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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04 September 2010

(Re)Discover Franceline Oubda (Burkina Faso)

(Re)Discover Franceline Oubda (Burkina Faso)
On the occasion of the article in recognition of Franceline Oubda: "Franceline Naré Oubda : de l’aventure à la passion de communiquer" (from an adventure to a passion for communication), an update of sorts, the African Women in Cinema Blog takes the opportunity to present excerpts from the 1997 at Fespaco interview published in Sisters of the Screen: African Women on Film, Video and Television by Beti Ellerson (Africa World Press, 2000). According to the, since our interview she studied at the Centre for Professional Training in Information (CFPI, current Higher Institute of Communication Sciences and Techniques), and in Abidjan where she received a diploma in graduate studies in communication, option journalism and production in 2007. In addition, she is a member of the Higher Council for Communication, and was decorated with the Medal of the Order of Merit in 2008.

Excerpts from interview in Sisters of the Screen: African Women on Film, Video and Television
You have certainly been visible on the media landscape in Burkina Faso.  How did you enter the world of cinema?

I am a director at the National Television of Burkina Faso.  I see film and television as a vocation.  I entered in the field of television in 1985, through a recruitment campaign for journalists to enhance national television programming.  Once there, I observed that there was no programming for women.  Thus, I decided to create a program called "Women and Development", which actually focused on the participation of women in the development process.  After creating these programs, I went into directing.

Would you say that your role as filmmaker is to focus on the experiences and conditions of women?  Do you expect to work solely on topics that relate to women?

I think that women are in a better position to deal with the question of women, because they have lived these experiences.  If I broach the problem of polygamy, even if I am not myself in a polygamous marriage, perhaps I have a sister, a mother, or aunt who lives this situation.  Indirectly, I have already seen how this woman experiences this life; I am a privileged witness who treats this subject.  That is why I think a woman is in a better position to deal with the question of women, because she takes on the role of educator in society.
If you were to go into a household and see a woman and a man, you will find that it is the woman who is the backbone of the household.  Even if you speak about a man, the care that surrounds and supports him is provided by the woman, she is the foundation.  She prepares the children's meals, she dresses them, she nurses them, as well as her husband.  I think that the woman is in a better position to talk about women, because she lives it both directly and indirectly.

In your film La destinée, you raised an important problem about the impact of foreign images that inundate the television and movie screens in Africa.  Could you elaborate on this?  As you showed, these films do not reflect the reality of the African youth, and yet, the influence on them is significant.  Could you also expound on the phenomenon of these outside images on popular culture in Africa?

We are realizing that we do not have the power to control the influx of these outside images.  We are bombarded with these images and perhaps what is necessary is a policy within African countries to find a way to examine these images and their influences.  It is a very complicated situation.  People buy satellite dishes and connect to whatever network they want.  It is very difficult. We also sense that Africans do not like their own images.  They actually prefer foreign images.  This comes from the fact that we are not used to seeing our own images.  And I think it is up to us as directors to fight in this regard and assist our public in developing an appreciation for our cinema.
It is a cinema that speaks of our reality, of our development, and we must reach this objective.  It seems that even the people in the North do not like our films.  They have another vision of us.  They have always portrayed Africans as spectacular and sensational, or naked and hunger-stricken, with swollen-belly children.  We do have value and worth and it is up to us Africans to value our culture, what we have.  As a result, others will also appreciate our culture and our images.  This is the only way that our cinema will evolve.  If we are only content with images that are thrown at us, I think African cinema will never thrive.

Do you notice a certain alienation among the young generation from their own culture that comes from wanting to be like the people and images that they see on the screens?  You have already stated that Africans do not identify with their own images; what does this mean for the future of African culture?

I think that, in fact, there is a certain alienation because the impact of the image is very powerful to the extent that it can change attitudes.  When our young people see these images, they attempt to identify with certain actors and characters and, as you see, the cinema here is Kung Fu, and the Japanese cinema is still something else.  Our youth like foreign images because they want to express themselves in different ways than they find in their own culture.  As I portrayed in the film, when the French television series "Hélène et les garçons" comes on the television, all of the young people run to see it.  If you notice, AIDS in our country is very developed.  The young people who watch these shows do not realize that these are characters on the screens that are making love in a spontaneous way, but, in reality, people are taking precautions.  This has to be stressed to them, and I tried to show this. These images create fantasies in our young people, who in turn want to imitate them.  It is true that the lesson in the use of contraceptives appears a bit didactic. However, I tried to demonstrate that while these acts are shown on the screen, that in reality young people must know that there are places where they can go to find information about the real facts about these practices.

In the film we see a certain fantasy that the village girl has vis-à-vis the city.  She sees all the images that are representative of a city sophistication.  She finds the hairstyle, clothing, and manners of the city girl beautiful, chic, more interesting....

In the film, my purpose was not to present a village/city relationship.  Of course, when going from the village to the city we see the contrast in housing and furnishing, but I was not really interested in focusing on this aspect.  But yes, it does exist.  The girls from the village admire the girls from the city because it is another "look" [stated in English].  For instance, in another film that was screened, we saw a village girl take the wig of a woman while musing "I look like a city girl."  Their main objective is to become like them.   They think that the girls in the city have a better situation and they want to have the same lifestyle.  On the other hand, when a girl from the city comes to the village, she is often disappointed to see the way that the girls and women dress.

Would you say that village girls experience a certain alienation as they strive to identify with city culture?

Yes and no, it is a way of imitating.  It is a change of mentality that comes from the images that we receive.  There is a strong westernization in the villages, because the people of the city are viewed as the models.  I wouldn't say that it is necessarily alienation, but rather a way of identifying with what is considered better.

Women-focused filmmaking
For me, directing is not making films as such, but it is a means of expressing myself in relationship to women.  Whether it is a panel discussion, or field reporting, or a more elaborate treatment such as a documentary film, I do it all.  It is in this context that I evolved in this profession, and the reason that I became a filmmaker, especially in documentary filmmaking.

Franceline Naré Oubda : de l’aventure à la passion de communiquer:

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