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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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.

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