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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30 December 2011

Screens and Veils: Maghrebi Women's Cinema by Florence Martin

Screens and Veils: Maghrebi Women's Cinema by Florence Martin
Indiana University Press
Examined within their economic, cultural, and political context, the work of women Maghrebi filmmakers forms a cohesive body of work. Florence Martin examines the intersections of nation and gender in seven films, showing how directors turn around the politics of the gaze as they play with the various meanings of the Arabic term hijab (veil, curtain, screen). Martin analyzes these films on their own theoretical terms, developing the notion of “transvergence” to examine how Maghrebi women’s cinema is flexible, playful, and transgressive in its themes, aesthetics, narratives, and modes of address. These are distinctive films that traverse multiple cultures, both borrowing from and resisting the discourses these cultures propose.

Overture: Maghrebi Women’s Transvergent Cinema
Act I: Transnational Feminist Storytellers: Shahrazad, Assia, and Farida
1. Assia Djebar’s Transvergent Narrative in The Nuba of the Women of Mount Chenoua (Algeria, 1978)
2. Farida Benlyazid’s Initiated Audiences in A Door to the Sky (Morocco, 1998)
Act II: Screens & Veils
3. Yamina Bachir-Chouikh’s Transvergent Echoes in Rachida (Algeria, 2002)
4. Raja Amari’s Screen of the Haptic in Red Satin (Tunisia, 2002)
5. Nadia El Fani’s Multiple Screens and Veils in Bedwin Hacker (Tunisia, 2002)
Act III: From Dunyazad to Transvergent Audiences
6. Yasmina Kassari’s “Burning” Screens in The Sleeping Child (Morocco, 2004)
7. Selma Baccar’s Transvergent Spectatorship in Khochkhach (Tunisia, 2006)
Appendix A: Political and Cinematic Chronology
Appendix B: Primary Filmography

Florence Martin is Professor of French and Francophone Literature and Cinema at Goucher College and Associate Editor of Studies in French Cinema. She is author of Bessie Smith, of De la Guyane à la diaspora africaine (with Isabelle Favre), and of A vous de voir!

Les écrans et les voiles : le cinéma du Maghreb au féminin (Screens and Veils: Maghrebi Women's Cinema) de Florence Martin

(Les écrans et les voiles: le cinéma du Maghreb au féminin) Screens and Veils: Maghrebi Women's Cinema de Florence Martin

Examinées dans leur contexte économique, culturel et politique, les oeuvres des cinéastes maghrébines constituent un corpus d’œuvre intégral. Dans ces sept films, Florence Martin examine les intersections de la nation et du genre, montrant la manière dont les réalisatrices renversent la politique du regard en engageant les diverses significations du terme hijab (voile, rideau, écran). Ces films sont analysés sur leurs propres contextes théoriques. Florence Martin développe la notion de «transvergence" [après Francis Pisani : à la fois de la convergence et de la divergence] afin de montrer comment le cinéma du Maghreb au féminin est souple, ludique et transgressif à travers ses thèmes, son esthétique, ses narrations, et ses modes de communication. Avec leurs spécificités, ces films traversent de multiples cultures, tout à la fois puisant et s’opposant aux discours qu’elles proposent.

Overture: Maghrebi Women’s Transvergent Cinema
Act I: Transnational Feminist Storytellers: Shahrazad, Assia, and Farida
1. Assia Djebar’s Transvergent Narrative in The Nuba of the Women of Mount Chenoua (Algeria, 1978)
2. Farida Benlyazid’s Initiated Audiences in A Door to the Sky (Morocco, 1998)
Act II: Screens & Veils
3. Yamina Bachir-Chouikh’s Transvergent Echoes in Rachida (Algeria, 2002)
4. Raja Amari’s Screen of the Haptic in Red Satin (Tunisia, 2002)
5. Nadia El Fani’s Multiple Screens and Veils in Bedwin Hacker (Tunisia, 2002)
Act III: From Dunyazad to Transvergent Audiences
6. Yasmina Kassari’s “Burning” Screens in The Sleeping Child (Morocco, 2004)
7. Selma Baccar’s Transvergent Spectatorship in Khochkhach (Tunisia, 2006)
Appendix A: Political and Cinematic Chronology
Appendix B: Primary Filmography

Florence Martin est professeure de la littérature et de cinéma français et francophone au Goucher College (dans l’état de Maryland aux États-Unis) et rédactrice en chef adjoint de Studies in French Cinema. Elle a publié également trois livres : Bessie Smith, De la Guyane à la diaspora africaine (avec Isabelle Favre), A vous de voir! De l'idée au projet filmique (avec Maryse Fauvel et Stéphanie Martin).

29 December 2011

African cinema / "Tunisian Stories" or the paradoxical reality pervading Arab and African societies

Source: African Press Organisation for Leyth Production - Tunis, Tunisia, December 21, 2011

The feature film Tunisian Stories by Nada Mezni Hafaiedh illustrates a captivating cinematographic work that touches the profound depths of Tunisian society and underscores the conspicuous contrast between the wealth of a minority sector and the poverty of most of its citizens.

This is the painful and paradoxical reality pervading most Arab societies, which plunges them into an oppressive social uncertainty and calls into question the distribution of wealth and the impact of the economic and social imbalance on the lives of ordinary people.

It is within this context that one may situate the film. With her first feature, the young director Nada Mezni Hafaiedh once again raises the question of the increasingly widespread social dichotomy that is causing considerable upheaval, and which in turn generates paradoxes in the Arab countries full of an appreciable amount of natural and potential wealth.

"Tunisian Stories may look like a film about the colourful life of troubled characters on a white backdrop: The Tunis of today and its agonies, with its radiant and shining facade. Glamorous, luxurious and flashy, offset with the loss of identity and the search for self, one's misery and harrowing daily existence," said Algerian Hichem Lague, the screenwriter for the film.

The choice of this specific spectrum of Tunisian society is not out of the blue, the director of the film is very familiar with it.

"Of course, neither a film or any kind of artistic project can cover or reveal all social categories. I chose to talk about these people with whom I mixed with since I came to live in Tunisia. To have been away from my country and to then rediscover it with its many facets is what this film is about. It is in fact a cinematic expansion of the documentary film +Singularity+ that I made not so long ago" she noted.

Moreover, the film's producer Mohamed Slim Hfaiedh announced that a portion of the proceeds of Tunisian Stories will go to the Tunisian Pediatrics Association, chaired by Dr. Mohamed Douagi, which promotes children’s health, a move that reflects the spirit of solidarity firmly anchored in Tunisian society as a whole.

Often, African films have depicted the ambivalent relations between the north and south. However, Tunisian Stories is differentiated by its social subject, which affects African society as a whole while developing a discourse that is in tune with African lived realities. By addressing issues common to all African societies, this characteristic gives the film an African dimension par excellence.

Tunisian Stories is the beginning of a long cinematic journey for Ms. Nada Mezni Hafaiedh who plans to make more feature films dealing with issues drawn from Tunisian society. It remains to be seen if the Ministry of Culture will encourage this film genre by providing the necessary budget for its implementation.

Translation from French to English by Beti Ellerson

En Français

Cinéma africain / "Histoires tunisiennes" ou la réalité paradoxale qui envahit les sociétés arabes et africaines

Source: Communiqué de presse - Leyth Production
Tunis, Tunisie, 21 décembre 2011

Le long métrage "Histoires tunisiennes" de Nada Mezni Hafaiedh est l'illustration d'une œuvre cinématographique captivante qui touche le fin fond de la société tunisienne en mettant en évidence le contraste ostentatoire qui s'y étale entre la richesse d'une minorité et la pauvreté du plus grand nombre de citoyens.

Une réalité douloureuse et paradoxale qui envahit la plupart des sociétés arabes pour les plonger dans une incertitude sociale accablante en remettent toujours en cause la répartition des richesses dans ces pays et l'impact du déséquilibre économique et social sur le vécu du citoyen lambda.

C'est dans ce contexte qu'on peut situer ce long métrage, le premier du genre de la jeune réalisatrice Nada Mezni Hafaiedh qui a voulu faire émerger encore une fois la question de la dichotomie sociale qui s'accentue de plus en plus entraînant des bouleversements considérables générateurs de paradoxes dans les pays arabes, qui regorgent de richesses et potentiels naturels non négligeables.

"Histoires Tunisiennes, peut se regarder comme un film relatant la vie colorée de personnages troublants,sur fond blanc : Tunis d'aujourd'hui et ses tourments, lumineuse et au visage châtiant. Du glamour, du luxe et du clinquant et en contrepoids la perte d'identité et la recherche de soi, la misère d'un homme et son quotidien déchirant", a expliqué le scénariste du film, l'Algérien Hichem Lagua.

Le choix de cette catégorie bien précise de la société tunisienne n'est pas impromptu, la réalisatrice du film s'y connait parfaitement.

"Bien évidemment, un film ou n'importe quel projet artistique ne peut pas couvrir ou dévoiler toutes les catégories sociales. J'ai choisi de parler de ces personnes que j'ai côtoyées depuis que je suis venue vivre en Tunisie. M'absenter de mon pays pour le redécouvrir de nouveau avec ces multiples facettes, c'est un peu cela le parcours de ce film qui n'est qu'une projection cinématographique du documentaire +Singularity+ que j'ai réalisé, il n y a pas longtemps", a-t-elle martelé.

Par ailleurs, le producteur du film Mohamed Slim Hfaiedh a annoncé qu'une partie des recettes du long-métrage "Histoires tunisiennes" sera versée sur le compte de l'Association tunisienne de Pédiatrie, que préside Dr.Mohamed Douagi et qui œuvre en faveur de la santé de l'enfant, un geste qui dénote l'élan de solidarité bien ancré dans la société tunisienne toute entière.

Souvent,les films africains ont dépeint les relations ambivalentes qui lient nord et sud. Cependant, "Histoires tunisiennes" s'est démarqué par son sujet social qui touche l'ensemble de la société africaine tout en développant un discours en phase avec les réalités vécues en Afrique.

Cette caractéristique confère à ce long-métrage une dimension africaine par excellence en l'inscrivant dans la sphère des œuvres cinématographiques qui traitent des questions communes à toutes les sociétés africaines.

"Histoires Tunisiennes" est le début d'un long parcours dans l'industrie cinématographique pour Mme Nada Mezni Hafaiedh qui compte produire d'autres long-métrages traitant des questions puisées dans la société tunisienne. Reste que le ministère de la culture doit encourager ce genre de long-métrage en lui accordant le budget nécessaire pour sa réalisation.

Distribué par l'Organisation de la Presse Africaine pour Leyth Production.

In English

28 December 2011

International Black Women's Film Festival (IBWFF) 2012 Call for Film Submissions!


Click to go to web-site/more info: 

Download the Press Release (PDF)
Regular Deadline
March 10, 2012

March 31, 2012

Adrienne Anderson
548 Market St #38322
San Francisco, CA 94104


Lead character prominently features a woman of African descent/African Diaspora in a non-stereotypical role.


Film may feature the experiences, viewpoints, lifestyles, socio-economic position or stories of Black women, but it is not required for eligibility.


Film was directed and/or produced by a Black woman/woman of the African diaspora (this includes women of the following groups/cultures: Adivasi, Aboriginal Australians, Dravidian, Pilipino Negrito / Ati, Seminole, Dalit, `African Latino, Arawak, Carib, Garifuna, “Black Indian”, Black African groups/tribes, East Timorese, Solomon Islander/indigenous Pacific Islander, African/indigenous Caribbean, African Brazilian, indigenous Fijian, indigenous Maori, multi/bi-racial, et al.).

More About Requirements

Films should be timely or directly feature issues, specifically, activities, policies, politics, culture, societal or economic that influence the lives of Black women around the world or in a specific geographical area.

Digital shorts, animation and experimental films may present any issue, but filmmakers should be Black women or prominently feature a Black woman character or issue.


All films (digital, animation, etc.) must be transferred onto a DVD for screenings. The IBWFF no longer accepts VHS or BETA tapes!

Online Films for Online Viewing, Only

Online films can be uploaded to a password-protected site; however, if your online film is selected for online viewing, you must upload it to a public web server or your own web server and send a viewing link.

If you’d like your online film to be considered as a “premiere,” then it cannot be available publicly until it is uploaded for an IBWFFviewing link via such services as YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove, etc.

Festival International du Film de Femmes Noires | Appel à films! - International Black Women's Film Festival | Call for Films

Festival International du Film de Femmes Noires | International Black Women's Film Festival 2012


Date limite: le 10 mars 2012

le 31 mars 2012

La cotisation et le DVD sont à envoyer à :

Adrienne Anderson
548 Market St # 38322
San Francisco, CA 94104


Le personnage principal sera une femme d'origine africaine ou de la diaspora africaine dans un rôle non-stéréotypé.


Les films peuvent présenter les expériences, points de vue, modes de vie, histoires ou position socio-économique de la femme noire, mais ceci n'est pas obligatoire pour la sélection.


Le film devra être réalisé et / ou produit par une femme noire/ femme de la diaspora africaine (cela comprend les femmes des groupes/ cultures noirs—de couleurs et / ou afros—voir la liste sur le communiqué).

Informations supplémentaires sur les conditions de participation

Le sujet du film doit concerner directement les activités, la politique, la culture, ou les perspectives sociales ou économiques qui influencent la vie des femmes noires dans le monde ou dans une région spécifique.

Les courts-métrages numériques, les films d’animations et expérimentaux peuvent aborder tous les sujets, mais le cinéaste doit être une femme noire ou bien mettre en évidence le personnage d'une femme noire ou une question qui la concerne directement.


Tous les films (numérique, animation, etc.) doivent être transférés en DVD pour les projections. Le IBWFF n'accepte plus les bandes VHS ou BETA!

Les films présentés en ligne ne pourront être que visualiser en ligne

Des films en ligne peuvent être téléchargé sur un site protégé avec un mot de passe. Cependant, si votre film en ligne est sélectionné, vous devrez le télécharger sur un serveur public ou sur votre propre site, dont vous nous indiquerez le lien.

Si vous souhaitez présenter votre film en ligne comme une "première", il ne peut pas être déjà sur l'internet. Le film devra être d'abord téléchargé pour une visualisation avec IBWFF à travers un hébergeur comme  YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove, etc.

27 December 2011

Global assignment for young black African female director

Projects and Job Opportunities

Major company in the United States is on a rapid search for a young black African female film maker who has either the credentials or authentic interest in the HIV cause.

Not necessarily looking for a highly recognized person rather an imminent star whose personality would be able to handle mass attention and who would be able to openly collaborate throughout next year to develop a narrative about the ability of this generation to begin the end of AIDS (mother to child transmission in Africa) by 2015.


26 December 2011

African Diasporas. Alice Diop: La Mort de Danton (The Death of Danton)

Alice Diop
Image source:
Interview with Alice Diop about her film La Mort de Danton (Danton's Death)* by Olivier Barlet. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson for the African Women in Cinema Blog. A collaboration with Africultures

Born in France into a Senegalese family, Alice Diop studied the relationship between cinema and society before venturing into documentary filmmaking: La Tour du monde (The World’s Tower), a portrait of immigrant families, offers a different view of a neighborhood north of Paris where she grew up; Clichy pour l'exemple (Clichy as example) seeks to find the reasons for the rage that surfaced in the housing projects in 2005; Les Sénégalaises et la Sénégauloise (Senegalese women and the Sene-Gallic-ese woman) deals with the women in her Dakarois family; and the current film shows both the courageous journey and the doubts of Steve, a tall black man of a Seine St. Denis housing project, after three years of acting classes in Paris.

"Danton's Death" has been selected in many festivals and has won awards, notably the prix des bibliothèques (the library prize) at the prestigious Cinéma du reel. What do you attribute to its success?

In all modesty, I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to speak of success. But yes, I was delighted about the reception of the film, especially the award at the Cinéma du reel, which came very soon after the editing was completed. I think that many people identify with Steve’s journey, his thirst for independence, his desire to make a life for himself and to dare to imagine a possibility beyond the destiny assigned to him. I remember an older woman who came to me after a screening and said with tears in her eyes "Steve is me". I was extremely touched. She was white, she was from Picardy and she recognized in him her own complex of illegitimacy. I am very happy that this film can speak to everyone. That so many people could relate to Steve’s character was very important to me. I think this film can extend beyond the subject of discrimination against black actors in France and prejudices that affect young people from housing projects.

How did you meet Steve Tientcheu?

We grew up in the same housing project, the 3000, in Aulnay-sous-Bois, but then I left the neighborhood and only saw him again later at a wedding. I thought that he had conformed to what I imagined one would become growing up in the housing projects, but he said he was taking acting lessons at the Cours Simon. I was shocked: I realized that I was projecting the same prejudices on him that I was condemning in others! I asked him if I could attend a rehearsal, and while there I perceived a great violence in the place that was accorded him, the manner in which others viewed him. That is when I suggested to him to make a film.

"The Death of Danton" carries this title because you give Steve the opportunity to interpret, alone and in the street, the role that he dreams of but that he is denied on the stage because he is Black. Was this the main theme of the film?

It was I who asked Steve to interpret this scene, I pushed him to interpret the role of Danton. It was a way of saying "do not expect others to legitimise what you want to be."

As I said earlier, I think this film deals with more than questions about the place given to black actors in France. For me the reality is actually indicative of something much larger. The subject of my film is rather about how to escape from the confinement of the gaze of the Other, how to invent one’s own life and become the person of one’s choice, despite what others project on us, despite the place and role they assign to us. Of course with someone like Steve, a kind of a walking caricature of all the clichés that people can have about the "youth of housing projects", this question takes on a specific social and political dimension.

In the Cours Simon, Steve is alone because he elicits fear. Is it related to his living in a housing project or is it something else based on his personal characteristics? Could it be what the other students project onto him?

This film is the story of an exchange that did not happen. Most of the people in the Cours Simon have not been able to go beyond the preconceived image they had of him, because he comes from Department 93, because he is very physically imposing. In spite of himself, Steve embodies all the imagery that people have of the “scum of the housing projects”. They locked him into that role. As a defense mechanism, he in turn isolates himself. I think it is a pity because he made the effort to take the RER [Parisian inter-regional transportation] in order to get away from the confinement of the projects where he has stagnated for years, in an attempt to realize his dream of becoming an actor.

Young people like Steve are often held responsible for their social situation. When I started this film, the discourse on meritocracy was dominant. The famous guilt-inducing injunction "if we want to, we can!" was very popular. With this character, I had the opportunity to show it is not enough to want, one must also feel accepted! This is the case in a drama school but unfortunately also in many other places in French society, which is so compartmentalized.

Steve accepts the roles that he is given to play, though very stereotypical: the slave, the driver, the gangster, the activist. This is the range of roles dedicated to black men. What triggered his awareness and his decision to challenge it?

It happened during the third year. Just after he asked to play Danton and was denied, given the reason that Danton was not black. During the first two years he wanted more than anything to learn the trade. He was not aware that he was playing all the stereotypes of the black in the white imagination. I did not want to tell him, to influence his views on this experience, and since I had the opportunity to film throughout his three-year training, I hoped that he himself would become aware before the end of his apprenticeship.

Do you as a woman filmmaker also face this symbolic violence of prejudice?

Yes in some ways, though more muted I'd say, however not necessarily mal-intentioned. I have long felt that as a black filmmaker I am expected to only be interested in Africa or the housing projects. I refused to participate in a program where I was asked to discuss African cinema today. I did not feel that it was my legitimate place to talk about it. I have Senegalese origins, I go to Senegal as often as I can, but I live and work in France. I really feel strongly about not being trapped in any label. But for young filmmakers of immigrant origins like me it is sometimes difficult.

I claim the right to own any subject. If I have to talk about the housing projects in a film, it is not because I was born there but because I am connected to a story that I feel needs to be filmed. For me “Danton's Death” is not just a film about a black guy from the housing projects. What interested me is the idealistic aspect of this character.

You avoid the sociology of the housing projects, which is so prevalent on TV: Steve is rarely shown in the context of the environment in which he lives. Why this choice?

It really was a choice during the editing. I shot some scenes of him in his housing project with his friends. But during the editing we decided very quickly not to include them. They would not have provided the opportunity to go beyond the stereotypes and preconceived images of the housing projects. Steve’s friends are great; they welcomed me kindly and gave me the confidence to film them in their private lives. It was because of this trust that we decided with the editor Amrita David, not to include them. I did not have enough footage of them to really develop their characters. So to show them hanging out along the rail smoking joints did not interest us. We were not there to reinforce stereotypes but rather to dispel them!

Even so, Steve does not make any great pronouncements: he takes the abuse in silence and swallows his rage. Is this his personality or was it an editing choice?

During the editing we tried to translate the slow emergence of consciousness but also the difficulty he had in speaking to his drama teacher. It is not easy when you lack confidence and you feel socially illegitimate to confront "the oppressor", even though here it is more a kind of cultural and social domination.

The drama teacher is rather well intentioned but still a victim of his narrow-mindedness: do you see this as typical of our society?

I am sure that Steve’s teacher was not intentionally unkind to him. I just think he lacked a bit of imagination. To say that a black actor cannot play Danton because he is black, in my opinion is to deny the work that Peter Brook has been able to do or what Ariane Mnouchkine has brilliantly done. What happened to Steve in the Cours Simon is in fact a metaphor for what is happening everywhere in France, where discrimination against visible minorities is striking. Always that gaze! That gaze that imprisons, that it ascribes to a place, to a status, to a neighbourhood, to a profession!

The shooting lasted almost throughout Steve’s three years of training to the final play. How did you go about choosing the best moments?

We chose the strongest moments of his training. We tried to reflect both the emergence of his awareness, but also the effect that this symbolic violence had on him. He was very bitter in our first interview, sinking slowly into a depression, bent under the weight of all the oppression he endured. This is what happened in reality so we retained it in the film.

The film resonates as a call to cross social barriers and in doing so not be concerned with the gaze of others. Is this really possible or will Steve be an exception?

To put in context Steve’s outburst at the end of the film as he shouts in the street, "freedom, we do not claim it, we take it", I draw from this adage to assert that I no longer ask others to recognize me as a filmmaker, I have finally accepted myself as a filmmaker. It is up to us to work on our own complexes and allow ourselves the right to feel legitimate. I think we need to go beyond the posture of victim. Though I am not denying the difficulties, the many barriers to overcome for those who are not part of the dominant majority, it is necessary for us to do this work. This is the only way to combat prejudice: keep your head high. I think it could also help guard against suffering too much, because that can make you crazy!

Was Steve able to find roles after he completed his training?

Yes, he was spotted by Canal+ to play in the 2nd season of the series Braquo. Well, he plays a mobster, but I think he enjoyed it. Do not forget that his favorite actors are De Niro, Pacino, Gabin, Ventura—gangsters of great renown! But hey, Al Pacino also gets to play Tony Montana and Richard III. I hope this is the case for Steve. He has the talent, indeed!

*George Jacques Danton a leading figure of the French revolution and a great orator with an athletic build, died at the guillotine. His last words: "Do not forget to show my head to the people, it is well worth seeing".

Image source:


(Re)Discover Alice Diop


Alice Diop, born in France to Senegalese parents, frames her cinematic stories—short and feature documentary, and more recently fiction, at the intersection of the social, political and the personal. Her films explore the diverse themes of identity, belonging, gendered relationships, the complexities of immigration, especially its psychological manifestations.

In one of her earlier films Les Sénégalaises et la Sénégauloise (Senegalese women and the Senegaulois woman, 2007) in reference to France as the country of the Gauls, Alice Diop reflects on her experience as a French woman of Senegalese descent among her women relatives during her first visit ever to Senegal.

Synopsis: The filmmaker Alice Diop comes to Dakar for the first time, accompanying the remains of her father, an immigrant worker in France, who wanted to be buried in his native land. Foreign to the country, she discovers the courtyard in which her mother grew up and where the aunts, cousins and nieces, who she does not know, come to meet. These women talk about their everyday lives, money, love schemes, marriage, polygamy and men. Alice realizes what her life could have been.


The African Women in Cinema Blog has followed her journey with articles expressing her ideas, films, and awards:

Sabzian: "State of Cinema" Alice Diop at Bozar with "Sambizanga" by Sarah Maldoror

Carte Blanche Alice Diop: Reformuler - 10 - 12.11.2023 - Festival d’Automne 2023

Alice Diop receives the prestigious Jean Vigo 2022 Award for "Saint Omer"

Alice Diop reflects on the literature of Annie Ernaux as a transformative feature of her experience as a woman

Reflections from Audre Lorde


Alice Diop: We | Nous  - Winner of Best Film in Encounters at the Berlinale 2021

Alice Diop: Autour de "Nous" Centre Pompidou (Paris) - 11 - 14 fév. 2021

Addressing political issues through sensitivity and empathy

When Alice Diop takes us "towards masculine tenderness"

Alice Diop’s "Towards Tenderness" and "La Permanence" (On Call) receive awards in Paris | Vers la Tendresse et La Permanence d'Alice Diop primés à Paris

La Mort de Danton (The Death of Danton)

22 December 2011

Leïla Kilani’s "Sur la planche" (On the Edge), a critique

Sur la planche (On the Edge) by Leïla Kilani, a critique by Olivier Barlet. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson for the African Women in Cinema Blog. (An African Women in Cinema Blog/Africultures collaboration).

Her skin, she rubs it with lemon—almost pulling itto remove the smell after a day of shelling shrimp at the factory. To detach herself from the conditions of an underpaid and ill-housed worker, she plunges into another life—the evening, during which the lexicon of terms is reversed: "I do not steal, I am getting my refund. I do not burglarize, I am getting back my due. I do not traffic, I do business. I do not prostitute myself, I invite myself." In voice-over, Badia’s words are expressed in slam—the same pace as her life, as her movements, as the camera that closely follows this rat race, as does the mis-en-scène that she shares with us. To survive is to charge headlong. Badia is a reflection of the young people in the film Microphone by Egyptian Ahmad Abdalla, of all the young Arabs who make revolution, having nothing to lose but a wasted life, everything to gain by going for it: "I’m already what I’m going to be. I am only ahead of the truth, my own. "

Leïla Kilani captures these young people on the edge. Her project is neither psychological nor sociological: it is not to be explained. It is on the surface, tactile—not superficial, carnal, at skin level ! It is a manner of showing that only in this way can one understand the current mutations, that all communication will run against a wall, that these societies will lapse into violence if they do not provide a future for their youth. Badia, along with the other three girls with whom she prepares her evening ploys, rushes headlong into the void. Her destiny can only be fatal. These young people full of desperate energy are on the verge of collapsing. They are on the plank, ready to jump.

This manner of radical directing and acting was necessary to capture this tension—shot with quick pacing, as close as possible to the body, a body which in order to escape confinement only thinks about making it through, of getting by. Their thirst for life is expressed as much by their unrestrained language as their actions. Factory workers by day, the young women at night search for men and ways to push the limits. Surviving by day, living by night. Badia talks a lot and very quickly, only making coherent her headlong flight. Reflecting the cunning youth unencumbered by rules, she improvises daily life by ruses and circumventions; not as an escape, but rather as a plunge into the frenzy of life.

Needless to say, the tourist image of Morocco takes a hit, starting with Tangier, the birthplace of the director, a buffered city, for a twofold reason: it is the first contact point for car-bound travellers and the point of no return for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean. It has been a while since Leila Kilani has dealt with postcard stories. In Le rêve des brûleurs (2002), she presented a personal perspective of Tangier, this physical, corporeal, sensual frontier, stirring with men and women who dream of a mythical somewhere that they cannot find on this side of the barrier. With Nos lieux interdits (2008), she documented the restriction on speech and the internalisation of political violence in Moroccan society on the occasion of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission that the new king established in 2004 in order to reconcile with victims of human rights abuses. With On the Edge she addresses these zones, areas of appalling exploitation and lawlessness that swarm the planet and that is never talked about.

This disturbing and astonishing film, which scored at the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes in May 2011, has the allure of rap-like urbanity and brilliantly combines the guts of the director and her actors, starting with the impressive Soufia Issami who gives her character Badia all her indomitable energy. With On the edge, Leïla Kilani enters into the big leagues.

Sur la planche (On the Edge) by Leïla Kilani, a critique by Olivier Barlet (Africultures) translated from French by Beti Ellerson.

21 December 2011

Françoise Ellong: “My passion for cinema follows me everywhere, all the time”

Françoise Ellong is already off to a good start on her career path. Trained in communication and filmmaking, her imagination leads to whatever may enrich her. She talks about her passion for cinema and her current and future projects.

What an incredible journey for a young 23 year-old-woman! What was your experience with the image as a child in Cameroon? Where did this amazing passion come from?

My love for film was not born in Cameroon, but my love for writing was, in fact. I discovered the world of images and screenwriting at 17, six years after my arrival in France and I must admit that today I cannot justify in a "reasonable" manner, my passion for cinema. It is there and follows me everywhere, all the time.

You studied communication in Paris and filmmaking in London, your training also includes several workshops and participation in film shootings. One sees an emerging cineaste who has a great desire to broaden her knowledge from diverse experiences and in various environments. Some thoughts?

I began my studies in communication because I believe it is absolutely essential in everyday life. On the other hand, I also built a safety net, to have something to fall back on “just in case". And it's hard to convince an African family especially, that one wants to make films, and nothing more. What one may also understand at some level is that the field of communication is not an illusion, far from it. It offers me a lot in my relationship with the various players in this arena. Communication is essential. As for London, my first wish was to go for a Masters in Film in the United States. My uncle convinced me to choose London. I followed his advice and I do not regret it at all.

I do make the most of what I learn, in fact, but my policy is that "each has her/his place" in cinema. Having gained knowledge about something does not mean that tomorrow I feel competent enough to make a film or that I can be the cameraperson. No. What it gives me is more clarity during the exchange I have with my technical crew, nothing more. I love learning and I think in that environment, one never stops doing so.

The themes of your films are very eclectic, treating many issues that affect the population in the environment where you are at that instant. Often, when one imagines an "African film", one expects to see African faces, filmed in an African environment. Is this a stereotype? What inspired your choice of subjects? For the films: Joue avec moi (2012), Now and them (2011), At Close Range (2011), Nek (2010), Big woman don't cry (2009), Miseria (2008), Dade (2007),...

For me, I have absolutely no illusion that I am making African films. Not that I'm not interested, but that it is not at all the context of my films. However, I am preparing several projects that I want to shoot in Cameroon in particular, with Cameroonians. The nationality of the filmmaker has never been the identity of a film. So I do not wish to get into these name games, that when one does, it is difficult to get out of. I am very interested in African cinema, I watch and study it closely and hopefully in a very short time, I'll be able to carry out the projects that I just talked about. As for inspirations related to my previous projects, they are indeed very different and do not necessarily connect to one another. It is my way of showing that I do not want to be pigeonholed. My imagination is not restricted to clichés about my origins, or when I had the blues last month. I write my stories on the basis of the titles that come to mind. I develop an idea around a title, which may come a bit out of nowhere, and try to find a true meaning in it.

One perceives a current trend among African filmmakers who desire to work in a variety of locations outside their home country. You have worked a great deal in London and also in Paris where you grew up, and you have projects for Cameroon. What role will this diversity play in the identity of your films?

My cinema is like me: flexible. I have shot a lot between Paris and London, I would very much like to film in Cameroon and throughout Africa. I would like to film in whatever country I have the opportunity to develop an idea. I see in these places an infinite variety of subjects, cultures, meeting places, and so on...

You have a visible presence on the Internet, on social networks—the trailers of your films on video sharing sites—all, important ways to promote your work. What role do you want these media to play in the future?

I have always viewed these media as intermediaries, allowing me to get a feel for the public. They are a means by which I can attract people’s interest to come out to my screenings. I am all for the buzz effect, provided that they are smart. I separate "buzz" and "hype" because for me they are two completely separate things.

Interview with Françoise Ellong and translation from French by Beti Ellerson, December 2011


Françoise Ellong : « Ma passion pour le cinéma me suit partout à chaque instant »

Françoise Ellong a déjà une carrière bien lancée. Formée en communication et en cinéma, son imaginaire l’amène à tout ce qui peut l’enrichir. Elle parle de sa passion pour le cinéma et ses projets courants et futurs.

Françoise, quelle trajectoire incroyable pour une jeune femme de 23 ans!  Comment était ton expérience avec l’image lors de ton enfance au Cameroun? D’où viens cette passion qui t’anime ?

Mon amour pour le cinéma n’est pas né au Cameroun, mais c’est effectivement le cas pour celui de l’écriture. J’ai découvert l’univers du scénario et des images à 17 ans, soit six ans après mon arrivée en France et je dois avouer qu’aujourd’hui, je ne saurais justifier de manière « raisonnable » ma passion pour le cinéma. Elle est là et me suit partout à chaque instant.

Tu as étudié la communication à Paris et le cinéma à Londres, ta formation comporte aussi des ateliers et des participations à plusieurs tournages. On voit une cinéaste émergente qui a une grande envie d’élargir ses connaissances au sein de divers environnements et expériences. Quelques réflexions?

Si j’ai commencé mes études par la communication, c’est parce que je suis d’avis que dans la vie de tous les jours, c’est absolument essentiel. D’un autre côté, je me suis forgée une sécurité, une façon de me dire « au cas où ». Et puis, c’est difficile de convaincre, surtout une famille africaine, qu’on veut faire du cinéma, que du cinéma et rien que du cinéma. Ce qui peut être aussi compréhensible à un certain niveau. La communication n’a pas été un leurre, loin de là, cette branche m’apporte beaucoup dans ma relation avec les différents acteurs du milieu. Communiquer, c’est primordial. En ce qui concerne Londres, mon premier souhait était d’aller faire un Master en cinéma aux Etats-Unis. Puis, je me suis laissée convaincre par un oncle de privilégier Londres, un conseil que j’ai suivi et que je ne regrette absolument pas. Je maximise en effet mes connaissances, mais je suis pour la politique « chacun sa place » dans le cinéma. En apprendre énormément en lumières, ne signifie pas que demain je me sens capable de réaliser un film et d’en être le chef opérateur. Non. Ce que ça m’apporte, c’est davantage de clarté dans l’échange que j’ai avec mes techniciens, rien de plus. Et puis, j’aime apprendre et je pense que dans ce milieu, on ne cesse jamais d’apprendre.

Les thèmes de tes films sont très éclectiques, traitants de nombreuses questions qui touchent la population parmi laquelle tu te trouves actuellement. Souvent, quand on imagine le "cinéma africain" on s'attend à voir des visages africains, filmé dans l'environnement africain. Est-ce que c’est un stéréotype? Quelques réflexions sur ce qui a inspiré ton choix de sujets, comme : Joue avec moi (2012),  Now and them (2011), At Close Range (2011),  Nek (2010),  Big woman don't cry (2009), Miseria (2008), Dade (2007),...

En ce qui me concerne, je n’ai absolument pas l’impression de faire des films africains. Non pas que ça ne m’intéresse pas, mais les contextes de mes films ne le sont pas du tout. En revanche, je prépare plusieurs projets que je souhaite tourner surtout au Cameroun, avec des Camerounais. La nationalité d’un réalisateur n’a jamais été celle d’un film, alors je ne souhaite pas entrer dans ces jeux de mots qui quand on y entre, on en sort difficilement. Je m’intéresse beaucoup au cinéma africain, je l’observe et l’étudie de près et j'espère que dans très peu de temps, je vais pouvoir réaliser ses projets dont je parle plus haut. Quant aux inspirations liées à mes projets précédents, elles sont en effet très diverses et n’ont pas forcément de relations les unes après les autres. C’est une manière pour moi de dire que je n’ai pas envie qu’on m’enferme dans des cases. Mon imagination ne se restreint pas à des films clichés sur mes origines, ou au dernier coup de blues que j’ai eu le mois dernier. J’écris mes histoires sur la base de titres qui me viennent en tête. Autour de ce titre qui sort un peu de nulle part, je développe une idée, essayant de lui trouver un vrai sens.

Actuellement, on perçoit une tendance parmi les cinéastes africains à vouloir travailler dans une variété d'endroits hors de leur pays d'origine. Tu as travaillé beaucoup à Londres, à Paris où tu as grandi. Et tu as des projets pour le Cameroun. Quel rôle va jouer cette diversité dans l'identité de ton cinéma?

Mon cinéma me ressemble : imprévisible. J’ai tourné beaucoup entre Paris et Londres, je souhaite énormément tourner au Cameroun et dans toute l’Afrique. Je souhaite tourner dans tout pays dans lequel j’ai la possibilité de développer une idée. En ce qui me concerne, j’y vois une richesse infinie de sujets, de cultures, de rencontres et j’en passe… 

Tu as une présence visible sur Internet et les réseaux sociaux, les bandes-annonces de tes films sur les sites vidéo, un moyen important pour promouvoir ton travail. Quel rôle veux-tu que ces médias jouent à l'avenir?

J’ai toujours vu tous ces médias comme des relais, qui me permettent moi de proposer un avant-goût au public. C’est par leur biais que j’arrive à susciter l’intérêt des personnes, que je donne envie aux gens de se déplacer lors de mes projections. Je suis pour les effets de buzz, mais lorsqu’ils sont intelligents. Je dissocie « buzz » et « matraquage », parce que pour moi, ce sont deux choses totalement distinctes.

Entretien avec Françoise Ellong par Beti Ellerson, décembre 2011


16 December 2011

À Binga au Zimbabwe les femmes cinéastes se mobilisent autour du Festival de Film International d’Images pour les Femmes

Le Festival de Film International d’Images pour les Femmes (IIFF) cette année pour la première fois, s’est déplacé dans la région de Binga Matabeleland Nord, gracieuseté de CAFOD. Présenté sous le thème « Femmes ayant des objectifs », il a eu lieu le 5-7 décembre à l'occasion de la commémoration des 16 jours d'activisme contre la violence de genre.

Le Festival a reçu plus d’un millier de spectateurs à Tusimpe. Trois films locaux etaient presentés: Nyami Nyami et les oeufs du mal, Je veux une robe de mariée, et Peretera Maneta.

Plusieurs initiatives ont été présentées pour créer un espace où les femmes puissent dialoguer librement, développer leur confiance en elles-mêmes et un pouvoir collectif ainsi que d’échanger leur point de vue sur des sujets qui les concernent en tant que femmes. Les femmes cinéastes du Zimbabwe (Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe - WFOZ) utilisent le cinéma pour permettre aux femmes, surtout les jeunes, d’identifier, d’analyser et de trouver des solutions aux problèmes qui les touchent en tant qu'individus et en tant que groupe. Le cinéma donne au public la possibilité de discuter et de débattre des questions normalement balayé sous le tapis, lorsque le public se cache derrière le personnage du film, mais, en fait, l’expérience est réelle. Le cinéma est un moyen de communication puissant qui ne connaît ni couleur, ni race, ni confession, il est un langage universel. LIRE L'ARTICLE EN ANGLAIS

The International Images Film Festival for women (IIFF) 2011 in Binga (Zimbabwe)

The International Images Film Festival for women (IIFF) this year for the first time, moved to the Matebeleland North region of Binga for its outreach, courtesy of CAFOD. The festival, celebrated under the theme Women With Goals ran from December 5 to 7 screened film in commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence.

The festival reached out to over a thousand viewers at Tusimpe, Binga High School, Freedom Square in Binga town and Manjolo Drop in centre about 25km away from the town centre. Three local films were showcased namely, Nyami Nyami and the Evil Eggs (new film by Tsitsi Dangarembga), I want a Wedding Dress and Peretera Maneta.

The films were empowering and inspiring as they showcased real life challenges encountered and the audience urged WFOZ to continue using film to stimulate debate and analysis of issues normally swept under the carpet. Thus film created a freer space that allowed for dialogue and the organisation was encouraged to create positive images as well as encourage people to tell their stories as a lesson to others. The films centered around linkages between gender and poverty, gender and HIV/ AIDS and gender and child sexual abuse. Strong messages were sent home such as that while poverty is said to have a rural and a woman’s face, it is high time that women become economically empowered and if this is achieved, fewer cases of gender based violence will be recorded. Similarly, on the issue of HIV and AIDS, I Want A Wedding Dress highlighted that it is normally the women that suffer the burden of caring for the sick and in most cases are accused for bringing the virus to the home. The audience also agreed that parents have a huge role in socializing and protecting their children from the scourge, for if parents play the supportive role, moral decadence is reduced and so are the cases of sugar daddies and mummies. With regards to Peretera Maneta, the audience seemed to agree that we all know a Maneta in our lives, that girl who is sexually abused but does not get love, care, support and protection by those who should be extending that to her. The film spoke strongly to this years 16 Days theme ‘From peace in the home to peace in the world’ as it encouraged parents to create safe spaces for their children right from the home environment, and ensuring that these children are protected in the outside environment too! In the film, the parents are not concerned about their daughter to such an extent that they do not notice that she is being abused. Instead, they rely on the headmaster who tells them their daughter is doing well yet he is the perpetrator. This therefore indicated the gap that exists between most parents and their children.

Several initiatives to create space for women to freely interact, build confidence, attain collective power and share sensitive gender information have been introduced. As such, Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe uses the medium of film to enable these women, especially the young to identify, analyse and find possible solutions to problems that affect them as individuals and as a group through engaging with messages in the film. Film allows viewers a chance to discuss and debate issues normally swept under the carpet as the audience will be hiding behind the character in the film yet in reality referring to a real life experience. Film is a language spoken and understood by all. This powerful medium of communication knows no color, race or creed but speaks to and informs all who engage with it.

SOURCE: Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ), The International Images Film Festival for women, 16 December 2011

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