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.


My photo
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


Search This Blog

30 June 2010

Najwa Tlili: Reflections on her film: Rupture

From a conversation with Najwa Tlili (Tunisia) in 1997 at Vues d'Afrique, Montreal, Canada, while still in production of the film Rupture.

Rupture is a film that addresses the problem of conjugal violence lived by Arab women in Canada. While doing this film about conjugal violence, I discovered that the complexities of this inquiry are tied to the circumstances of immigration, and the host country and its culture...

I focus on women living in Montreal, and who at the same time are connected to Canadian culture. And yet, there is a fundamental element that I want to touch. Beyond this complexity of violence, I find myself making a film about the Arab woman, her condition, which is not different from that of the Arab woman living in Tunisia or any other Arab country...

It is very difficult to situate myself in relation to this film, to say what identity I should give it. I would say that it is the identity of the moment. I find myself invested in this film, inhabited by it, and finally it is allowing me to have a certain reconciliation with myself...

When I talk about the condition of the Arab woman in my film, I realize that there is a reality that surfaces in which the Arab women who live here are trying to overcome their situations individually. They do not do so within a community. There is no movement to propel this process; there is no revolution. In the Arab world, it is the same thing; women cope with their problems alone, it is the same case in Africa...

From Sisters of the Screen: Women of African on Film, Video and Television. Beti Ellerson. (Africa World Press, 2000).

Rupture (1998) by Najwa Tlili
from the Office National du Film Du Canada/National Film Board of Canada

28 June 2010

African Girls Make Movies Too

"I plan to be a professional camera woman, I will go back to my community and teach my colleagues how to make movies" says Aishah Umuhoza, a young Rwandan participant in the One Minute Jr. workshop. 

The initiative is part of “The World Cup in my Village” project sponsored by UNICEF in collaboration with community and governmental partners in Zambia and Rwanda.

The film project in the Rubavu District of Rwanda entails a five-day intensive workshop during which the students learn to write a script, direct, shoot, and edit a one-minute film, as well as act in the production. The main objective is to provide the students with the skills to report on the important issues that they are dealing with in their communities and then share them with the international community.

Similarly, in Mongu, Zambia, the radio production project gives the young participants the opportunity to express their concerns. The audio reports are broadcast on local, national and international radio stations. In addition, video reports of the initiative are posted on various websites, notably, the Children’s Radio Foundation, who is a partner in the initiative.

As South Africa is host of the 2010 World Cup, “The World Cup in my Village” serves another important function as it provides a venue for young people who live in villages without electricity and broadcasting services to follow the tournament. Giant inflatable out-door screens and projectors are set in place for the occasion. To promote awareness building, UNICEF-produced public service announcements regarding education, health and children protection are part of the programming.

As evident in the encouraging words of Aishah Umuhoza above, several girls have enthusiastically embraced the media-training project. A selection of the one-minute films produced during the film workshop is posted on the "unicefworldcup’s channel" on YouTube, among which are works by Dancille Nyiranteziryayo: A Better Future and Mamy Manirakiza: Raising Awareness.

View the One Minute Jr films @ the unicefworldcup’s channel
Updated to include: She is my mother, a short documentary film made by six girls in six hours during a workshop called Girls Make Movies organized at the Rwanda Film Festival in 2013.

Claudine Ndimbira Shenge was part of the Girls Make Movies workshop during which she directed the film My Mother My Hero in 2013, a heartbreaking story of a soon-to-be mother, and the young child who saves the notes written to her in her memory: my mother, my hero.


23 June 2010

Women at the Cinema(s) of Africa(s) Residency

In 2006, the Belgium-based GSARA, in partnership with the Media Centre of Dakar and the National School of Arts initiated the Cinema(s) of Africa(s) Residency to develop and promote documentary filmmaking in Senegal. In 2008 the Cinema(s) of Africa(s) broadcasting station was created in Dakar to ensure a Senegalese base for the coordination of documentary filmmaking residencies, and the subsequent broadcasting of the films that are produced.

Each year a three-month residency for scriptwriting and production of the documentary is held in St. Louis, Senegal. Founded on the idea that the participants share a common desire for the cinema, the Residency features three to four young Senegalese filmmakers who work alongside Belgian cinéastes and technicians.
During this intensive creative process, each filmmaker transforms her/his project from concept to realization. The main objective of the Residency is to bring the participants together in order to work collectively on their ideas and the production of their films; thus sharing the day-to-day experiences in the development and completion of their projects.

The films produced during the Residency are promoted and broadcast (on television, through DVD distribution and at festivals) in Europe by the GSARA and in Africa by the Cinéma(s) d’Afrique(s) Station in Dakar.

In order to engage with the public, during the three-week Screening Tour in Europe, the resident filmmakers are able to accompany their films in the theaters where they are screened and at festivals.

Among the attendees at the Media Center of Dakar Residency held in 2006, 2007 and 2008, five women participated and produced short films: Maïmouna Guèye: Destins croisés, 2006; Oumy Ndour: Njakhass/Patchwork, 2007; Marie-Louise Sarr: Chaîne alimentaire, 2008 (film not available for viewing); Aicha Thiam: Papa, 2006; Fatou Jupiter Touré: Surtout, souriez, 2006.
Film excerpts are in French or subtitled in French
Maïmouna Guèye: Destins croisés, 2006

Oumy Ndour: Njakhass/Patchwork, 2007

Aicha Thiam: Papa, 2006

Fatou Jupiter Touré: Surtout, souriez, 2006

The description of the GSARA Cinéma(s) d'Afrique Residence above is a French to English translation by Beti Ellerson.
GSARA Cinéma(s) d’Afrique(s) Website no longer active

21 June 2010

Florence Ayisi: Soccer Queens

Malikia Wa Soka Zanzibar – Zanzibar Soccer Queens:
Their Passion for Soccer is Passion for Life

The World Cup excitement gushing out of South Africa highlights the enthusiasm for soccer by all--men and women. Florence Ayisi's film Zanzibar Soccer Queens underscores as well, that women are also skilled players of the sport.

Filmmaker and Reader of Film Practice at the University of Wales-Newport, Florence Ayisi met the “Women Fighters” during a research trip to Zanzibar in 2005. She was especially struck by their enthusiasm, talent, and perseverance. She has this to say about the film:

Zanzibar Soccer Queens is a documentary that presents fresh insights into other lived experiences and realities in Africa, particularly women’s experiences. The stories of the players of Women Fighters present a complex and diverse perspective of untold African Herstories: visions of hope; self-determination; empowerment; solidarity; aspirations and personal identity. These women cross the boundaries of how a woman should be in their society. They are undertaking extraordinary steps to define and determine their ambitions and fate. I was attracted to their courage and efforts to achieve personal goals beyond the cramped borders of gender lines, traditional and cultural expectations that prescribe of how women should dress or behave. (Director’s Statement on Website).

The power behind women’s soccer on the island is its dynamic and charismatic coach, Nassra Juma Mohammed, the first female coach in Zanzibar. In addition to skill building in the sport, she also stresses the importance of women’s development. "What is important to me is that if the players get education they will be able to be employed to get jobs such as secretaries, cashiers , so they can take care of their own lives."

The film offers a fascinating insight into women and sport in this majority Muslim population, especially as it relates to culturally defined roles for women and their bodies.

The Zanzibar Soccer Queens Website provides a wealth of information about the individual "Women Fighters", the background and interest of filmmaker Florence Ayisi, a gallery of photographs, contact information, and a delightful trailer of the film.

Zanzibar Soccer Queens Website : NO LONGER AVAILABLE

17 June 2010

African Women Filmmakers at IMAGINE Institut

IMAGINE, created in 2005 and based in Burkina Faso, is an international training institute of film, TV and multimedia. An initiative of Burkinabe filmmaker Gaston J.M. Kaboré, its main objective is to rebuild a strong African identity through the arts, cultures and traditions of its people.

In 2007, Kadiatou Konaté of Mali, attended an audio and special effects workshop for professionals. Among the members of the Young Talents Workshop held in 2009, five women participated and produced short films: Betelem Abate, Yetnayet Bahru, Aster Bedane Nagawo from Ethiopia; Adaobi Obiegbosi from Nigeria; and Esley Anne Philander from South Africa.

The films produced from these workshops may be viewed in their entirety on the Imagine Institute's Channel on YouTube.

Kadiatou Konate | Mali: Nene and Aba

Betelem Abate| Ethiopia: Mama

Yetnayet Bahru | Ethiopia: Lipstick

Aster Bedane Nagawo | Ethiopia: Phenomena

Adaobi Obiegbosi | Nigeria: L’Idiot

Esley Anne Philander | South Africa: Peut-être un jour

10 June 2010

Women of Nollywood: Amaka Igwe and Peace Anyiam-Osigwe

Behind the fascination with the Nollywood phenomenon are women who have played a critical role in its evolution into an international “must see”.

Amaka Igwe (1963-2014), who was trained in theater arts, has produced movies, series and soap operas for television, film and video. In the 1990’s the immensely popular soap opera, Checkmate catapulted her to national renown and is among the standard-setting works for Nollywood productions. Her short film, The Barber’s Wisdom is one of the few shot on celluloid among contemporary Nigerian filmmakers, which attests to the popularity of the home video movement from which Nollywood evolves. In addition to the central role she plays as filmmaker, Igwe is an important stakeholder in the Nigerian film industry. She is founder and organizer of BOBTV the acronym for Best of the Best TV, a film and television program market held annually in Abuja, Nigeria. In addition, it is a venue for meetings, conferences and workshops related to film/video.

Nollywood Lady (2008) featuring Peace Anyiam-Osigwe by Dorothee Wenner
Women Make Movies

Peace Anyiam-Osigwe (1969-2023), a lawyer by training and CEO of the African Film Academy and founder of the African Movie Academy Awards, has a grassroots view of the purpose of Nollywood: to make films for the masses, not the elite. As she points out in the film, This is Nollywood, “what you have to remember about this society is that there are people in Africa who live on one dollar a day and these are the people that really watch these films.”(1) The goal of the African Film Academy is to ensure that there is training and funding for filmmakers in order to produce films so that the world may have a positive view of Africa.(2) Dorothee Wenner’s Nollywood Lady, features Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, as they navigate through Lagos, the capital of this vibrant, dynamic and dramatic moving-image phenomenon.

But before Amaka Igwe and Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, there was Lola Fani-Kayode, pioneer producer of Mirror in the Sun, one of Nigeria’s most successful television soap operas. In the mid-1980s Amaka Igwe recalls being immersed in the weekly episodes at 8 o’clock each Sunday night.(3) This seminal program was the impetus for her classic series, Checkmate.


(1) Klappe auf in Afrika (Interview clip, Berlinale 2010)
(2) Klappe auf in Afrika (Interview clip, Berlinale 2010)
(3) Who Defines Quality - Amaka Igwe (Africans Make Movies) NO LONGER ACTIVE

Related links on the African Women in Cinema Blog
Agatha Ukata: Researching Women in Nollywood

*Reflects name change of Peace Anyiam-Osigwe

09 June 2010

Women in Film Forum : Nollywood and the Dynamics of Representation

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

There is a noticeable trend in the Nigerian film industry (popularly called Nollywood). The women in the film come as wicked, manipulative, loose in morals, diabolic and inferior to the men. It is a familiar pattern: the women are hardly ever their own person; they are there to serve the men and their lives revolve round their marriage and children. If they head corporations, they either inherit it or stole it from someone. Generally, the roles of women in films are hardly ever psychologically empowering.

To correct certain negative impression created in our movies on the womenfolk, a two-day forum tagged, "Nollywood and the Dynamics of Representation" holds at the Colonades Hotel, Ikoyi.

The event which begins on June 16th and ends on the 17th 2010, is packaged to facilitate a gender dialogue geared to telling more empowering and inspiring stories about African women, as opposed to one or two dimensional portraits that trail our movies, said the organisers.

Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Executive Director of the African Women's Development Fund (AWDP), organisers of the event, said the forum which is being put together in collaboration with Lufodo Productions, owned by veteran actor, Olu Jacobs and his wife, Joke Silva, will bring together industry practitioners at home and in the diaspora, including executive producers, directors, actors, scriptwriters, scholars, public intellectuals, culture and gender activists, amongst others.

The ADWF group said that from their experience of working on women's rights issues on the African continent, it is becoming clear that there is a need to start thinking of new ways of changing behaviours and attitudes that undermine women's rights, and which inhibit women from achieving their full potential: "It is recognised that one of the critical sites of oppression and violence against women in Africa is that of popular culture, expressed through popular music and film."

Blog Archive