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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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


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31 March 2016

Priscilla Yawa Anany: childreN of the mountaiN – 2016 Tribeca Film Festival (New York, USA)

Priscilla Yawa Anany: Children of the Mountain – 2016 Tribeca Film Festival (New York, USA)

Priscilla Yawa Anany. Born in Ghana, Priscilla grew up in two other African countries before migrating to the United States in 2003. In the US, she attended the University of North Carolina School of the Art, School of Filmmaking and got a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Priscilla also earned a Masters of Science degree in communications at The New York University as she worked as an independent filmmaker. Priscilla is currently running her film production company i60 Productions in Accra, Ghana. (Text from Children of the Mountain website).

Priscilla Yawa Anany had this to say about her film:

Children of the mountain is a story about a woman who gives birth to a deformed and sickly child. Because she’s criticized and blamed for her child’s conditions, she becomes determined to do everything in her power to find a cure of him. When all fails and she becomes hopeless, she’s pushed to getting rid of her child.


Children of the Mountain Website :

29 March 2016

African Diasporas. Métis (Mixed-race), 2016 : by/de Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette et Mélissa Quinet

Montage of Screen Shots from Métis
Métis (Mixed-race) : by/de Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette et Mélissa Quinet

Source :  (IN FRENCH | EN FRANÇAIS). Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

1940. Congo is still under Belgian rule. Although prohibited and taboo, interracial unions are very common. Many babies are born of these relationships; and do not belong to any community, they are called "mulatto children." The majority of them will never be recognised by their father. They will be taken from their mothers by government authorities to be placed in an orphanage run by nuns.

Elodie and her best friend, Gerty, for a long time in search of their identity, are among those who have lived this journey.

As part of their Master’s research in socio-cultural work and life-long learning at IHECS (Brussels), Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette, and Melissa Quinet who is the granddaughter of Elodie, produced this short film recounting the life stories of these two women.

Objective: To ask the right questions on the selection of facts in historical studies as well as the use of evidence as a basis for its transmission.

The visual thesis project attracted the attention of the Belgian RTBF Television Channel for broadcasting on the Trois.

1940. Le Congo est encore sous tutelle belge. Les unions interraciales, bien qu’interdites et taboues, sont très fréquentes. De nombreux bébés naissent de ces relations et, n’appartenant à aucune communauté, sont appelés «enfants mulâtres». La majorité d’entre eux ne seront jamais reconnus par leur père. Ils seront enlevés à leurs mères par des agents d’état pour être placés dans un orphelinat tenu par des religieux.

Longtemps en quête de leur identité, Élodie et sa meilleure amie, Gerty, font partie des personnes qui ont vécu ce parcours.

Dans le cadre de leur mémoire de fin d'études Master en Animation socioculturelle et Éducation permanente à l'IHECS (Bruxelles) , Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette et Mélissa Quinet qui est la petite fille d’Élodie, ont réalisé ce court-métrage relatant les récits de vie respectifs de ces deux femmes.

Objectif: susciter le questionnement sur la sélection des faits dans l’Histoire telle qu’elle est enseignée ainsi que sur l’utilisation de témoignages comme base à la transmission de celle-ci.

Ce mémoire médiatique a retenu l’attention de la chaîne de télévision belge RTBF pour une diffusion sur la Trois.

Métis from IHECS on Vimeo.


Débat : La Maison de la Participation - Anderlecht (In French | En Français)

27 March 2016

Zoom in on Women!: DEADLINE EXTENDED to 31 March 2016 – Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe, WFOZ

Zoom in on Women! : Deadline Extended to 31 March 2016 – Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe, WFOZ

Hey ladies, it’s time to tell our own stories!! If you are an African woman with a compelling story to tell, send your script to Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe. This is your chance to make those films! Production dates 2016/2017.

Preference will be given to films with few characters and few locations. Scripts should be:

- 60-80 minutes long.
- Have a strong female protagonist.
- Original and the sole property of the applicant.

Successful scripts will be produced for a prominent African television channel. A workshop with experienced scriptwriters will be held to make scripts production ready.

Women of Zimbabwe is an organisation that increases the participation and production capacity of women locally and regionally in the audiovisual industry. It also brings women’s issues to the attention of the cinema-viewing and television-watching public.

So polish up those scripts and send them to:
Date extended to 31 March 2016!

24 March 2016

African Diasporas. When Alice Diop takes us "towards masculine tenderness" | Quand Alice Diop nous entraîne "vers la tendresse" au masculin by/de Sylvie Braibant – tv5monde

Alice Diop -
When Alice Diop takes us "towards masculine tenderness" | Quand Alice Diop nous entraîne "vers la tendresse" au masculin by/de Sylvie Braibant – tv5monde

Source: À lire en français
Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

Alice Diop: "'Towards tenderness' - four young men speaking freely, locked in their sexual and romantic representations or on the verge of getting out of it."

The young filmmaker Alice Diop likes to position her gaze on the fringes. Her short film Vers la tendresse (Towards tenderness), in competition at the 38th International Women's Film Festival of Créteil, explores the romantic intimacy of four young men from the banlieue (outskirts) of Paris. A cinematic success.

One cannot help thinking that only a woman filmmaker could present this kind of perspective on such a slippery subject for a short film. While at the same moment in France and Germany, intellectuals are skinning each other alive regarding a text by writer Kamel Daoud on the cultural or religious frames of reference that would determine the sexual behavior of young migrants from the Maghreb.

"Initially, I wanted to make a fiction film about love in the banlieues. I did not know that these recorded voices would become the material for another film," says the director.

"These four encounters were fantastic. The quality of the dialogue that was given to me was fundamental. These boys were astonishing," she continued.

Alice Diop: “The film is a mise-en-sène of the voice off.”

It did not start as a film; but rather, audio-recorded conversations for another film project, which was to be fictional. Alice Diop went to meet these young men, who she regularly passes as she comes and goes home, to get them to speak about themselves, their private selves—a rare unveiling. They all grew up in the same neighborhood of Montreuil, east of Paris, between housing projects and the growing "bobo" (bourgeois/ bohemian) gentrification. But geography is their only commonality—their path on the meanderings of the heart is as diverse as they are.

Alice Diop: “We do not listen enough to men on this subject.”

She realises that this topic is usually discussed from a woman’s perspective. The various news items and incidents of violence against women are what generate media attention. She seeks to go beyond this dual external and internal discourse. Their stories are also about their fears.

The difficulty of being a man

The first, who was born in France, is so uptight that he goes on to say that "love is not for Africans", taking on an identity with those who remain locked out. He describes a sexuality damaged by pornography and the weight of the collective. The second feels comfortable, between despair and hope, that it wouldn’t take a great deal for other worlds to open up to him. The third made his "outing" and tells of a body encased inside a masculinity that he did not recognise, and the pretenses and difficulty of living a confirmed homosexuality openly. The last one has warmed up to the codes of tenderness, to the thoughtfulness of the desires of his partner and the give-and-take with each other.

One of the protagonists Patrick reflects on his painful journey as a young man attracted to other men...

In listening to their viewpoints, Alice Diop knew she had a film, and that the absence of images would give power to these sentiments. So she constructed a 40-minute documentary, propelled by the voices, the words placed on other bodies than those from which the voices emerge, while the other two interviewees were willing to be seen by the camera. These voices captivate in their intimacy, in their opposition, by their uniqueness to the group.

The role of the documentarian is to go beyond globalising discourse. What she seeks is the singular, and the complexity of these singularities, what each of these unique voices have to say…

Alice Diop: “For me, the man of the banlieue does not exist any more than the Arab man or African man.”

The result is a quintessential gracefulness of sound and image, which brushes aside all prejudices and makes one want to just listen again to what was just seen.

What motivates this young director, is to go towards the voices that are not heard, towards those who remain invisible in the public space, and to not be drawn into collective representations.

In the work she conducted with migrants, she identified the suffering, and with Ver la tendresse she searched for what it was to be a man, the difficulty to love, as much as universal quests. In both cases, her training as sociologist assists her; then she seeks to go beyond it.


Alice Diop has read Michel Foucault, and finds references in societal taboos: the difficulty of being and becoming a man in a ultra-sexualised world marked by advertising images, where love is reduced to a consumer product; or even the planetary wanderings of those tens of millions of migrants, refugees of wars and of misery, bodies and spirits neglected by the exodus.

The young director is also competing in the Cinema du Reel in Paris with La Permenance, another documentary (96 minutes) where Alice Diop follows the daily experiences of physician/psychiatrist Dr. Geeraert in his consultations reserved for undocumented immigrants. He examines the physical and psychic wounds of patients who, month after month, struggle to build a life here. Another topic on the fringes of our world…

Related articles regarding Alice Diop :

Djia Mambu: Alice Diop’s "Towards Tenderness" (Vers la Tendresse) and "La Permanence" 

23 March 2016

African Diasporas. Rokhaya Diallo: «De Paris à Ferguson : coupables d'être noirs» | "From Paris to Ferguson: guilty of being black"

Rokhaya Diallo: «De Paris à Ferguson : coupables d'être noirs» | "From Paris to Ferguson: guilty of being black"

Source: Libé – À lire en français. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

At the moment of the broadcast of the documentary by the anti-racism activist Rokhaya Diallo, «De Paris à Ferguson : coupables d'être noirs» | "From Paris to Ferguson: guilty of being black", the 23rd March on France Ô, the journal Libération takes the opportunity to recount the story of twelve Black or Arab men who died during or after being arrested by the French police, under the title: “Police violence: from Paris to Ferguson, who is the French Michael Brown?”

Translation of text below:

Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner... The names of these African Americans, victims of police violence, have been widely reported in recent months in the French media, and the widely covered racial tensions from Ferguson to Baltimore that their deaths revived. Last summer, in a series of portraits of the victims, the [journal] Libération revisited these missteps of the U.S. police. And in France? According to a documentary by Rokhaya Diallo, broadcast Wednesday at 20:50 on France Ô, the deaths during or following an arrest are often treated as a miscellaneous, non-event in the news, and the racial dimension widely silenced. "In the mirror that we hold on Ferguson [the town in Missouri where Michael Brown was killed], France should recognise its unsettling silhouette", a comment, which the journalist and essayist wrote in a column (co-signed with the anti-racism activist Sihame Assbague) published in Libération in 2014.

It is not only in Ferguson...

However, the racial dimension is at the heart of police violence in France, confirms a report on the subject published in recent days by ACAT (Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture | Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture). Though no official statistics identifies those killed or injured during police or gendarmerie operations in the country, the Christian association, which focused on 89 cases of alleged abuse between 2005 and 2015, has counted 26 deaths. "At least 22 [of them] were of people from visible minorities," it said in the report. In other words, more than 80%. The association also denounced the fact that this racism-tinged violence is often ignored and unpunished. In reports published in 2005 and 2009, Amnesty International also signaled this impunity and even evoked "racist motives". These practices have never been brought before the courts, and convictions for acts of police violence called for by the families and relatives of victims are extremely rare.

Libération revisits the circumstances of the death of twelve of these men, Black or Arab, who have died in recent years during or after a violent arrest, after being fired upon with a Taser or flash-ball, in a police vehicle or a police station, or shot by police. (The text describing the 12 incidents is in French).

The African Diaspora International Film Festival 2016 Celebrates Women’s Month ! 25 – 27 March (New York)

For immediate release

The African Diaspora International Film Festival
Celebrates Women’s Month!

Friday, 25 March – Sunday, 27 March

Diarah N’Daw-Spech
Tel: (212) 864-1760

NEW YORK, March 18, 2016 - Women behind the camera are the focus of this month’s African Diaspora International Film Festival film program to be held at Teachers College, Columbia University from Friday, March 25 to Sunday, March 27, 2016.

The selection is comprised of ten films from Senegal, New Zealand, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Canada, USA and Brazil.

Opening the series is a free program celebrating the anniversary of Senegalese pioneer filmmaker Khady Sylla who was born on March 27, 1963. Khady Sylla’s work still resonates today. She belongs to a group of African female directors whose body of work has tremendously enriched the production of African films in the past 20-30 years.

Highlights of the program include:
*The US Premiere screening of Mina Shum’s film Ninth Floor on the Sir George Williams University riot that took place in 1969. Ninth Floor is a film on a little known chapter in the history of race relations in Montreal, Canada and the struggle against institutional racism in institutions of Higher Education.

*The screening of White Lies by Dana Rotberg and White Like the Moon by Marina Gonzales Palmier, two films that received their US theatrical release two weeks ago to great popular and critical acclaim.  White lies is a women-centered drama set in the Maori community in colonial times New Zealand that explores issues of identity, of self-definition, and looks at the social attitudes towards women.  White Like the Moon is about a Mexican-American girl struggles to keep her identity when her mother forces her to bleach her skin.

* The drama Stand Down Soldier by Jeryl Prescott Sales, tells the story of Sergeant Stacy Armstrong who returns home from three deployments suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The film explores some of the issues many returning soldiers confront in their civil life including mental health issues, loneliness, and drug addiction for self-medication.   A panel discussion regarding mental health, women and communities of color will follow the film screening.

Other films in the program are Sexy Money by Karin Junger about poor Nigerian women who were prostitutes in Europe and try to make a life for themselves after they are sent back home; Cape Verde, My Love by Ana Lucia Ramos Lisboa a drama that takes a critical look at the dynamic between Cape Verdean men and women; Nelio’s Story that depicts the life of an orphan boy in Mozambique who escapes the civil war; and Abdias Do Nascimento by Aida Marques, about the Afro-Brazilian scholar, writer, activist and politician who was a significant figure in Brazil’s Black Movement.

For more information about the Women’s Month program, to receive screeners and high resolution images please contact Diarah N’Daw-Spech at (212) 864-1760/ fax (212) 316-6020 or e-mail
The African Diaspora International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. Support for ADIFF come from ArtMattan Productions; the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, Teachers College, Columbia University; the New York City Council in the Arts, WBAI and Public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Teachers College, Columbia University
525 West 120th Street – 263 Macy
Train 1 to 116th Street
Free street parking Saturday and Sunday
Friday, March 25 to Sunday, March 27, 2016
Friday, March 25
6:30pm - Films by Senegalese Filmmaker, Khady Sylla:
Colobane Express & The Silent Monologue
Saturday, March 26
1pm - Sexy Money
2:45pm - Cape Verde, My Love
4:30pm - Stand Down Soldier + Panel Discussion
7:30pm - Ninth Floor
Sunday, March 27
2pm - Nelio's Story
4pm - Stories of Colorism
6:30pm - Abdias Do Nascimento
Opening Program Friday, March 25 FREE
Saturday and Sunday screenings: $12/$10
Weekend Pass: $35

Tel: (212) 864-1760

19 March 2016

Claire Diao, interview by/par Stefania Summermatter - Le Festival international du film de Fribourg (FIFF) | Fribourg International Film Festival 2016

Claire Diao, interview by/par Stefania Summermatter - Le Festival international du film de Fribourg (FIFF) | Fribourg International Film Festival 2016. 
Source: from French by Beti Ellerson
Image: Julien Chavaillaz
[English] Français ci-après
Defying obstacles imposed by patriarchal and sometimes misogynistic societies, African women have succeeded in recent decades, to make their mark on both sides of the camera. But their work and their struggles are still unknown to the general public. The Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) dedicated a retrospective in collaboration with Claire Diao, a journalist from Burkina Faso and specialist in Africa cinema.

Franco-Burkinabe journalist, Claire Diao is a member of the Association of Film Critics of Burkina Faso and the African Federation of Film Critics. Specialist of cinema in Africa, she has among others, collaborated with Le Monde Afrique, Canal + Afrique, Courrier International and is founder of the digital magazine Awotélé. She organised the "New territory: being a woman filmmaker in Africa," at the Fribourg International Festival 2016.

Interview: The first African women filmmakers began in the 70s. Who were these pioneers?

Claire Diao: Sambizanga often is considered the first film directed by an African filmmaker. Presented at the Carthage Film Festival in 1973, it focuses on the Angolan war of independence. In reality, it was filmed by the Frenchwoman Sarah Maldoror. Another cult film is Peasant Letter by the Senegalese Safi Faye, which was selected at Cannes in 1975. Unfortunately, we could not find a copy of this film and hence were not able to present it to the audience. The film deals with the economic problems of rural regions, and this exodus continues still today. Can one actually speak of a woman’s cinema? Is there a specific genre?

C.D.: Honestly, I like to see a film without knowing who directed it because too often we are conditioned by preconceptions. Sometimes we are even surprised to discover that a man rather than a woman made a certain film, and this leads us to question our perception of a gendered sensibility. 

I am personally convinced that sensibility has no gender! There are very hard films made by women and other more tender films directed by men. And besides, it is often the latter who reproduce these stereotypes by emphasising the sensitivity and emotionality of a film considered feminine. Are there not nonetheless themes that are more specific to women directors?

C.D.: In recent years, I have been especially surprised by the manner in which African filmmakers represent women. I get the impression that there is an overdose of films about prostitutes, often mixed-race. How is this possible? The woman is portrayed as either a mother or a sister or as a prostitute. I find it a bit pathetic and I have a difficult time understanding this trend. To believe that the directors are not aware of the message they convey.

I notice that the only difference between men and women is the fact that the latter go beyond the clichés. They try to represent a diversity of women and to highlight their strength. I am thinking in particular of Le Challat de Tunis by Kaouther Ben Hania, a film that looks at the machismo of Tunisian society from the urban legend of a man who slashes women’s buttock with a razor blade. In still-existing patriarchal societies that are not always democratic, do women cineastes risk even more when they dare to challenge the rules and values?

C.D.: We must not forget that cinema is still worrisome for many African governments as it allows a collective awareness. Take literature for example, in countries where the illiteracy rate is high, it is primarily the intellectuals who are the most easily able to be “isolated”. On the contrary, a film can affect a whole population and risk seeing them become awakened. In this context, the risk for women is even greater when they question society and this is true not only for filmmakers but also for actresses.

Thus, in 2015, the Moroccan actress Lubna Abidar was humiliated and assaulted for her role in "Much Loved," a film about prostitution in Marrakech [censored in Morocco]. The reason being that the film by Nabil Ayouch shows an image of this country that nobody wants to talk about, even though it is a reality. In Africa, the relationship with the image is problematic. The public makes no distinction between an actress and the character that she plays. This is also because women are still seen as the "daughter of someone" or the "wife of somebody." The reputation of the family is at stake...

C.D.: Indeed! The perception and judgment of others is fundamental in Africa. A woman may succeed in convincing her husband or parents of the importance of her work as a filmmaker or actor but she must always consider the rest of the family, the neighborhood, the city or even the country.

The concept is simple: "You are my wife, my daughter, my niece ... your image is mine!" And she may also face another obstacle: once a woman has a family, she has difficulty pursuing a filmmaking career for instance, since gender relations are far from being equal. Given such difficulties, is there a tendency of self-censorship among women?

C.D.: I don’t think so. I think women filmmakers have one thing in common: they courageously undertake the need to express themselves through film. The mere fact of taking a camera in hand or recounting means to continue the struggle, even within the family. Self-censorship disappears in part and it is not a small matter!


Bravant les obstacles imposés par des sociétés patriarcales et parfois misogynes, les femmes africaines ont réussi, durant ces dernières décennies, à s'imposer d'un côté et de l'autre de la caméra. Mais leur travail et leurs luttes sont encore méconnues du grand public. Le Festival international du film de Fribourg (FIFF) leur a consacré une rétrospective réalisée en collaboration avec Claire Diao, journaliste originaire du Burkina-Faso et spécialiste du 7e art en Afrique.

Journaliste franco-burkinabé, Claire Diao est membre de l’Association des critiques cinématographiques du Burkina Faso et de la Fédération africaine des critiques de cinéma. Spécialiste du septième art en Afrique, elle a entre autres collaboré avec Le Monde Afrique, Canal + Afrique, Courrier International et elle a fondé la revue digitale Awotélé. Elle a été responsable de la section «Nouveau territoire: être cinéaste en Afrique» du Festival international du film de Fribourg.

17 March 2016

"Labyrinth of Belonging" the story of the enigmatic Ethiopian Nun Composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

GoFundMe Crowdfunding Campaign for the film "Labyrinth of Belonging" the story of the enigmatic Ethiopian Nun Composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru 

Hanna Kebbede is organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation Inc.

Source : Gofundme

About this project

The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation is producing a biopic of the nun musician. Emahoy’s life spans three continents and nine decades, a study in Europe, the Italian occupation of Ethiopia during WWII, preparing to be a concert pianist and a call to monastic life. It is epic. Little is known about her journey both as a musician and as a spiritual figure. Although she had published vinyl records in the 70s it was her solo compositions in Ethiopiques 21 published by Buda Musique that made her world famous. She was 85 years old then, and at the age of 93 she continues to play music and has a sharp mind.

Visit Labyrinth of Belonging - documentary film for details about the fundraising efforts and to make a contribution. 

16 March 2016

Renata Martins & Juliana Gonçalves : Adélia Sampaio - One Black Brazilian Woman Filmmaker We Must Remember | Conheça a cineasta negra que fez história no cinema nacional

Image credit: Arquivo Pessoal
Renata Martins & Juliana Gonçalves: Adélia Sampaio, One Black Brazilian Woman Filmmaker We Must Remember | Conheça a cineasta negra que fez história no cinema nacional

Image credit: Arquivo Pessoal

O racismo apaga, a gente reescreve: Conheça a mulher negra que fez história no cinema nacional  via @HuffpostBrasil

15 March 2016

Cannes 2016 - Short Film Corner - Ama Anie Noïa Kouadio : C’est pas mon papy, c’est mon papa! | That’s not my grandpa, that’s my dad

Cannes 2016 - Short Film Corner - Ama Anie Noïa Kouadio : C’est pas mon papy, c’est mon papa! | That’s not my grandpa, that’s my dad


Filmmaker | Réalisatrice

Ama Anie Noïa Kouadio from Côte d’Ivoire, is a filmmaker and editor. Her debut film C’est pas mon papy, c’est mon papa! (2016, short documentary) was selected at the Cannes 2016 Short Film Corner.

Ama Anie Noïa Kouadio est une réalisatrice et monteuse ivoirienne.
Son premier film C’est pas mon papy, c’est mon papa! (2016, court métrage, documentaire) a été sélectionné au Short Film Corner du Festival de Cannes 2016.


Patrice is 60 years old. With his 6-foot frame and white locks of hair, he escorts Angelina, his three-year-old daughter, to nursery. For this sixty-something, everyday life generally follows the rhythm set by Angelina, an adventure full of upheavals, which connects him to his past. 

Du haut de ses 1m80 et de sa chevelure blanche, il accompagne Angelina à la crêche, sa fille de 3 ans. Pour ce sexagénaire, au quotidien rythmée en grande partie par Angelina, une aventure riche en bouleversements le reconnecte à son passé. 

14 March 2016

African actresses: representation, activism, agent of change

African actresses: representation, activism, agent of change

The African Woman on screen recalls the initial visual engagement with the film leaving the viewer to contemplate the actor’s role and the filmmaker’s intent. While African women as actors were not always embraced by their societies, especially during the nascent period of African cinema in the mid-1960s, they have been dedicated artists, playing an important role in the evolution of African cinema. Nonetheless, actresses have been gradually accepted as artists, as African societies became more receptive to the moving image and recognized the role of African filmmakers as visual storytellers. Moreover they understood that films are doing important cultural work and may be used as a tool, both to visualize the society as it is, for better or for worse, and in a forward-thinking manner, as an idea, to envisage Africans as they would like to be. While there is a more expansive range of roles for women, screen representations as a whole have yet to portray the full span of realistic representations of African women’s agency and the empowering experiences of their lives. Perhaps this tendency is due in part to the relatively small production of films from Africa—hence, the pool of subject matter is limited; as well as the growing popularity of films for entertainment or that are based on formulaic themes, none of which constructs the female character as a whole human being. Beyond these challenges, however, historically African women and many men have endeavored to represent the woman as an agent of change and a source of empowerment, and as an active participant in the world, worthy of exploration and reflection.

The African Women in Cinema Blog provides a range of themes related to the African woman as actress. Following is an ongoing list of articles:

Homage to Maimouna Helene Diarra

Zalika Souley nous a quitté

Aissa Maiga

Dolapo Adeleke’s Just in Time

To be a black actress in France

First General Assembly of African Actresses

Cannes 2019: Maimouna Ndiaye member of Jury

Ai Keita Yara in Sarraounia by Med Hondo

#Metoo at Fespaco

Black Camera: On-screen Narratives, Off-screen lives

Black is not my profession - 16 Black French actresses collectively publish a book

Influential Woman: Aissa Maiga

Reflections on African Women on and off screen

Report on Afrikamera

Teaching African Women in Cinema and Art

Agatha Ukata research women in Nollywood

Leandre Alain Baker Talks about his film Ramata

African Women in Cinema Confront FGM

Yahima Torres as Sarah Baartman

Pascale Obolo: Visible Woman

Alexandra Duah of BlessedMemory

Therese Mbissine Diop: Pioneer

11 March 2016

An African woman on the Seine | Une Africaine sur Seine by/de Ndèye Marame Guèye – 60 years after | 60 ans après, L’Afrique sur Seine by/de Paulin Soumanou Vieyra

An African woman on the Seine | Une Africaine sur Seine by/de Ndèye Marame Guèye – 60 years after | 60 ans après “L’Afrique sur Seine” by/de Paulin Soumanou Vieyra

Image: PSV Films 

For her Femis film project Une Africane sur Seine, 2015 (An African woman on the Seine), Ndèye Marame Guèye returns to the iconic 1955 film Afrique sur Seine directed by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra (1925-1987) with his African colleagues, all studying cinema in Paris at l'IDHEC, l'Institut des hautes études cinématographiques, presently called FEMIS.

Not able to obtain a filming permit from the colonial authorities to make a film in Senegal, the pioneer filmmaker, and who would become the founding father of African film criticism and theory, decided to shoot the film in Paris, hence the film title, Afrique sur Seine (Africa on the Seine), which recounts the experiences of African students in Paris in the 1950s. Posing questions of identity, of the notion of “home”: Is Africa also on the banks of the Seine? Or in the Latin Quarter? (home of the historic Sorbonne), the film attempted to probe the bittersweet issues of a generation of artists and students in search of their civilization, their culture, their future. (Text adapted from film synopsis).

Through voiceoff, Ndèye Marame Guèye, of the third generation of African filmmakers, has an imaginary dialogue with Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, posing many of these same questions from the perspective of a young, contemporary Senegalese student regarding a France of 2015. She asks: “For the French children of immigrants, these children of the second generation, these children of the banlieues, what does France mean to them today?”

Below is the translation from French by Beti Ellerson of Une Africaine sur Seine

My Dear Soumanou, by pure chance my journey to Paris leads me to you. Today I am here at the same school, on the same bench, though undoubtedly without the same pioneering spirit that you had. Sixty years ago you made a film that is considered one of the first by an African, Afrique sur Seine. You were obliged to make the film in France because the colonisers at the time prohibited Africans from making their own image in their own territories. However, their own compatriots were allowed “to film Africans as if they were insects” (1)

You came here to the Paris of the Latin Quarter, the Paris of the Champs Elysèes. You came here to find your Africa, your culture, your identity.

Voiceoff from the film Afrique sur Seine: “In our discovery of Paris, looking for Africa on the Seine, we have the hope to find each other, the hope to get together, the hope to find civilisation”.

You came to learn how to better “join wood to wood” and you searched for your Africa from afar in the waters of the Seine, the Seine, as the Niger and Senegal Rivers or still that of the St. Louis River, which rinsed the impurities of my childhood.

I open my path as you did 60 years ago, a path that will lead me to other territories of cinema, such as those that you followed since Afrique sur Seine. It is amazing how coincidence plunges us into the same abyss of time, space, and history.

Paulin Soumanou, you said that Paris was the capital of the world, of Black Africa. You said that we were here in the city of promise, the centre of hope, of all hopes, a place where happiness and friendship floats in the wind. You spoke of the fruits of the earth shared by all. But this sharing is still inequitable.

Vendor speaking in Wolof subtitled in French: It is God who distributes wealth. It is a bit like the rain in Senegal. During the rainy season, rain does not fall everywhere. Here it is the same thing. There are months when you make money and there are months when you make nothing. Sometimes you manage to sell, sometimes you sell nothing.”

Ndèye Marame Guèye speaking in Wolof subtitled in French: There are people who I wanted to film but they refused. They were afraid that the people at home may discover that they work in these types of jobs.”

Vendor speaking in Wolof subtitled in French: “As long as we are here we do what we can to get by. But upon returning home, when we talk about our job, the family belittles us that is why they do not want to be filmed. That bothers us a lot.

Woman speaking to Ndèye Marame Guèye in French: “This is not necessarily the place to come to. Yes, perhaps to study, to succeed academically and then leave.  Perhaps it is where you come from, because France is not a destination for the future. Someone like me who was born in France but is of foreign origins, it is difficult to find one’s home, one’s space. For us when in France “my country” is my ancestral homeland. But when I am in this homeland, “my country” is France.”

Ndèye Marame Guèye speaking to woman in French: “And who are you?”

Woman speaking in French: “Good question, I’m still searching.”

Some of my brothers who came searching for a better tomorrow, told me that the ugliness of the Eiffel Tower betrayed them. To contemplate beauty in this hunk of metal brings them little, rather they prefer its shadow and to look for those who would like to buy a replica of it as a souvenir of Paris. Its shadow hides their misery but sometimes it portrays their suffering.

I remain convinced that France is a mere fairytale for black children. A myth that sparkles, while Africans look elsewhere, towards other horizons.

Here in Paris, I only breathe the air of time passing, accelerating, quicker and quicker. Here I am lost. In the midst of nowhere, but nonetheless lost.

Paulin Soumanou, contrary to you 60 years ago, your grandchildren are free to travel around Africa with their optical box. It is time for me to return home, "no matter how long a log stays in water, it doesn't become a crocodile." If for you Paris is the capital of the world, for me I want to dream of the day when Africa will be the capital of cinema. Beautiful images will have to be born again in the Sahara, images thought of by your grandchildren, an imagination born from the rivers of Africa, and not the waters of the Seine.

(1) Reference to Ousmane Sembene who made this accusation directly to Jean Rouch.

10 March 2016

FIFF Festival International de Films de Fribourg 2016: Being a female filmmaker in Africa | Être réalisatrice en Afrique

FIFF Festival International de Films de Fribourg 2016: Being a female filmmaker in Africa | Être réalisatrice en Afrique

30th Edition dedicated to women | 30e edition consacrée aux femmes

ENGLISH [Français ci-après]

Terra Incognita: Being a female filmmaker in Africa

Gender equality! (Claire Diao)

Being a woman filmmaker in Africa means two things. 
One: you make films in countries where art does not receive much funding, where it has little infrastructure, does not make money and is therefore generally dependent on financing from Western countries. 
Two: being a woman in societies that are for the most part patriarchal, you are in a professional environment that is dominated by men and in an atmosphere that is often misogynist.
Because a woman who succeeds is not where she belongs, she is disruptive. She has to be «somebody's daughter», «somebody's wife», or «somebody's girlfriend»...

Through a retrospective of films spanning the African continent from north to south, from the 1970s to the present decade, in Arabic, French, English, Portuguese or in local languages, the Fribourg International Film Festival highlights the work of African women filmmakers, which is well worth seeing. And worth supporting.

Nouveau territoire: Être réalisatrice en Afrique

Parité! (Claire Diao)

Etre réalisatrice en Afrique signifie deux choses. 
Un: réaliser dans des pays où l'Art est peu financé, peu structuré, peu rentable et donc généralement dépendant des financements de l'Occident.
Deux: être femme dans des sociétés majoritairement patriarcales, un milieu professionnel dominé par les hommes et une ambiance souvent misogyne.
Car une femme qui réussit n'est pas à sa place, elle dérange. Elle est forcément la «fille de», la «femme de», voire la «petite de»…
Par une rétrospective de films réalisés du Nord au Sud de l'Afrique, des années 1970 aux années 2010, en arabe, en français, en anglais, en portugais ou en langues locales, le Festival International de Films de Fribourg met en lumière le travail de réalisatrices africaines à découvrir absolument. Et à encourager.


Alda et Maria, Pocas Pascoal*, Portugal, 2011, 94’, Fiction 
Congo, un médecin pour sauver les femmes, Angèle Diabang*, Senegal, France, 2014, 52’, Doc
Cuba, une odyssée africaine, Jihan El-Tahri, France, Egypt, 2007, 118’, Doc 
Le Challat de Tunis, Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisia, France, 2014, 90’, Docufiction 
Les Sénégalaises et la Sénégauloise, Alice Diop, Senegal, France, 2007, 56’, Doc 
Les Silences du palais, Moufida Tlatli, Tunisia, France, 1994, 128’, Fiction 
Même pas mal, Nadia El Fani*, Tunisia, France, 2012, 66’, Doc
Mere-Bi, mother, Ousmane William Mbaye, Senegal, 2009, 55’, Doc  
Mon Beau Sourire, Angèle Diabang*, Senegal, 2005, 5’, Doc 
Mwansa the Great, Rungano Nyoni, Zambia, UK, USA, 2011, 23’, Fiction 
On ne mourra pas, Amal Kateb, France, 2010, 21’, Fiction 
Pumzi, Wanuri Kahiu, South Africa, Kenya, 2009 21’, Fiction 
Sambizanga, Sarah Maldoror, Angola, France, 1972, 102’, Fiction 
Something Necessary, Judy Kibinge, Kenya, Germany, 2013, 85’, Fiction 
Sur la Planche, Leïla Kilani, Morocco, France, Germany, 2011 110’, Fiction 
The Revolution Won’t Be Televised, Rama Thiaw* Senegal, 2016, 110’, Doc
Un Transport en commun , Dyana Gaye, Senegal, France, 2009, 48’, Fiction 
Une Affaire de nègres, Osvalde Lewat, Cameroon, France, 2008, 90’, Doc 
Une Fenêtre ouverte, Khady Sylla, Senegal, France, 2005, 52’, Doc 
Yema, Djamila Sahraoui, Algeria, UAE, France, 2012 91’, FictioN


Claire & Angèle, Nadia, Pocas, Rama, in/en conversation: To be a woman filmmaker in Africa | Être réalisatrice en Afrique  

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