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.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

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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

30 April 2020

Proceedings | Comptes rendus : African Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Proceedings | Comptes rendus
African Women in Cinema, Visual Media
and Screen Culture

Since its creation, the African Women in Cinema Blog has followed numerous conferences, panels, symposia and colloquia related to African women in cinema, visual media and screen culture, posting the proceedings in detail or summarized. Similarly, the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema publishes an updated listing which chronicles these events. In addition, information detailing declarations, statements and manifestos are included. 

Both the Blog and Centre include updates as well as newly discovered events that may date back to other periods.

The Centre's page, listing events in descending order dating to 1984, is accessible at the following link: https://www.africanwomenincinema.org/AFWC/Proceedings.html

Those published on the Blog since 2011 are below, also in descending order.

This post will be updated to reflect new information.

2019

Sabbar Artistiques : Première édition des Ateliers Reflexives Féminins de Dakar | Women’s Reflexive Workshops of Dakar - 19-24 03 2019

#MêmePasPeur [nothing to fear]: #Metoo @ Fespaco 2019, les femmes d’Afrique et le diaspora témoignent | Women of Africa and the Diaspora bear witness

Alimata Salambéré honoured by UNESCO | Alimata Salambéré distinguée par l’UNESCO

FESPACO 2019 : L’Assemblée des Yennenga | Assembly of the Yennengas

FESPACO 2019 : The place of women in the film industry in Africa and the diaspora | La place des femmes dans l’ industrie du cinéma africain et de la diaspora (Table Ronde)

2018

ADAMIC (Association of Cameroonian women of the image) | L’ADAMIC (Association des Dames de l’Image au Cameroun) - Presentation of the new officers elected in 2017 | Présentation du nouveau bureau élu en 2017

Journées cinématographiques de la Femme Africaine de l’image (JCFA) 2018 - African Women Image Makers Cinema Days - Ouagadougou - From the JCFA New - 1, 2, 3

2017

Report | Compte-rendu: Festival International du Film de Femmes de Salé | International Women’s Film Festival of Salé - Edition 11, 2017 - Maroc | Morocco. Report by/par Beti Ellerson

2016

Table-ronde/roundtable avec/with Olivier Barlet: Chloé Aïcha Boro, Hinde Boujemaa, Nina Khada, Aïcha Macky, Amina Weira - Festival des films d'Afrique en pays d'Apt 2016

Report on the Launch of African Women Filmmakers Hub (Harare, Zimbabwe) 10 - 2016

Report on Fokus: Sisters in African Cinema – Afrika Film Festival Cologne, September 2016

International Colloquium and Film Screenings: Women's Struggles in the Cinema of Africa and Middle East, 12-13 May 2016, CEAUP, Porto, Portugal

Le Festival international du film de Fribourg 2016 – Roundtable/Table ronde: Etre réalisatrice en Afrique | To be a woman filmmaker in Africa - 13 03 2016

Report by | Compte rendu par Laurentine Bayala : JCFA 2016 - Film Festival of African Women | Journées cinématographiques de la femme africaine - Burkina Faso

Djia Mambu, Africiné : Meanwhile, They’re filming… | En attendant, Elles tournent…, report on the/compte rendu du Festival Elles Tournent, 02 - 2016

2015

The Women of the Year Awards (Zambia) A Report by Jessie Chisi, April 2015

2014

International Images International Film Festival for Women (IIFF) 2014 report by Oshosheni Hiveluah

2013

Report on the Second African Women in Film Forum, Accra, Ghana, 23-25 September 

Fespaco en femmes | The Women's Fespaco : 2013

Plénière : 40 ans de cinéma fait par des femmes en Afrique par Beti Ellerson. Colloque: Les réalisatrices africaines francophones: 40 ans de cinéma (1972-2012), Paris, 23 et 24 Novembre 2012

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

Report on Mis Me Binga 2012, the third edition of the international women’s film festival | Compte rendu de Mis Me Binga 2012, 3ème édition du festival international de films de femmes

Women prominently featured at the First Luxor African Film Festival 2012 | Les femmes à l’honneur au premier festival de film africain de Louxor 2012

2011

Tsitsi Dangarembga Reflects on the First Decade of the International Images Film Festival for Women, November 2011

Report on the International Images Festival for Women, Harare, Zimbabwe, 18-26 November 2011. 

2010

African Women Filmmakers Forum, Goethe Institut, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1-4 September 2010

African Women in Film Forum: Nollywood, Women and the Dynamics of Representation held 16-17 June 2010, Lagos, Nigeria

Tribute to Safi Faye at the 32nd Festival International de Films de Femmes (2-11 April 2010)




23 April 2020

RECENT FILMS : Machérie Ekwa Bahango - SEMA, un film du mouvement national des survivantes des viols et violences sexuelles en RD Congo | A film about the national movement of survivors of rape and sexual violence in the RD Congo

Machérie Ekwa Bahango
SEMA
2020 / 47min / Documentaire | Documentary

SEMA, a film about the national movement of survivors of rape and sexual violence in the RD Congo | un film du mouvement national des survivantes des viols et violences sexuelles en RD Congo.

Written and acted by 90% of the survivors of rape and sexual violence in the RD Congo, the aim of SEMA is to break the silence and raise consciousness about sexual violence in the conflict zone of the RD Congo and the entire world.

Écrit et joué à 90% par des survivant.e.s de viols et de violences sexuelles de l’est de la République Démocrtique du Congo, SEMA a pour but de briser le silence et de sensibiliser sur les violences sexuelles en zone de conflit en RD Congo et dans le monde entier.


Machérie Ekwa Bahango

Born in Kisagani, Democratic Republic of Congo in 1993. She took screenwriting and film directing workshops while studying Law. In 2016, she wrote six episodes of the series Nakisa: Lobi mokola ya sika, which was financed by the American NGO Search for Common Ground. Maki’la was her debut feature film.

Titulaire d'une licence en droit et passionnée de cinéma, elle a traduit en lingala des dialogues du film d'Alain Gomis, "Félicité", avant d'écrire et de réaliser "Maki'la", long-métrage mettant en scène des enfants de la rue qui lui a valu d'être repérée par DIFFA, puis Orange Studio. Produit par Emmanuel Lupia, ce film a bénéficié de l'aide à la finition du Fonds Image de la Francophonie en mai 2017.

14 April 2020

Sarah Maldoror: Behind the cloud | Derrière le nuage

Sarah Maldoror
Behind the cloud | Derrière le nuage

13 - 04 - 2020 
Press release | communiqué 
Annouchka de Andrade & Henda Ducados

Translation from French by Beti Ellerson
En français ci-après

The cineaste Sarah Maldoror, a voice of the persecuted and rebellious, a pioneer of Pan-African cinema, died on 13 April 13, 2020 from the effects of the coronavirus. Her brilliant cinematographic work of more than 40 films, reflects a valiant fighter, curious about everything, generous, irreverent, concerned about others, and who marvelously transported the poetics beyond all borders.

Born 19 July 1929, of a Guadeloupean father from Marie Galante and a mother from Gers in Southwest France, she chose the artist name Maldoror in tribute to the surrealist poet Lautréamont.
Throughout her life, her actions and her choices will echo this first gesture.

After beginnings in theater, she founded “Les griots” in 1956, the first troupe composed of African and Afro-Caribbean actors, whose aim was "to put an end to the servant roles" and “to make black artists and writers visible". The poster of their first work, “Huis clos” was designed by the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam. Other plays followed: Aimé Césaire’s “La tragédie du Roi Christophe” and “Les nègres” by Jean Genet, both directed by Roger Blain. This theatrical dimension and her desire to convey the works of other cultures will be at the heart of her notion of creativity.

In 1961 Sarah Maldoror went to Moscow to study cinema, under the direction of Mark Donskoi. There she learned the concept of the frame, teamwork and the significance of being constantly prepared for the unexpected: "Always be ready to seize what can be behind the cloud".

After this stay in the Soviet Union, she joined the pioneers of the African liberation movements, in Guinea, Algeria and Guinea-Bissau alongside her companion Mario de Andrade, Angolan poet and politician, who was the founder of the Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and its first President. From this union will be born two daughters Annouchka in Moscow and Henda in Rabat.

This political dimension occupied a central place in her work. As she liked to say, "For many African filmmakers, cinema is a tool of revolution, a political education in order to bring about a transformation in consciousness. It was part of the emergence of a Third World cinema seeking to decolonize the mind to create radical changes in society."

She made her cinematic debut in Algiers, alongside Gillo Pontecorvo on The Battle of Algiers (1965), then with William Klein for the Pan African Festival of Algiers (1969). Her first film Monangambee (1969), adapted from the short story, Le complet de Mateus by Luandino Vieira, deals with the lack of understanding between the colonizer and the colonized. Enriched by the music of the Chicago Art Ensemble, this masterpiece was awarded several prizes, notably Best Director at the Carthage Film Festival.

In Sambizanga (1972), scenario by Maurice Pons and Mario de Andrade, she relates the struggle of the Angolan liberation movement through the political journey of a woman whose husband dies from  torture while in prison.

This award-winning film is one of the major works of African cinema, establishing Sarah Maldoror internationally as a socially committed artist.

Settled in Paris, she privileged the documentary to outline portraits of artists (Ana Mercedes Hoyos), poets (Aimé Césaire, Leon G Damas), trailblazers (Toto Bissainthe), an important approach towards the rehabilitation of black history and some of its most significant figures, but she goes beyond, with portraits of Miro, Louis Aragon and Emmanuel Ungaro, which is testimony to her brilliant eclecticism.

[During the presentation of the National Order of Merit in 2011 the minister of Culture and Communication] Frédérique Mitterand,  stated" that she had significantly contributed to filling the dearth of representation of African women in front and behind the camera".

Sarah Maldoror has used her perceptive cinematic gaze in the struggle against intolerance and stigmatizations of all types, (Un dessert pour Constance, from the short story by Daniel Boulanger) and attached great importance to solidarity among the oppressed, to political repression, and to Culture, as the unique means of uplifting a society. During her last public intervention at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid in May 2019, a tribute was paid to her. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that children go to the cinema and read poetry from an early age, in order to build a more just world.

Rebellious and outspoken, Sarah Maldoror, a resolute humanist, celebrated the artist's commitment, and art as an act of freedom.

Her friend, the poet Aimé Césaire wrote these words to her:
“To Sarah Maldo... who, with camera in hand, fights oppression, alienation, and, challenges human stupidity.”

We will be ever watchful of clouds, that’s a promise!

Derrière le nuage : Sarah Maldoror
(communiqué du 13 avril 2020 - Annouchka de Andrade & Henda Ducados)

La voix des persécutés et des insoumis, la cinéaste Sarah Maldoror, pionnière du cinéma panafricain s'est éteinte le 13 avril 2020 des suites du coronavirus. Son oeuvre cinématographique lumineuse de plus de 40 films, est le reflet d'une vaillante combattante, curieuse de tout, généreuse, irrévérencieuse, soucieuse de l'autre qui porta glorieusement le poétique au-delà de toutes frontières.

Née le 19 juillet 1929, d'un père guadeloupéen (Marie Galante) et d'une mère du Sud-Ouest (Gers), elle choisit le nom d'artiste de Maldoror en hommage au poète surréaliste Lautréamont.
Toute sa vie, ses actes et ses choix seront un écho à ce premier geste.

Après des débuts au théâtre elle fonde en 1956, Les griots première troupe composée d'acteurs africains et afro-caribéens "pour en finir avec les rôles de servante" disait-elle et "faire connaître les artistes et écrivains noirs". L'affiche de leur première mise en scène, Huis clos est signée de l'artiste cubain Wifredo Lam. Suivront des pièces de Aimé Césaire La tragédie du Roi Christophe et de Jean Genet Les nègres, mis en scène par Roger Blain. Cette dimension théâtrale et son désir de transmission d'autres cultures, seront au coeur de sa conception de la création.

En 1961, Sarah Maldoror se rend à Moscou pour étudier le cinéma, sous la direction de Mark Donskoi. Elle y apprendra la conception du cadre, le travail en équipe et une disponibilité constante pour l'imprévu : "Toujours être prêt à saisir ce qui peut être derrière le nuage" disait-elle.

Après ce séjour soviétique elle rejoindra les pionniers de la lutte des mouvements de libération africains, en Guinée, Algérie et Guinée-Bissau aux côtés de son compagnon Mario de Andrade, poète et homme politique angolais, qui fut le fondateur du Mouvement pour la libération de l'Angola (MPLA) et son premier Président. De cette union naîtront deux filles Annouchka à Moscou et Henda à Rabat.

Cette dimension politique occupe une place centrale dans son oeuvre. Elle aimait à répéter que "Pour beaucoup de cinéastes africains, le cinéma est un outil de la révolution, une éducation politique pour transformer les consciences. Il s'inscrivait dans l'émergence d'un cinéma du Tiers Monde cherchant à décoloniser la pensée pour favoriser des changements radicaux dans la société".

Elle fit ses débuts cinématographiques à Alger, aux côtés de Gillo Pontecorvo sur La bataille d'Alger (1965), puis de William Klein pour le Festival panafricain d'Alger (1969). Son premier film Monangambee (1969), adaptée de la nouvelle de Luandino Vieira Le complet de Mateus, traite de l'incompréhension entre le colonisateur et le colonisé. Sublimé par la musique du Chicago Art Ensemble ce coup de maître se voit décerner plusieurs prix, dont celui de meilleur réalisateur, par le Festival de Carthage.

Dans Sambizanga (1972) - scénario de Maurice Pons et Mario de Andrade, elle dresse à travers le trajet politique d'une femme dont le mari se meurt sous la torture en prison, la lutte du mouvement de libération angolais.

Ce film, vivement récompensé, est une des oeuvres majeures du cinéma africain et assoit sa réputation internationale d'artiste engagée.

Installée à Paris, elle privilégie alors le format du documentaire qui lui permet de définir au travers de portrait d'artistes (Ana Mercedes Hoyos), de poètes (Aimé Césaire, Leon G Damas), de précurseurs (Toto Bissainthe), l'horizon nécessaire à la réhabilitation de l'histoire noire et de ses figures les plus marquantes mais pas seulement. Ces portraits de Miro, Louis Aragon ou Emmanuel Ungaro témoignent de son brillant éclectisme.

Fréderic Mitterrand dit "qu'elle aura fortement contribuée à combler le déficit d'images de femmes africaines devant et derrière la caméra".

Sarah Maldoror a mis l'acuité de son regard au service de la lutte contre les intolérances et les stigmatisations de tous types, (Un dessert pour Constance, d'après une nouvelle de Daniel Boulanger) et accorda une importance fondamentale à la solidarité entre les opprimés, à la répression politique, et à la Culture comme unique moyen d'élévation d'une société. Lors de sa dernière intervention publique au Musée Reina Sofia (Madrid mai 2019) qui lui rendait hommage, elle répéta combien les enfants devaient aller au cinéma, lire de la poésie dès leur plus jeune âge, pour construire un monde plus juste.

Révoltée au franc-parler, humaniste résolue, Sarah Maldoror célébra l'engagement de l'artiste et l'art comme acte de liberté.

Son ami le poète Aimé Césaire, lui écrivit ces mots :
A Sarah Maldo... qui, caméra au poing, combat l'oppression, l'aliénation et défie la connerie humaine

Nous resterons toujours attentifs au nuage, promis !


Also read on the African Women in Cinema Blog :

REFLECTIONS ON Another Gaze presents: The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) - 12 May 2020

Sarah Maldoror: Behind the cloud | Derrière le nuage

Remember Sarah Maldoror : A Pioneer in Cinema

Pionnière cinéaste Sarah Maldoror nous a quitté | Pioneer cineaste Sarah Maldoror has passed away (1929 - 2020)

Sarah Maldoror: Role Model and Pioneer

Remembering Sarah Maldoror : A Pioneer in Cinema

Remembering Sarah Maldoror
A Pioneer in Cinema

Sarah Maldoror left us on 13 April 2020, but her memory will live on always. Her cinematic footprint forever etched in history. She has joined the ancestors.

(Image. Leçon de cinéma with Sarah Maldoror, Colloquy: Francophone African Women Filmmakers: 40 years of cinema (1972-2012), Paris, the African Women in Cinema Collection)

An interview with Sarah Maldoror by Beti Ellerson at Fespaco in 1997, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Translated from French. Published in Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television, Africa World Press, 2000.

While you are from the African Diaspora, you hold an important place in African cinema.  Several of your films have focused on themes of struggle in Africa, such as the internationally acclaimed film Sambizanga.  What is African cinema to you?

First, for me, African cinema does not exist. African cinema will exist when it is seen first in Africa.  When Africans go to see African films, it can be said that an African cinema exists.  For the moment, we are making films for others. That is the drama of African cinema.

You came to cinema during the decade of African independence.  Much of your political awareness, which is reflected in your work, was sharpened during that period.  What was it like during that time—the spirit of that era, the interests of African filmmakers at that time?

I came to cinema during the years of African independence. Before independence there was not an African cinema, and even now that there are African films, what do you really call an African cinema? Before there is a cinema that can be called African, there must first be a national cinema.  And for there to be a national cinema, there must be cinema houses, there must be a sufficient number of African films. African films must be seen by Africans. They must go see their own films with their faults or whatever.  There must first be an African public!

You are Guadeloupean, a woman of the African Diaspora who has made films in Africa, about Africa, as well as films with a focus on Africans from the Diaspora.  Where do you situate yourself within African cinema?

Of course, I have done many films in Africa.  But I feel, in the first place, that there are no borders.  Let's get that straight!  Whether it is in Africa, in Guadeloupe, or the United States. What I am saying is that cinema is the only art where there are no borders.  Of course, I feel much closer to Africa than I do to the United States.

But at the same time, I am affected by the United States and its tremendous will to crush the world. I feel that on this point you Americans hold your own very well.  Your cinema is everywhere. You have imposed your cinema. There is not one person in the world who does not know a Western or an American film in general. You have imposed yourself, and we must protect ourselves from you. You have invaded the world with your Westerns. And you have all the right to do so, but what can we do?  Today, can anyone do without American cinema? No. We even go to see Malcolm X.  You Black Americans have a cinema, you go to watch your own films as well as others, which is not our case.  That is where your strength lies.

The themes that you treat in your films are in general what are called engagé You have a commitment to the history of the liberation struggles of African peoples.  Do you feel that this is your role as a filmmaker?

What do you want me to do?  What films do you want me to make otherwise? When I see all these short films that are being made at the moment, I don't know if you have seen them, where the black woman is portrayed only as a whore.  It's disgusting because the black woman is not that. There are women who work, there are women who are honest, there are women who fight for their children. But now, one has the impression that the more often black women take off their bras, that they are shown nude...I say no!  Of course, some of that does exist.  There are women who act that way.  But that is not all there is. And that is what disturbs me!

How, then, do you see your role as filmmaker?

My role as filmmaker is cultural.  What interests me is culture, to research films about African history, because our history has been written by others and not by us.  Therefore, if I don't take an interest in my own history, then who is going to do it?  I think it is up to us to defend our own history.  It is up to us to make it known, with all our qualities and faults, our hopes and despair—it is our role to do it!

You say that you are disappointed in the portrayal of African women in contemporary African films.  Would you say that the representation of women in earlier African films was more positive?

At the present time, there seems to be a descent into hell.  In earlier films, you would have never seen an African woman, a black woman naked.  But now, it is difficult to find a film in which a woman has a particular reason for undressing.  She's seems to undress for no apparent reason at all.  I find that offensive.  As a woman, I have had enough of these images.  Other things must be shown.  If the kinds of films that I do are what you call engagé...I think that without a political stand we will never get out of our present condition.

Although my purpose is not to bring up a drama of the past, I would like to talk about an event that happened several years ago and it appears that it has not yet been resolved.  In 1991, FESPACO devoted a part of its platform to a workshop for African women in the cinema.  Unfortunately, the tension between African and African diasporan women brought out quite a bit of emotion.  You attended the conference.  Could you talk about the events and how you felt about it?

We were told to leave because we were not considered African.  We are in Africa, of course I am African.  Certainly, my parents were Africans. Why am I Guadeloupean?  Because my parents were sold into slavery. I am part of the group of Africans who were enslaved and deported. I am part of that deportation, but I am African, Antillian perhaps, but I could have also been born in America and be a Black American today.  Therefore, when we were told to leave because we were not African, what could I have done otherwise?

Such a lack of culture!  I don't know what else to say: I was stunned.  There were women who came from the United States, they were told to leave. What difference is there between a Black American, an African, and me? We all come from the same land.  I found it outrageous.  That is why we will never get out of our condition, because we cannot accept ourselves.  Voilá!

Yet you have done films in Africa, about African history. You are accorded the status of Angolan within the context of African cinema. How, then, can you be told that you are not African?  What determines who is African?

Let me say this: yesterday I presented a film about Léon Damas. It is a film where Leopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire discuss the works of Damas, it was not in competition.  Why it was not in competition, I have no idea. All the other films throughout the festival were shown three times, in cinema houses here in the center of town.
However, my film was screened in a faraway location, in an area that was extremely dangerous. There were three people in the cinema house.  Three! Of course, I am grumbling, and no one can make me keep quiet.  I was there to present my film to three people.  However, every morning in the cinema houses where I went to see other documentaries, afterwards when someone asked, "Is the filmmaker present," the answer was nearly always "No." I am sent to the other end of the earth and I go, even to present to three people.  I complain perhaps because I cannot accept this treatment, and because I am not accepted.  I am not welcomed here at FESPACO. 

Perhaps because you say what you think, because your films make very strong statements.

I don't know, but I will not be silenced.  That is over.  I am not of a generation that keeps quiet.

I see you as a pioneer in African cinema.  You studied film in the ex-Soviet Union with Ousmane Sembene. You worked alongside the others who debuted some thirty years ago. What do you think about the evolution of African cinema?

To the contrary, it has gone backwards. I think that there has not been any criticism about the kinds of films that are being made.  I am for anyone who wants to make a film to be able to do so.  However, if we never say that a film is not good, then any and everybody will become a director, even if they have no talent.  If they have nothing at all to offer they will make a film, and no one will say the film is bad.  Because if they do, one will say, "It's because I am black you are saying this; therefore, you are racist."

I say no, I can make a film and I can fail.  I failed because I made a bad film, I did not fail because I am black.  Which means that now everybody is making films, yet there is no critique to judge if it succeeded or not.  So what do we want? The more films we have that are average, mediocre, and minor, the more black culture will be stifled and crushed.  And we are going to accept that?  Well! Well!
  
You say that now anybody can be a filmmaker without there being a real film criticism that addresses the quality of the work. What do you think the criteria should be for making films? Should everyone go through film school?  What specific training should one have?

Training is necessary. If you go to school, good for you, but if you do not, it does not matter. If you work as an assistant to, I don't know, Milos Forman or Spike Lee, you are learning your craft. That is actually the best school, learning is what is the most important. Whereas today, there is the attitude: I am going to make a film, no matter what, and here it is!

Do you feel that at the beginning of African cinema, for instance, during the time when you started, that there were some real differences in terms of approaches to filmmaking, compared to today?

I would say there were certain morals at that time. Voilá! We thought, perhaps mistakenly so, that we were respectful of a country that we did not know, of a history that was misunderstood. This history was to be respected; we believed in it. I think that is what is lacking now.

Do you think that filmmakers of today are more attracted to images and experiences, or things in general, that happen outside of their countries, and perhaps they are not as interested in their own history?

Of course.  For instance, pornography is in fashion. They think: "This is what is being made in other films, therefore, let's put some pornography in our film."

Do you think that it comes from filmmakers wanting to attract the largest possible public?

Of course. It is very simple: I make a film about the great poets Léon Damas, Leopold Senghor, and Aimé Césaire, and no one comes to see it. I went to see a film early this morning where the African woman was portrayed as a prostitute and the cinema house was packed full. It is evident that the filmmaker who made this film has a public, and that I do not. That is also the reality. So who is right, he or I?  The public or I?  I think its that simple.

There is much discussion about the problems of the distribution and exhibition of African films in general.  What are your thoughts?

There is no actual distribution of African films because Africans do not go to see African films.  They will go see an American, French, German, or English film.  But they will not go see African films because they find them inferior.  And, as I said before, as long as there is not an African public who will go to see African films, there will not be an African cinema.

There may be African films, but there is not an African cinema. There is a Japanese cinema because the Japanese go to see Japanese films. There is an American cinema because Americans go to see their own films. So as long as we do not go to see our own films we cannot say there is an African cinema.  It's not true.

And the exhibition of films?

There is none. You saw the condition of the cinema houses!

Do you have an audience for your films? What has been the reception of your latest film?

It depends. If the film is shown outside of Africa I do well, generally. I have very good reviews. The film about Léon Damas received awards everywhere.  However, I do not follow my films, or else I would spend all my time at festivals; either they will receive an award or not.  Then I go to Africa, and not only is it not chosen to be in competition, but also, on top of that, my film is screened on the other side of the world.  And of course, that is disappointing. It is an insult.  Moreover, it is a total disregard for Damas, a show of contempt for Césaire, indifference toward Senghor. It is disrespect for literature in general. I have no choice but to accept this, but I will fight nonetheless.

In spite of your disappointment about the state of African cinema, what do you see as the future of African cinema?

We must do greater films now. We must get away from the "calabash films," the "village films," the little stories. Now we must take history and look at it as it is, with its convictions, with its ideas, for or against its principles. We must do these films with space and greatness, really!

And your future projects?  Are you working on a film at the moment?

I am working on a film about Louis Delgrès, who was a colonel and a violinist. You know, today everyone can study music. If you have children who want to play the piano or the violin, they can do so. Of course, if you have money, they can study whatever kind of music they want. But can you imagine in 1789, during that time, what it meant to be a violinist? Well, it was pretty extraordinary.
Delgrès fought with the French army against the English.  When Napoléon reestablished slavery, he did not accept it. He fought and he lost because the French and the English—who previously fought against the French—joined together in a collaborative attempt to defeat the black army. This same black army fought against the English alongside the French army. I am going to do a film about this man.

Have you begun filming?

I am looking for funding.

Sarah Maldoror and Anne-Laure Folly during the Press Conference of Les Oubliées, FESPACO 1997. Published in Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television, Africa World Press, 2000.

Sarah Maldoror: The first point that I want to make to Anne-Laure Folly is that your film is outstanding, it is fantastic. Because you are a woman, you have the respect for life, because you have courage. You could have been blown up a hundred times in those mines, but you were not, thank God. I think that you had courage to do this film. And it is very well done, and it gives one something to think about. And that these women who fight and suffer, who are hungry, could actually do a theatrical play, I find extraordinary. I regret that there are not more women who can be here to participate in this peace effort.  Because if we women do not do it, it will not be the other African filmmakers, who, alas, are not at this conference.

Anne-Laure Folly: I would like first to thank Sarah, she inspired me to do this film.  She did a film called Sambizanga, which in my opinion is one of the masterpieces of African cinema. When I saw it, I had a desire to make a film thirty years later, about Angola. She cleared the way by showing the Angolan war interpreted from the perspective of a woman. Mine is not a pioneering approach; she has already done that.


Also read on the African Women in Cinema Blog :

REFLECTIONS ON Another Gaze presents: The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) - 12 May 2020

Sarah Maldoror: Behind the cloud | Derrière le nuage

Remember Sarah Maldoror : A Pioneer in Cinema

Pionnière cinéaste Sarah Maldoror nous a quitté | Pioneer cineaste Sarah Maldoror has passed away (1929 - 2020)

Sarah Maldoror: Role Model and Pioneer



13 April 2020

Pionnière cinéaste Sarah Maldoror nous a quitté | Pioneer cineaste Sarah Maldoror has passed away (1929 - 2020)

Pionnière cinéaste Sarah Maldoror nous a quitté | Pioneer cineaste Sarah Maldoror has passed away (1929-2020)

“African women must be everywhere. They must be in the images, behind the camera, in the editing room and involved in every stage of the making of a film. They must be the ones to talk about their problems” (Interview by Jadot Sezirahiga in Ecrans d'Afrique/African Screens - No. 12 1995).

"La femme africaine doit être partout. Elle doit être à l'image, derrière la caméra, au montage, à toutes les étapes de la fabrication d'un film. C'est elle qui doit parler de ses problemes... (Entretien par Jadot Sezirahiga, Ecrans d'Afrique, no 12, 1995).

For Sarah Maldoror, Guadeloupian of African descent, filmmaking was a weapon for struggle and liberation from the very beginning of her experiences in cinema. She co-founded the theatre group the Compagnie d’Art Dramatique des Griots in Paris in 1956. From 61-62, she studied cinema in the Soviet Union at the Gorki studio under the direction of Sergei Gerasimov and Mark Donskoy. She worked as Gillo Pontecorvo’s assistant on the classic film, The Battle of Algiers, released in 1966. In 1972 Sarah Maldoror directed her emblematic oeuvre, Sambizanga, which relates María's experience during the Angola liberation struggle.

Après des études de théâtre et la création de la première troupe noire "les Griots", Sarah Maldoror, née à Condom (Gers) en France, d'origine guadeloupéene, se rend à Moscou, en 61-62, pour étudier le cinéma au studio Gorki, sous la direction de Guerassimov et Marc Donskoï. Elle est très tôt engagée avec l'Afrique. Avec son compagnon Mario de Andrade, poète et home de lettres angolais et premier président du Mouvement popular de la Liberation de l'Angola, elle sera témoin de la guerre contre l'occupation portugaise. Elle choisi le cinéma comme arme. Sambizanga (1972) raconte la prise de conscience de María, une femme à la recherche de son mari, arrêté par la police portugaise. D'Alger, à Praia, de Luanda à Fort-de-France, d Paris à Bissau, son champ d'action cinématographique est très vaste.

In 2011, Sarah Maldoror received the National Order of Merit from the French government for her contribution to culture:
Dear Sarah Maldoror, you are an outspoken rebel, a fighter of injustices, a resolute humanist. Throughout your career, through the lens of your camera, you have always fought in order to tell and present, realistically and poetically the harshest of realities. For all of us, your perspective of the memory of slavery and colonialism has a distinct value. On behalf of the President of the Republic, we declare you a Knight of the National Order of Merit. (Website: French Government  - in French of speech by Frédérique Mitterand, minister of Culture et Communication)

En 2011, Sarah Maldoror a reçu l'Ordre national du mérite  pour sa contribution à la culture :
Chère Sarah Maldoror, vous êtes une révoltée au franc-parler, une combattante des injustices, une humaniste résolue. Tout au long de votre carrière vous n’avez eu de cesse de fustiger, d’informer et de montrer les réalités les plus dures à l’objectif de votre caméra à la fois réaliste et poétique. Votre regard sur la mémoire de l’esclavage et du fait colonial a pour nous tous une valeur unique. Au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Chevalier dans l’ordre national du Mérite. (Source:  Culture.gouv.fr - Discours de Frédérique Mitterand, ministre de la Culture et de la Communication)

The 1998 film, Sarah Maldoror ou la nostalgie de l'utopie by Togolese Anne-Laure Folly, pays tribute to Sarah Maldoror and her work.

A portrait of the filmmaker Sarah Maldoror, one of the rare socially-politically committed women cinéastes involved in the liberation struggles in Angola. She strives through her films, to make the experiences of war in Africa known. As a politically engaged filmmaker, Sarah Maldoror has always believed in the importance of cinema as a means to depict politic and social change and the struggles for independence. Having acquired real experience during the bloody wars against the Portuguese colonizer, she uses cinema as a means to express herself and as an artistic tool for struggle. Through excerpts from Sarah Maldoror's films and testimonies of francophone writers and actors, the film reveals a concise approach to her character, to her fight for problems concerning Black people, the defense of black writers of the French language, and her artistic choices: films such as Fogo, sur les îles du Cap-vert, brings into question the colonial past, as well as fiction works such as Sambizanga, regarding the liberation movements in Angola, or Damas, regarding French Guiana, all of which, as examples of her repertoire of works, highlight the solidarity of these people.


Sarah Maldoror ou la nostalgie de l'utopie (1998) de la Togolaise Anne-Laure Folly, rend hommage à Sarah Maldoror:

Portrait de la réalisatrice Sarah Maldoror, l'une des rares femmes cinéastes engagée au côté des luttes de libération en Angola, qui s'attache à faire connaître par ses films les guerres africaines. Réalisatrice engagée, Sarah Maldoror a toujours cru dans l’importance du cinéma pour dépeindre les changements politiques et sociaux et les luttes pour l’indépendance. Ayant acquis une réelle expérience durant les guerres sanglantes contre le colonisateur portugais, elle s’exprime à travers le cinéma, revendiquant cette forme d’art comme outil de combat. A travers des extraits de ses films, et des témoignages d'écrivains et comédiens francophones, ce film offre une approche précise du personnage de Sarah Maldoror, de son combat pour la question noire, la défense des écrivains noirs de langue française, et de ses choix artistiques : les films comme Fogo, sur les îles du Cap-vert, mettant en cause le passé colonial, ou des fictions comme Sambizanga, sur les mouvements de libération en Angola, ou encore Damas sur la Guyane française, sont autant d'exemples de l'œuvre de cette réalisatrice toute entière tournée vers la solidarité avec ces peuples.


Also read on the African Women in Cinema Blog :

REFLECTIONS ON Another Gaze presents: The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) - 12 May 2020

Sarah Maldoror: Behind the cloud | Derrière le nuage

Remember Sarah Maldoror : A Pioneer in Cinema

Pionnière cinéaste Sarah Maldoror nous a quitté | Pioneer cineaste Sarah Maldoror has passed away (1929 - 2020)

Sarah Maldoror: Role Model and Pioneer

01 April 2020

The passing of Osange Silou-Kieffer, an "encyclopedia of Caribbean and African cinema"

The passing of Osange Silou-Kieffer, an "encyclopedia of Caribbean and African cinema"

A grande dame of Caribbean and African cinema, journalist, sociologist and art historian, Osange Silou-Kieffer, born in Guadeloupe, died Wednesday, 1 April, in Paris. She was 73 years old.

She quickly established herself as a reference in Creole and African cinemas. She knew all the filmmakers and actors. A trailblazer, she provided visibility to the cinemas of these regions. In the mid-1980s she created Images Caraïbes, the first film festival in Martinique. When Yasmina Ho-You-Fat, founder of the Cinamazonia festival in Guyana,asked her to become president, she immediately replied yes. "All this within a family spirit...” recalls Yasmina Ho-You-Fat.

She produced the 26-minutes documentary Cannes 96 : cinémas d'Afrique" (1996) and published the book Le cinéma dans les Antilles françaises, Ed. OCIC: 1991. She was also a member of the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers. 

She will be greatly missed.

Adapted in English from la1ere.francetvinfo.fr . Louis Otvas / Outre-mer la 1er. 1 April 2020 
Image: FestivalcinemasdafriqueLausanne