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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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18 July 2018

Interview with Delphine Wil, director of the film "Missionary memories" | Entretien avec Delphine Wil, réalisatrice du film Mémoire de missionnaires - by/de Thierno I. Dia,

Delphine Wil ©Neon Rouge Production
Interview with Delphine Wil, director of the film "Missionary memories" | Entretien avec Delphine Wil, réalisatrice du film Mémoire de missionnaires - by/de Thierno I. Dia, 27 06 2018. 

In collaboration with, translated from French by Beti Ellerson and published on the African Women in Cinema Blog. Image : Neon Rouge Production.

Interview with Delphine Wil, director of the film Mémoire de missionnaires. Her documentary opened the festival Mis me binga 2018, Cameroon

Mémoire de missionnaires “Missionary memories” (2017) is the first documentary film by Delphine Wil. Born in Germany in 1988 of a Belgian father and a Belgian-Congolese mother, she is a filmmaker whose cultural diversity has shaped her path. She completed her studies in photography at the École de Photographie de la Ville de Bruxelles) and in journalism at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, parallel to filmmaking, she works in the information field in Francophone Africa.

She started her professional career as a radio journalist at the Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF) before moving to the audio-visual sector. She participated in a video creation workshop in Mons and in Senegal, and afterwards moved to Burkina Faso, where she works with Manivelle Productions. Mémoire de missionnaires (2017) was the opening film of the 9th edition of Mis me binga 2018, International Women’s Film Festival in Yaounde, which was held from 26-30 June 26. The film will travel to several festivals, in Europe and in Congo, with other cultural events to follow.

What motivated the making of a film about missionary memory (rather than a photo series for example or a press article)?

A film is able to mobilize sound and image and to show the behaviour, reactions, and personality of the characters. To me, the combination of all these elements seems important for this project, because it deals with a subject that may be considered sensitive. In my opinion, seeing on screen the engagement of these people at that age tells something in itself. They entrust their truth, in retrospect, as they perceive it today. Some reaffirm the prejudices of the epoch. Others are more critical. My desire was to transmit this ambivalence. To me, it seems necessary to listen to these elders, despite the fact that the information that they relay can be incriminating; because—whether we like it or not—they illustrated history. Photos or a press article would probably not have gone as far in these nuances as a film.

What does it mean for your film to be selected at Mis Be Binga and as the opening film?

It is a great honour for me to be selected at the Mis Me Binga Festival and, moreover, to see it as the opening film of the Festival, which is also the premiere for Mémoire de missionnaires, is a recompense for the work of the entire team. I am also very happy that an African festival has made this choice, because it shows that the film addresses a subject that has made an impact and, hence, it is important to discuss it on the continent. It also demonstrates the double identity of the film, both African and European; and the fact that the festival showcases the perspectives of the women filmmakers within cinematographic creation is also important to me.

The film does not seem to have been programmed at festivals in Belgium and France? Is it a choice on your part or resistance from the programmers?

The film was broadcast on television in Belgium on the RTBF and in France on Lyon Capitale TV and was accessible for two months in both countries, in addition to Switzerland, through the video-on-demand platform [VoD] Tënk. The Belgian company Neon Rouge Production that produced Mémoire de missionnaires continues to send it to many Belgian and French festivals (and beyond). The film will be screened at the Festival des cinémas d'Afrique de Toulouse (Festival of African Cinemas in Toulouse) in late August, early September. We obviously hope that there are other selections in Belgium and France. For me, the goal is for the film to be seen, wherever that may be and in any way possible.

It is clear that, for the moment, the film circulates better in African festivals than in European ones. It is difficult for me to provide an analysis in this regard. There is a certain unpredictability in the programmers’ selection process.

In Kigali (Mashariki FilmFest), you announced a trilogy around the genocide in Rwanda, what stage are you on this project?

In 2014, this trilogy project turned into two portraits, rather in the form of a report, which is accessible on my blog [in French]:

Presently, I am writing a short fiction entitled “Au risque de se perdre” (At the risk of getting lost) that evokes the career of an African journalist, which particularly appeals to me. I co-directed with radio director and sound engineer, Jeanne Debarsy, a sound creation entitled  "Sous l'eau, les larmes du poisson qui pleure ne se voient pas" (Under water, the tears of the crying fish cannot be seen). I am also developing a new documentary project, for which I do not yet have a title.

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