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 2012

The Cinema of Women from Francophone Africa | Le cinéma des femmes d’Afrique francophone

The Cinema of Women from Francophone Africa by Stéphanie Dongmo. Published 7 December 2012 on Le Blog de Stéphanie Dongmo. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson. 

They were present in front of the camera at the beginning of African film productions and since the 1970s they were present behind it as well, though they remain relatively unknown. In order to highlight the work of these women in the profession, an international colloquium on 40 years of francophone African women filmmakers was held in Paris the 23-24 November 2012 at the Quai Branly Museum and the National Library of France. An occasion to review the history of the cinemas of African women and their challenges.

Historically the first film by an African francophone woman is Tam-tam à Paris, a short film by Cameroonian Thérèse Sita Bella (1933-2006), made in 1963. The cinema of African francophone women is, therefore, 49 years old. However, the colloquium focused on the pioneer Sarah Maldoror of Guadeloupe for her film Sambizanga, which focused on Angola and was released in 1972. Brigitte Rollet, organiser of the colloquium explained that the film by Sarah Maldoror was renown and available to the public, unlike the film by Sita Bella, which is virtually unknown.

Feminist struggles across the globe

Beti Ellerson, the Director of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema, presented an historical account of African women in cinema: "going beyond all the reasons that they were not successful, were discouraged or did not even dare to dream, passionate about their work, they continued, and said yes" [translator's edited version].  In 1963, Thérèse Sita Bella directed "a film that is often talked about but has never been seen". After playing a role in the film Petit à petit by Jean Rouch released in 1971, the Senegalese Safi Faye directed the short film La passante in 1972, and the feature documentary Peasant Letter in 1975.

Before this period, Sarah Maldoror, African by adoption, directed the short film Monagambee in Algiers in 1969. Released in 1972, her feature film Sambizanga focuses on the death by torture of Domingos Xavier, a militant of the Angola liberation movement, and especially his wife’s struggle to find him. According to Beti Ellerson, Sarah Maldoror contributed to the liberation cinema in Africa and is a reference for numerous African women filmmakers. At the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s women of the Maghreb emerged, such as Algerian Assia Djebar with her film La Nouba des Femmes du Mont-Chenoua in 1977 and Moroccan Farida Benlyazid with Une porte sur le ciel in 1988.

In 1991 the PanAfrican Union of Women Professionals of the Image was created at Fespaco with the objective to promote realistic visual representation of women and parity in all areas of film production.

As Beti Ellerson noted the emergence of cinema in Africa coincided with the independence movements of the 1960, when Africans re-appropriated the camera to counter the colonial gaze. During the 1980s women focused on the development and empowerment of women. During the 1990s, taking distance from western feminism, non-western women and women of colour focused their attention on issues more pertinent to their realities.

Presently, many African women who live and work outside the continent embrace a cinema without borders, which in some cases focus on non-African related themes. In the case of the Ivorian Isabelle Boni-Claverie, she has not yet directed a film in Africa. Moreover, Cameroonian Oswalde Lewat has made films outside of Africa about the Amerindians of Canada and students in film schools in Israel.

Many yet invisible

Jean-Marie Barbe, director of training at Africadoc, noted that there are as many women as men who enter into documentary filmmaking in Africa: "it is specific to this genre perhaps because men dominate fiction and the documentary is more open with more user-friendly tools." Even though there are many women who enter documentary filmmaking, they are not very visible. Jackie Buet, director of the International Women's Film Festival of Créteil notes the lack of openness to women at festivals. In 2012, for example, there was not one film by a woman at Cannes. Moreover, a petition was launched in May 2012 to protest against this absence in the official competition. And it is worth noting that since its creation in 1969 no woman has ever won the Yennenga Stallion, the grand prize of Fespaco.

According to Jackie Buet the fault lies in a critique that remains stagnant and in a global society that transmits demeaning images of women. Brigitte Rollet agrees, adding that "even though there are more and more women filmmakers, it is still the idea that cinema is a male activity...women filmmakers have been marginalised in the history books of cinema...there is the fact that women have not been integrated into African cinema…Cinema is a costly art, and producers are even more hesitant to finance a high-budget film directed by a woman. This is a situation that African women filmmakers share with numerous women filmmakers in the West."

A women's cinema?

Regarding the question of the existence of a women’s cinema the debates were lively during the colloquium. Tunisian Nadia El Fani claims that there is: “one most not close one’s eyes to the fact, it is not true that there is no difference between a film by a woman and a film by a man. Especially with a documentary,men that I film do not react on camera in the same manner when filmed by a man. As a woman filmmaker the difficulty comes from the fact that we live in an unequal patriarchal society as it relates to gender. We cannot hide this fact, we are still fighting at the present for women’s rights around the world.” Rahmatou Keita from Niger admits to having a woman’s perspective, which comes from a certain proximity with her subject if it is a woman. Senegalese Rama Thiaw, while rejecting having a woman’s imaginary is more balanced even though she acknowledges that “as a woman, and even more so as an African woman, it is very complicated to make a film as it relates to our culture, to our role as a woman, and what is expected of us. We must fight twice as hard.” For Oswalde Lewat, for a woman making a film, people are not neutral: “while there is not a woman’s cinema, but men are considered more legitimate as filmmakers.”

Sarah Maldoror transcends this debate asserting that problems of women filmmakers are those of African cinema in general, that of training, funding and distribution: “We must stop begging for funding and finance our own films. When there is an African film in the cinema houses, we should be the first ones there, to learn about our culture. If we don’t do so we are at fault. For Isabelle Boni-Claverie, films with black actors and by black filmmakers should have access to general distribution, and if this were the case, there would no longer be a question of a man’s cinema or a woman’s cinema.


Le cinéma des femmes d’Afrique francophone 

Conférence : le cinéma des femmes d’Afrique francophone par Stéphanie Dongmo, publié le 7 décembre sur Le Blog de Stéphanie Dongmo.

Elles sont présentes devant la caméra dans des productions africaines. Depuis les années 70, elles passent derrière. Mais elles restent les grandes inconnues des cinémas d’Afrique. Pour mettre en lumière le travail de ces professionnelle, un colloque international sur les 40 ans de cinéma des réalisatrices africaines francophones s’est tenu les 23 et le 24 novembre au Musée du Quai Branly et à la Bibliothèque nationale de France à Paris. L’occasion de refaire l’histoire des cinémas d’Afrique au féminin et en difficultés.

Puisque j'ai parlé d'un esprit non-déficitaire pendant mon discours de plénière, je veux mettre cette phrase "qu'elle n'osent pas rêver" dans le contexte que je l'ai cité : 

"Au-delà toutes les raisons qu'elles ne réussissent pas, qu'elles se découragent, qu'elles n'osent même pas rêver. Ce qui mʼa fascinée était les raisons qu'elles continuaient, qu'elles se passionnaient dans ce domaine, qu'elles ont dit oui." Beti Ellerson

26 December 2012

Building a Historiography of African Women in Cinema

Building a Historiography of African Women in Cinema. Originally published in Africa Update Newsletter. CCSU, Vol. XIX, Issue 4 (Fall 2012) Beti Ellerson

Sarah Maldoror famously asserts, “African women must be everywhere. They must be in the images, behind the camera, in the editing room and involved in every stage of the making of a film. They must be the ones to talk about their problems.”[1] Extending Maldoror’s assertion to women in front of the screen as cultural readers, they must also be present in all areas of discourse as scholars, critics and theorists of African women in cinema studies. They must be the ones to talk about the vital role that women in cinema play in creating, shaping and determining the course of their cinematic history and the knowledge that it produces.
The African Women in Cinema Project that I initiated in 1997, culminated with the book and film Sisters of the Screen, a title that envisioned a veritable screen culture in which the moving image visualised on myriad screen environments from white cloth to movie screen, television set, computer monitor, inflatable giant screens and now mobile phone, tablet and diverse emerging media could be the meeting point for African women in cinema to tell their stories. Moreover, the title contemplated an imaginary community where African women’s experiences of cinema may be shared, analysed, documented, historicised, and archived. 
Following the release of the book and film, the Project developed into the Centre for the Study and Research of African women in cinema tracing the trajectory of women as they circulate within evolving screen cultures, mapping a historiography of strategic moments and a timeline of key events, as well as analysing trends and tendencies. The Centre’s organising principle is based on two key elements: the work of the pan-African organisation of women professionals of the moving image created in 1991, now known as the Association of Professional African Women in Cinema, Television and Video/ Association des Femmes Africaines Professionnelles du Cinéma, de la Télévision et de la Vidéo, and the experiences of these individual women recounted in interviews, speeches, artists intentions, mission statements, and in their work. Drawing from the objectives of the organisation: to provide a forum for women to share and exchange their experiences, to formulate mechanisms for continued dialogue and exchange, this formulation may extend to the realm of historiography for which an infrastructure may be developed to assemble the disparate parts.
The year 2011 marked the 20-year anniversary of the historic conference in Ouagadougou on African women film professionals during which an organized movement was born, putting forth the ground rules for an infrastructure to represent and promote their interests. The fruits of these efforts are particularly visible in the institutions that form the future generations of film professionals. As women’s discourse plays an increasingly important role in global dialogue, especially via the Internet and new technologies, an infrastructure for research on African women in cinema studies is imperative. At the same time that digital technologies emerge as key to such a vast endeavor, it is a daunting task in a continent where the digital divide continues to widen.

The myriad political, social and cultural environments of African women in the audio-visual media provide the context for the analysis of current discourse on gender and cinema and its role in cultural policy development; the examination of the various networks that contribute to women’s expanding roles in cinema; the exploration of theoretical questions by African women, and critical perspectives that demonstrate African women’s contributions in cinema through pedagogy for mass communication and consciousness raising, all of which as an ensemble, connect theory, practice, research and scholarship with activism and community outreach.

 While there is potentially a great deal of intellectual capital and resources for research, theory-building and dialogue, women’s film history as an academic entity is at present primarily within the boundaries of western institutions, often deemed as research for research sake from an African point of view, and is not generally viewed as a necessity as other issues prove more pressing. On the other hand, film-screening debates have long been a practice throughout the continent. Moreover, cinema as an instrument for community participation and involvement is an increasingly widespread phenomenon. In general, the non-written medias of radio, television and film have always generated dialogue and possibilities for discourse. Nonetheless, academic and activist communities in Africa do coalesce around cultural policy issues, the role of cinema as a tool for consciousness-raising, and the importance of women cultural producers as agents of change. Hence, conferences, seminars and organised debates bring together women across disciplines, from diverse sectors and regions, and as more women filmmakers join academic and film departments, this bond is increasingly strengthening.

A historiography of African women in cinema necessitates an active, protracted, ongoing practice of data collection, organisation, analysis, documentation, and archival work-  an activity that entails coordinated, committed, and sustained efforts, though not necessarily centralised. The organising principles of the pan-African organisation of women professionals of the moving image laid out the groundwork for such a continent-wide initiative and the conceptual framework has been embedded in myriad initiatives especially on the local levels. It is on this level that women are the most familiar with needs and concerns on the ground, in the community, and the local and state policies needed to implement them. On the other hand, women on the local level are the least likely to have the resources and the broad-ranging connections to participate in the outreach necessary to benefit from a larger community of women regionally and continentally, which is not to say that there are no efforts towards this objective.
And while Kenyan Anne Mungai, the coordinator for the East Africa region in the 1990s lamented the lack of financial and personal resources to devote to these efforts, she implored women to strive forward nonetheless. However, with the far-reaching potential for coalescing and networking via the Internet and new media technologies in the 2000s onward, the gap has yet to narrow. While projects that include women continent-wide do exist, notably at FESPACO (Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou) and (Federation of African Filmmakers) FEPACI-sponsored initiatives, activities continue to be linguistically based, with the languages of communication in English or French, often at the exclusion of one or the other, a concern of the pan-African women of the moving image organisation from its beginning.

Among these many endeavours, to highlight film festival initiatives emphasises the important role that the film festival has played in promotion, exhibition, marketing, and training and its potential as local and regional conduits around which women may interconnect continentally and globally. As it is at the same time a meeting place for pitching, networking, workshopping and sharing ideas, it is often a pivotal space where African women continent-wide may gather and meet. These initiatives spanning twenty years demonstrate the advocacy role that African women in cinema take on to create the requisite infrastructures for promoting African cultural production: Sierra Leonean Mahen Bonetti, founder and president of the influential New York-based African Film Festival has forged an important Diaspora network since 1993 recently creating cultural projects in her home country. The creation of Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ) in 1996 ushered in a network of prolific Zimbabwean women in cinema. Notably, the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) launched in 2002, the oldest women’s festival on the continent, founded by Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, of which WFOZ is the parent organisation and the initiator of the Distinguished Woman in African Cinema Award in 2009. In 1998, Ivoirien actor-producer Hanny Tchelly established the Festival International du Court Métrage d’Abidjan-FICA (the International Festival of Short Films of Abidjan). In the same year, Burkinabè actress Georgette Paré initiated Casting Sud, a pan-African casting agency to promote African actors. To note, l’Association des Actrices Africaines/the Association of African Actresses had already been created in 1989.

The defunct South African-based Women of the Sun organisation a resource-exchange network of African women filmmakers launched in 2000, inspired several other projects in the region, notably, the African Women Filmmakers Awards in 2003, and in 2004, the African Women Film Festival. Nigerian Amaka Igwe’s BOB TV, the Best of the Best African Film and TV Programmes Market and Expo inaugurated the next year, has as objective to offer a continental platform for African practitioners of the moving image. The African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) also an initiative from Nigeria, established in 2005 by Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, highlights the significance of African cinema by providing a platform for recognition and celebration. The African in Motion (AIM) Film Festival of Edinburgh founded by South African Lizelle Bischoff in 2006 emerges as one of the most important festivals of African films in the UK. In 2007 a portion of the festival was dedicated to African women and for a few years, Cape Verdean Isabel Moura Mendes served as director. The Festival International du Documentaire of Agadir in Morocco, founded in 2008 by the late Nouzha Drissi who died tragically in 2011, is the first festival devoted exclusively to documentaries. Festivals des 7 Quartiers, the itinerant film festival of Brazzaville founded in 2008 by Nadège Batou, honoured the women filmmakers of the Congo and elsewhere during the 3rd edition in 2010. Cameroonian Evodie Ngueyeli has taken the baton as chief representative of MisMeBinga, International Women’s Film Festival of Yaoundé created in 2009. A key objective of the Malawi International Film Festival created by Villant Ndasowa also in 2009 is to pioneer the film industry in Malawi by sourcing and providing training to talented Malawians. In the same year, Mariem mint Beyrouk formed the Association of Mauritanian Women of the Image as a means to raise women’s consciousness about women in general, issues around health, female genital cutting, marriage of adolescent girls, among others. In addition, their hope is to organise festivals and meetings with other women throughout the continent.

At the start of the second decade of the new millennium several festival-related projects were launched in Africa and the diaspora: View Images Film Festival, an undertaking by Zambian Musola Cathrine Kaseketi, founder of Vilole Images Productions, created a space to celebrate through the art of film, the abilities of all women, and particularly to integrate women with disabilities. Images That Matter International Film Festival of Ethiopia founded by Madji-da Abdi has a main objective to expose the Ethiopian public to local and international films, especially by utilising subtitles in Amharic, the national language. Kenyan Wanjiku wa Ngugi founder of Helsinki African Film Festival wants to show the diversity of the African continent to the Finnish public in order to have a conversation informed by Africans themselves thus giving a more realistic view of their realities. Similarly, Norwegian-Ghanaian Lamisi Gurah founded FilmAfrikana in order to expose the Norwegian public to films by people of Africa and the African Diaspora by providing a different perspective that counters the dominant media portrayals of a helpless, war-ravaged, disease-ridden continent. Nigerian Adaobi Obiegbosi’s desire to create a continental platform for African film students to share their work and ideas inspired the creation of the African Student Film Festival (ASFF) in 2012.

These film festivals and meeting places, both women-focused spaces and general milieu created by women have mechanisms set in place for the kinds of activities necessary for the organisation, analysis and archiving of information, as the events, meetings and activities are often recorded and filmed, biographies, artists’ statements and filmographies amassed and newsletters and catalogues and directories published, all foundational components for the acquisition of resources and data collections.  These initiatives demonstrate the genuine effort to globalise the experiences of African women in cinema and their potential as information-gathering strategies, for opening avenues for access to informational networks and for creating archival sources for research and consultation.

The following text is drawn from my article "50 Years of Women's Engagement at FESPACO," published in Black Camera, an international film journal, Spring 2021.

How do we safeguard our images with the ubiquity of the Internet?
Sarah Maldoror

The year 2021 will mark the 30-year anniversary of the historic conference of African women film professionals in Ouagadougou. The fruits of these efforts are particularly visible in the institutions that form the future generations of film professionals. Building on the intentions of this gathering: to establish an environment to exchange views, to create a framework for free expression, to elaborate an action program, to fast-track women’s integration at all levels of the cinematic process, to present a woman’s perspective of the world, to have power over their own images, to mobilize funds and human resources—many of these objectives have been concretized throughout these past decades at local, regional, continental and international meetings related to African women in cinema. While there have been varying levels of success at reaching these goals, the resources offered in this digital age may heighten the chances and the capacity for all African women to participate in the global dialogue. At the same time they continue to make invaluable contributions on the local level, devising mechanisms to extend networks regionally and beyond. FESPACO’s status as the pan-African cinema network, and with its level of prominence, may facilitate outreach into local initiatives to support the development of alliances and relationships.

The interchanging dynamics of the centrality of women in FESPACO’s evolution and the importance of FESPACO to women’s empowerment have been evident throughout the festival’s history. Drawing from the discussion above regarding my research following are proposed initiatives for continued engagement in the historiography of African women in cinema

The JCFA (Cinema Days of African Women of ithe Moving Image), a structure created through the auspices of FESPACO to promote women in cinema, distributes a print newsletter during the alternate-year event to festival participants. This documentation may continue throughout the year developing into an ongoing electronic publication in the form of a participatory blog inviting women in all areas of the moving image to introduce themselves and announce relevant information. This format could include a participatory user-generated continuous timeline of women’s cinematic histories, managed by interested users and volunteer facilitators. A main goal of this structure would encompass the maintenance of a data-base.

Also under the umbrella of JCFA, the FESPACO website could be used to host individual webpages for women to include content about their film-related activities. Moreover, to promote the training and development of women film critics, initiatives could include internships and workshops for journalists to cover events at the JCFA and FESPACO to be published in the festivals’ newsletters, again the information would be stored and maintained in a data-base.

Parallel to the main JCFA event could include a traveling section in partnership with other Africa-based women’s film festivals and women-focused initiatives, such as the Ndiva Women’s Film Festival of Ghana, the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) of Zimbabwe, the South African-based Mzansi Women’s Film Festival, the Udada Film Festival in Kenya or the Mis Me Binga Festival of Cameroon, to name several events in different regions of the continent. The key to this JCFA network would be to ensure a centralized system for the knowledge production of African women in cinema.

To facilitate African film research in general, and particular to this discussion, African women in cinema, the JCFA network maintained on the FESPACO website may serve as a database for selected films of each edition. Retaining information about the filmmakers and the films, serving as a primary source for research.

While continent-wide projects that include women do exist, activities continue to be linguistically based, with the languages of communication in English or French, often at the exclusion of one or the other; which has been a concern of the pan-African women of the moving image organization from its beginning. As an established pre-eminent bi-lingual festival, FESPACO is in a distinctive position to use its prominence to address this enduring concern--the JCFA network could ensure this endeavor..

FESPACO has the structures already in place for knowledge management, retention and dissemination. Thus, it may take on the vital role as gatekeeper of a continental database for African cinema. The need for a cohort of journalists, scholars and researchers is vital, in order to probe, examine and study the rich history of African cinema and women’s engagement in particular—a task that FESPACO may facilitate, for instance, in partnership with FEPACI which initiated Ecrans d’Afrique, the International Revue of Cinema, Video and Television (1992-1998). Its preeminence as the pantheon of pan-African film organizing offers the opportunity to draw the energy and forces of the continent and diaspora to coalesce and network with the diverse institutions that have emerge in the last several decades—thus functioning as a center for the production and retention of cinematic knowledge. And in so doing, it will continue forging a path for the empowerment and development of women.

[1] Interview with Sarah Maldoror, Guadeloupean director by Jadot Sezirahiga, p6

23 December 2012

"African women filmmakers speak" | "Parole aux réalisatrices africaines" by Stéphanie Dongmo and Anglade Amedée

"Cinema: African women filmmakers speak" | Cinéma: parole aux réalisatrices africaines by Stéphanie Dongmo and Anglade Amedée

Osvalde Lewat (Cameroon), Isabelle Boni-Claverie (Côte d'Ivoire), Fanta Regina Nacro (Burkina Faso), Rahmatou Keita (Niger), Monique Phoba Mbeka (Congo-DRC), Farida Benlyazid (Morocco), Nadia El Fani (Tunisia), Rama Thiaw (Senegal). 

Eight african women filmmakers talk about their cinema during moments at the Colloque on the 40 years of cinema by Francophone African women filmmakers, held 23-24 November in Paris at the Quai Branly Museum and the (BnF), the National Library of France. A film by Stéphanie Dongmo and Anglade Amedée. 

Translation and transcription of 5:30 minute film from French to English by Beti Ellerson - LINK NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Nadia El Fani: That is the eternal question: Is there a women's cinema?

Rama Thiaw: I don't think so.

Osvalde Lewat: Is there a women's cinema? I don't think so...

Fanta Nacro: (Laughter) What a question!

Farida Benlyazid: I don't think so.

Fanta Nacro: In Africa it's just about making a film period.

Rahmatou Keita: When one is African and a woman, to be a filmmaker is to be a filmmaker.

Isabelle Boni-Claverie: It is the same thing as with a man.

Rahmatou Keita: I am a filmmaker like any other African filmmaker or any other filmmaker in the world. In Africa there is one particularity, there is not a film industry.

Nadia El Fani: At first sight when one looks at a film made by a woman one thinks of a woman's film, but no, women make films and men make films and of course we don't make them in the same way.

Rama Thiaw: Of course there are certain things, culturally we are not raised in the same way. But in the end there is no cinema specific to gender. In the same way that there is no African cinema, but rather cinema, period.

Monique Mbeka Phoba: We both have the same issues as it relates to producing a film, looking for funding.

Are there any specific difficulties in making a film for women?

Osvalde Lewat: Perhaps men appear to be more legitimate and are able to do more things. Whereas with women depending on the subject, there can be cases where it is a handicap and in others an asset. I would say that there have been situations where doors have been closed because I am a woman and in other cases I was able to benefit from it, because there are not many women I was able to open other doors. I would not say that it is a disadvantage nor an advantage.

Monique Mbeka Phoba: It is up to us to liberate ourselves from internal limitations. Rather than talk about external difficulties, I look at the situation based on the internal limitations that we impose on ourselves. For instance, thinking because you are a mother you do not have the time, the possibility or energy to do other things that would allow you to earn a living, other than take care of the family. Those are the internal limitations. After all, there are means to be able to make films and still be responsible towards one's family, but there is also a responsibility to the community, because the films that we make are important.

Isabelle Boni-Claverie: As a woman I have not encountered difficulties as a filmmaker. I would locate the difficulty within the identity of being black or African. That in Africa the history of cinema is not as long, film production is more complicated there, or being black in France, the themes of our films may appear to appeal to a minority and there is less support and therefore we must work harder. Perhaps in this context there are additional difficulties, but in terms of being a woman, I don't think so.

Nadia El Fani: We live in societies where there is gender inequality. And that is why I am a feminist, as long as there is inequality between men and women I will be a feminist. Because today we still need to fight for women's rights, because it will not happen on its own.

Rama Thiaw: No, not at all, I have an investment as a human being. Where is my place within humanity, and what will I tell my children, whether a boy or girl? That is what I am interested in. I do not situate myself as a feminist, it is a non-issue, I situate myself as a humanist.

As a woman do you feel that you have a particular role to play?

Farida Benlyazid: Yes, as a woman I feel that I am working for the rights of women. Perhaps it does not happen right away, but it is gives food for thought, a pause for reflection, that's what is the most important!

Fanta Nacro: I came to cinema to tell stories, not to take up the cause for women, even though in some of my films I represent women as I imagine them and I do defend their rights. But that is not the main objective for taking up the camera, to defend the rights of women.

Osvalde Lewat: I do not feel that I play a certain role as a woman, I have felt for a long time very committed to tell certain stories because I come from this continent. I have a perspective of the world having made films in different parts of the world, the Americas, Asia and Africa. I feel an imperative to tell stories that touch me and that may interest and touch others, and that could evolve a subject or change a situation.

« Parole aux réalisatrices africaines » de Stéphanie Dongmo et Anglade Amedée

« Cinéma: parole aux réalisatrices africaines » de Stéphanie Dongmo et Anglade Amedée

Osvalde Lewat (Cameroun), Isabelle Boni-Claverie (Côte d'Ivoire), Fanta Regina Nacro (Burkina Faso), Rahmatou Keita (Niger), Monique Phoba Mbeka (Congo), Farida Benlyazid (Maroc), Nadia El Fani (Tunisie), Rama Thiaw (Sénégal).

Huit cinéastes africaines racontent leur cinéma à l'occasion d'un colloque international sur les 40 ans de cinéma des réalisatrices africaines francophones qui s’est tenu les 23 et le 24 novembre au Musée du Quai Branly et à la Bibliothèque nationale de France à Paris. Par Stéphanie Dongmo et Anglade Amedée.

20 December 2012

Brigitte Rollet : "African women filmmakers are not visible" interview by Stéphanie Dongmo

                Brigitte Rollet and Sarah Maldoror
Interview by Stéphanie Dongmo, originally published on Le Blog de Stéphanie Dongmo, (28 November) and translated from French to English by Beti Ellerson.

Brigitte Rollet, researcher at the Centre d'histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines (CHCSC) Centre for the Cultural History of Contemporary Societies at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France, organised the Colloquium-Meeting "Francophone African Women Filmmakers: 40 years of cinema (1972-2012), held 23-24 November in Paris at the Quai Branly Museum and the (BnF), the National Library of France.

She talks about the issues that were raised during the meeting and the challenges that women filmmakers face in Africa.

What motivated you to organise the colloquium on 40 years of cinema by Francophone African women filmmakers?

While studying the history of French women filmmakers, I realised that there were the same funding problems and the same problems regarding visual representation. These women filmmakers have always been marginalised in the history books of cinema. There is the fact that women have not been integrated into African cinema. I thought that it was necessary to celebrate these women and trace the emergence of cinema by women in Africa.

Historically, the first woman filmmaker was the Cameroonian Thérèse Sita Bella with her film Tam-tam à Paris in 1963, however the focus was on the Guadeloupean Sarah Maldoror as pioneer. Why this choice?

It is true that there was Sita Bella but the films of Sarah Maldoror and Safi Faye have left their mark. I don't think that the same thing could be said about the film of Sita Bella because it was less known, most people are not even aware of it, I don't even known where to view it, which is also the case for La Passante by Safi Faye. By organising the colloquium in the physical space of the BNF (National Library of France), I wanted to also highlight the problem of preserving a cinematographic cultural heritage by recalling that there are films that have been lost.

What is the history of Francophone African women filmmakers?

It varies from country to country, based on whether there is the political will to promote cinema. But women are always a bit sidelined in cinematic development, especially in societies where one's gender determines whether a woman is behind the camera. When one looks for women, one will find them. I wanted to make this history visible.

What specific problems do Francophone African filmmakers encounter?

Cinema continues to be thought of as a male activity. The fact that there are many women filmmakers does not negate this perception, and African women filmmakers are not visible. There are individual trajectories, and there are developments, but not national cinema policies. In countries where there is a genuine political will to develop a cinema culture, there are more women than in those where this interest does not exist. It is a question of economics. Cinema is a costly art, and producers are even more hesitant to finance a high-budget film directed by a woman. They are only willing to help those who have proven themselves. If one is not able to prove one's ability, it is difficult to justify receiving this kind of funding. This is a situation that African women filmmakers share with numerous women filmmakers in the West.

Around the world women's film festivals are more and more present. Are these specialised festivals a solution?

Women's film festivals are a solution as they provide more visibility for the films. Afterwards the question is whether there is the possibility for these films to continue to exist beyond the festival circuit. And that is the problem with African cinema in general. It is a cinema that is well-financed but is not able to find a place among theatrical releases. This is a global phenomenon. If women's film festivals provide the venues for films to be viewed, this can only have a positive effect for women who make films in Africa.

Brigitte Rollet : « Les réalisatrices africaines ne sont pas vues » entretien de Stéphanie Dongmo

               Brigitte Rollet et Sarah Maldoror
Propos recueillis par Stéphanie Dongmo, publié le 28 novembre sur Le Blog de Stéphanie Dongmo.

Brigitte Rollet, chercheur au Centre d'histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines (CHCSC) de l’Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines en France, elle a organisé un colloque international sur les « 40 ans de cinéma » de réalisatrices d’Afrique francophone, les 23 et le 24 novembre à Paris au Musée du Quai Branly et à la Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). Elle parle de l’enjeu de cette rencontre et des difficultés que rencontrent les femmes réalisatrices en Afrique.

Qu’est-ce qui vous a motivé à organiser ce colloque sur les 40 ans de cinéma des réalisatrices d’Afrique francophone?

En étudiant l’histoire des réalisatrices françaises, je me suis rendu compte qu’il y avait les mêmes problèmes de financement et les mêmes problèmes d’image. Ces réalisatrices ont toujours été un petit peu marginalisé dans les ouvrages d’histoire du cinéma. Il y a le fait de ne pas intégrer que le cinéma africain est aussi fait par les femmes. Je me suis dit qu’il fallait célébrer ces femmes qu’on ne célèbrera sans doute jamais et marquer l’émergence d’un cinéma fait par les femmes en Afrique.

Historiquement, la première réalisatrice africaine est la Camerounaise Thérèse Sita Bella avec son film Tam-tam à Paris en 1963, mais vous avez plutôt choisi la Guadeloupéenne Sarah Maldoror comme pionnière. Pourquoi ?

C’est vrai qu’il y a eu Sita Bella mais les films de Sarah Maldoror et de Safi Faye ont marqué. Je ne pense pas qu’on pourrait dire la même chose du film de Sita Bella parce qu’il est moins connu, il y a beaucoup de gens qui ignorent son existence, je ne sais pas où on peut le voir. C’est aussi le cas pour La passante de Safi Faye. En organisant ce colloque dans un lieu comme la BnF, je voulais aussi montrer la difficulté de garder un patrimoine de ces films,  rappeler qu’il y a des films qui disparaissent.

Quel est l’histoire des réalisatrices d’Afrique francophone ?

Elle varie selon les pays, selon qu’il y a une volonté politique de promouvoir le cinéma. Mais les femmes sont toujours un peu le parent pauvre du développement de la cinématographie, surtout dans les sociétés où les différences de sexe font que la place d’une femme n’est pas derrière la caméra. Quand on cherche des femmes, on les trouve. Mon souhait c’était de rendre visible cette histoire. Lire dans son intégralité sur Le Blog de Stéphanie Dongmo.

17 December 2012

IIFF Awards 2012: International Images Film Festival for Women (Harare)

The 11th edition of the International Images Film Festival for Women which ran from November 23 to December 1 in Harare, December 4 and 5 in Bulawayo and, December 4 to 6 in Binga under the theme Women Alive, announced the IIFF Awards. Excerpted from the Institute of Creative Art for Progress in Africa (ICAPA TRUST):

Best Other Format (VIDEO/DVD)

1. Fraulein (Switzerland) by Andrea Staka
2. Fiancé for Yasmina (Spain) by Irene Cardona

Winner: Mahboubeh (Iran) by Vahid Nikkhah

An outstanding film that shows the extent to which women go in trying to help each other against adversity….

Best Short Film

1. Rae (Belgium) by Emmanuelle Nicot
2. Café regular Cairo (Egypt) by Ritesh Batra

Winner: Atrophy (South Africa) by Palesa Shongwe

The jury awards Atrophy or Fear of Fading for a daring and innovative work that explores the boundaries of film language…. The jury also acknowledged the high quality of the body of work from the Big Fish School for Digital Filmmaking of South Africa. The students from this film school show that impressive talent can lead South Africa into an exciting new film future.

Best Documentary

1. The Engagement Party (United Kingdom/Zimbabwe)
2. One day after peace (Israel/South Africa) by Erez Laufer and Miri Laufer

Winner: A Cry of the Turtle Dove (Niger France) by Sani Elhadj Magori

This year the jury received a lot of good documentaries and in particular six outstanding ones, that touched on many different life experiences. However, Cry of the Turtle Dove was a cut above the rest….

Best Script

1. Rose (Poland) by Wojciech Smarzowski
2. Queen to Play (France) by Caroline Bottaro

Winner: Stars Converge by Kiyoshi Sasabe
The story of two lovers is a universal story but the script goes beyond the normal and deals with it in a unique and refreshing manner making it stand out and demand the viewer’s attention from the opening to the end.

Best Actress

1. Sandrine Bonnaire in Queen to Play (France)
2. Isabella Carr in Hideaway (France)

Winner: Honami Kurashita in Hotel Hibiscus (Japan) by Yuji Nakae
In a film awash with attention grabbing performances, this young girl manages also in a field with so many excellent nominations, to steal an edge over the others with a memorable, loveable, and innocent performance.

Best Cinematography

1. François Ozon, Hideaway (France)
2. Kenji Takama, Hotel Hibiscus (Japan)

Winner: Piotr Sobocinski, Rose (Poland)
This film’s cinematography is so powerful that the images transport you to a historical time and leave an indelible mark on one’s mind.

Best Director

1. Wojciech Smarzowski, Rose (Poland)
2. Simone Bitton, Rachel (France)

Winner: Caroline Bottaro, Queen to Play (France)
The director manages to deal with the subject with such clever nuancing and creative balance between the powerful woman and the men around her. 

Best Depiction of the theme “Woman Alive”

1. Rose (Poland)
2. Hide Away (France) by Mathieu Hippeau, François Ozon

Winner: Queen to Play (France)
Queen to Play provided the most positive portrayal of women in all the films. Not only is she a positive character, but she manages to straddle the fine line between being a powerful woman and being a destructive woman striving for what she wants, gets it and still holds on to a family that is dear to her.

Best Film

1. Stars Converge (Japan)
2. Rose (Poland)

Winner: Queen to Play (France)
The film encompasses all that was looked for in a film, especially for this festival. A woman phenomenon, men who are or become strong enough not to be intimidated by the independence of a woman. The positive themes of the film portrayal dovetailed to make this film an overwhelmingly favourite for overall best film.

Audience Prize

1. Sunlight behind Snow (Iran) Reza Sobhani
2. Under the Stars (Spain) by Felix Viscarret

Winner: Stars Converge (Japan) by Kiyoshi Sasabe
The film that inspired to stay alive—vibrant and visible this year—has already been awarded tonight.

New Man

Under the Stars (Spain)

Winner: Lucky (South Africa) by Avie Luthra
The winning film is not a feel-good movie. The little boy is orphaned at the age of ten, those around him mistrust and loathe him but it is the reaction of this young boy that qualifies the film as the winner in this category. He learns not to depend much from his relatives or society but want to further this education o that he becomes a better somebody in society. His role in the film depicts the kind of men needed in society, those that do not blame circumstances for their failures but are determined to make the best out of the little that is there.

Shasha/Ingcitshi (Local Film)

1. Meso Meso (Seduced) by Brian Mhlanga
2. Makomborero (Blessings) by Leonard Nhete

Winner: Mpiyabo (Their War) by Francisca Sibanda Chamunokora

The director Francesca Sibanda Chamunokora made a brave effort to make a film that defies the stereotype of a female director. The film explores the journey of Mpiyabo a young gangster who goes to all lengths to survive. However it is more than the gangster life the filmmaker shows us but the pain of a mother caught up in her son’s life. This film is wholly Zimbabwean but can compete with the best from the region. The winner of the Shasha/Ingcitshi/Zim Experts shows that Zimbabwean filmmakers have come of age and more filmmakers will join those few who have the cut internationally.

13 December 2012

Rina Jooste : Visualising South African History Across the Divide | Une visualisation de l’histoire de l’Afrique du Sud au-delà des divisions

Rina Jooste : Visualising South African History Across the Divide
(Synopsis en français ci-après)
Rina Jooste uses filmmaking as a tool to explore the complex layers of South African society with a focus on Afrikaner identity and the collective history of apartheid from both sides.
Rina, recounting Afrikaans history through film is an important part of your work. Tell us a bit about yourself, your evolution into filmmaking and your passion to tell this history.
I was born and bred in Pretoria, South Africa. At the time of growing up in the 1970’s, 80’s, during the apartheid era, the Afrikaner community I grew up in was conservative and inclusive. My parents are progressive people (in a non political sense) and exposed our family to a wider world with more options. At the time, the Afrikaners were indoctrinated into an exclusive world of Calvinism and anything that was the “other or unknown” was feared. After school I studied a three-year diploma course in progressive and jazz music and focused on piano and orchestral arrangements. I worked as a freelance musician for a number of years, often in theatre productions and then progressed into the theatre world of telling stories through drama and music. I managed storytelling through drama / music for the Department of Defence for a number of years, using drama / music to portray social messages. In this period I completed an honours degree in history through the University of South Africa. The social science discipline taught me analytical, research and writing skills that are applied today in my documentary filmmaking. I started my own company continuing to do social theatre and that led me to the world of documentary filmmaking. In 2007 I made my first documentary film, and love the medium of film to tell stories specifically relating to social, political and historical themes.
Africans of European descent are asserting their identity and claiming their experiences as part of African history, as an Afrikaans-speaking South African of European descent, how do you position yourself and your work?
Like many Afrikaners who grew up during apartheid South Africa, (excluding younger generations) I also battled with our troubled past, had questions and tried to find a place of belonging. As a result, in 2008 I produced, researched and directed the documentary film Afrikaner Afrikaan. The film uses Afrikaans music as a springboard for discussion to capture the new buoyancy and divergence in Afrikaner identities freed from the straitjacket of Afrikaner nationalism and Calvinism. This was a cathartic experience. Today I consider myself a proud Afrikaans speaking South African, with a firm place and sense of belonging in my country of birth, promoting cultural tolerance. In this regard, I have a few projects in the pipeline, addressing similar issues.       
Forgotten (2007) is a film about Ziggibo Dennis Mpale, musician and ANC militant, buried in the cemetery among most of the anti-apartheid militants buried there. His son still hopes to build a “home”, tombstone for him. Who was Ziggibo Dennis Mpale, why has he been forgotten, and why did you choose to tell his story?
Forgotten only touches on Dennis Mpale, and we focus on his son Linda Olifant who mentions his father who also happened to be a musician campaigning for the ANC. The film explores what happened to musicians who left the country to join the ANC Amandla Cultural Ensemble in exile and the impact it has on their lives today. Many of the exiles returned to South Africa from 1990 onwards and it seems that many are forgotten in the new political dispensation where it is everyman for himself as opposed to the ubuntu (togetherness and sharing) that used to prevail during the struggle for liberation. I used members of the Amandla Cultural Group to tell their stories. They were in exile using music, song and dance to raise awareness of what was happening in South Africa during apartheid, touring the world with their musical production. The work they did resonated with my own background of social theatre. The group’s work is relatively unknown and it was an opportunity to showcase what they did as it is part of our collective history, and important for all South Africans to see what happened in the past, to get an understanding of each other’s cultures and experiences. 
Flowers of the Nation by Rina Jooste
In Flowers of the Nation (2007) you trace the experiences of women who fought for and against apartheid, exiled ANC women and the parallel life of Arina Barnard an ex SADF member. Did you also arrange the meeting between ex MK member Totsie Memela-Khambula and Arina Barnard? It is interesting that the tears that are shed are by the white people, the black fighters seemed to be fortified as if by their experiences they were immune from the display of emotions.
Flowers of the Nation was also produced with the aim of sharing our collective history because it is important that all South Africans know about the troubled past we share, and about the role that ANC women played in exile. I included the role of women in the SADF because it is in such stark contrast to what their counterparts in the ANC had to go through. It is important that people across the divide see this, for a better understanding of each other’s pasts and moving forward today. I did arrange the meeting between Totsie and Arina. Totsie is a very strong woman and it does seem that she underwent so much hardship that she is immune from displaying emotion, although it is evident that there are deep seated pain and grief, especially for missed opportunities in seeing her children grow up. Totsie resembles many other women who were in the same position as she was, away from family and loved ones for many years, raising children in hostile environments or leaving them at home with family. Many Afrikaner people, in the same position as Arina, do not know about the other side’s past, think about it or consider it important; in fact, many people are completely unaware and not interested. Therefore the message; we can only build our country and society and move forward when we know about each other’s pasts, and try to understand where we come from.  
I observe your filmmaking as it navigates through the layers of South African societies, often very different from each other. Jammer As Ek So Bitter Is | Sorry If I Seem Bitter (2009) focuses entirely on young white Afrikaner women whose issues echoe those that could be found in any Western society, psychologically damaged girls who find ways to escape. Why did you choose this subject for the film and who is your audience.
The subject for Jammer as ek so Bitter is, was presented to me by a colleague who has an interest in peer pressure and bullying in schools. I pitched a series to the SABC under the theme of violence in our schools, focusing on peer pressure and bullying. The target audience is primarily parents of teenagers and teenagers themselves, across the divide and not only in white society.   
The focus on the psychological manifestations of living in a violent society leaves me feeling that there is something omitted as the visually comfortable and pleasant, even privileged setting, does not correspond to an environment that is often associated with violence and aggression. Is this violent behaviour and frustration the interiorisation of or the other side of the violence of apartheid as lived by white South African society? Perhaps I am generalising as one may find pathologies in every society. However, since I am talking about South Africa and its history I wonder what are its specificities in this regard.
I specifically chose white girls from privileged backgrounds to show what goes on in our schools in white suburbs, and that we also find many problems outside of township schools. I refer to a ‘silent’ violence of peer pressure and bullying in schools, rather than literal violence. However, I do mention the violent society that we live in today, without exploring or showing this, as this is another subject entirely. 
Watching the film one gets the sense that the purported “Rainbow Nation” remains very segregated and the various sectors of the population continue to live their lives in this way. Has the film been shown among the diverse populations of South Africa? What has been the audience reaction?
This is a difficult debate and cannot use this forum to comment. However, there has been a lot of progress with younger generations who grew up after apartheid getting along and living side by side, without seeing colour as an issue. Segregation amongst older generations are still commonplace. It is difficult to change the ingrained behaviour of people. My opinion is that there has been a lot of progress in cultural and racial tolerance on ground level, and many attempts to address this amongst the people living in South Africa. But cannot comment insightfully without statistics and research, and not for this forum. 
Audience reaction on the film from diverse populations has been positive. The reaction received is that it is an important message and wake up call to show to parents and teenagers across the divide, and shocking insight as to what goes on in schools. And that we need to have more films and media of such nature to show the public what is happening with our youth. The film won two South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) in 2011, for best director and best overall documentary. 
Afrikaner, Afrikaan by Rina Jooste
Afrikaner, Afrikaan (2008) is a dialogue about Afrikaner identity via music culture. There are many moments of tension, self-searching and disagreement about how this identity is reclaimed or whether it should be at all. The musicians clearly have different ideologies about Afrikaner identity and how it should be expressed. How did you bring the participants of the film together? Do you feel that you achieved your goal of having them work through among themselves, this vexed question of Afrikaner identity?
I played around with ideas for the film for a long time and decided from the onset that Sean Else would be a main character because he wrote the song De la Rey that created a huge public debate about Afrikaner identity. It was decided that the song would form the central theme and the story built around it. Sean was approached to participate and was keen to take part. Deon Maas was approached because of his outspoken approach and coming from an older, yet progressive Afrikaans generation. He was also keen on participating. Johrne van Huyssteen is more moderate and on the fence so to speak, and needed his inputs for balance between Sean and Deon. He was also keen to participate. In the end, the making of the film was a very pleasant, cathartic and enjoyable experience and I believe we all learnt and grew from it. The editor, CA van Aswegen, also an Afrikaner, enjoyed the experience too, and also found it cathartic.   
Professor Kees Van der Waal’s historical perspective serves as a means of mediation in some ways in that he attempts to provide a context for both sides of the debate. He explains the significance of language, identity and music, is this also the reason that you chose to approach the theme in this way?
The initial idea and planning was to let the characters tell the story and weave the narrative and not to use an academic in the film. However, Professor Kees van der Waal at the time was also busy with research about Afrikaner identity. He was very enthusiastic and passionate about his research, and we started dialogue about the theme after filming started. I decided to include his ideas because his explanation added to the debate in such a subtle manner that contributed context to the story.  
Laager appears to be very specific to Afrikaner culture and throughout the film is used as a metaphor. What is this concept of laager?
Throughout its history, the Afrikaner was a minority group in South Africa. During the movement referred to as the Great Trek in the 18th century where Afrikaners moved away from British rule into the interior of the country, wagons pulled by oxen were used as the transport. At night the wagons were placed in a circle formation that became known as a laager. In simple terms, and the manner I used it in the film, it can be explained as a circle with people inside the circle protecting themselves and remaining exclusive, not reaching out to others and remaining a group on their own.   
Generation Now (2007) presents the South African “rainbow generation" who came of age after 1994 and has not lived the experiences of apartheid but rather only know of it based on historical references. I found this film less convincing when there was the obvious goal to bring the races together, than the film Afrikaner, Afrikaans when the Afrikaners were working through their own identities and expressed the tensions, disagreements and differences. I also thought that the comparison between Corlea’s embracing African influences in her music is very different than the black singers in the opera Black Tie Ensemble. It was not a true parallel, as opera is not an Afrikaner or even South African tradition. Why this choice?
I wanted to show that music is a universal language that can promote tolerance amongst different groups; an Afrikaner vocalist singing African jazz and Tswana vocalists singing opera that stems from a European background, told through the eyes of the youth.     
Betrayed (2007) as the title implies, is about the experiences of several white former soldiers decades after their return from the South African Border War across Namibia and Angola. Many continue to grapple with their feelings of betrayal, guilt, anger even a sense of injustice. Perhaps many of the soldiers are marginalised and live on the margins of society, however you chose to trace the lives of a few who, though deeply marked, live privileged lives compared, let’s say to the black Africans who they fought against. And while this story is about the white former soldiers, it is also about those who fought on the wrong side of history, as it turns out. One of them states, “We were involved in a war”, but they want to tell us that our names will not be put onto monuments and peace walls. I find it disturbing that they pretend that we don’t exist.” An uncomfortable, compelling film, what were your choices in selecting the stories, the footage and the editing? The sound affects are especially stirring and you also have a background in music!
As noted already, I have a personal interest in our country’s troubled past, and part of it is the Border War and manifestations thereof in post apartheid South Africa today, hence the film. I specifically chose three men who took part in the war and show how it affects them today, against the background of the manner in which the Afrikaners were indoctrinated during the apartheid era. In addition, I wanted to show how politicians use ordinary people as pawns in war situations; it is a universal concept. The stock footage was obtained from the Department of Defence Archives, and helped to tell the story. I wanted to showcase the military force of the former Apartheid government and therefore the selection of some of the footage. Regarding the choice of music and sound effects that are used to stir emotion, all credit to the editor CA van Aswegen. The film was aimed to stir emotion and create dialogue, which it did. 
Captor and Captive by Rina Jooste
Your most recent film, Captor and Captive, full of suspense, anguish and myriad emotions, is about both a historical event in Southern African history and the personal history of Danger Ashipala and Johan van der Mescht, two men who fought on opposite sides. As I stated to you after the screening of the film, I admit that I was initially a bit unsettled by what appeared to be a focus on the white captive, as if in some way to humanise the person who was on the wrong side of history, though I have since changed my mind. What motivated you to make the film? What was your process during the conceptualisation, film production and editing. Have other black spectators, especially from Southern African, had a similar sentiment as mine. What has been the reception of the film in Nambia and South Africa?
Again, making this film Captor and Captive was motivated by my personal interest in our troubled past, and in this instance telling it through people’s experience of the Border War. The story of Johan van der Mescht has not been told before. I met him in 2007 through the film Betrayed and decided that it is a story that needs to be told. From the onset, I decided to find Johan’s captor and include that in the story. Everyone knew that SWAPO captured Johan, no one knew who the person was. I only located Johan’s captor, Danger Ashipala in 2009 and had to work through the Minister of Defence in Namibia to gain access to the SWAPO people. Both Johan and Danger were very keen to meet each other after 30 years and it was arranged shortly after meeting Danger for the first time. I took Johan and his family back to Namibia to meet with Danger and visit the site of his capture, 30 years later. The day of the first meeting between Johan and Danger in Windhoek was completely natural and nothing was set up except that I arranged for the two to meet each other. The film played out naturally after they met. They travelled to the place of the capture the following day and we filmed the events as it unfolded naturally. My aim was to tell the story of two enemy soldiers from opposing forces, with the underlying theme of reconciliation. The film is more focused on Johan, and the reason is both logistical and economical. Danger was only located in 2009 and lived in Namibia. Johan was located in 2007 and lived in South Africa, in close proximity to myself. The film took three years to complete, due to lack of funds and difficulty in locating Danger. I filmed Johan in phases since meeting him in 2007 and used parts thereof in the film. By the time that Danger was located in 2009, most of the research was in place and the remainder of the filming then took place. The editing also took place in phases due to lack of funds, but was eventually completed with the support from the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa. The rest of the film was funded by myself—a passion project—only to be done once in a lifetime. 
The film has been well received by black audiences in both South Africa and Namibia, and they had a different understanding than you. In South Africa the general feeling amongst black and white audiences are very positive and people experience the reconciliatory effort. Feedback mostly received from black audiences are that they are seldom presented with the history from the other side and welcome the information in order to have a better understanding of our collective past. This was the same experience with the film Betrayed. And also interesting to note that former enemy soldiers are comfortable after meeting each other, since they have similar experiences, it is when the politicians start interfering that things go wrong. 
The film was received very well in Namibia. Danger Ashipala is a national hero of the liberation struggle and the fact that he captured Johan was a huge propaganda victory for SWAPO at the time. Up to today, Danger is remembered for capturing Johan. It was important for Namibia to show this story to its people, and the national broadcaster bought the film. No one in Namibia filmed or recorded the story of Danger Ashipala before. Sadly, he passed away in May 2010, months after he was filmed and met Johan. 
Your work on documenting history through film lead to your academic studies in history. You are currently pursuing a Masters Degree in History at Stellenbosch University and your film, Captor and Captive, will form part of the thesis. Talk about the process and how the film and Masters studies will come together.
I am busy writing a thesis with the theme: Representing history through film, based on the film Captor and Captive. A lot of research was done to inform the content for the film. The content was not found in history books since this is current history and was all sourced through various documents in archives, newspapers and primary sources, memories and information from people who took part in the war. This came to the attention of the Head of the History Department at Stellenbosch University. He offered me the opportunity to enrol for a Masters in History where I submit the film in addition to the written thesis; the two products complement each other. It will contribute to the historiography of the Border War in South Africa. The thesis addresses the actual story/content of the film, reflecting on the filmmaking process and realities thereof, and how history can be represented through film, as opposed to written text only. The film is already submitted and the written thesis will be completed end of January 2013. 
As a body of work your films so far attempt to peel through layers of a society that has myriad opposing histories that have yet to be resolved, and most especially Afrikaner history fraught with a troubled, violent past. Do you see your work continuing in this direction? Would you also like to broaden your scope to deal with other themes? 
I have many projects in the pipeline addressing similar issues/themes, including the entire South African society. At this stage, I would like to continue in this direction since there is so much more to uncover and explore, and it falls within my field of interest and research. However, i am also telling stories with different themes like the most recent film completed in December 2012, The Doctor and the Miracle Pill. This is the story of an accidental discovery that woke up a comatose patient after being given a sleeping pill. The story revolves around Dr Wally Nel, a general practitioner from a mining town east of Johannesburg who stumbled upon this discovery in 1999, and how it is changing people’s lives, 13 years on. It focuses on the work he does in campaigning for the Stilnox (Ambient/Zolpidem) pill to be recognised to help people with brain injuries and the obstacles he encounters from the medical profession in doing so.
In the context of the growing discourse on African cinema culture and identity, how would you define your filmmaking?
I believe my themes address issues of identity across all divides, with more focus on Afrikaans speaking people.

Interview with Rina Jooste by Beti Ellerson, December 2012.

Rina Jooste : Une visualisation de l’histoire de l’Afrique du Sud au-delà des divisions

Née à Pretoria en Afrique du Sud, Rina Jooste a grandi pendant les années 70 et 80 dans une communauté Afrikaner conservatrice et exclusive. À cette époque de l'apartheid, les Afrikaners étaient endoctrinés dans un monde Calviniste enfermé sur lui-même. Mais ayant des parents avec une perspective progressiste, elle a été exposée à un monde plus large avec plus d'options.

Rina Jooste a étudié la musique, le théâtre, ainsi que les sciences sociales qui ont ensuite été appliquées à ses recherches artistiques. Puis ses expériences avec le théâtre social dans une compagnie qu'elle a fondée l'amènera à la réalisation de documentaires.

Comme beaucoup d'Afrikaners qui ont grandi sous l'apartheid, elle aussi luttait avec ce passé perturbé, se posait des questions et essayait de trouver sa place. Donc, à travers ses films, elle essaie de montrer une nouvelle identité Afrikaner diverse et énergique, libérée de ce côté étroit et nationaliste. Aujourd'hui elle affirme avec fierté son identité Afrikaner d'un vrai sentiment qu'elle appartient pleinement à son pays natal.

Elle compte plusieurs films à son actif : « The Flowers of the Nation » Les Fleurs de la nation (2007), « Forgotten » Oubliés (2007), « Generation Now » Génération d'aujourd'hui (2007), « Afrikaner, Afrikaan » (2008), « Betrayed » Trahis  (2008), « Jammer As Ek So Bitter Is » Désolée si je semble amère (2009), « Captor and Captive » Ravisseur et prisonnier (2011).

À travers ses films, elle cherche une réconciliation en quelque sorte entre les gens séparés par l'apartheid, pour qu'ils puissent connaître le passé des uns et des autres, et donc mieux se comprendre et progresser ensemble.

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