has  always wanted  to tell stories in a simple way, but meaningfully and realistically.

Synopsis: Blunder is about a couple who planned to get married before lockdown was introduced, with all the rules and regulations everything has paused, however the girlfriend’s (Naledi) uncles decided to show up for lobola negotiations because they believe that culturally such things can’t be postponed as it will upset the ancestors.

Face Mask for Sale: Neha Manoj Shah (Kenya)

Hellen Samina Ochieng is a 22 year old creative based in Nairobi Kenya and an undergraduate student at the Taita University. She has always had a strong passion for the feminist cause as she has seen first -hand how the inherently patriarchal Kenyan society affects women and young girls.

Synopsis: Moyo tells the story of Achieng, a young single mother working as an underpaid nurse in Mbagathi Hospital, Nairobi. She struggles with the grim financial, mental and physical realities of being a single mother, and the pressures of being a front-line, essential worker in a country crippled by a pandemic. When Achieng is called into the hospital at midnight to attend to a Covid-19 emergency, she must turn to Mike, her abusive ex-boyfriend, to take care of her daughter Waridi.

I’ll Call You Later: Aurelie Stratton (South Africa)

Aurelie Stratton is an actress, writer, director and producer who graduated from WITS Drama School and moved to the United Kingdom shortly after graduation to further her study, career and experiences. After her return, she then co-founded production company, You Kicked My Dog Productions with Emmanuel Castis and they produced the acclaimed Short Film Sides of a Horn which qualified for the 2020 Oscars.

Synopsis:  Jo and Bec are sisters and can only communicate through video calls during lockdown. Jo has not been taking Bec’s calls because she is hiding something. Lockdown has been more dangerous for Jo than Bec realises

Loop: Every End Has a Beginning: Faith Ilevbare (Nigeria)

Faith Ilevbara is a visual artist, using film as her medium of expression, and is passionate about creating films for social justice, especially telling stories of social issues affecting women globally. She wants to use film to start a narrative that will bring about change and conversations surrounding those issues. Born in and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Faith’s first degree is in a medical related field, but her passion for storytelling couldn’t be held back: she graduated top in her class in Digital Film Production SAE Institute, Cape Town and currently works in Lagos, Nigeria, as a video journalist with the BBC.

Synopsis: Loop is a short film highlighting the negative effect of domestic violence on children exposed to such violence during the lock down.

Love, Zawadi: Wambui Gathee (Kenya)

Wambui Gathee is an emerging Director/ Producer rising steadily in the African film scene. She is a firm believer of artistic visual storytelling and her work voices and represents the true African narrator.

Synopsis: With the lockdown measures being enforced, vulnerable women and young girls are put in a position where the life-threatening outside is safer than their own homes and at times forced to make difficult choices.

Moyo: Hellen Samina Ochieng (Kenya)

Hellen Samina Ochieng is a 22 year old creative based in Nairobi Kenya and an undergraduate student at the Taita University. She has always had a strong passion for the feminist cause as she has seen first -hand how the inherently patriarchal Kenyan society affects women and young girls.

Synopsis: Moyo tells the story of Achieng, a young single mother working as an underpaid nurse in Mbagathi Hospital, Nairobi. She struggles with the grim financial, mental and physical realities of being a single mother, and the pressures of being a front-line, essential worker in a country crippled by a pandemic. When Achieng is called into the hospital at midnight to attend to a Covid-19 emergency, she must turn to Mike, her abusive ex-boyfriend, to take care of her daughter Waridi.

My Sunshine: Chioma Divine Favour Mathias (Nigeria)
Chioma Divine Favour Mathias is a writer, cinematographer/filmmaker, and actor. She is  graduate of statistics and the last of four kids.

Synopsis: This short story is about the struggle of a single mother with a disabled child, trying to fend for herself and her baby at the same time surviving the effect of the pandemic. She did all she can to stay strong and sharp even in the face of tribulations. This story depict the true strength of an African woman.

The Tempest: Skinnor Davillah Agello (Kenya)

Skinnor Davillah Agello is a professional dancer and choreographer and a film maker based in Nairobi Kenya. Born in K’ogello Siaya country an area rich in culture and dance which played a major part in her love for dance and storytelling. She has taken part in numerous dance performances i.e. One Africa Music Fest in Dubai, Dance for Sale in Germany, “I Can Dance” finalist aired on KTN. She was nominated at the Sondeka Awards 2018 in story through dance category. Safaricom Twaweza, Chapa Dimba.

Synopsis: The Tempest is a short film about a dancer Davillah_S expressing how Covid -19 has changed her family and personal life, as well as millions of other lives across the globe. The dance performance is devised to reflect Davillah’s own personal challenges and solutions for coping with the pandemic, while encouraging those who view the piece to stay positive and safe.

Worlds Apart: Yehoda Hammond (Ghana)

Yehoda Adukwei Hammond is a 19 years and third year film directing student at the National Film and Television Institute in Ghana. She is currently interning as a Second Assistant director with Esse Productions. Growing up in Ghana and Accra, she gained a keen interest in social issues occurring in her country, with a soft spot for girl child  education.

Synopsis: Rhema and Erica are Junior high school students whose education has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The differences in their economic situations have directly altered the course of their education and how they cope with the current times.


The ten selected films were chosen by a panel of expert judges including Cornélia Glele, a journalist, blogger and filmmaker from Benin, Lizelle Bisschoff, a researcher and curator of African film, and founder of the Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival in Scotland, Nse Ikpe-Etim, a multiple-award winning Nigerian actor with over a decade of active years on stage and screen, Professor Martin Mhando, a Research Fellow with Murdoch University, Western Australia and an award winning filmmaker and experienced festival director, as well as Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann  who makes both short and long films, both fiction and documentary and whose prior work includes a mélange of essayist documentary, photography and poetry, the majority of which she shot, directed, produced, and recorded sound for herself.

25 June 2020

An animation story of Ugandan scholar Sr. Dr. Dominica Dipio's work in orality, literature and film

An animation story of Ugandan scholar
Sr. Dr. Dominica Dipio's work
in orality, literature and film

“For us, Africans who are predominantly described as very oral people, the film medium is a very powerful continuation, in a way, of our orality. I am no longer that scholar who writes a fine paper and has it published in a journal.” (Video by Osmosis Films)

Moreover, Sr. Dipio, who did her doctoral studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, was appointed as one of four consultors of the Vatican-based Pontifical Council for Culture in 2019.

24 June 2020

Black Camera: African Women, Cinema, and Leadership: Empowerment, Mentorship, and Role-Modeling by Beti Ellerson (Spring 2020)

African Women, Cinema, and Leadership: Empowerment, Mentorship,
and Role-Modeling
Beti Ellerson
Black Camera: An International Film Journal
African Women in Cinema Dossier
Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring 2020), pp. 222-238


Leadership entails listening, sharing, mentoring, and understanding that we may learn from each other through diverse exchanges: intergenerational, intercultural, and inter-regional. These features are incorporated in many of the workshops and forums organized by African women, designed for leadership awareness and development. Moreover, African women film professionals have initiated mechanisms to foster effective leadership in the diverse areas of the profession. These initiatives aim to create an African women's cinema culture that encourages and empowers women film professionals as well as those who seek to work in cinema. Leadership encompasses consensus building, collaboration, being a team player, and being prepared to change one's attitude when confronted with other perspectives. These are foundational strategies that African women employ in their leadership practices. And perhaps above all, it is important to remember that leaders were also at one time students, mentees, apprentices, and assistants. Drawing from general women and leadership discourse, this article examines the leadership strategies of African women of the moving image.

- When African women in cinema take action, African cinema moves forward
- Strategies of African women, cinema and leadership
- Leadership recognition, support and development
- Visualizing leadership: strong, empowering, and influential women on screen
- Current strategies of mentorship
- Taking care of our leaders: watching over those who watch over us
- What is sisterhood to you?

23 June 2020

Conférence du Pavillon des Cinémas d'Afrique : Programme Tables Rondes : "Porter haut et fort la voix des femmes dans les cinémas d'Afrique" (Women's voices heard loud and clear in the cinemas of Africa)

Porter haut et fort la voix des femmes dans les cinémas d'Afrique
(Women's voices heard loud and clear in the cinemas of Africa)

The first Zoom e-conference of the Pavillon des Cinémas d'Afrique in a Programme of Roundtables organized by the ACA-Agence Culturelle Africaine, was held on 22 June 2020. Producer, director, actress, film critic, came together to discuss their experiences and concerns in the world of cinema.

The 1 hour 34 minute e-conference moderated by journalist Hortense Assaga, included Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes, director and producer, Mouna Ndiaye, actress and festival organizer, Nadia Rais, animation film director, Naky Sy Savané, actress and festival organizer, Fatou Kiné Séne, journalist and president of the Fédération africaine des critiques de cinéma (African federation film critics), Olga Tiyon, production and communication coordinator, 7 jours pour 7 films. The diverse women represented the myriad roles that African women hold within the world of cinema, often multiple. Appearances from audience participants, such as Stéphanie Dongmo, film and cultural critic, writer and blogger as well as other notable francophone film critics on the African continent and in Europe, is indicative of the span of African cinema criticism. Moreover, introducing the ACA e-conference series with a focus on the experiences and concerns of women highlights the growing importance of women's visibility and presence.

Hortense Assaga, introduced the round table by highlighting the eternal question of gender parity. She posed several questions as a point of departure: Here we have women who work to have their voices heard and be recognized as full-fledged members within the profession of cinema. How does this manifest itself in Africa? On other continents? How do these women manage? What are their strategies? How do they ensure that their work is recognized, that their presence matters? How do they experience these practices of gendering? How do they negotiate the myriad discourses and politics of gender?

The exchange unfolded less as a "roundtable" dialogue where the participants interacted with each other, but rather as a moderated discussion fed by questions from Hortense Assaga to individual women. Hence, the more existential aspect of the introductory questions--especially as it relates to practices of gendering--were less developed. At the same time, an array of important issues relevant to film professionals in general were explored, highlighting what many women have often asserted, that while women have concerns that are gender-specific, others are shared by both African women and men. For instance, some of Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes's responses from Hortense Assaga's questions around gender were framed in the context of Euro-centric dominance of ideas and values. Having always partnered with her husband, who is also a film professional, there are daily struggles in general. In addition, film critic Fatou Kiné Sène cautions against always looking through a gendered lens, which may distort the actual merit of a film: "It is merit and not our status as a woman that allows us to "box" in the same category as men." Similarly, animation filmmaker Nadia Rais notes that while women in animation is rare, there is already the question of being an artist, hence, the art form of animation cinema adds to the complexity of the question. Since there are not many animation film festivals, these films are included in the midst of fiction films, though the genre is very different: "We're part of another group, and sometimes we feel like we don't really exist. So our problem is not the issue of being a woman." 

Nonetheless, the gendered question of women's experiences in cinema was firmly rooted throughout the discussion.

Hortense Assaga asks, "as a filmmaker and producer, how does she position herself in the context of gender?" Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes has developed an attitude of perseverance: "Coming from a society where women forge ahead as a matter of course, looking out for the most vulnerable in society is active work... everyday it is necessary to say that being a filmmaker from the South, that these stories are equally important." Nonetheless, she admits that the environment within cinema "is very patriarchal, very concentrated, that there is a dominance of men in positions of power...And hence, many women in the profession are often in a position to have to manage this status of inequality...It is in this context that more most be done to build awareness that this is not normal, to have to obey and serve."

For Naky Sy Savane, being an actress is also being a feminist activist in the context of cinema as a form of engagement, which Hortense Assaga, interprets as a commitment, a way of being part of the struggle. "As a feminist, we can't let things go on like this because there are generations following us. If I have a choice, I take the scenarios that advance the cause of women." Similarly, for actress/filmmaker Maïmouna N’Diaye, "to make films is to speak up and say out loud what many people think but do not dare say, in particular women, children and vulnerable people. I think it is our duty, in fact, to use this tool as a voice and shake up things, as a means to make things change so that we can move forward together." Hortense Assaga highlighted Maïmouna N’Diaye's role as the only African on the main jury at Cannes in 2019. She responded: "I felt a bit alone, but this loneliness allowed me to think of all my sisters, from all over Africa, and it gave me strength. I said to myself I am representing all of these women. I was proud of it and it gave me the strength to do it."

Fatou Kiné Sène, who was elected president of the Dakar-based African Federation of Cinematographic Critics (FACC) in 2019, notes the importance of the association website in order to give more visibility to all African films. In Senegal, the Films Femmes Afrique festival highlights the works of African women on the continent. In 2013, FACC created the Women's Cinema Month. Similarly, Naky Sy Savané, who is also founder and organizer of the Ivoirian-based FESTILAG, the International Film Festival of Lakes and Lagoons, highlighted the creation of ACAI, l’Association des Comédiennes Africaines de l’Image (Association of African Actresses of the Image).

Olga Tiyon, production and communication coordinator of "7 jours pour 7 films", emphasized the importance of framing gender broadly in all aspects of the filmmaking process: "As a result, by putting more emphasis on gender, it is easier for these women to enter areas in which they did not have easy access."

Video-recorded and uploaded on YouTube on 23 June 2020 (, excerpts translated into English from the French-language event.
Updated 25 June 2020 and 4 July 2020.

Links to African Women in Cinema Blog articles:
Olga Tiyon

Programme Tables Rondes ACA-Agence Culturelle Africaine
Jun. 22 juin 2020, 09:00 – ven. 26 juin 2020, 18:00

#22_Juin : Porter haut et fort la voix des femmes dans les cinémas d'Afrique
11h30 – Heure de Paris
Productrice, réalisatrice, actrice, critique de cinéma… La parole est à ces femmes de l’industrie du cinéma pour faire entendre leur combat.
#Participantes :
- Mouna Ndiaye, actrice et réalisatrice
- Naky Sy Savané, actrice et promotrice de festival
- Fatou Kiné Séne, présidente de la Fédération africaine des critiques de cinéma
- Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes, réalisatrice et productrice
#Modératrice : Hortense Assaga, journaliste
Pour participer à la conférence, inscrivez-vous gratuitement en cliquant sur ce lien :

#23_juin : Nouvelles opportunités de financement pour les réalisateurs et producteurs des pays ACP
Avec le soutien du Centre national de l’image animée (CNC)
11H30 - Heure de Paris
Modérateur: Olivier Barlet, critique de cinéma

#24_juin : Face à la crise du cinéma liée à la Covid-19, la réponse des Etats.
11h30 - Heure de Paris
Modératrice : Cathérine Ruelle, spécialiste du cinéma africain

#25_juin : un an du projet SENTOO : quel bilan ?
Modérateur : Faissol Gnonlonfin, producteur
11h30 - Heure de Paris

#26_juin : Echanges avec les fondateurs de LAFAAAC, la plateforme digitale qui forme aux métiers des industries créatives
Avec Olivier Pascal, co-fondateur, directeur général de LAFAAAC
12h - Heure de Paris

Pour plus d’infos :

#Agence_Culturelle_Africaine #Festival_de_Cannes

04 June 2020

Appel à projet de films : Ẅ XOOL FESTIVAL - festival de cinéma dédié à la promotion de films réalisés par des Femmes Cis et Trans Noires françaises | Film Festival dedicated to the promotion of films made by French Cis and Trans Black Women


A l’occasion de la 1ère édition du Ẅ XOOL FESTIVAL - festival de cinéma dédié à la promotion de films réalisés par des Femmes Cis et Trans Noires françaises et/ou dont les films sont accessibles en langue ou sous-titres français- qui aura lieu (probablement) le samedi 26 septembre 2020 à Argenteuil, nous lançons un appel à projet de films (courts et moyens métrages: fictions, docus, jeunesse, animés etc…) réalisés par des femmes Noires.

Envoyez vos candidatures et projets à cette adresse mail: jusqu’au 1er JUILLET 2020. (See English below)

UNE PROGRAMMATION 100% Afro-féminine

Avec l’ouvrage « Noire n’est pas mon métier » paru en 2018, seize actrices françaises Noires ont mis en avant leur parcours et leur travail semé d’embûches et empreint de discrimination. Même si le résultat de leur démarche se fait encore attendre, cela a permis de les mettre en avant et de tirer - à nouveau- la sonnette d’alarme sur le cruel manque de représentations et de diversité des histoires racontées en images par le cinéma français aujourd’hui.

Qu’en est-il des Femmes – Ẅ - qui portent leur regard unique – xool - sur le monde ? Les Femmes qui sont derrière la caméra ? Absentes, tout au plus anecdotiques, dans le paysage audiovisuel et cinématographique français, ou lors des grandes cérémonies de récompenses, on pourrait croire qu’elles n’existent pas. Seules trois réalisatrices Noires ont été récompensées par un césar, Euzhan Palcy (en 1983), Alice Diop (en 2016) et Maïmouna Doucouré (en 2017).

Liées par le désir de mettre ces Femmes et leurs imaginaires en lumière, nous nous sommes regroupées pour proposer une programmation variée de courts et moyens métrages français et internationaux, documentaires, fictions, films d’animation réalisées par des personnes qui nous ressemblent.


(Ẅ XOOL statement translated from French) 
On the occasion of the 1st edition of the Ẅ XOOL FESTIVAL, a film festival dedicated to the promotion of films made by French Cis and Trans Black Women and / or whose films are accessible in the French language or with French-language subtitles, will take place (probably) on Saturday, 26 September 2020 in Argenteuil. A call is launched for film projects (short and medium-length films: fictions, docus, youth, animated films, etc.) made by Black women.

Send your applications and projects to this email address:, open until 1 JULY 2020.

100% Afro-woman-focused programming

In "Noire n’est pas mon profession" published in 2018, sixteen black French actresses highlighted their journey and their work, and the pitfalls and discrimination that they experienced. Even if reactions to this endeavor has yet to come, it allowed their concerns to be heard and to sound - again -  the alarm over the stark lack of representation and diversity of the stories told in the images of French cinema today.

What about Women - - who have their unique perspective - xool - of the world? The women behind the camera? Absent, at most, anecdotal, in the French audiovisual and cinematic landscape. Or during major award ceremonies, one might think that they do not exist. Only three Black women directors have been awarded a César: Euzhan Palcy, in 1983; Alice Diop and Maïmouna Doucouré, in 2017.

Bound by the desire to bring these Women and their imaginary to light, we have come together to offer a diverse program of short and medium French and international, documentaries, fiction, and animated films made by people who look like us. 

01 June 2020

African Women in the Time of COVID-19 : A Short Film Competition | Les femmes africaines aux temps de COVID-19 - Un concour de courts métrages

African Women in the Time of COVID-19 :
A Short Film Competition

Les femmes africaines aux temps de COVID-19 - Un concour de courts métrages

Ladima Foundation  - DW Akademie

African women have stories to tell. Let's watch them. Create a 2 minute film and let African women's story be seen.

Les femmes africaines ont des histoires à raconter.  Regardons-les ! Créer un film de 2 minutes : que les histoires des femmes soient vues.


- Only women may enter the Ladima Covid-19 Film Competition.
- Only women currently living in Africa may enter The Ladima Covid-19 film competition.
- All entrants must register on the Ladima A-List.
- All entrants must have a bank account where they can receive international payment.
- All entrants will be required to sign a release / rights agreement.
- Film must be 2 minutes or shorter.
- A link for film entries must be provided in your submission.
- Films can be in any language but those not in English must be sub-titled.
- No Ladima Foundation Board Member, Ambassador, Advisory Board Member, Member of the Covid-19 film competition Selection Committee or Jury are eligible to enter.
- Submission can only be done via the A-List.
- Submissions close at midnight June 21st, 2020, CAT and no late submissions will be accepted.
- Filmmakers can only submit one film per filmmaker.

La Fondation Ladima, en partenariat avec la DW Akademie

La Fondation Ladima, en partenariat avec la DW Akademie, est heureuse de vous annoncer une compétition de courts métrages destinée aux femmes africaines durant la pandémie de Covid-19 qui change notre monde ferme nos frontières.

Le concours est ouvert aux femmes créatrices de contenu et cinéastes de tout âge ou niveau d’expérience. Le concours vise à encourager les femmes à partager leurs histoires en créant un document vivant d’un temps et d’un lieu – des circonstances spécifiques auxquelles les femmes en Afrique se trouvent actuellement, sous divers degrés de mesure préventives, à travers les limitations de mouvement, d’opportunité, de confinement et souvent, les libertés fondamentales.

L’impact de la Covid-19 à travers le monde, et en particulier en Afrique, est davantage ressenti par les personnes vulnérables de la société. Dans de nombreux pays africains, les opportunités et l’accès aux opportunités pour les femmes sont limités, et l’impact économique et social de la Covid-19 affecte, dans de nombreux cas, les femmes plus durement et de différentes manières que leurs homologues masculins. Il y a des problèmes qui touchent les femmes, comme la violence domestique, la modification de l’accès aux opportunités, l’augmentation du fardeau des soins et bien d’autres.

Cette compétition de films invite les femmes à partager ces expériences – qu’elles soient stimulantes, positives ou simplement questionnantes. Les histoires doivent être honnêtes, personnelles et spécifiquement liées à la situation actuelle de la COVID-19. Les inscriptions dans tous les genres sont les bienvenues, de l’animation et la fiction au style documentaire ou interview – tant que le contenu est de 2 minutes ou plus court.

L’inscription est GRATUITE et les femmes devront s’inscrire sur la list-A qui recense toutes les femmes dans le cinéma:

Dix films gagnants seront sélectionnés par un jury, puis diffusés sur le site Web de Ladima avec d’autres sites Web partenaires. Chaque cinéaste gagnant recevra la somme de 500 euros.

Critères de sélection et de jugement:

Toute femme vivant actuellement en Afrique peut participer à cette compétition. Pour participer, vous devez vous inscrire sur la A-list:

Les inscriptions doivent être reçues avant minuit GMT + 2 le dimanche 21 juin 2020.

Les termes et conditions complets sont sur le site Web de Ladima Fondation.

Les films doivent durer moins de 2 minutes et doivent se concentrer sur les thèmes suivants à travers une lentille inspirante, éducative, personnelle ou de direction.

– Femmes ayant des besoins spéciaux / Faire face à des besoins spéciaux pendant le confinement / Prendre soin des personnes ayant des besoins spéciaux pendant une pandémie mondiale

– Impact sur la vie familiale / domestique

– Économique / impact sur la vie professionnelle

– Violence / abus domestique au temps de Covid-19

– L’espoir au temps de Covid-19

– Les femmes paient-elles un prix plus élevé?

– Comment la crise met-elle en évidence et affecte-t-elle le rôle des femmes?

– La crise comme coup de pied pour repenser l’ordre social?

– Solidarité et autonomisation des femmes à l’époque de Covid -19

Les films seront jugés sur les critères suivants:

THÈME Connexion et pertinence par rapport aux thèmes ci-dessus


L’histoire a un message clair et un scénario unique

Originalité de l’histoire et / ou de l’approche

Une narration riche et vibrante qui engage, amuse ou provoque le spectateur


Meilleure utilisation de la technologie

Aspects techniques tels que l’éclairage, le son, etc.

 CRÉATIVITÉ Original et captivant

Écriture et mise en scène imaginatives

Présente le thème d’une manière intéressante


Visuellement attrayant et divertissant

Affecte le public en suscitant une réponse émotionnelle

Crée une impression durable

STRUCTURE Serré; pas trop longtemps pour le concept

Les images sont organisées logiquement d’une manière qui correspond à l’objectif du film

Ladima Foundation Website:

The Ladima Foundation is a Pan-African non-profit organisation founded with the aim of contributing to correcting the major gender imbalances within the film, TV and content industries.

Ladima Foundation's Mission:
The Ladima Foundation supports and recognizes African women in Film, TV and Content. Through training and networking programmes, Ladima uplifts, connects and includes. Ladima operates in the spirit of positivity, excellence and integrity

Support for African women filmmakers from African women…and women around the world.
Meet the Ladima Foundation Team:

Edima Otuokon (Nigeria)
Lara Utian-Preston (South Africa)
Lydia Idakula Sobogun (Nigeria)
Patrice Carter (Jamaica-USA)
Theresa Hill (South Africa)
Malu Van Leeuwen (Zanzibar)
Adenike Mantey (Nigeria)

Omoni Oboli's "Love is War" on Netflix

Omoni Oboli's "Love is War" on Netflix

Omoni Oboli
Love is War
2019 - 111min - Comedy Drama

An adoring couple elects to test the strength of their marriage when they run against each other for the office of state governor.

Omoni Oboli heads the production and movie equipment rental company in Nigeria, Dioni Visions Limited. She is an actress, scriptwriter, producer and director. She studied at the New York Film Academy and has written several screenplays, including The Figurine (2009), Anchor Baby (2010), Fatal Imagination, Being Mrs Elliott, The First Lady and Wives on Strike (2016). In 2018 she starred and directed the comedy film, Moms at War, and in 2019, the comedy-drama, Love is War.

31 May 2020

Behind the camera, in the frame: African Women's autobiographical imaginaries

Behind the camera, in the frame: African Women's autobiographical imaginaries

The practice of self-inscription is evident in many of the works of African women filmmakers, where identity, belonging and self-discovery are prevailing themes. Hamid Naficy describes these autobiographical imaginaries as a dominant motif in “accented films” where self-reflexive strategies that inscribe the filmmaker are also employed. This article draws from some of the multiple and diverse themes of African women makers/protagonists in order to highlight some of these forms of self-documentation.

South African visual activist Zanele Muholi, affirms her subject positioning, reclaiming the right to tell her own story, taking proprietorship of her images and encouraging other black South African lesbians and Africans as a whole to do so. Zanele Muholi co-produced Difficult Love (2010) with Peter Goldsmid under the condition that she has certain rights and the ownership of her story in the documentary. Interwoven into a composite of her visual works with interviews of her, her friends and colleagues, the film relates her experiences and the complexities of her life: as lesbian, family person and as participant in her society.

In the documentary The Vibrancy of Silence: A Discussion with my Sisters (2018), Marthe Djilo Kamga inscribes herself in the conversations with four other Cameroonian women, like her, artists who know exile as well as how necessary it is to transmit to younger generations what they have learned as their multiple identities have evolved and fused.

Through the Eyes of My Daughter (2004), Zulfah Otto-Sallies focuses the lenses on her family, zooming into their world in the Bo-Kaap community of South Africa for an entire year. The cross-generational response to contemporary society is the thread running through the film, sometimes showing differing perspectives regarding the realities that the current generation confronts. The evolving story contrasts the apartheid-generation of Zulfah with teen-ager Muneera’s experiences in a democratic South Africa. In full view of the camera, one has a glimpse of the strong bond of the mother-daughter relationship. Zulfah Otto-Sallies invites the viewer into their world with all of the unpredictability that comes as a result.

Mame Woury Thioubou gazes openly into the mirror. Face to face with her image she compares it to the beauty and historic elegance of the women of St. Louis, Senegal, which had always been her idea of feminine beauty. Her film Face à Face, Femmes et beauté à Saint-Louis (Face to Face, Women and Beauty in St. Louis, 2009) provides a cross-generational perspective of notions of beauty past and present.

Employing the camera as a strategy of self-reflection, Aicha Thiam’s Papa (2006), is structured around memories of presence and absence. Her face fills the frame as she addresses her recently deceased father in voice-off narration. The poem-film is a journey between two worlds. It is a film-letter of her love, a space where she could communicate directly to her father and ultimately find relief from the loss of his physical presence.

The journey of identity, to cite Hamid Naficy, is omnipresent in Sarah Bouyain's Les Enfants du blanc (Children of the White Man, 2000), during which she returns to Burkina Faso to document her family history. While narrating in voice-off Sarah Bouyain recalls her childhood summer vacations in Burkina Faso, with her paternal grandmother, Jeanne Bouyain. She also remembers her great grandmother Diouldé Boly who refused to speak in French because it brought back painful memories. These remembrances form the basis of her family-history meetings with her grandmother, visualized in the documentary. Her recollections are framed in a sequence of questions to which her grandmother responds in detail, sometimes elaborated by elements of Sarah’s research, which the latter narrates in voice-off. The internal journeys with her grandmother also entail voyages through the family photo albums, chats together during daily chores. 

Similarly, in La Souffrance est une école de sagesse | Suffering is a School of Wisdom (2010) Astrid Ariane Atodji set out to resolve the increasingly nagging questions of belonging, in a voyage from Cameroon to Benin, the land of her father, where she had never been. Questions of identity began to surface in her during an interview when she was referred to as "the Cameroonian of Beninese origin." Born of a Cameroonian mother, she never doubted her Cameroonian-ness. However, the question of identity, of belonging, started to manifest itself, an uneasiness gradually developing: “I wanted answers to these questions that I asked myself and to which my father did not satisfactorily give me answers.”

Claude Haffner focuses most of the story in Footprints of My Other (2012) on her second return voyage to the land of her birth, though it was not the story that she had initially set out to tell, but rather of a more politically-focused theme regarding the region of the Congo where her family lived, and how they were affected by it. Nonetheless, she realized that in order to tell the complexities of this story she would have to enter into it. Hence, her autobiographical consciousness unveiled during the filmmaking process. She explains:

“The film should redefine itself as the shooting unfolds in the same way that the filmmaker redefines herself in relation to her initial idea and to her subject. This is evident in the fact that in 2004 I could not foresee that I would be expecting a child after having filmed in the Congo, and that I would actually include myself, while pregnant, during the scenes in Alsace. Somehow, the film helped me to define my identity and my place between Europe and Africa and to become aware of the richness that I possess to have come from a double culture or perhaps I should say, multiple.”

Similarly, Taghreed Elsanhouri had no intentions of making an autobiographical story when she set out to Sudan to make a film about the Aljazeera-commissioned project on the children of the Mygoma Orphanage in Karthoum. However, after meeting baby Abdelsamih, the emotional journey of growing close to him while making the film becomes part of the story. From the filmmaking experience she evolves from exploratory filmmaker to the mother of little Abdelsamih.

On the other hand, in Mundele; blanche, etrangère (white, stranger) Matamba Kombila consciously positions herself as its subject, as if to invite the spectator to reflect on the complexities of her mixed-raced, mixed-cultural positionality and the fraught identity politics of who she is.

Beryl Magoko's In Search…, at the same time autobiographical as the title suggests, it is also a rediscovery, a search for self, as well an exploration to understand the experiences of others who underwent female genital cutting. And in the process, she found the courage to talk with her mother, about her own experience--a topic which is considered taboo, hence through intergenerational dialogue, a conversation opens towards the future.

The filmmaker/participant duality is evident in the desire to be at the same time auteur and protagonist of the history that she mines. Hence the subjective strategies of many of these stories emerge from a mode of autobiographical practice, which negotiate reflection, questioning and memory through acts of self-inscription, even if it entails for some, to confront a long-held resistance to divulge private, intimate moments of self or family histories.

Text drawn from "On-screen Narratives, Off-screen Lives: African Women Inscribing the Self". Beti Ellerson. Black Camera, an International Film Journal. Volume 9, Number 2, Spring 2018

Related articles from the African Women in Cinema Blog

Aljazeera - Witness - The Bag on my Back, a documentary film by Tapiwa Chipfupa (Zimbabwe)

Eliane Tekou Donchi : La main interdite

In Search... by Beryl Magoko (Kenya)

Astrid Ariane Atodji : La Souffrance est une école de sagesse | Suffering is a School of Wisdom

Words of Marthe Djilo Kamga: Vibrancy of Silence: A Discussion With My Sisters

Perspectives of Black African Women - Images of Diversity and Equality Festival (Paris)

Khady Sylla & Mariama Sylla Faye : Une Simple Parole | A Single Word

Claude Haffner: Noire ici, blanche la-bàs | Footprints of My Other

The Fruitless Tree | L’arbre sans fruit by/de Aicha Macky (Niger)

Black Camera: On-screen Narratives, Off-screen Lives: African Women Inscribing the Self by Beti Ellerson (Spring 2018)

30 May 2020

Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) 2020 - REMINDER Submissions open

Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) 2020 - REMINDER Submissions open 

11th Annual Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF)
Celebrating 11 years of Connecting Communities, Cultures and Continents!

Event dates:  8-11 October 2020
Call for entries: Deadline: 30 June 2020

Set in Silicon Valley, California, the high-tech capital of the world, SVAFF is a highly respected destination event that draws hundreds of out of state and international guests. Voted 2015 and 2019 Best of Silicon Valley, SVAFF is the only film festival in California that is exclusively focused on films made by African filmmakers. The festival has built a substantial following and has become an annual destination film event that draws out of state and international guests to Silicon Valley.

Aptly themed “Africa through the African lenses”, the mission of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) is to promote an understanding and appreciation of Africa and Africans through moving images. In fulfillment of its mission, SVAFF:
1.) Curates a world-class festival of African films and provides our audience access to the richness, diversity and vitality of Africa’s creative expressions.
2.) Promotes cultural literacy by hosting post-screening dialogues so our audience can engage and interact with African filmmakers on issues of personal, local and global significance.
3.) Promotes ideas exchange and collaborations between American and African film industry and allied services practitioners.

28 May 2020

iFilm Conference: The Future of Women in African Cinema 2020

iFilm Conference: The Future of Women in African Cinema 2020


Stephanie Tum (Cameroon)
Stephanie Tum is an actress, model and a philanthropist.

Ola El Mallah (Egypt)
Ola Elmallah is an Egyptian freelance director of photography and director for feature fiction, documentary and short films.

Meron Dagnew (Ethiopia)
Meron Dagnew is a Social Entrepreneur, Cultural activist and Communications Specialist.

Esi Yamoah (Ghana)
Esi Yamoah is a Ghanaian-American producer, actress and filmmaker. Her short film Yaa (2016), has been screened in film festivals internationally.

Desiree Kahikopo (Namibia)
Desiree Kahikopo, an alumna of the Talents Durban 2018, won best newcomer director of best film script and audience choice award at the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards 2019 for her debut film White Line.

Omoni Oboli (Nigeria)
Omoni Oboli heads the production and movie equipment rental company in Nigeria, Dioni Visions Limited. She is an actress, scriptwriter, producer and director. She studied at the New York Film Academy and has written several screenplays, including The Figurine (2009), Anchor Baby (2010), Fatal Imagination, Being Mrs Elliott, The First Lady and Wives on Strike (2016). In 2018 she starred and directed the comedy film, Moms at War, and in 2019, the film Love is War.

Kantarama Gahigiri (Rwanda)
Kantarama Gahigiri (born December 13) is a Swiss-Rwandan filmmaker. Her filmography includes, Check (2008), Leila (2009), The Elevator (2011),  Me + U (2013), Tapis rouge (2014), Pinot in the Grass (2014), Lost Angel Less (2017), Né Pour Mourir (2017).

Layla Swart (South Africa)
Layla Swart was born in Cape Town, South Africa and studied Film and Media Production at the University of Cape Town, and went on to complete her postgraduate degree in Film Practice and Theory in 2009.

27 May 2020

RECENT FILMS. Maliyamungu Muhande: Nine Days a Week

Maliyamungu Muhande
Congo (RDC)
Nine Days a Week
2020 - Documentary - 15min38

African American street photographer Louis Mendes began his career in 1953 Harlem as a door-to-door baby photographer. Taking street portraits across the city, through the civil rights movement, the drug epidemic, crime, and poverty, Mendes forged a living with his 1940s Speed Graphic press camera. Now a New York legend with 37 photographer apprentices, he reflects on a life of hard work, survival, and creativity.

Maliyamungu Muhande is a Congolese non-fiction filmmaker and Art Director based in New York whose work explores present realities to give insight into history. She approaches her work with a passion for filling the gap between making a difference and creativity. She is currently completing her Graduate Certificate in Documentary at the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York City.

Image: Screen capture

25 May 2020

Tanzanian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Tanzanian Women
in Cinema, Visual Media
and Screen Culture

Scholar Mona Ngusekela Mwakalinga asserts that women have always been part of the film industry and have played an important role in the image-making process in Tanzania.

A case in point: the cinema advocacy of Flora Mmbugu-Schelling. Like African filmmakers in general, Flora Mmbugu-Schelling's approach to African cinema is multiple, where she takes on not only filmmaking, but also the advocacy role that is an essential part of the process. In 1986, she created the company, Shoga Womyn Films, whose aim was to develop an awareness of African cinema, its aesthetics, as well as the representation of African images and culture in film, especially as it relates to women. The objectives of Shoga Womyn Films as stated in its brochure are; to produce and distribute African films and films made by women or about women from all over the world; to show for the purpose of entertainment or education African films or films by women or about women; to operate a literary and film club with the intention of conducting discourse on films and pertinent matters concerning African cinema. Her filmography includes: Kumekucha (From Sun Up) 1987, These Hands, 1992, Shida and Matazito, 1993. She was active as a filmmaker during the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, and while her cinema-related activities in the country have been less visible in the decades since, other women have taken the torch.

Beatrix Mugishagwe is the founding chairperson of the Tanzanian Association of Independent Producers and co-founder of the Tanzanian Screenwriters Forum. Her documentary project Unsung Heroines puts a spotlight on women and leadership throughout the African continent. She had this to say about why she undertook the project:

People on the continent of Africa today continue to survive because of women: if there are no women who till the land for food, fetch water, collect firewood, bear children, run the market stalls, the continent would have long perished given its history.Yet when you look in the top decision-making positions of governments, companies and the likes throughout the African continent women hardly feature therein. Is it a wonder then that a young African girl looks around for a role model and all she sees are men and if women then non-African? 

Seko Shamte Tingitana, film producer, writer and director, is co-founder and head of programming of East Africa Television. In 2008 she created Alkemist Media in order to address the lack of relevant and high-quality content on local Tanzanian television stations and the underrepresentation of Tanzania and Tanzanians on international screens. (Source:

Like many other African women cineastes located within transnational positionalities, their filmmaking practices are diasporic and "glocal" demonstrating, a blurred frontier between birthland and ancestral/parental homeland.

Tanzanian-American Ekwa Msangi belongs to a growing cohort of American/African first-gen filmmakers born or raised outside of the parents’ homeland telling stories about their hybrid experiences, dual identities, relationship with their birth/adopted home and their parents homeland. She is, in fact, part of a cohort of “third culture individuals”. She was born in Kenyan to Tanzanian parents and is now based in the United States. She finds that her Tanzanian-ness becomes evident in the details of her story while her "American-ness" is revealed by her aesthetic choices relating to acting and the camera.

Similarly, filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro, a first-generation American of a Tanzanian father and Korean mother, tells a personal history tracing her Tanzanian roots in A Lot Like You. Upon retirement, her father returns to Tanzania; she follows him with her camera discovering a side of the family she knew little about.

As I have noted often in discussions regarding African women and film festival practices, an important function of the event is its capacity to showcase on a local, continental and international level, the works of African women, and to serve as a networking space to professionalize their experiences as stakeholders on the global film festival landscape. 

The Women’s Panorama, a feature of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, ZIFF, is designed expressly for the women of Zanzibar. The event includes film screenings with discussions and debates around the themes addressed in the films. The objective of the Women’s Panorama is to establish the visibility of women in cinema, media and the arts in a positive light, as well as a means of education and self-expression. In 2017, ZIFF created the Adiaha Award for Best African Female Documentary Filmmaker, a new special jury award category open specifically to women documentary filmmakers from Africa. Hence, the festival’s commitment to women’s empowerment in cinema is demonstrated with tangible actions.

Similarly, African Women Arts & Film Festival (AWAFFEST), launched in 2018 is a platform to appreciate arts and stories of African women; to celebrate female film practitioners; and to empower aspiring artists. AWAFFEST is held in March to celebrate the International Women’s Month.

Mona Ngusekela Mwakalinga, whose doctoral studies examined the political economy of the film industry in Tanzania, stands alongside an increasingly visible cohort of African woman scholars in cinema, indicative of the growing number of women who are contributing to African cinematic knowledge production. In addition to her above assertion in the introduction regarding women's historical role in Tanzanian cinema culture, her findings show that Tanzania, like Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, is positioning itself to play a role in the video film phenomenon that is sweeping the continent.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Articles related to Tanzanian women and cinema at the African Women in Cinema Blog

African Women Arts & Film Festival - AWAFFEST - 29-31 March 2019 - Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tanzanian-American Ekwa Msangi: storytelling, filmmaking through the lens of multiple identities

LAFF 2015 - Neema Reed : Our Story | "Notre histoire"

Women’s Panorama Soko, Entertainment and Women Empowerment Programme - Zanzibar International Film Festival ZIFF

Eliaichi Kimaro: Tracing her Tanzanian roots in "A Lot Like You"

Women's Panorama 2011 at the Zanzibar International Film Festival

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