The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.


My photo
Director/Directrice, Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema | Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinéma


Search This Blog

28 February 2015

Zélie Asava: mixed-race identities and representation in Irish, U.S. and French cinemas

Interview with Zélie Asava by Beti Ellerson, February 2015.

Zélie Asava of Irish-Kenyan parentage with English citizenship, is a lecturer in film and media theory and national cinemas at Dundalk IT and University College Dublin. She explores mixed-raced identities and its representation in Irish, U.S. and French cinemas.

Zélie could you talk a bit about yourself? 

I was born in Dublin to Irish and Kenyan parents. Having lived in London previously, they decided to raise me there. As an adult I moved back to Ireland, to go home and develop my career in academia. While, Dublin is a fascinating city with a great cultural scene, I found the experience much more troubling than anticipated due to the growth in racism during the economic boom of the late ‘90s/early 2000s (see my piece for The Evening Herald newspaper).

As an undergraduate, I became involved in student anti-racism movements at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, and worked with community groups. During my MA at the University of Sussex and PhD at University College Dublin I studied the representations of black and mixed-race characters in French and American cinema, while pursuing work as an actress and journalist. In my professional life I have also worked in politics and equal opportunities consultancy, and lived in Canada and France, before becoming a lecturer.

How has your identity influenced your interest in racial representations?

This personal and academic experience prompted me to explore what it meant to be black and Irish from a theoretical and social perspective. I studied the history of black and mixed-race people in Ireland and their representation onscreen, and began to develop research papers on the subject which finally became the book, The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Identities on Irish Film and Television (Peter Lang, 2013). 

Due to the cinematic context of my research, the mixed characters I analyse are mostly of African/European heritage, mostly female and mostly heterosexual (following dominant representations). By uncovering, deconstructing and critiquing these representations my work contributes to opening up spaces for new filmmakers, new screen visualizations of raced characters and new understandings of race and racism.

I have notice in my own research and interviews that mixed-race women of African descent have shown a keen interest in visualising their stories, in researching and delving into the specificities of this "in between" identity. And though I have not exhausted my research, I wonder if I may even say more so than men. Some reflections on this observation?

That’s an interesting point and can be considered from different angles. Mixed Studies took hold in the 1990s as a plethora of autobiographies by mixed-race people emerged in America. These books were personal and yet political at the same time, revealing much about racial history and mixed peoples’ experiences. They were also predominately written by women, and many of the leaders of the academic field would also be women (e.g. Naomi Zack, Gloria Anzaldúa).  So, many of these works may be read as a feminist response to the idea of ‘race’ and an attempt to locate social reality within academia.

From a cultural perspective, I think it’s important to consider SimEve. This digital image appeared on the cover of Time magazine in September 1993 and was a response to the scientific theories postulating that America would eventually become a completely mixed-race space. The image was created from a mix of several different races and gendered as female, visualising the mixed future as a beautiful woman. It supported the popular idea that racial mixing will result in future populations made up of people who are attractive, healthy, clever and tanned (i.e. with the best elements of all their ethnicities). The image was published on the cover of September 1993 issue of Time magazine as a positive post-racial ideal.  But the article accompanying it was written within a racist discourse which foregrounded the erosion of national identities and ‘whiteness’ due to immigration and miscegenation.  The use of Woman to symbolise nation is of course a popular trope but I think there are culturally embedded reasons why we associate mixedness with femininity.

Mixed-race women are much more visible in films, advertising and the media than mixed men and have been for many decades. The 1920s-50s saw multi-generational mixed stars such as Nina Mae McKinney, Fredi Washington, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge. Recent years have also  produced a plethora of mixed stars, e.g. Rashida Jones, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Thandie Newton, Sophie Okonedo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

This is in part because, as Beltràn and Fojas (1) observe in terms of the cinematic template for representing mixedness (created largely by the film The Birth of a Nation (Griffith, USA, 1915), mixed men have historically been associated with criminality and ambition (see Silas Lynch in The Birth of a Nation) while mixed women have been associated with deceit and sexual promiscuity, particularly with white men (see Lydia Brown in The Birth of a Nation). So, while both pose a threat to white society, mixed women are constructed as more titillating and more easily controlled, hence their dominance in representations of interracial romance onscreen (2). Of course, we can trace this back to slavery and the cultural fascination with black women, which has been extensively written about in Mixed Studies. Early anti-miscegenation legislation, as Zack (3) notes, only condemned black/mixed men and white women engaging in sexual acts.  It was seen as a white male privilege to have sex with black/mixed women (who were also the property of the slavemaster).  This explains the characterisation of the mixed female as a seductress of white men and its contrast to the characterisation of the black male as a threat to white women in films from The Birth of a Nation on (the establishment of the ‘black man as rapist’ myth was used to contain black men after slavery (4).

It is largely through the on-screen body of the mixed-race female that racial laws have been written and mixed-race issues have been explored.  The mixed female figure was (unofficially) accepted as a body onto which white men could project and enact their sexual fantasies.  Hence the popularity of mixed girls in chorus lines at all-white American clubs, known as ‘café-au-lait cuties’ in the 1930s (5), and as performers in otherwise white films (see the careers of Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Nina Mae McKinney, Dorothy Dandridge and Fredi Washington). As Suzanne Bost observes ‘throughout popular culture and literature, debates about the nature of mixed-race identity are mapped out on the body of a woman because thinking about racial mixing inevitably leads to questions of sex and reproduction’ (6). J. E. Smyth (7) confirms that in this way, women embody the past, present and future of race relations; mixed women are thus symbolic of the histories of racial mixing and possibilities of integration and equality.

There is also the fact that, given that women have not traditionally been perceived as posing a physical threat to a white patriarchal hegemony, exploring racial taboos through women was more acceptable. To consider The Birth of a Nation, the mixed female character is allowed a love affair with the white senator, while the male is lynched. Following this film, black men would not appear onscreen as anything but servile characters or entertainers until the 1950s, and it was only in the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s that they were afforded overtly sexual and violent roles. Yet mixed-race female characters (albeit often performed by white actresses) continued to feature prominently in films, even as starring leads (Kings Go Forth, Zou Zou, Princesse Tam Tam, Carmen, Island in the Sun), although they were often limited to the tragic mulatta stereotype in the narrative.

In the Hollywood studio era, many critically and commercially successful films like Showboat, Pinky and Imitation of Life centred on ‘passing’, mixed-race female experience, and the inequities of segregation.  However, few mixed male ‘passers’ are depicted on film. Their transgression is either transferred onto another identity issue or their ‘passing’ for white is terminated through a violent death (e.g. see the American-set French film J’irai cracher sur vos tombes).  As Lisa Jones puts it, ‘a man might work out his tragedy through violence whereas a woman can be plain doomed, attractive, and worthy of clemency’ (8). For example, in ‘race movie’ The Symbol of the Unconquered (Micheaux, USA, 1920), the male ‘passer’ is a successful businessman who courts a white woman (in a casting reversal she is played by a mixed actress) and dies while fighting for a Ku Klux Klan group.
If cinematic ‘passing’ is read through a gendered lens, the potential attainment of liberty, access and opportunity applies better to men (even if it is only temporary), than to women. Male ‘passing’ in Lost Boundaries (as in The Symbol of the Unconquered and Veiled Aristocrats) leads to professional employment, wealth and comfort.  Here, the threat of the mixed male is neutralised through his position within a childbearing marriage to another mixed woman, and middle class status.

It’s clear that the economic and social success of mixed men was perceived as threatening hegemonical structures in a way that that of women was not. Even in contemporary cinema, mixed-race issues and families are mostly represented through female-centred narratives.

Your research covers issues of race, gender and sexuality in French, American and African screen culture and yet highlighting an interest in alterity, visualities of difference. What are some commonalities and variances in the screen cultures of these societies at the intersection of race, gender and sexuality?

My work is focused on mixed-race representations onscreen. As America is the globally dominant industry, and has established certain codes in terms of defining race onscreen, this is central to my research. As I became interested in French cinema, the dominant European industry, and the alternative methods of representing racial difference in other contexts, I also became interested in Francophone African cinema. This led to me to attend festivals such as FESPACO and Africa in Motion, which led to some wonderful discoveries. My understanding of French discourses of race is shaped by post-colonial dynamics and I’m excited by the work of directors such as Apolline Traoré, Alain Gomis, Sarah Bouyain and Abderahamme Sissako, as well as of course the iconic Ousmane Sembene. These filmmakers, some of whom are mixed themselves, explore the mixed-race issue as a broader platform for considering neo-colonial structures.

I am particularly interested in films which shift the dominant discourse of Africa as a black, male hegemony by promoting female and other voices, and films which explore transnational tensions, examining the legacy of France’s position in Africa, the position of the African exile in France or the returning immigrant in Africa. I think it’s essential to explore cinema and racial dynamics globally, particularly in terms of mixed-race discourse as it is a site of intersection between different cultural, political and geographical contexts. I was thrilled to read the new book Global Mixed Race, which recognises the importance of taking a global approach to Mixed Studies. As my research developed, it became clear that I needed to explore my own cultural context, mixedness in Irish culture.

Earlier you mentioned your recent book The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Irish  
Identities on Film and TelevisionCould you elaborate on your research?

My book The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Identities on Irish Film and Television is a critical investigation of race in contemporary Irish screen culture which explores concepts of Irish identity, history and nation in relation to screen representations of those who have become known as the ‘new Irish’, i.e. non-white people, both citizens and immigrants. As Fintan O’Toole notes, there is no genuine newness in the ‘new Irish’, as Ireland has a history of cultural and ethnic heterogeneity, but ‘understanding globalization in the Irish context is as much a task of remembrance as it is of encountering the new’ (9). Following O’Toole, my book aims to connect the ‘dislocated continuity’ of racial discourses which have been circulating for many hundreds of years in Ireland and highlights the need to break down essentialist conceptualisations of Irishness by asserting its diversity, nonfixity and instability.

As racial representations tend to be focused on black/white issues, the book reflects this by looking at dominant screen representations of the ‘new Irish’ as non-white. However, it does also examine other marginalised identities in Ireland by referencing Jewish, Romanian, Traveller and a variety of Eastern European characters in brief. There is still much more work to be done on this subject and it is my hope that this book will serve as a contribution to that dialogue. The book asks how and why black and mixed-race characters are represented in Irish screen culture, and how this fits into broader shifts in the visual industries, in national politics and in the international landscape.

Ireland has produced a series of high-profile mixed-race stars, including Phil Lynott, Ruth Negga, Samantha Mumba and Siva Kaneswaran among others, yet in screen culture as in the socio-political arena, it remains represented through a series of tropes which often exclude its non-white citizens. Minority characters are predominately used as metonyms for social disadvantage though some films attempt to examine their positionality in a more complex way. What Richard Did (Abrahamson, 2012) is one of few to use the inter-ethnic token as a symbol of wealth and power (the titular character is Danish-Irish, and a black rugby player features prominently in one scene, perhaps representative of mixed-race contemporary Irish rugby star Simon Zebo).

Mixed-race and black actors have featured in many Irish fiction films, particularly since the influx of migrants in the 1990s (10). My book analyses intercultural figures and questions the idea of Irishness as a static category which defines the ‘other’ but is not subject to definition. I examine questions in this study such as, how is the relationship between the white and black Irish expressed in Irish visual culture?  Further, how is Irish identity defined, and how can we consider the black Irish as participants or even citizens in Irish society, and as part of the Irish diaspora?

In examining how these figures are represented, the book also interrogates the relationship between the visibly different and the recognizably Irish (and the various other ethnic communities in Ireland). 
Screen culture performs an important social role for spectators, revealing new truths, new social partners and new challenges. By presenting former Others as identifiable rounded characters, film and television enable audiences to move beyond social borders and identify with characters despite differences in race, class, age, ability, language, gender or sex. Thus The Black Irish Onscreen contributes to wider social discourses on race-relations in Ireland, new understandings of Irish cinema, and the potential for new visualizations of Irish identity based on, as Gerardine Meaney put it: ‘the cultural maps that the new immigrants will produce, the possibility of a very differenced Ireland in the world’ (11).

Your current research explores the representations of mixed-race characters in French and American cinema, what were your findings, why this choice?

American cinema has always explored mixedness onscreen, as seen in the first narrative film Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Edison, 1903), yet historically struggled to accommodate this in-between identity within a racially polarised culture.  In France, although there is a large mixed-race population, it is anti-constitutional to collate data on ethnic populations.  Josephine Baker’s films explicitly projected a mixed-race France in the 1930s, and directors have been exploring multi-ethnic representations onscreen since the 1980s. Hybrid societies such as France and America, conversely deny and impose difference upon the mixed community, yet in recent years mixedness has attained a certain cachet, as noted by Beltràn (12) and others. I was drawn to these cinemas due to the multiplicity of racial representations they offer, as reflective of their intercultural societies. I think it’s important to compare and contrast approaches, in order to gain a greater understanding of the artistic and ideological merits of different representations. It makes sense to compare these industries due to their equitable standing in film history, their colonial ties and their powerful political positioning from a global point of view.

Cultural Studies theorist Stuart Hall notes that ‘people’s identities are tied up with their intellectual positioning’ (13), and affirms the importance of the subjective, which gives one license to inject one’s personal experience into one’s work.  As an Irish-Kenyan woman with English citizenship, who is both Anglophone and Francophone, having lived in several countries and cultures, I have shared experiences with other African-Europeans both in America and France and have a personal understanding of the racial histories concerned, from my parents’ experiences and my own.  My familial and cultural roots in Ireland, Abaluhya, France, England and America, as well as my upbringing as a polyglot transnational, frame my intellectual interrogation.  As I must begin somewhere, I begin with myself, and I choose to examine the ‘cloudy but real’ (14) simulacra of mixedness in visual cultures as reflective of socio-cultural links between and Africa, Europe and the Americas.

LeiLani Nishime notes with regard to American history: ‘we have always already been mixed race’ (15). France, likewise has a transnational culture drawn from the exchange of peoples and cultures in (and following) its period as a colonial power, and from the diverse cultures of its many parts (made more accessible following the twentieth century imposition of the French language on these mixed communities), e.g. the German, Italian, Spanish and Breton regions.  With the emergence of la culture beur [a Maghrebi-French cultural movement] in the 1980s – and the birth of a new type of filmmaking influenced by postcolonial politics, world cinemas, American hood films and hip hop culture – questions of identity, multiculturalism and mixedness came to the fore.  Since then many films have tackled the representation of France’s ethnic minorities onscreen and attempted to move closer towards representing what the 2007 presidential-candidate Ségolène Royal called a ‘Mixed-Race France’.  Of course in the early 2000s, France also saw a series of riots which were often perceived through a racial lens as expressive of the crises of multiculturalism. The recent and horrific Charlie Hebdo attack has reignited these discourses. America’s ‘post-racial’ era, the cultural positioning of President Obama and the tragedies of Ferguson also pose vital questions for cultural studies scholars working today.

I am interested in how, through cinema, different societies represent racial issues and how we can learn from each other in this respect. While Fredi Washington found herself relegated to tragic mulatta ‘passing’ roles in 1930s American cinema, Josephine Baker was in starring roles in France. Washington played an emotionally-torn, almost silent character in the classic melodrama Imitation of Life (1934), which bell hooks remembered caused her to cry ‘for the cinema that had no place for you’, i.e. denied black women onscreen a chance to be more than an asexual mammy/sexualised Jezebel and mostly positioned them as absent images. Contemporary mainstream American cinema often centralises ‘multiculti’ de-raced heroes, and like French cinema, offers the potential for representations which fall between colour-blind and colour-focused approaches. My interest is in finding examples of cinema which construct the mixed figure as a third type of actor, racially identifiable, but whose race is neither a stereotype, a burden, nor a false mask.

From Josephine Baker’s 1930s films to Kassovitz’s contemporary expositions of mixed identity I have found that French cinema has a different historical template for representing hybridity (based in a different racial ideology).  In the last twenty years, through the beur movement, this template has developed into a new formula, a new way of representing race, removed from the racial binaries and limiting histories of American cinema, which, all too often, remains locked in hegemonic racial politics. Away We Go for example, challenges conservative racial politics but presents the mixed figure as a figure removed from family and distressed by questions of belonging regarding her mixed-race child. Dear White People also subverts racial dynamics but features a protagonist who evokes tragic mulatta stereotypes.

By contrast, French cinema has a history of normalising interracial relationships and mixed-race characters, often dealing with (public and private, covert and overt) racism head-on, although the tragic mulatta stereotype remains common here too (e.g. Samba). Still, in films such as Chouchou, Métisse, Pour la nuit, Drôle de Félix, Notre étrangère and Les Trois frères, French society is presented as a non-stratified space where one is identified by their likes/dislikes rather than their colour, and where issues of class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality are learnt and flexible. These films acknowledge the existence of racism, while undermining it as based in false science, and highlighting its illusionary status as a social construct. This is supported by French cinema’s normalising approach to other marginalised communities, e.g. single mothers, LGBT characters, disabled characters, etc..

Perhaps in order to allay the fears created by the deconstruction of racial myths (and particularly of white patriarchy), at the same time as celebrating the impure, unstable hybridity of our societies, many recent French films assert the ‘postmodern ethnic revival’, i.e. celebrating cultural difference and sameness. The most popular recent narratives of this revival, Indigènes, La Graine et le mulet, Intouchables and Entre les murs prove the potential for films to displace the ‘history of white vision’, as Susan Courtney put it, of dominant cinema without erasing difference. Yet, of course problems persist and American commentators picked up on the racist stereotypes of Intouchables which were largely overlooked in France.

Mixed issues in American cinema are often polarised as singular (rather than plural). Although certain contemporary representations like Away We Go represent a new form of mixed representation, the vast majority of mixed characters of American cinema present a paradox: they often provide the ‘trouble in the text’ (16), evoking fears of cultural violation (or creolisation, ibid), while also illuminating diversity and acting as symbols of colourblindess.  This contradictory position reflects the fact that, as scholars such as Michael Omi, Howard Winant and others have argued, ‘race’ still has a material impact, so, while we talk of ‘post-racial’ societies, we live in racialised realities.

In 2001, Professor Naomi Zack argued that the recognition of mixed identities would make racial identities unintelligible and epistemologically lead to the destabilizing of racial divisions. If race is an illusion, then theoretical work into mixed-race issues is an important subversive attack on the distorted collective social imaginary which remains fixated on racial taxonomies. Filmic representations of mixed-race identity can acknowledge the politics of difference and be used as a wedge against racism. Modern society has not yet achieved this goal, and continues to restrict and impose negative attributes onto non-white identities, as in common stereotypically negative depictions of black and mixed-race characters in the media. What is still needed is a theoretical practice developed with and through a multicultural audience, which can address the various issues specific to various groups, to give authority and visibility to their testimonies. This would be based on ideologies which move beyond our current fixed ideas of ‘race’.

Zélie, you are Programme Director of Video and Film at Dundalk Institute of Technology, please talk about your function as Director, your experiences in the academy, your courses.

I am a lecturer in film and media theory and national cinemas at Dundalk IT and University College Dublin. I am also joint-Programme Director of the BA in Video and Film Production at Dundalk IT. My role is to support academic programmes through student and institutional liaison. I also supervise students there in filmmaking e.g. Indelible (2013), winner of John Moore award). I have spent the last 11 years working as an academic in Ireland and have worked for Trinity College Dublin, the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design, Driaocht Arts Centre and NUI Maynooth. I've given over 30 papers at conferences and seminars national and internationally. In November 2014 I was invited to the Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at De Paul University in Chicago to give a keynote address on contemporary mixed-race representations in Irish cinema. My research has been published in a variety of international peer-reviewed books and journals and can be found online and in print. I also write for the print media and give radio and film interviews on racial issues in film. In 2011, I was awarded Young Irish Studies Scholar of the Year for Peter Lang/New Academic Publishers.

I have been a university lecturer since 2004. I have devised, taught and coordinated undergraduate courses on Gender and Race in European and American Cinema; World Cinemas; Irish Cinema, Drama and Literature (historical; contemporary; the Gothic); Latin American Cinema; Film and Media theory, Asian Cinema, Melodrama, Contemporary Cinema, Black and Mixed-Race Cinemas and Practice based research methodologies (partly taught via online research seminar). Although I have primarily taught in universities (University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin), I have also convened an adult education course (in partnership with Access Cinema) on Film Studies (taught at Driaocht, a Visual Arts Centre). In each course I have taught, the cultural and social history of the nationa, as well as each film’s specific industrial, aesthetic and theoritical concerns, have been centralised. I am the coauthor (with Diane Negra) of ‘Race and Cinema’ in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Cinema and Media Studies (Oxford University Press, 2013), and have published many essays on questions of race, gender and representation in Irish, French, American and West/South African cinema in a wide range of journals and essay collections (17).

Could you give reflections on the importance of African women, women of African descent engaging in cultural inquiry/critique?

I look at this in two ways. Firstly, the representation of African women in mainstream globally dominant cinemas has often been damaging, and I am concerned by this as a feminist, and as a receiver of those images whose sense of self was threatened by them. The women in my own family have been a constant inspiration to me and to many others, yet it’s hard to see this reflected onscreen. As Ousmane Sembene said: ‘The development of Africa will not happen without the effective participation of women. Our forefather’s image of women must be buried once and for all.’ New images are needed, and these will only come about when we prove the invalidity of what is currently popular through cultural critique, etc.

I also recognise that for too long, African women have not had a voice on the public stage. It is so important to allow their histories and voices to be heard which is why I find films like Notre étrangère [Sarah Bouyain] and Sous la clarté de la lune [Apolline Traoré] quite wonderful. I am aware however, that the focus on silence in these films, evokes La noire de… and suggests a continued lack of political power for African women in certain social narratives. I was thrilled to give a keynote at 2014’s Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at Chicago’s De Paul University, and to meet so many women working to change this situation.

As the daughter of a Kenyan and a lover of great cinema, I have a strong commitment to expanding public awareness of African cinematic industries. I believe that Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad are producing some of the best cinema globally right now and it’s important that people hear about it.

Future projects, research?

I have just secured a contract with Bloomsbury for my second book which will analyse French and American approaches to representing mixed-race characters on film. This work will look at the historical templates adopted by both countries and consider how these contribute to contemporary representations. The study will also consider how these representations reflect, shape and challenge socio-historic actuality. Questions of gender, sexuality and citizenship will be centralised in this comparative analysis of cinematic formulations of race.


(1) Camilla Fojas and Mary Beltrán, ed. Mixed Race in Hollywood, New York University Press, 2008: 305.
(2) Heidi Ardizzone, "Catching up with History: Night of the Quarter Moon, The Rhinelander Case, and Interracial Marriage in 1959." In Eds. Mixed Race Hollywood Camilla Fojas and Mary Beltran, New York University Press, 87-112, 2008.
(3) Naomi Zack, Race and Mixed Race, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.
(4) See Susan Courtney, (2005). Hollywood Fantasies of Miscegenation: Spectacular Narratives of Gender and Race. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Jane Gaines, White Privilege and Looking Relations: Race and Gender in Feminist Film Theory, 1988, 2001.
(5) Donald Bogle. Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America's Black Female Superstars, Harmony Books, 1980.
(6) Suzanne Bost. Mulattas and Mestizas: Representing Mixed Identities in the Americas, 1850-2000, University of Georgia Press, 2003.
(7) J. E. Smyth, “Classical Hollywood and the Filmic Writing on Interracial History, 1931–1939.” In Mixed Race in Hollywood, Eds. Camilla Fojas and Mary Beltrán, New York University Press, 2008.
(8) Lisa Jones, 1994.
(9) Fintan O’Toole. ‘Foreword’. In: Maher, E. (ed.) Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation and Ireland. Vol. 5. Oxford: Peter Lang, vii-xii, 2009.
(10) Including Pigs (Black, 1984); The Crying Game (Jordan, 1992); Mona Lisa (Jordan, 1986); The Nephew (Brady, 1998); When Brendan Met Trudy (Walsh, 2000); Breakfast on Pluto (Jordan, 2005); Isolation (O’Brien, 2005); Boy Eats Girl (Bradley, 2005); Irish Jam (Eyres, 2006); The Front Line (Gleeson, 2006); New Boy (Green, 2007); The Blaxorcist (King, 2007); Cactus (Molatore, 2007); Kisses (Daly, 2008); Trafficked (O’Connor, 2009); Sensation (Hall, 2010); Between the Canals (O’Connor, 2011); The Guard (McDonagh, 2011). Television programmes reflecting Ireland’s diversity include: Love/Hate (RTE, 2010-present); Love is the Drug (RTE, 2004); Raw (RTE, 2008-present); The Clinic (RTE, 2003-9); Single-Handed (RTE, 2007-present); Father and Son (RTE, 2009); Fair City (RTE, 1989-present).
(11) Gerardine Meaney, 'Race, Sex and Nation', The Irish Review, Special Issue on Feminist Theory, Autumn/Winter 2007.
(12) Camilla Fojas and Mary Beltrán, op cit.
(13) Stuart Hall, 1998.
(14) Jean Toomer. Cane, W. W. Norton & Company, 1975.
(15) LeiLani Nishime. “The Matrix Trilogy, Keanu Reeves, and Multiraciality at the End of Time.” In Mixed Race in Hollywood, Eds. Camilla Fojas and Mary Beltrán, New York University Press, 2008.
(16) Camilla Fojas and Mary Beltrán, op cit.
(17) Including: Masculinity and Irish Popular Culture: Tiger’s Tales (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014); World Cinema Directory: Africa (Intellect Books, 2014); Viewpoints: Theoretical Perspectives on Irish Visual Texts (University of Cork Press, 2013); The Universal Vampire (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013); France’s Colonial Legacies: Memory, Identity and Narrative (University of Wales Press, 2013); Contemporary Irish Cinema: New Perspectives on a National Cinema (Bramüller/New Academic Press, 2011).


27 February 2015

FESPACO 2015 – Françoise Ellong: W.A.K.A - « pour son fils elle est prête à tout… » | “for her son she is ready for anything”

Fespaco 2015 - Panorama - out of competition | hors compétition 

W.A.K.A « pour son fils elle est prête à tout… » | “for her son she is ready for anything” (2014)
Françoise Ellong (Cameroon | Cameroun)

The filmmaker | La réalisatrice

Françoise Ellong was born in Douala, Cameroon on February 8, 1988. As soon as she learned to write, her sense of imagination was revealed gradually to her family. At 11, she arrived in the small town of Brunoy in France, where she lived with her uncle.

In 2006 she took her first steps as a scriptwriter but also as director while continuing her studies in Information and Communication in Paris, followed by a Masters in Cinematography and Post Production at the University of Greenwich in London, which she completed with honors.

From 2006 to 2012, nine short films emerged from her passion for scriptwriting and directing. Nine films in French and English shot in both celluloid and digital, several experimental and four works, which put her in the spotlight and received awards at several festivals around the world.

Among them, NEK, produced in 2010, talks about Nazism and evokes the notion of repentance. The realisation of this short film was a real test for the young filmmaker, who in this film, mixes fiction and historical event. NEK was made in June and screened for the first time in Paris in September the same year. The results two years later comprises of six awards (Bronze Bear in Austria, Grand Prix, Best Picture, Best Sound in Douala, Yaoundé Best Fiction, Honorary Mention for the scenario contest in France) worldwide and several screenings.

May 2012 marked the birth of the first feature film project: "W.A.K.A". After returning from the 66th Cannes Film Festival, a friend, who is a producer and independent filmmaker, encouraged Françoise to take that final step coveted by all upcoming directors. After several short films shot between France and England, Françoise knew immediately that for this important passage, her desire was to point her camera to the land of her birth: Africa.

The adventure "W.A.K.A" is launched. Six months later, despite enormous difficulties, she landed in Cameroon with the script written by Seraphim Kakouang in hand, with the intention to complete the project as an independently produced film.

Two years later, "W.A.K.A" already received several invitations to international festivals paying tribute to female directors: JCFA, Burkina Faso, IFC of Doula, Cameroon via the Carte Blanche at Film de Femmes de Créteil, the International Women and Development in Festival Rabat, Morocco.

Moreover, the film opened the 17th edition of the Festival Ecrans Noirs in Yaounde, Cameroon, received the Dikalo Award for the first work of a feature film at the 11th edition of the Pan African Film Festival of Cannes in France and more recently, Françoise Ellong found herself among the Greats when receiving the Special Jury Prize at the 17th edition of the African Film Festival of Khouribga, Morocco.

Le 8 Février 1988, Françoise Ellong naît dans la ville de Douala au Cameroun. Dès lors qu’elle apprend à écrire, son sens de l’imagination se révèle peu à peu à sa famille. A 11 ans, elle arrive dans la petite ville de Brunoy en France où elle vit avec son oncle.

L’année 2006 devient celle de ses premiers pas en tant que scénariste mais également réalisatrice, tandis qu’elle poursuit en parallèle ses études en Information et Communication à Paris, suivi d’un Master en Cinematography and Postproduction à l’Université de Greenwich à Londres qu’elle obtiendra avec mention.

De 2006 à 2012, neuf courts-métrages naitront de sa passion pour l’écriture et la réalisation. Neuf films en français et en anglais tournés aussi bien en pellicule qu’en numérique, dont plusieurs expérimentaux et quatre oeuvres qui feront parler d’elles et seront primées à plusieurs Festivals dans le monde.

Parmi elles, « NEK », réalisé en 2010. Le film parle de Nazisme et évoque la notion de repentir. La réalisation de ce court-métrage sera une véritable épreuve pour la jeune réalisatrice, qui dans ce film, mêle fiction et événement historique. « NEK » est tourné en Juin et est projeté pour la première fois à Paris en Septembre de la même année. Le bilan deux ans plus tard est de 6 prix (Ours de Bronze en Autriche, Grand Prix, Meilleure Image, Meilleur Son à Douala, Best Fiction à Yaoundé, Mention Honorifique concours de scénarios en France) à travers le monde et plusieurs projections.

Mai 2012 marque la naissance du premier projet de long-métrage : « W.A.K.A ». Alors de retour du 66è Festival de Cannes, elle est incite par un ami producteur et réalisateur indépendant, à franchir cette ultime étape tant convoitée par tous les réalisateurs en devenir. Après plusieurs courts-métrages tournés entre la France et l’Angleterre, Françoise sait d’emblée que pour ce passage important, son souhait est de poser sa caméra sur les terres qui l’ont vu naitre : l’Afrique.

L’aventure « W.A.K.A » est lancée. Six mois plus tard, malgré d’énormes difficultés, elle atterri au Cameroun, le scénario écrit par Séraphin Kakouang en mains, avec la ferme intention d’aboutir ce projet totalement mené en indépendant.

Deux ans plus tard, « W.A.K.A » fait déjà l’objet de plusieurs invitations de Festivals internationaux qui ont rendu hommage à des femmes réalisatrices : JCFA, Burkina Faso, IFC de Douala au Cameroun via la Carte Blanche du Film de Femmes de Créteil, Festival international de la Femme et du Développement à Rabat, Maroc.

Surtout, le film a ouvert la 17ème édition du Festival Ecrans Noirs à Yaoundé au Cameroun, a remporté le Dikalo Award d’encouragement 1ère oeuvre de long-métrage à la 11ème édition du Festival international du Film Panafricain de Cannes en France et plus récemment, Francoise Ellong a été accueillie dans la cour des Grands en remportant le Prix Spécial du Jury de la 17ème édition du Festival du cinéma africain de Khouribga, au Maroc.


Matilde, in her thirties, is a single woman abandoned by her family and often left to fend for herself. Waitress in a bar, Mathilde sees her life change the day her boss learns that she is pregnant and therefore considers her no longer fit to do the job.

Mathilde finds herself faced with a terrible choice: to get rid of her baby and keep her job, or carry her pregnancy to term and cope as best she can to raise her child. The young woman, compelled by a stranger, made the choice of motherhood.

But now, since Adam’s birth, Mathilde endures a period of difficulties that will only continue to increase. Finding a job is not easy after losing the previous one. Mathilde wants to resume her job at the bar, but the boss has already hired someone else.

This is when Max, a forty-something pimp, enters Mathilde’s life, renaming her Maryline, with the firm intention that she never gets out of it. Mathilde is trapped because she has to pay her bills and most importantly, care for her son.

Each day Mathilde becomes Maryline, though never forgetting that she is above all a mother who wants to provide for her child. As Adam grows up so does his curiosity about the activities of his mother.

It was because of the stranger Luc that Adam exists. He was love-struck by Mathilde the very night that she was about to swallow the contents of the bottle, which would have allowed her to abort the baby from her womb. Is Luc a blessing or a curse?

Matilde, la trentaine, est une femme seule abandonnée par les siens et souvent livrée à elle-même. Serveuse dans un bar, Mathilde voit sa vie basculer le jour où son Patron apprend qu’elle est enceinte et donc en ce qui le concerne, inapte à travailler plus longtemps dans son enseigne.

Mathilde se retrouve alors devant un choix terrible : se débarrasser de son bébé et garder son boulot, ou mener sa grossesse à terme et se débrouiller comme elle peut pour élever son enfant. La jeune femme, poussée par un inconnu, fait le choix de la maternité.

Mais voilà, dès lors qu’Adam naît, s’ensuit pour Mathilde une période de difficultés qui ne va cesser d’accroitre. Trouver un travail n’est pas chose facile après avoir perdu le précédent. Mathilde veut reprendre son boulot au bar, mais le Patron a déjà recruté.

C’est alors que Max, proxénète, la quarantaine, entre dans la vie de Mathilde qu’il rebaptise Maryline, avec la ferme intention de ne plus jamais en sortir. Mathilde est prise au piège, car il lui faut payer ses factures et surtout, nourrir son fils.

Mathilde devient alors jour après jour Maryline, sans jamais oublier qu’elle est avant tout une mère qui veut subvenir aux besoins de son enfant. Adam grandit, en même temps que sa curiosité sur les activités de sa mère.

L’inconnu qui a permis l’existence d’Adam s’appelle Luc. Il s’est épris de Mathilde le fameux soir où elle s’apprêtait a ingurgiter le contenu de la fiole, qui lui aurait permis d’évacuer le bébé de son ventre. Luc est-il une bénédiction ou une malédiction?

A short conversation with Françoise Ellong and Beti Ellerson, February 2015

The idea of ​​the theme...

The theme of the film was the result of a casual conversation that I had when dining with friends. During the discussion, I hear: "... in any case she is not a good mother." Is there a manual somewhere that follows to the letter what automatically makes one a good mother or not? Or does it depend on each person’s experience?

The idea of ​​the film resulted from this. Prostitution is a pretext in the film to talk about the journey and struggle of a woman—both as a woman and as a mother.

Do you know any women in this situation?

In the neighborhood where I grew up, in Deïdo, there are many. I know some personally and through intermediaries who say that they do not see them as such.

We met during the filming and many were able to show their strong character and their desire not to be considered as a scourge of society.

Experiences with the crew...

Ninety-five percent of the crew was local. The whole adventure took place in a wonderful atmosphere of sharing and superb solidarity. I did not know any of the local actors or technicians. We got to know each other and became a family. We were very supportive of each other during the filming.

The reception in Cameroon...

The Cameroonian audience loved the film a lot! Many were surprised to feel such empathy for a woman that they could have quickly judged or rejected. There were also many viewers who especially liked the way the city of Douala was filmed.

They see it differently in the film, more refined than what they would have imagined, far from the constant agitation that is systematically assign to the economic capital. And also, they were moved to see a local film shot in a more cinematic way. But I noticed that my presence at the screening helped many people to grasp the reality of the film. People no longer have the habit of going to the cinema house and do not necessarily have requisite skills to read the different storytelling techniques of film.

So they are at a basic level, very much at the surface when reading a film. But when talking with some of the viewers, they realise that they had perceived the message without being able to put a precise term to it or without being able to describe it. Overall the film is very popular and even today it draws a large number of viewers.

Une petite conversation avec Françoise Ellong et Beti Ellerson, février 2015

L'idée du thème...

Le thème du film a découlé d'une conversation banale que j'ai eue à table avec des amis. Pendant la discussion, j'entends cette phrase : "... de toutes les façons ce n'est pas une bonne mère". Est-ce qu'il existe un mode d'emploi quelque part qui suivi à la lettre fait de nous automatiquement une bonne mère ou non? Où tout ça dépend du parcours de tout un chacun ?

L'idée du film a découlé de cela. La prostitution est un prétexte dans le film pour parler du parcours et combat d'une femme en tant que femme et en tant que mère.

Connais-tu des femmes dans cette situation?

Dans le quartier où j'ai grandi, à Deïdo, elles sont nombreuses. J'en connais quelques unes personnellement et par personnes interposées qui disent ne les voir pas comme tels.

Nous en avons rencontré durant le tournage et beaucoup ont pu témoigner de leur caractère bien trempé et de leur envie de ne pas être considérée comme un fléau de la société.

L’expérience avec l’équipe...

L'équipe était à 95% constituée de locaux. Toute l'aventure s'est déroulée dans une magnifique atmosphère de partage et une belle solidarité. Je ne connaissais aucun technicien ni acteur localement. On a appris à se connaitre et nous sommes devenus une petite famille. On a été très solidaire durant le tournage.

La réception au Cameroun…

Le public camerounais aime beaucoup ce film ! Ils sont nombreux à se surprendre de ressentir de l'empathie pour une femme qu'ils auraient pu juger ou rejeter spontanément. Ils sont également nombreux à avoir particulièrement aimé la manière dont la ville de Douala a été filmée.

Ils la voient différemment, plus épurée qu'ils n'auraient pensé, loin de l'agitation constante qu'on veut bien attribuer systématiquement à la capitale économique. Et aussi, ils sont émus de voir un film local filmé de manière plus cinématographique. Mais j'ai remarqué que ma présence aide beaucoup aux gens à saisir le réel propos du film. Les gens n'ont plus l'habitude d'aller au ciné et n'ont pas forcément les cartes en mains pour lire les différentes techniques de narration d'un film.

Du coup ils sont très premier degré, très en surface au niveau de la lecture. Mais en discutant avec certains, ils se rendent compte qu'ils avaient perçu le message sans pouvoir mettre un terme précis dessus ou sans pouvoir décrire. Globalement le film est très apprécié et aujourd'hui encore il réuni un nombre important de spectateurs.

Source: Dossier de Présentation | Press Packet

Links | Liens

26 February 2015

FESPACO 2015 - Carine Bado & Serge Armel Sawadago: “Fille de sa mère” | “Her mother’s daughter”

Fespaco 2015 - Panorama - out of competition | hors compétition 

Fille de sa mère (“Her mother’s daughter”)
Carine Bado et/and Serge Armel Sawadago (Burkina Faso)

The filmmaker | La réalisatrice

Carine Bado née Sawadogo, worked for several years alongside directors Abdoulaye Dao and Pierre Yameogo, as well with others as assistant director, script supervisor and actor. the preparedness and seriousness of her work lead to directing and production.

Committed to social causes, she directed and produced several documentaries and fiction films presented at festivals: two documentaries on the condition of women on the theme of fistula, Les douleurs muettes : la fistule ("Muted pain: fistula") and La Fistule Obstétricale ("Obstetric Fistula") in 2015. Le Viol conjugal, … Et si on en parlait ! ("Marital Rape ... Let's talk about it!"). The collection Five Films for Combat, was produced by Les Films du Défi in 2013.

Also in 2013, she directed five films advocating for the employability of people living with disabilities, Les Droits en Actions ("Rights in action") for HI/Afrique de l’Ouest and CBM/Afrique de l’Ouest. In 2008 Des Déchets à Valeur d’Or ("The waste that is worth gold"), selected at FESPACO 2009, FIFE 2009 and 2010, focuses on the export of scrap metal, raw materials for artisans working in bronze in Burkina Faso. In 2009 she directed On ne mange pas les mercis "We do not eat thank-yous", a fiction about corruption produced by Artistes Productions.

Carine Bado née Sawadogo, a travaillé plusieurs années aux côtés de réalisateurs tels que Abdoulaye Dao, Pierre Yameogo et bien d’autres comme assistante réalisatrice, scripte et comédienne. Son apprêté et son sérieux au travail la conduisent à la réalisation et à la production.

Engagée pour des causes sociales, elle réalise et produit plusieurs films documentaires et de fictions présentés dans des festivals : - Deux documentaires sur la condition féminine sur la thématique de la fistule  « Les douleurs muettes : la fistule » et « La Fistule Obstétricale » en 2015.— « Le Viol conjugal, … Et si on en parlait ! »  de la collection 5 films pour un Combat produit par Les Films du Défi en 2013.— En 2013, pour HI/Afrique de l’Ouest et CBM/Afrique de l’Ouest, elle réalise cinq films de plaidoyer sur l’insertion professionnelle des personnes vivant en situation de handicap  « Les Droits en Actions ». En 2008 « Des Déchets à Valeur d’Or » sélectionné au FESPACO 2009, FIFE 2009 et 2010 sur l’exportation de la ferraille, matière première des artisans bronziers au Burkina. Elle réalise « On ne mange pas les mercis » une fiction sur la corruption en 2009 produit par Artistes Productions.


Seventeen-year old Aida, who lives with her parents, is very close to her mother, and they confide in each other. The family atmosphere is very pleasant. This harmony in the family is put to the test when Aida's mother discovers compromising photos of her husband with a girl, which she shows to Aida. With this evidence of infidelity in hand, the mother and daughter unite to confront the father.

The day after the discovery of the photos, her mother resumes live as usual with her father. However, Aida shows her disapproval through behavior showing contempt towards her father. This is the beginning of a rift...

Aïda est une jeune fille de 17 ans qui vit avec ses parents.  Aïda et sa mère sont très complices et se font des petites confidences.  L’ambiance de la famille est très conviviale. Cette harmonie dans la famille est mise à rude épreuve quand la mère découvre des photos compromettantes de son mari avec une jeune fille, qu’elle fait voir à Aida. Fortes de ces preuves d’infidélités,  Mère et fille s’unissent pour affronter le père.

Le lendemain de la découverte des photos, la mère reprend une vie normale avec le père.  Aida montre sa désapprobation en posant un acte de dédain envers son père. C’est le début de la fissure...
Tech Data Sheet | Fiche Technique

Réalisateurs | Filmmakers: Carine Bado & Serge Armel Sawadogo
Scénario : Carine Bado & Serge Armel Sawadogo
Producteurs | Producers: Bertin F. Bado, Carine Bado & Serge Armel Sawadogo
Coproduction : ISIS/SE
Soutien | Supported by : Ministère de la Culture et du Tourisme du Burkina

Source/Image: Communication by/de Serge Armel Sawadogo to/à Beti Ellerson (2/2012).

Fille de sa mere
Carine Bado et/and Serge Armel Sawadago 

25 February 2015

FESPACO 2015 - Adjaratou Lompo: Les Amazones du cinéma Africain | The Amazons of African cinema

Fespaco 2015 - Panorama - out of competition | hors compétition 

Les Amazones du cinéma Africain | “The Amazons of African cinema”*
Adjaratou Lompo (Burkina Faso)

The filmmaker | La réalisatrice

Adjaratou Lompo received a diploma in audiovisual sciences and technique from the Institut National de Formation Artistique et Culturelle (INAFAC) in June 1986. She enrolled in several courses in Europe and in Africa in order to develop her skills. both a director and scriptwriter,  Adjaratou Lompo has held senior positions at the National Television of Burkina.

Adjaratou Lompo est sortie de l'Institut National de Formation Artistique et Culturelle avec une licence en sciences et technique de l'audiovisuel en juin 1986. Elle a suivi plusieurs stages en Europe, ainsi qu'en Afrique dans le but de se perfectionner. Aussi bien réalisatrice, monteuse, scripte cinéma/TV, Adjaratou Lompo a occupé des postes de responsabilités à la Télévision Nationale du Burkina.

Filmography | Filmographie :
Le Pari | “The Gamble”, doc., 26mn, 1992
Si je savais | “If I knew”, fiction, 52mn, 2001
Une Seconde Vie | "A second life", doc., 26mn, 2005
La Cour des Veuves | "The Widow’s court", doc., 26mn, 2005
Récif/ONG : Un réseau de reference | Recif/NGO: A model network,  doc., 26mn, 2006
Affaires Publiques | "Public Affairs", série télé, Saison 2, 2010
Affaires Publiques | "Public Affairs", série télé, Saison 3, 2012
Le Visionnaire de Nassira | "The Visionary of Nassira", doc., 26mn, 2014
Les Amazones du cinéma africain | “The Amazons of African Cinema”, doc., 52mn, 2014


The film opens with a triumphant ascent of women cineastes on the podium of FESPACO to receive an award for the quality of their works or their performances.

Inspired by the commitment of women pioneers that spawned the rise of women professionals in the diverse areas of African cinema. Despite the prejudice and cultural constraints, today, the new generation of women filmmakers, shines through its active presence in front of or behind the camera, bringing their sensitivity, their original touch; posing another perspective on Africa.

This film is a tribute to these valiant women who have contributed, over time and through their multifaceted activities, the advancement of African cinema.

Le film s’ouvre par une montée triomphale de femmes cinéastes sur le podium du Fespaco, pour recevoir une récompense pour la qualité de leurs œuvres ou de leurs prestations.

Inspirées par l’engagement des pionnières qui ont suscité l’éclosion des vocations féminines pour les métiers du cinéma africain, et ce, malgré préjugés et pesanteurs socioculturelles, la nouvelle génération de femmes cinéastes, brille aujourd’hui par sa présence active, devant ou derrière la caméra ; elle y apporte sa sensibilité, sa touche originale et pose un autre regard sur l’Afrique.

Le présent film est un hommage rendu à ces vaillantes femmes, qui ont contribué, au cours du temps, et à travers leurs actions multiformes, à l’avancée du cinéma africain.

Source : Catalogue Fespaco 2013 and/et via correspondence with/avec Adjaratou Lompo and/et Beti Ellerson, 2/2015.

*Changement de titre du film | Title change of film: Le 7ème art Africain, l’autre sensibilité | (The 7th art of Africa, another sensibility)

24 February 2015

FESPACO 2015 – Pauline Mvele: "Sans famille" | "Without family"

Fespaco 2015 - Panorama – out of competition | hors compétition 

Sans famille | “Without family” (2014)
Pauline Mvele (Gabon)

The filmmaker | La réalisatrice

A short conversation with Pauline Mvele and Beti Ellerson, February 2015.

My journey…

I hold a degree in communication and journalism, not in cinema. I improve as I make films! I arrived at cinema after a combination of circumstances, when participating in a call for projects at the National Centre of Gabonese Cinema. But being a native of Burkina Faso I was very familiar with cinema. As a student, I was involved with the Fespaco press committee during which I wrote for FESPACO news! In secondary school I was lead actress in Chantal’s Choice a short film by Carlyn Saltman, an American filmmaker.

But when coming to Gabon twenty years ago, nothing predestined me to cinema. It was, hence, this call for projects by the CENACI. I am much more interested in the documentary, as I enjoy working in small teams, and my journalist training helps me tremendously in developing my projects.

What motivated me to make this film?

For me cinema is a commitment, and you may notice that my themes are focus on the voiceless, the rejected and the weak! I make films in order to be engaged. I cannot remain indifferent, silent and blind to certain situations or causes that I see in my country, Gabon, so I decided to make films in order to bring to the surface some of the problems of our society.

My first film Accroche-toi (Hang in there) focused on people with HIV. Then I turned to dispossessed widows with my film Non coupables! (Not guilty). And with Sans famille (Without family) I became interested in inmates. Why? In order to show that prison is not the end of ones life, and that after getting out of this hell “Sans famille”, one may overcome! But especially it was to denounce the conditions of detention in Gabon, which are often humiliating and unjust.

Film production and experience with the people…

The production shoot was a beautiful experience, with no major difficulties. It was a pleasure to work with my team.

My friends say that I am thorough and I am interested in people! I am also told that I am generous! It's hard to talk about oneself, but I try to be human.

Une petite conversation avec Pauline Mvele et Beti Ellerson, février 2015.

Mon parcours

Je suis titulaire d’une maitrise en communication et journalisme, je n’ai pas fait d’école de cinéma. Au fur et à mesure que je fais des films, je m’améliore. Je suis arrivée au cinéma après un concours de circonstance en participant à un appel à projet du Centre National du Cinéma Gabonais. Mais étant originaire du Burkina Faso j’étais familière au cinéma. Etudiante, j’ai fait partie de la commission presse du Fespaco en écrivant pour le Fespaco news. Au lycée j’ai été actrice principale dans un court métrage de Carlyn Saltman, une réalisatrice américaine Le choix de Chantal.

Mais en venant au Gabon il y a 20 ans, rien ne me prédestinait au cinéma. C’est grâce à cet appel à projet du CENACI. Je m’intéresse beaucoup plus au documentaire. Le fait de travailler en équipe réduite me plait, et ma formation de journaliste me sert énormément dans l’élaboration de mes projets.

Qu’est ce qui m’a motivée à faire ce film ?

Pour moi le cinéma est un engagement, et vous pouvez remarquer que mes thématiques s’intéressent aux personnes sans voix, rejetés et faibles ! Je fais du cinéma pour m’engager. Je ne peux pas rester sourde, muette et aveugle face à certaines situations ou causes que je constate dans mon pays le Gabon, donc je décide de faire des films pour poser sur la table certains problèmes de notre société.

Mon premier film, Accroche-toi concernait les séropositifs, ensuite je me suis intéressée aux veuves spoliés dont, Non coupables ! et avec Sans famille je me suis intéressée aux personnes incarcérées. Pourquoi ? Pour dire que la prison n’est pas la fin d’une vie et qu’après être sorti de cet enfer appelé Sans famille on peut s’en sortir ! Mais surtout pour dénoncer les conditions de détentions au Gabon. Ces conditions de détention sont souvent humiliantes et injustes.

Expérience de tournage et avec les gens…

Belle expérience de tournage, pas de difficultés majeur, ça été un plaisir de travailler avec mon équipe.

Mes amis disent que je fais attention et je m’intéresse aux gens ! On me dit aussi que je suis généreuse ! C’est difficile de parler de soi, mais j’essaie d’être humaine. 


In Gabon, the central prison of Libreville is called "Sans famille", “without family”, because prisoners are stigmatized and rejected by their familial universe. Knowing the importance of the family in Africa, this name bears witness to the importance of the consequences of imprisonment on the social environment of an individual.

In the encounters with ex-prisoners Daniel and Marie Louise, sharing their experiences and following them on their path after prison, we discover the impact of this "peculiar absence" that prison has on the life of detainees in Gabon. We denounce the conditions of detention in Gabon, and show these people full of humanity, who have decided to regain their lives.

Au Gabon, la prison centrale de Libreville a pour pseudonyme « Sans famille », car les détenus y sont stigmatisés et rejetés de leur univers familial. Connaissant l’importance de la famille en Afrique, cette dénomination témoigne bien de l’importance des conséquences d’un emprisonnement sur l’environnement social d’un individu.

En partant à la rencontre de Daniel et Marie Louise des ex-détenus, en échangeant avec eux sur leur itinéraire post carcéral et leurs expériences, nous découvrons les répercussions de cette «  absence particulière » que représente la prison sur la vie de détenus au Gabon. Nous dénonçons les conditions de détention au Gabon. Nous montrons ces personnes pleines d’humanité qui ont décidés de reprendre leur vie en main.

Link | Lien

Djobusyproductions []

Blog Archive