09 March 2009

Beti Ellerson: Blogging African Women in Cinema (a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema)

The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

At the start of my research on African women in cinema in 1996, I asked the question: What is an African woman's vision, her gaze, her way of seeing and visualizing?

I began to explore the interests and desires of African women in front of and behind the camera, both as actor and as filmmaker—as well as other filmmaking professionals, which evolved into the on-going African Women in Cinema Project: the documentary, Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema, the book, Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television; the Centre for the Study and Research on African Women in Cinema and the African Women in Cinema Blog. Others before me have posed similar questions which have informed my own research and work. These questions are still relevant today as an African Women in Cinema Studies emerges, positioning itself within its own space for critical inquiry. The emerging discourse on African Women in Cinema Studies encompasses the films themselves, auto/biographies, film criticism, film analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches at the intersection of culture, development, and political economy. The blog serves as a forum for discussion and sharing of information.

The main objective of the Blog is to showcase African women in the diverse areas of the moving image. This format is an effective way to profile emerging talents as they begin their experiences in cinema at the same time highlighting the trailblazers, pioneers and veterans--and those in various stages of their career. I am especially interested in making visible the important players that are often behind the scenes, such as producers, editors, film festival organizers, scriptwriters, media activists and advocates, and the many others involved in the filmmaking process. The posts may vary in length and frequency, as the purpose is to provide a portrait, at a glance. The choice of women or theme will be spontaneous, of course, privileging current events and topics; but also delving into the rich archives to foreground films and stories of the past.

The blog explores themes such as:

• The evolution of African women in cinema
• African women and the cinematic gaze
• African women’s visual imaginary
• The political economy of African women in the moving image
• The filmic representation of African women
• Women's voices

The blog follows current events relevant to African women in cinema such as:

• Festivals
• Films in progress
• Announcements for grants and funding
• Call for scripts and films
• Production related topics
• Academic topics such as conferences, panel discussions, articles and call for papers

And more…
Discover and explore the vast resources accumulated on the Blog since 2009. In descending order on the column to your right… https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/

I have a Ph.D. in African Studies (Howard University, USA) with interdisciplinary specialisations in Visual Culture, African Cinema Studies, and Women Studies; after which I carried out postdoctoral research on African Women in the Visual Media on a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship. As a feminist I have always been interested in critically engaging women's issues, and academically I wanted to make a critical inquiry into African women's experiences through the medium of the moving image. This inquiry led to my interest in forging an African Women Cinema Studies subdiscipline, which encompasses research in historiography and spectatorship as well as the hands-on work of advocacy and production.

My research on African women in cinema, includes the book
Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television (Africa World Press, 2000), the film documentary, Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema (2002, Women Make Movies) and the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema founded in 2008. The Centre encompasses the African Women in Cinema Blog, and a presence on social media.

Before producing the documentary,
Sisters of the Screen, I was involved locally in community television and video production in Washington DC, and was executive producer and host of the 27-episode series, "Reels of Colour", which aired from 1997 to 2000 in the Washington DC area.

I am globally engaged on the topic of African women and the moving image, including: keynote speaker at the 2012 colloquy on Francophone African Women Filmmakers in Paris; moderator of the Afrika Film Festival Cologne 2016, Fokus: Sisters in African Cinema Roundtable in Cologne, Germany; filmmaker/scholar-in-residence at Texas Tech University in spring 2017; research presentation at the International Women’s Film Festival of Salé in Morocco in September 2017. I have had a visible presence on the jury at several prominent African film festivals:
member of the Grand Jury at the International Images Film Festival for Women held in Harare (2011), FESPACO (2013) as president of the Diaspora Jury, member of the Grand Jury at the Carthage Film Festival (JCC) in 2018.  I lecture widely on Africana women in visual culture--beginning with my signature course Black Women in Visual Culture, created in 2000 at Howard University, African women in cinema studies and African women and screen culture. Since 2015 I have curated the African Women in Cinema Dossier in Black Camera, An International Film Journal.

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