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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21 June 2009

The Evolution of Senegalese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture


Updated on 17 February 2018. Report by Beti Ellerson, published 21 June 2009.

Senegal’s illustrious list of Africans in cinema offers a background to a discussion about the rich history of Senegalese women in cinema. To highlight a few on this impressive list: Ousmane Sembene (1923-2007), the father of African cinema, Paulin Soumanou Vieyra (1925-1987), the father of African film history and criticism, Djibril Diop Mambety (1945-1998), avant-garde filmmaker, Annette Mbaye d’Erneville, veteran journalist, communications specialist, critic and writer, Safi Faye, pioneer filmmaker and anthropologist, and Thérèse Mbissine Diop, pioneer actress and tapestry-maker, among the many others. Also on the list of the cultural producers of Senegal is acclaimed writer, Mariama Bâ (1929-1981), best known for her masterpiece Une si longue lettre (So Long a Letter). These brilliant pioneers have all been nurtured in a country whose first president was also an artist. Poet-president Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001), host of the First World Festival of Black Arts in 1966, made his own tribute to African women in the classic poem, Femme noire (Black Woman).

Annette Mbaye d’Erneville, the matriarch of Senegalese media culture, carries with aplomb the name that her son, Ousmane William Mbaye attributes to her in Mere-bi, a documentary that he made about her life. The “Mother of All”, born in 1926, studied in Paris in the late 1940s becoming the first Senegalese to earn a degree in journalism. Staunch feminist, fiercely proud of her culture, she is closely associated with the Maison de la Femme Henriette Bathily (The Women’s House) created in 1994 and located on Gorée Island, Senegal. Having initiated RECIDAK, Rencontres cinématographiques de Dakar, an annual film festival in 1990, she was the director for many years. The 1996 edition of RECIDAK paid homage to African women under the name, Femmes et Cinema (Women and Cinema). Her present preoccupation is the regular publication of the film journal Ciné Culture Afrique. Reflecting on the role of women as cultural producers, she declares: "It is simply a matter of giving voice to women, witnesses of their epoch, who, while expressing themselves, and, through their own lives, reflect a specific image of Africa."(1)

Initiated into the world of international culture as an official guide during the First World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar in 1966, filmmaking pioneer Safi Faye connected with people and places that led her onto her career path. She also became aware of the importance of the preservation of African history and culture, a theme that was omnipresent at the festival and became a leitmotif in her work. She describes that event as an expression of national energy and recalls her desire to meet the intellectuals and researchers who had gathered there.(2) Her encounter with French ethnologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch (1917-2004) at the festival was important, since it allowed her to travel to France a year later as an actor in his 1968 film Petit à Petit (Little by Little). She began studying ethnology and then filmmaking in the early 1970s in Paris, thus launching her dual career as anthropologist and filmmaker. (3) She has this to say about her debut into filmmaking: “I did not come to the cinema by chance. I studied ethnology at the Sorbonne. We were able to have cinematography equipment once a week, and to learn how to used it. I realized that in order to be more efficient I should go to film school…I learned like everyone else--I was the only African woman--how to handle a camera and I became familiar with how to use the cinematography equipment. At the end of the first year, I dared to make a little film [La Passante]…That is how I came to learn filmmaking, it was very easy during those years. I made the film in 1972. Right away, everybody began to talk; "there is an African woman who is making films. It was easy for everybody to know about me because I was the first to appear on the scene.”

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Safi Faye was the lone woman filmmaker in Senegal. New faces were visible in the 1990s with the emergence of Adrienne Diop, Rokhaya Diop, Mariam Kane Selly, Fatou Kandé Senghor, Aissatou Laba Touré and Kady Sylla; all producing documentaries about aspects of Senegalese life and culture. Safi Faye’s strikingly beautiful Mossane is among the works produced during this dynamic and energetic decade.

The first and second decades of the second millennium prove to be equally prolific for Senegalese women in cinema. Amina N’Diaye Leclerc made her debut in 2000 with the documentary (directed with Éric Cloué), Valdiodio N'Diaye et l'indépendance du Sénégal focusing on her father during a particularly intense period of Senegalese history. Ndéye Thiam-Daquo’s first film is part of the series Vie de Femmes produced by Ivoirian Hanny Tchelley. It is a portrait of Nicole Claire Ndoko, the president of the Federation of African Lawyers and the first Cameroonian woman with a doctorate in law. In 2003, Katy Lena N’Diaye directs her camera at women muralists of Burkina Faso in Traces, Empreintes de femmes (Traces, Impressions of Women). Amy Collé Diop explores the troubled state of Senegalese cinema in her debut film Silence…on ne tourne plus! (2004). Actor Maïmouna Gueye, went behind the camera to direct the documentary, Des Larmes aux souvenirs (2004), a film about the rape of a young boy by an adult man, and how the boy’s family struggles for justice. Employing the epistolary form, Sokhna Amar’s first film, Pourquoi? also focuses on rape. A young woman receives a letter from her best friend telling her about the rape that she endured ten years before. Angèle Diabang's short documentary, Mon beau sourire (My Beautiful Smile, 2005) recalls the feature film Kodou (1975) by her compatriot Ababacar Samb Makharam (1934-1987) some thirty years before. Both highlight the painful practice of lip tattooing. Like Maïmouna Gueye, Senegalese-Malian Aïssa Maïga, a popular actor on French and African screens, ventured into filmmaking with her short fiction drama, Il faut quitter Bamako (2008). French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop, though based in Paris, has a strong need to return to her African roots; thus, 1000 Soleils (1000 Suns, 2008), a film about her famous uncle, the late Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety.

African filmmakers are often described as cinematic griots, transforming the oral tradition of the African griot into visual storytelling. Angèle Diabang blurs the boundaries of the two in Yandé Codou, the Griotte of Senghor (2008), recounting the life of this mythical figure, “the only one who could interrupt Leopold Sedar Senghor’s speech with a song of praise”. Yandé Codou Sène, born in 1932, is the haunting voice in many Senegalese films. Mossane by Safi Faye is perhaps one of the most stunning. Yandé Codou Sène's incantations introduce the beautiful Mossane as she baths in the mythical Mamangueth, and at the end, at the site of her tragic fate, she sings her praises. Carrying on the tradition of the griot, the voices of Senegalese women continue to be heard and seen.

The second decade of the millennium in 2010, the FIFF made a special tribute to Safi Faye, described as La Grande Référence, a role model. The tribute to Safi Faye at the 32nd Festival International de Films de Femmes (2-11 April 2010) demonstrates once again the important place she holds as pioneer in the history of women in cinema. Invited internationally to share her experiences in cinema, Safi Faye often reflects on the environment during that time, nearly forty years ago, in the early 1970s. She recalls the curiosity of her European colleagues in the midst of the “first African woman to dare to make a film." Another tribute to Safi Faye in 2015 was in the form of the Prix Safi Faye/The Safi Faye Award for the 26th edition of the JCC. Initiated by the CREDIF Centre de Recherches, d'Etudes, de Documentation et d'Information sur la Femme (Centre for the Research, Study, Documentation and Information on Women) and supported by UNESCO (United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture). It aims to reward a woman filmmaker whose film—be it a feature or a long documentary—has been selected in the official competition.
The award bears symbolically, the name of Safi Faye; as the first African woman filmmaker: "This pioneering artist has shown the way to a possible woman-inspired and African cinematographic creation."


Regarding Senegalese cinema scholarship and research, Hadja Maï Niang, specialist of image studies as well as filmmaker, focused her doctoral studies on the works of Ousmane Sembene: "Literature and cinema in the creative works of Ousmane Sembène: the source of the adaptations", as well as her Master’s thesis: "Xala d'Ousmane Sembène: analyse narratologique du "dit" et du "vu". She is founder and director of Daaray Sembène - la Maison de la pédagogie de l’image | the centre for image studies and teaches at University of Thies in Senegal.

Follow links to posts on Senegalese women in cinema on the African Women in Cinema Blog

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

Rama Thiaw's Revolution: The Camera as a Weapon. A survey of Rama Thiaw's evolution as a socially committed filmmaker. See:  https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2018/02/rama-thiaws-revolution-camera-as-weapon.html

Iman Djionne’s La Boxeuse | Boxing Girl in the Official Selection at the Luxor African Film Festival 2017. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2017/03/luxor-african-film-festival-2017-la.html

To be a woman filmmaker in Africa | Être réalisatrice en Afrique, at the Festival International de Films de Fribourg (Switzerland) moderated by Claire Diao, features Angele Diabang and Rama Thiaw among the four  panelists. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2016/04/claire-angele-nadia-pocas-rama-inen.html

An African woman on the Seine | Une Africaine sur Seine by Ndèye Marame Guèye – 60 years after l’Afrique sur Seine by Paul Soumanou Vieyra. For her Femis film project Une Africane sur Seine, Ndèye Marame Guèye returns to the iconic 1955 film Afrique sur Seine directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra (1925-1987) with his African colleagues, all studying cinema in Paris at l'IDHEC, l'Institut des hautes études cinématographiques, presently called FEMIS. See http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2016/03/an-african-woman-on-seine-une-africaine.html

A look at women in Senegalese hip. Analysis by Fatou Sall. See http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2016/02/a-look-at-women-in-senegalese-hip-hop.html

Prix Safi Faye de la meilleure réalisatrice - Safi Faye Award for the best woman filmmaker - JCC - Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage. See


Dr Hadja Maï Niang and/et Daaray Sembène - la Maison de la pédagogie de l’image | the centre for image studies. Talking directly to the press, Dr. Hadja Maï Niang, specialist of image studies, presented an uncompromising account of the "programmes that pollute Senegalese radio and television." Addressing the CNRA delegation, the director of the Daaray Sembene outlined the survey results of audio-visual programmes, demonstrating that certain productions "affront the essence of Senegalese society."See : http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2015/07/dr-hadja-mai-niang-andet-daaray-sembene.html

A review by Fatou Kiné Sene of Sur la Rive (On the Shore) by Mariama Sy and Derrière les rails (Behind the tracks) by Khady Diedhiou. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2015/04/sur-la-rive-on-shore-byde-mariama-sy.html

Khady Sylla & Mariama Sylla Faye : Une Simple Parole | A Single Word. Official Selection at the Luxor African Film Festival 2015. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2015/03/laff-2015-une-simple-parole-single-word.html

Dyana Gaye wins the Ecowas Best Woman Director Award at Fespaco 2015 for Des étoiles | Under the Starry Sky (2013). See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2015/02/fespaco-2015-dyana-gaye-des-etoiles.html

“Congo, A Doctor to Save Women” by Angèle Diabang: The resilience of women, an analysis of the film by Olivier Barlet. See: https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2014/11/congo-doctor-to-save-women-by-angele.html

Angèle Diabang adapts "So Long a Letter" to film - Interview by Agnès Chitou - Afrik.com
Filmmaker Angèle Diabang tackles for her first step in fiction So Long a Letter*, a classic of the African literary tradition. Her project is one of ten selected by La Fabrique des cinémas du monde at the French Institute, and presented in May 2014 during the Cannes Film Festival. See: https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2014/07/angele-diabang-adapts-so-long-letter-to.html

Marie Kâ : L’Autre Femme | The Other Woman Kâ: I want to challenge the Senegalese view that women are no longer interesting once they've given birth and gone through physical changes due to aging. I have a fascination for anything related to women. Sexuality is one of them. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2013/11/marie-ka-lautre-femme-other-woman.html

Le décès de la cinéaste Khady Sylla | Cineaste Khady Sylla has passed away. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2013/10/le-deces-de-la-cineaste-khady-sylla.html

Mille soleils (A Thousand Suns) by Franco-Senegalese Mati Diop, the heritage of Touki Bouki an analysis by Olivier Barlet. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2013/07/mille-soleils-thousand-suns-by-mati.html

Rama Thiaw talks about the "making of" her film "The revolution won’tbe televised". Rama Thiaw talks about the "making of" her film "The revolution won’t be televised". See http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2013/05/rama-thiaw-talks-about-her-film.html

This Colour that Disturbs Me | Cette couleur qui me dérange : Khady Pouye sounds the alarm on the practice of xessal (skin bleaching) by Mame Woury Thioubou. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2013/04/this-colour-that-disturbs-me-cette.html

Marie-Louise Sarr, a cineaste at the heart of the Master 2 Réalisation Documentaire de Création. Filmmaker Marie-Louise Sarr, who manages the Master 2 Réalisation Documentaire de Création (RDC) at Gaston Berger University (UGB) in Saint Louis, Senegal, talks about how she came to cinema, and the specificities of the programme. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2012/09/marie-louise-sarr-cineaste-at-heart-of.html

Face to Face, Women and Beauty in St. Louis focuses on the work of Mame Woury Thiobou:Beyond the simple matter of aesthetics that traverse the film, I want to investigate the societal practices as it relates to beauty. Why do women have to resort to artifices to feel beautiful? And in so doing, to what need are they submitting?” See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2012/01/mame-woury-thioubou-face-to-face-women.html

Rama Thiaw, A Young Filmmaker in the Struggle. The Senegalese filmmaker became known with her documentary Boul Fallé, The Wrestling Way, a politically committed film which uses sport to show how the youth of Pikine—a disadvantaged neighborhood in Dakar—overcome their plight. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2011/09/rama-thiaw-young-filmmaker-in-struggle.html

Dyana Gaye: Un transport en commun/St. Louis Blues, in the Official Selection at Fespaco 2011. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2011/02/dyana-gaye-un-transport-en-communst.html

Fatou Kandé Senghor: My Work, My Passion | Mon Travail, Ma Passion. An reflection piece written by Fatou and translated by Beti Ellerson from French and published on the African Women in Cinema Blog, she talks about her work and her feminism. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2011/01/fatou-kande-senghor-my-work-my-passion.html

Interview with Franco-Senegalese filmmaker Alice Diop by Olivier Barlet about her film La Mort de Danton (Danton's Death)* in Africultures. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2011/12/alice-diop-it-is-up-to-us-to-work-on.html

Showcasing Marie Ka at Cannes 2009. Invited by the Cinémas du Monde Pavillon/Pavilion of World Cinemas, Marie Ka is showcased by TV5 on the Croisette at the 2009 Cannes Festival. In five short episodes, she talks about her film, which is being screened at the Film Market, and her hopes of finding a producer. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2011/01/showcasing-marie-ka-at-cannes-2009.html

In Memory of Yandé Codou Sène (1932-2010). African filmmakers are often described as cinematic griots, continuing the oral tradition of the African griot via visual storytelling. Angèle Diabang blurs the boundaries of the two in Yandé Codou, the Griotte of Senghor (2008), recounting the life of this mythical figure, “the only one who could interrupt Leopold Sedar Senghor’s speech with a song of praise”. In her film, Yandé Codou Sène, diva séeréer, Laurence Gavron, naturalized Senegalese, originally from France, returns to the roots of the Serer Diva. See: https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.fr/2010/07/in-memory-of-yande-codou-sene-1932-2010.html

Safi Faye: Role Model | La Grande Référence. See: http://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2010/05/safi-faye-role-model.html

Thérèse M’Bissine Diop: A Pioneer in African Cinema

In front of the camera: the role of African women actors

Relevant Links:
Mère-bi by Ousmane William Mbaye

References:
1. Annette Mbaye d’Erneville: Une femme de comunication/Annette Mbaye d’Erneville: A Lady with a talent for communication by Rokhaya Oumar Diagne and Souleymane Bachir Diagne. Presence Africaine 153 (1996): 93.
2. Cissé, Alassane, and Madior Fall. 1996. "Un film en Afrique, c'est la galère." Sud Week-end [Dakar, Senegal], 12 October, 6-7.
3. The information on Safi Faye is drawn from my article, “Africa Through a Woman’s Eyes: Safi Faye’s Cinema”. Focus on African Films. Françoise Pfaff, ed. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2004. 


14 June 2009

African Women in Cinema: Leadership, Empowerment, Mentorship

African Women in Cinema: Leadership, Empowerment, Mentorship


The following article, originally published in 2009, has been re-edited, updated and will serve as an ongoing discussion with current links of related articles on the African Women in Cinema Blog

During the spring 2009 academic semester, I taught an undergraduate course entitled "Women and Leadership," using the occasion to explore the leadership practices of African women in cinema and the ways they empower and mentor each other and the future generation. This was the first time that I had focused on African women in cinema in that way and I took the opportunity to use films as a teaching tool. Notably my film, Sisters of the Screen, African Women in the Cinema, which featured the experiences of filmmakers, producers and actors on the journey towards the professionalization of their work.

Following are several strategies that I adapted from women and leadership discourse, many of which have already been incorporated into mission statements, women caucus objectives and general organizational goals in African women in cinema settings:

- Empowerment of women using a variety of approaches
- Organizing around issues that are relevant to African women’s needs
- Networking through continent-wide links and with other relevant partners
- Outreach by developing activities or programs to access more women potentially interested in cinema
- Mentorship as a tool for women’s development
- Role Modeling by using the visibility of successful women in cinema and representations of strong, successful or inspiring women through the moving image
- Sharing information, ideas, tips, via workshopping, volunteering, blogging,
- Informing: spreading information through various outlets
- Information-gathering and dissemination through research, databases, the Internet
- Providing access to informational networks through resource venues,
- Archiving: Storing information for research and consultation
- Showcasing women’s accomplishment and experiences through film festivals, cine-clubs and innovative film screenings followed by discussion
- Consciousness-raising through cinema
- Nurturing: developing, encouraging, cultivating, promoting skills
- Orientation into cinema through purposeful recruitment
- Sponsorship through fundraising and grant-writing
- Career development: fostering the careers of women in cinema through master classes, advance workshops and motivational speakers
- Research: Film studies in film history, criticism and analysis
- Training: Professional training in all aspects of cinema
- Advocacy and activism using cinema as a tool for social change

That African female professionals of the moving image empower each other is important to their overall ability to succeed in cinema. The use of support mechanisms such as professional organizations, meeting caucuses, ongoing contacts and mentoring relationships are essential, as they are the foundation to the acquisition of resources, funding and professional development. There is also a role in film criticism for the cultivation of mentorship, support systems and leadership awareness--for the images that project these characteristics go a long way in building awareness and raising consciousness. For instance, by highlighting films that portray women as leaders, that depict strong characters and women supporting each other, the public is aware that these situations exist. At the same time, forums that confront the portrayal of women in negative and stereotypical ways, such as in film criticism discourse and ciné-club debates, also play a role in raising consciousness. Thus, cultivating a critical eye among the spectatorship is a role that leaders in cinema must play.

Abstract from the article:
African Women, Cinema, and Leadership: Empowerment, Mentorship, and Role-Modeling (Black Camera, African Women in Cinema Dossier) Spring 2020

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.

05 June 2009

A Focus on Burkinabé Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture


A Focus on Burkinabé Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture
by Beti Ellerson

The article will be updated to reflect current realities - Updated 31 December 2017.

From the very beginning of the history of cinema in Burkina Faso, women have played a prominent role. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, home to the legendary FESPACO, the biennial pan-African film festival, is also known as the capital of African cinema. Burkina Faso’s commitment to the promotion of African cinema spans fifty years with the creation of the festival in 1969, and is reflected among the highest levels of government.

The country’s president bestows the Etalon de Yennenga, the grand prize of the festival to the winner. General Secretaries of the Festival have gone on to hold other important posts in the government. Two women were among the organizers of the first festival: Alimata Salembéré, a director of the RTV (Radiodiffusion Télévision Voltaïque) at the time, was president of the organizing committee; while Odette Sangho, a representative of the CCFV (Comité d’Animation du Centre Culturel Franco Voltaïque), was a member of the program committee. Women continued to be visible in the subsequent Organising Committees, notably Simone Aïssé Mensah who took over the presidency for the second FESPACO and continued in this position through the fourth.  The Festival is directed under the Secretary General, a post that Alimata Salembéré held from 1982 to 1984, thus overseeing the 8th FESPACO in 1983.

During the week-long festival, students are on holiday and participate in the various activities. The inclusion of youth dates to the first festival in 1969. At the request of the Organizing Committee, Jacqueline Ki-Zerbo, the director of the Cours Normal de Jeunes Filles (and also the wife of the renowned historian Joseph Ki-Zerbo) assembled sixteen girls to participate as hosts to welcome the many guests. One may note among Burkinabé films, the visibility of children as main protagonists. Notably, Gaston Kaboré’s 1982 classic film Wend Kuuni for which the young Rosine Yanogo won the best actress award for her role as Pognéré. The 1997 festival theme, "Cinema, Childhood and Youth" emphasised the significance of cultivating the experiences of African youth as it relates to cinema. Florentine Yaméogo elaborates this point in an interview with me: “I was very pleased with the choice of this year's theme, because it was a theme in which I was already interested.  Through this topic, I felt that we were given the opportunity to really think about the impact that images have on our children...We are realising that if we make films that address their needs in particular, that treat themes and subjects that interest them, that, in fact, we will actually participate in their intellectual, cultural and physical development.” 

Also located in Ouagadougou, are the Cinémathèque africaine, an infrastructure for the conservation of African films as well as a location for research and study, and the MICA (International African Film Market), whose current president is Suzanne Kourouma. In addition, Ouagadougou was the location of the Institut Africain d'Education Cinématographique (INAFEC), the historic film school at the Université de Ouagadougou where some two hundred students throughout the continent were trained between 1976 and 1987.  The core curriculum at INAFEC was multifaceted with a focus on areas such as radio, television, print journalism, scriptwriting, editing, and film production.  The curriculum required that the students first learn scriptwriting and editing, and then work with an assistant director before learning to direct.  After completing the core curriculum, there was the choice between two divisions, one for those who specialized in cinema; and the other for those who specialized in communication.

Many of the first generation of Burkinabé women in cinema were trained at INAFEC: Aminata Arby Boly, Valérie Kaboré, Marie Jeanne Kanyala, Suzanne Kourouma-Sanou, Adjaratou Lompo-Dadjoari, Fanta Régina Nacro, Aminata Ouedraogo and Téné Traoré. They currently work in some aspect of cinema, such as filmmaker, film editor, scriptwriter, film critic, film distributor, film producer and film organizer. Women who have made equally important contributions have trained in other programs in Burkina Faso, Europe as well as the United States:  Laurentine Bayala, Chloe Aicha Boro, Marie Danielle Bougaïre-Zangreyanogho,  Sarah Bouyain, Theresa Traoré Dahlberg, Claire Diao, Aminata Diallo-Glez, Benjamine Douamba, Henriette Ilboudo, Martine Condé Ilboudo, Sophie Kaboré, Benjamine Nama, Franceline Oubda, Adjaratou Ouedraogo, Aissata Ouarma, Danièle Roy, Kadidia Sanogo, Diane Sanou, Cilia Sawadogo, Apolline Traoré, Aminata Yaméogo and Florentine Yaméogo.

Burkina Faso has an early tradition of women making important contributions to society; Princess Yennenga is an illustrious example. The Etalon de Yennenga, the grand prize of FESPACO, is represented by a statue with the image of Yennenga astride a stallion. Franceline Oubda describes the importance of this representation: 
“You have seen that in a conscious or unconscious way, the image of Princess Yennenga is the grand prize of FESPACO, which is very significant.  It demonstrates the importance of women in society.  And I think to have this prize is a crowning achievement.  And we women must fight so that women will achieve this.

If we succeed in obtaining the Etalon de Yennenga, the efforts of women will be crowned and we will have reached a certain objective.  Princess Yennenga was the proof of courage and bravery, the proof of endurance, and she was a woman who did a great deal in Burkina history.  I think to fight for a woman to obtain the Yennenga is truly a step forward, and it will be for the greater welfare and improved standard of women in general.”

Sarraounia, the legendary Azna queen, was the subject of the 1986 film by Mauritanian Med Hondo.  The film by the same name, recounts the African resistance to the French invasion Niger, led by Queen Sarraounia. Burkinabé Ai Keita, who made her debut in the role of Sarraounia notes the tremendous support that the country gives to filmmaking efforts (the film was co-produced with Burkina Faso). Even though this was her debut role, she became wildly popular after it won the Etalon de Yennenga. Similarly, Amssatou Maïga, also a first time actress in her role as the adult Pognéré, became a household name after Buud Yam, a sequel to Wend Kuuni also by Gaston Kaboré, won the Etalon de Yennenga.  Beyond the interest in actors based on star appeal, there is appreciation for the contribution that the actors actually make. The 2003 FESPACO celebrated African actors and actresses under the title: The role of the actor in the creation and promotion of African cinema. Nonetheless, African actors and more specifically actresses have had to push for representation in the form of an actors guild. Towards this effort, actress Georgette Paré created the association, Casting Sud, to promote and support the interest of African actors.

An entire generation of Burkinabé has been raised in a cinema culture thanks to the country’s expansive role in cinema. Thus it is not surprising that women have played an important part from the start and continue to have the support and encouragement to enter into the diverse areas of cinema and to succeed.

In a 2009 interview with Claire Diao, Aminata Ouedraogo attributes this high visibility of women to the initiatives of INAFEC. With its multi-faceted curriculum, graduates were prepared to work in diverse areas of audiovisual production. This practice is evident in the experiences of many of its alumnae. During her professional career Aminata Ouedraogo has made several films and now devotes her time to the pan-African organization for African women film professionals created at FESPACO in 1991. Adjaratou Lompo-Dadjoari who has held senior positions at the National Television of Burkina, made a documentary in 2015 entitled, Les Amazones du cinéma Africain | The Amazons of African cinema about the rise of women professionals in the diverse areas of African. In addition to her filmmaking duties, Valerie Kaboré divides her time to research in communication and development and as director of Media 2000, a film production company based in Ouagadougou. Fanta Nacro who has attained international prominence, is an advocate for the empowerment of women in cinema, which is reflected in her relationship to women professionals in front of and behind the camera in all phases of the filmmaking process. Though the school no longer exists, it has set in place a cadre of women (as well as men) thus forging a tradition for future generations to continue in its footsteps. 

References:
Patrick G. Ilboudo. Le FESPACO 1969-1989: Les Cinéastes africains et leurs oeuvres. Editions La Mante, 1988.
Hamidou Ouedraogo. Naissance et evolution du FESPACO de 1969 à 1973: Les Palmares de 1976 à 1993.  Burkina Faso, 1995.

Relevant Links:
Timeline of Burkinabé Women in Cinema
Relavant articles on Burkinabé women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture from the African Women in Cinema Blog:

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

Aï Keïta-Yara dans/in “Sarraounia” by/de Med Hondo

FESPACO: Alimata Salembéré, its first president a "woman of principle" | Sa première présidente, “une femme debout”





Frontières, by/d'Apolline Traoré : “Four women tackling African integration” | Quatre femmes à l'assaut de l'intégration africaine by/par Sid-Lamine Salouka

FESPACO 2017: Ouaga Girls by/de Theresa Traore Dahlberg (Burkina Faso

Adjaratou Ouedraogo : Painting and animation, sharing one's experiences through the message of art | La peinture et l'animation, de partager son vécu à travers les messages de l'art

Claire & Angèle, Nadia, Pocas, Rama, in/en conversation: To be a woman filmmaker in Africa | Être réalisatrice en Afrique

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

Afrogames : Diane Sanou spearheads the crowdfunding campaign | Diane Sanou pilote la campagne de financement participatif

Les Amazones du cinéma Africain | The Amazons of African cinema by Adjaratou Lompo

Marie Danielle Bougaïre-Zangreyanogho : At the presidency of CIRTEF | À la présidence du CIRTEF

Les silences de Lydie by/de Aissata Ouarma