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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31 May 2020

Behind the camera, in the frame: African Women's autobiographical imaginaries

Behind the camera, in the frame: African Women's autobiographical imaginaries

The practice of self-inscription is evident in many of the works of African women filmmakers, where identity, belonging and self-discovery are prevailing themes. Hamid Naficy describes these autobiographical imaginaries as a dominant motif in “accented films” where self-reflexive strategies that inscribe the filmmaker are also employed. This article draws from some of the multiple and diverse themes of African women makers/protagonists in order to highlight some of these forms of self-documentation.

South African visual activist Zanele Muholi, affirms her subject positioning, reclaiming the right to tell her own story, taking proprietorship of her images and encouraging other black South African lesbians and Africans as a whole to do so. Zanele Muholi co-produced Difficult Love (2010) with Peter Goldsmid under the condition that she has certain rights and the ownership of her story in the documentary. Interwoven into a composite of her visual works with interviews of her, her friends and colleagues, the film relates her experiences and the complexities of her life: as lesbian, family person and as participant in her society.

In the documentary The Vibrancy of Silence: A Discussion with my Sisters (2018), Marthe Djilo Kamga inscribes herself in the conversations with four other Cameroonian women, like her, artists who know exile as well as how necessary it is to transmit to younger generations what they have learned as their multiple identities have evolved and fused.

Through the Eyes of My Daughter (2004), Zulfah Otto-Sallies focuses the lenses on her family, zooming into their world in the Bo-Kaap community of South Africa for an entire year. The cross-generational response to contemporary society is the thread running through the film, sometimes showing differing perspectives regarding the realities that the current generation confronts. The evolving story contrasts the apartheid-generation of Zulfah with teen-ager Muneera’s experiences in a democratic South Africa. In full view of the camera, one has a glimpse of the strong bond of the mother-daughter relationship. Zulfah Otto-Sallies invites the viewer into their world with all of the unpredictability that comes as a result.

Mame Woury Thioubou gazes openly into the mirror. Face to face with her image she compares it to the beauty and historic elegance of the women of St. Louis, Senegal, which had always been her idea of feminine beauty. Her film Face à Face, Femmes et beauté à Saint-Louis (Face to Face, Women and Beauty in St. Louis, 2009) provides a cross-generational perspective of notions of beauty past and present.

Employing the camera as a strategy of self-reflection, Aicha Thiam’s Papa (2006), is structured around memories of presence and absence. Her face fills the frame as she addresses her recently deceased father in voice-off narration. The poem-film is a journey between two worlds. It is a film-letter of her love, a space where she could communicate directly to her father and ultimately find relief from the loss of his physical presence.

The journey of identity, to cite Hamid Naficy, is omnipresent in Sarah Bouyain's Les Enfants du blanc (Children of the White Man, 2000), during which she returns to Burkina Faso to document her family history. While narrating in voice-off Sarah Bouyain recalls her childhood summer vacations in Burkina Faso, with her paternal grandmother, Jeanne Bouyain. She also remembers her great grandmother Diouldé Boly who refused to speak in French because it brought back painful memories. These remembrances form the basis of her family-history meetings with her grandmother, visualized in the documentary. Her recollections are framed in a sequence of questions to which her grandmother responds in detail, sometimes elaborated by elements of Sarah’s research, which the latter narrates in voice-off. The internal journeys with her grandmother also entail voyages through the family photo albums, chats together during daily chores. 

Similarly, in La Souffrance est une école de sagesse | Suffering is a School of Wisdom (2010) Astrid Ariane Atodji set out to resolve the increasingly nagging questions of belonging, in a voyage from Cameroon to Benin, the land of her father, where she had never been. Questions of identity began to surface in her during an interview when she was referred to as "the Cameroonian of Beninese origin." Born of a Cameroonian mother, she never doubted her Cameroonian-ness. However, the question of identity, of belonging, started to manifest itself, an uneasiness gradually developing: “I wanted answers to these questions that I asked myself and to which my father did not satisfactorily give me answers.”

Claude Haffner focuses most of the story in Footprints of My Other (2012) on her second return voyage to the land of her birth, though it was not the story that she had initially set out to tell, but rather of a more politically-focused theme regarding the region of the Congo where her family lived, and how they were affected by it. Nonetheless, she realized that in order to tell the complexities of this story she would have to enter into it. Hence, her autobiographical consciousness unveiled during the filmmaking process. She explains:

“The film should redefine itself as the shooting unfolds in the same way that the filmmaker redefines herself in relation to her initial idea and to her subject. This is evident in the fact that in 2004 I could not foresee that I would be expecting a child after having filmed in the Congo, and that I would actually include myself, while pregnant, during the scenes in Alsace. Somehow, the film helped me to define my identity and my place between Europe and Africa and to become aware of the richness that I possess to have come from a double culture or perhaps I should say, multiple.”

Similarly, Taghreed Elsanhouri had no intentions of making an autobiographical story when she set out to Sudan to make a film about the Aljazeera-commissioned project on the children of the Mygoma Orphanage in Karthoum. However, after meeting baby Abdelsamih, the emotional journey of growing close to him while making the film becomes part of the story. From the filmmaking experience she evolves from exploratory filmmaker to the mother of little Abdelsamih.

On the other hand, in Mundele; blanche, etrangère (white, stranger) Matamba Kombila consciously positions herself as its subject, as if to invite the spectator to reflect on the complexities of her mixed-raced, mixed-cultural positionality and the fraught identity politics of who she is.

Beryl Magoko's In Search…, at the same time autobiographical as the title suggests, it is also a rediscovery, a search for self, as well an exploration to understand the experiences of others who underwent female genital cutting. And in the process, she found the courage to talk with her mother, about her own experience--a topic which is considered taboo, hence through intergenerational dialogue, a conversation opens towards the future.

The filmmaker/participant duality is evident in the desire to be at the same time auteur and protagonist of the history that she mines. Hence the subjective strategies of many of these stories emerge from a mode of autobiographical practice, which negotiate reflection, questioning and memory through acts of self-inscription, even if it entails for some, to confront a long-held resistance to divulge private, intimate moments of self or family histories.

Text drawn from "On-screen Narratives, Off-screen Lives: African Women Inscribing the Self". Beti Ellerson. Black Camera, an International Film Journal. Volume 9, Number 2, Spring 2018

Related articles from the African Women in Cinema Blog

Aljazeera - Witness - The Bag on my Back, a documentary film by Tapiwa Chipfupa (Zimbabwe)

Eliane Tekou Donchi : La main interdite

In Search... by Beryl Magoko (Kenya)

Astrid Ariane Atodji : La Souffrance est une école de sagesse | Suffering is a School of Wisdom

Words of Marthe Djilo Kamga: Vibrancy of Silence: A Discussion With My Sisters

Perspectives of Black African Women - Images of Diversity and Equality Festival (Paris)

Khady Sylla & Mariama Sylla Faye : Une Simple Parole | A Single Word

Claude Haffner: Noire ici, blanche la-bàs | Footprints of My Other

The Fruitless Tree | L’arbre sans fruit by/de Aicha Macky (Niger)

Black Camera: On-screen Narratives, Off-screen Lives: African Women Inscribing the Self by Beti Ellerson (Spring 2018)

30 May 2020

Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) 2020 - REMINDER Submissions open

Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) 2020 - REMINDER Submissions open 

11th Annual Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF)
Celebrating 11 years of Connecting Communities, Cultures and Continents!

Event dates:  8-11 October 2020
Call for entries: Deadline: 30 June 2020

Set in Silicon Valley, California, the high-tech capital of the world, SVAFF is a highly respected destination event that draws hundreds of out of state and international guests. Voted 2015 and 2019 Best of Silicon Valley, SVAFF is the only film festival in California that is exclusively focused on films made by African filmmakers. The festival has built a substantial following and has become an annual destination film event that draws out of state and international guests to Silicon Valley.

Aptly themed “Africa through the African lenses”, the mission of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) is to promote an understanding and appreciation of Africa and Africans through moving images. In fulfillment of its mission, SVAFF:
1.) Curates a world-class festival of African films and provides our audience access to the richness, diversity and vitality of Africa’s creative expressions.
2.) Promotes cultural literacy by hosting post-screening dialogues so our audience can engage and interact with African filmmakers on issues of personal, local and global significance.
3.) Promotes ideas exchange and collaborations between American and African film industry and allied services practitioners.

28 May 2020

iFilm Conference: The Future of Women in African Cinema 2020

iFilm Conference: The Future of Women in African Cinema 2020


Stephanie Tum (Cameroon)
Stephanie Tum is an actress, model and a philanthropist.

Ola El Mallah (Egypt)
Ola Elmallah is an Egyptian freelance director of photography and director for feature fiction, documentary and short films.

Meron Dagnew (Ethiopia)
Meron Dagnew is a Social Entrepreneur, Cultural activist and Communications Specialist.

Esi Yamoah (Ghana)
Esi Yamoah is a Ghanaian-American producer, actress and filmmaker. Her short film Yaa (2016), has been screened in film festivals internationally.

Desiree Kahikopo (Namibia)
Desiree Kahikopo, an alumna of the Talents Durban 2018, won best newcomer director of best film script and audience choice award at the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards 2019 for her debut film White Line.

Omoni Oboli (Nigeria)
Omoni Oboli heads the production and movie equipment rental company in Nigeria, Dioni Visions Limited. She is an actress, scriptwriter, producer and director. She studied at the New York Film Academy and has written several screenplays, including The Figurine (2009), Anchor Baby (2010), Fatal Imagination, Being Mrs Elliott, The First Lady and Wives on Strike (2016). In 2018 she starred and directed the comedy film, Moms at War, and in 2019, the film Love is War.

Kantarama Gahigiri (Rwanda)
Kantarama Gahigiri (born December 13) is a Swiss-Rwandan filmmaker. Her filmography includes, Check (2008), Leila (2009), The Elevator (2011),  Me + U (2013), Tapis rouge (2014), Pinot in the Grass (2014), Lost Angel Less (2017), Né Pour Mourir (2017).

Layla Swart (South Africa)
Layla Swart was born in Cape Town, South Africa and studied Film and Media Production at the University of Cape Town, and went on to complete her postgraduate degree in Film Practice and Theory in 2009.

25 May 2020

Tanzanian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Tanzanian Women
in Cinema, Visual Media
and Screen Culture

Scholar Mona Ngusekela Mwakalinga asserts that women have always been part of the film industry and have played an important role in the image-making process in Tanzania.

A case in point: the cinema advocacy of Flora Mmbugu-Schelling. Like African filmmakers in general, Flora Mmbugu-Schelling's approach to African cinema is multiple, where she takes on not only filmmaking, but also the advocacy role that is an essential part of the process. In 1986, she created the company, Shoga Womyn Films, whose aim was to develop an awareness of African cinema, its aesthetics, as well as the representation of African images and culture in film, especially as it relates to women. The objectives of Shoga Womyn Films as stated in its brochure are; to produce and distribute African films and films made by women or about women from all over the world; to show for the purpose of entertainment or education African films or films by women or about women; to operate a literary and film club with the intention of conducting discourse on films and pertinent matters concerning African cinema. Her filmography includes: Kumekucha (From Sun Up) 1987, These Hands, 1992, Shida and Matazito, 1993. She was active as a filmmaker during the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, and while her cinema-related activities in the country have been less visible in the decades since, other women have taken the torch.

Beatrix Mugishagwe is the founding chairperson of the Tanzanian Association of Independent Producers and co-founder of the Tanzanian Screenwriters Forum. Her documentary project Unsung Heroines puts a spotlight on women and leadership throughout the African continent. She had this to say about why she undertook the project:

People on the continent of Africa today continue to survive because of women: if there are no women who till the land for food, fetch water, collect firewood, bear children, run the market stalls, the continent would have long perished given its history.Yet when you look in the top decision-making positions of governments, companies and the likes throughout the African continent women hardly feature therein. Is it a wonder then that a young African girl looks around for a role model and all she sees are men and if women then non-African? 

Seko Shamte Tingitana, film producer, writer and director, is co-founder and head of programming of East Africa Television. In 2008 she created Alkemist Media in order to address the lack of relevant and high-quality content on local Tanzanian television stations and the underrepresentation of Tanzania and Tanzanians on international screens. (Source:

Like many other African women cineastes located within transnational positionalities, their filmmaking practices are diasporic and "glocal" demonstrating, a blurred frontier between birthland and ancestral/parental homeland.

Tanzanian-American Ekwa Msangi belongs to a growing cohort of American/African first-gen filmmakers born or raised outside of the parents’ homeland telling stories about their hybrid experiences, dual identities, relationship with their birth/adopted home and their parents homeland. She is, in fact, part of a cohort of “third culture individuals”. She was born in Kenyan to Tanzanian parents and is now based in the United States. She finds that her Tanzanian-ness becomes evident in the details of her story while her "American-ness" is revealed by her aesthetic choices relating to acting and the camera.

Similarly, filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro, a first-generation American of a Tanzanian father and Korean mother, tells a personal history tracing her Tanzanian roots in A Lot Like You. Upon retirement, her father returns to Tanzania; she follows him with her camera discovering a side of the family she knew little about.

As I have noted often in discussions regarding African women and film festival practices, an important function of the event is its capacity to showcase on a local, continental and international level, the works of African women, and to serve as a networking space to professionalize their experiences as stakeholders on the global film festival landscape. 

The Women’s Panorama, a feature of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, ZIFF, is designed expressly for the women of Zanzibar. The event includes film screenings with discussions and debates around the themes addressed in the films. The objective of the Women’s Panorama is to establish the visibility of women in cinema, media and the arts in a positive light, as well as a means of education and self-expression. In 2017, ZIFF created the Adiaha Award for Best African Female Documentary Filmmaker, a new special jury award category open specifically to women documentary filmmakers from Africa. Hence, the festival’s commitment to women’s empowerment in cinema is demonstrated with tangible actions.

Similarly, African Women Arts & Film Festival (AWAFFEST), launched in 2018 is a platform to appreciate arts and stories of African women; to celebrate female film practitioners; and to empower aspiring artists. AWAFFEST is held in March to celebrate the International Women’s Month.

Mona Ngusekela Mwakalinga, whose doctoral studies examined the political economy of the film industry in Tanzania, stands alongside an increasingly visible cohort of African woman scholars in cinema, indicative of the growing number of women who are contributing to African cinematic knowledge production. In addition to her above assertion in the introduction regarding women's historical role in Tanzanian cinema culture, her findings show that Tanzania, like Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, is positioning itself to play a role in the video film phenomenon that is sweeping the continent.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Articles related to Tanzanian women and cinema at the African Women in Cinema Blog

African Women Arts & Film Festival - AWAFFEST - 29-31 March 2019 - Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tanzanian-American Ekwa Msangi: storytelling, filmmaking through the lens of multiple identities

LAFF 2015 - Neema Reed : Our Story | "Notre histoire"

Women’s Panorama Soko, Entertainment and Women Empowerment Programme - Zanzibar International Film Festival ZIFF

Eliaichi Kimaro: Tracing her Tanzanian roots in "A Lot Like You"

Women's Panorama 2011 at the Zanzibar International Film Festival

A Conversation with M Beatrix Mugishagwe

Florence Ayisi's Soccer Queens

24 May 2020

Namibian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Namibian Women in Cinema
Visual Media and Screen Culture

Namibian women in cinema culture, not unlike other African countries, are comprised of practitioners who live in Namibia, as well as in the various diasporic locations--both on the continent and beyond. Among the women who are working to tell, produce, promote and exhibit African stories are South African-based Bridget Pickering, veteran producer with strong ties to Southern African film production, Marinda Stein, the vice chairperson of the Filmmakers Association of Namibia, German-based Naomi Beukes-Meyer, telling stories from Berlin via the webisode series, The Centre, and the late Oshosheni Hiveluah, co-founder of the Windhoek-Harare-based company, Digitalafros.

In 2012 in cooperation with Sister Namibia, a women's rights awareness raising NGO, the German-founded AfricAvenir, organized the Women Filmmakers Get-together Breakfast featuring the works of Zimbabwean filmmaker/writer Tsitsi Dangarembga. Moreover, prominent Namibian women in the diverse sectors of society are invited to the question-and-answer discussions after the screenings of the AfricAvenir film series.

In 2014, AfriAvenir collaborated with the Franco Namibia Cultural Centre (FNNC) to sponsor bi-monthly film screenings. The goal of the initiative was to promote public awareness in Namibia about Namibian film heritage. In line with the objective of gender parity, “Women in Namibian Film” was a feature of the May event which included: Uno's World by Bridget Pickering, 100 Bucks by Oshosheni Hiveluah, and Tjiraa by Krischka Stoffels.

In 2013, RedHot Film Productions launched a Web Series on Namibian Women. The series, produced and directed by Marinda Stein, is a celebration of Namibian women, who are highlighted through a series of short interviews. The diverse women "share their stories of triumph, courage, hope, faith, love and journeys of light." 'The Women of Our World Series' profiled 13 women, including :  Johanna Benson, Paralympic Medalist; Antoinette de Chavonnes Vrugt, wife, mother, chef and author of "My Hungry Heart"; Lize Ehlers, performer, poet, actress and mother; Lizette Feris, the Child Right's Offier for the Media Institute of the welfare organization; Oshosheni Hiveluah, filmmaker, poet, daughter and sister; Marie Jeanne Ndimbira, advocate for quality competency based education, co-founder of the Physically Active Youth program; Dr. Helena Ndume, winner of the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize for her sight-restoring work in Namibia.

Desiree Kahikopo, an alumna of the Talents Durban 2018, won best newcomer director of best film script and audience choice award at the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards 2019 for her debut film White Line.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Following are articles published in the African Women in Cinema Blog:

In Memory of Namibian filmmaker Oshosheni Hiveluah

FESPACO 2015 – Marinda Stein: “Coming Home” | "le retour" and Women of the World Series

International Images International Film Festival for Women (IIFF) 2014 report by Oshosheni Hiveluah

Naomi Beukes-Meyer (Germany-Namibia) launches crowdfunding for the 2nd Episode of THE CENTRE Web Series

AfricAvenir and the FNCC present Namibian Women in Film

Naomi Beukes-Meyer: a Namibian woman telling stories from Berlin

Women Matter at "African Perspectives", AfricAvenir Namibia Film Series 2012

Oshosheni Hiveluah: A Portrait

23 May 2020

Interview - Mary-Noël Niba : JANE & MARY, the comedy series | la série comique

Mary-Noël Niba
on the comedy series | sur la série comique

Interview by/par Beti Ellerson
May | Mai 2020
Version française & English translation

Mary-Noël Niba of Cameroonian origin, studied cinema at ESRA (Paris), at the University of Valenciennes (DEUG Plastic Arts option Audiovisual), then at the University of Aix Marseille (Master in Science and techniques of Sound and Image Professions). Recruited at CRTV (National Radio and Television) in 1992, she began her career as a producer of news programs (television news and information magazines - "Migrations", "Thermomètre" and "Recto Verso"). Mary-Noël is currently in charge of Public Relations at the Cameroonian Embassy in Paris, at the same time an independent filmmaker, communications consultant and executive producer of Luman Communications, a film production and distribution company, whose head office is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. She has made several documentary films among others, including Partir?, Bamenda City, Le dos de la veuve, Yannick ou le Pied de l’Espoir, and the feature fiction Claire ou l’enfant de l’amour and the radio fictions l’Héritier de Mellan and Zéro Ballon--many of which have received distinctions. She produced and co-directed the series "Jane and Mary", which is the subject of this interview.
©Mary-Noël Niba

Mary-Noël Niba, d’origine Camerounaise, a été formée en cinéma à l’ESRA  (Paris), à l’Université de Valenciennes (DEUG Arts Plastiques option Audiovisuel), puis à l’Université d’Aix Marseille (Maîtrise en Science et techniques des Métiers du son et de l’Image). Recrutée à la  CRTV (Radio et Télévision nationale) en 1992, elle commence sa carrière comme réalisatrice des émissions d’information (journaux télévisés et magazines d’infos : « Migrations », «Thermomètre» et «Recto Verso»). Mary-Noël s’occupe actuellement des Relations publiques à l’Ambassade du Cameroun à Paris, tout en étant Cinéaste indépendante et Productrice Déléguée de Luman Communications, une société de production et de distribution de films, et de conseil en communication, dont le siège social est basé à Yaoundé  au Cameroun. Mary-Noël Niba, est l’auteur des plusieurs films documentaires entre autres, dont « Partir ? », « Bamenda City », « le dos de la veuve », «Yannick ou le Pied de l’Espoir»,  d’un long métrage de fiction « Claire ou l’enfant de l’amour » et des fictions radiophoniques « l’Héritier de Mellan et « Zéro Ballon ». Des distinctions en ont été glanées. Elle produit et co-réalise la série « Jane et Mary », ce qui est le sujet de cette interview.


You recently co-produced the series “Jane and Mary” that I discovered on the Internet. And of course I want to know more about its origins ! Where did the idea for this series come from?

One day William Landry Adeche, the main director of this series, sent me a short film he had just completed. It was the story of two sisters who were both in love with the same guy. The tone of the treatment was light-hearted and there was a fairly subtle humor. So I suggested that we do a series that will present the daily life of Cameroonians through an atypical family. So Luman Communications decided to produce this comedy series. It’s about the very busy life of two sisters, punctuated with good-natured rivalry, in a world of job searching and a quest for social success in the urban environment.

We want to present the diverse situations in a given community in the capital, Yaoundé, of an atypical Cameroonian family (minus the daily presence of the father or mother) that the sisters experience in their everyday life--indeed African, which are full of the rhythms of interactions with neighbors.

William Landry Adeche liked the idea of the series, having grown up, as many of his generation, with the French sitcom "Un gars une fille", or the U.S. sitcoms such as the "Cosby Show", "Arnold and Willy," "Fresh Prince of Bel-air”, to name a few.

We felt the need to work within a more subtle style, rather than in the sometimes-vulgar burlesque comedy, which is not yet really explored by audiovisual production in Cameroon. The series targets all age groups and is also enjoyable to watch together as a family.

Tu viens de coréaliser la série « Jane et Mary » que j’ai découverte sur l’internet. Et bien sûr je veux savoir plus sur ses origines ! D’où vient l’idée de cette série ?

Un jour William Landry Adeche, le principal réalisateur de cette série, m’a envoyée un court métrage qu’il venait de réaliser. C’était l’histoire de deux sœurs qui étaient toutes les deux amoureuses d’un même garçon. Le ton du traitement était léger et il y’avait un humour assez subtil. Je lui ai donc proposé que nous fassions une série qui présentera le quotidien des camerounais à travers une famille atypique. LUMAN Communications a donc décidé de produire cette série comique. C’est la vie assez animée des deux sœurs, rythmée d’antagonisme bon enfant, dans un univers de recherche d’emploi, pour une quête de réussite sociale dans le milieu urbain.

Nous voulons présenter à travers leur quotidien, les différentes situations de vie d’une famille atypique camerounaise (pas de père, ni de mère au quotidien), voire africaine, rythmé par la présence des voisins dans un quartier donné de la capitale Yaoundé.

L’idée de la série a plu à William Landry Adeche qui a eu son enfance bercé, comme ceux de son âge, par le sitcom français « Un gars une fille», ou les sitcoms américains «  Cosby show », Arnold et Willy, « Fresh prince of bel air » pour ne citer que ceux-là.

Il y’avait le besoin de travailler dans ce style subtil, loin de la comédie burlesque parfois vulgaire, qui n’est pas encore vraiment exploré par la production audiovisuelle au Cameroun. La série cible toutes les tranches d’âge et se regarde bien en famille.


So what is the series “Jane and Mary” about?

"Jane and Mary" depicts the daily life of the two sisters, Mary, 19 years old, and Jane, 21, who live in Yaoundé with their uncle Fred, a wealthy businessman. Though they have contrasting personalities, they are very close. From one episode to the next, they manage to get out of the not-always-obvious situations, at home and with the neighbors--who are an integral part of their daily lives. The neighbor, Miss Summer, who has two children, Christian and Small, has no qualms about meddling in their lives.

Hence, the series relates experiences that almost everyone has on a regular basis and which end up being no big deal. The light tone and easy-going mood of the sisters gives the perception that a solution is always possible. The idea is to highlight those situations that we joke about, though are not very funny, or the everyday occurrences that we laugh off, but that we really want to find a way out of.

The use of a cheerful and comical tone is to downplay dramatic situations. The denunciation of certain everyday problems in fact draws attention to these realities, which, because of their frequency, become almost ordinary. For instance, the episode “l’église d’à côté” (the church next door) offers a glimpse of the everyday nuisances that the neighboring community endure because of one particular activity of the new church, which broadcasts deafening music from its loudspeakers. So what do you do, if not make Jane an upholder of the law?

Each episode of the 6-minute comedy series tells a new story and from time to time, presents a mini plot twist. The stories are very simple and the intrigue is not very complex, which adds an aspect of wholesomeness. Each viewer could feel as if she or he is part of the story being told, because it underscores of the details of our daily lives.

The story takes place in the different areas of the home of the two main characters, but sometimes in the surrounding environment, the neighborhood hangouts.

Et l’histoire de Jane et Mary ?

La série « Jane et Mary » met en scène le quotidien à Yaoundé, de deux sœurs, Mary (19 ans) et Jane (21 ans), aux caractères opposés mais très proches l’une de l’autre, qui vivent à Yaoundé chez leur oncle Fred, un homme d’affaires aisé. D’un épisode à l’autre, nous vivrons comment elles arrivent à se sortir des situations pas toujours évidentes, aussi bien dans leur foyer qu’avec les voisins, qui font partie intégrante de leur quotidien. La voisine, miss Summer, avec ses deux enfants, Christian et Small, n’hésite pas à s’immiscer dans leur vie.

La série pose ainsi des problèmes qui sont vécus par presque tout le monde au quotidien et qui finissent par être anodins. Sur un ton léger et à travers les humeurs toujours à la détente des deux sœurs, on perçoit un semblant de solution. L’idée est de mettre sous les feux des projecteurs ces situations dont on rit sans vraiment s'en amuser, ou dont on se moque au quotidien, mais dont on souhaite en sortir.

Le ton enjoué et comique est pour dédramatiser les situations. Il y’a comme une dénonciation de certains problèmes du quotidien afin d’attirer l’attention sur ces faits qui parce que trop fréquents deviennent presque anodins.

Prenons l’exemple de l’épisode « l’église d’à côté » qui raconte les nuisances que subissent les populations de la part des nouvelles églises dites « réveillées », par les hauts parleurs qui diffusent des musiques assourdissantes à longueur de journée, dans le quotidien des camerounais. Comment en sortir si ce n’est en rendant Jane justicière ?

Chaque épisode de cette série comédie, d’une durée de 6 mn, racontera une situation nouvelle et présentera de temps en autre une mini intrigue à rebondissement. L’originalité de cette shortcom se situe dans le fait que les histoires racontées sont toutes simples et l’intrigue peu complexe. Chaque téléspectateur pourrait avoir l’impression de faire partie intégrante de l’histoire racontée, car c’est une mise en exergue des détails de notre quotidien.

L’histoire se passe dans les différentes pièces de vie de la maison d’habitation des deux personnages principaux, mais aussi de temps en temps dans les espaces environnants, lieux de rencontre avec les voisins.

What have been the viewers’ reactions to the series?

Those who are abroad have been delighted to have a series that actually recounts in a realistic way, the experiences that they know about their country. They are generally impressed by the quality of the series, but surprised that the country-based support is not strong. In my opinion, the reason is not because of the novelty of the genre, since the Cameroonian public is accustomed to seeing wacky African shows. Like anything new, participation is always timid. However, news is spreading, we have a new partnership with the English channel Twisted Mirror TV, that was pleasantly surprised by the style of our series and is interested in broadcasting it. Moreover, "Jane and Mary" has just had its first selection at FESTICO 2020 (International Festival of Comedy) in Yaoundé, and has also been selected to represent the African series in Dublin next December, as part of the Africa 2020 program. So the TV viewers will discover it little by little. So there is hope!

Quelles sont les réponses des spectateurs ?

Ceux qui sont à l’étranger et qui ont vu ont été heureux d’avoir une série qui raconte proprement et ne déforme pas la réalité de ce qu’ils savent de leur pays. Ils sont généralement impressionnés par la qualité de la série, mais surpris que l’adhésion des nationaux ne soit pas forte. Ce qui s’explique à mon avis pas la nouveauté du genre, pour ce public habitué à voir des séries africaines loufoques. Comme toute chose nouvelle, l’adhésion est toujours timide. Mais avec l’actualité de notre tout nouveau partenariat avec la chaine anglaise Twisted Mirror TV, qui a été agréablement surpris par le style de notre série et souhaite la diffuser. « Jane et Mary » vient d’avoir sa première sélection au FESTICO (Festival International des Images Comiques) 2020 à Yaoundé, et est également retenu pour représenter la série africaine à la soirée des séries à Dublin, en décembre prochain, dans le cadre du programme Africa 2020. Les téléspectateurs le découvriront petit à petit. Il y’a donc espoir !


For now is the series only distributed online? And how do you envision the future for the series?

The series was intended for TV, but at the moment, nothing prevents it from also being on the Web, especially since it meets all the criteria for this kind of structure, and is consumed easily and quickly. Since the broadcasters to whom we proposed it have been taking their time to respond, we decided to put the series on our Lumancommunications channel on YouTube for a while, in order to publicize it. We are still looking for buyers. The series already has several episodes ready to broadcast, and several ready to be shot. For the rest, we are still looking for funding to continue filming. We started with a Season 1 of 50 episodes. We want to continue as much as possible because there are countless stories to tell.

Pour l’instant, est-ce que la série est diffusée uniquement sur Internet ? Et comment envisages-tu la suite ?

La série était prévue pour la télé, mais aujourd’hui, rien ne l’empêche d’être également sur le web, d’autant plus que ça répond aux critères et se consomme facilement et rapidement. Les diffuseurs à qui nous l’avons proposés prenant leur temps, nous avons décidé de mettre la série sur notre chaîne Lumancommunications sur YouTube pendant quelques temps, afin de la faire connaître. Nous sommes toujours dans la recherche des acheteurs. La série a déjà plusieurs épisodes prêts à diffuser, et plusieurs prêts à être tournés. Pour la suite, nous recherchons toujours les financements pour continuer à tourner. Nous avons commencé par une Saison 1 de 50 épisodes. Nous souhaitons continuer tant que c’est possible car les histoires à raconter sont innombrables.  


Do you think that the web series platform has potential?

I think so, since we are creating more and more programming that is closer to the reality of consumption via social networks. Today, the telephone is what few people can do without no matter where they are. In addition, presently with the forced confinement due to the coronavirus health crisis, this aspect of things is extended even further. You have to be really present on the Web!

Crois-tu que cette plateforme de web série a du potentiel ?

Je pense que oui, puisqu’on en crée de plus en plus pour se coller à la réalité de la consommation à travers les réseaux sociaux. Aujourd’hui, le téléphone est ce dont peu de personnes peuvent se passer où qu’ils se trouvent ; en plus, aujourd’hui avec le confinement forcé dû à la crise sanitaire du coronavirus, cet aspect des choses est renforcé. Il faut être vraiment présent sur la toile !

22 May 2020

Burundian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Burundian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Since the 1990s there has been a current of cinema-related activities by Burundi women. Sham-Jeanne Hakizimana, who headed the television programs at the National Radio and Television of Burundi, produced the documentary film, Une Burundaise aujourd'hui in 1991. Similarly, Diane Kanéza, who completed her studies in Communication Sciences and Audiovisual Design, joined the National Television of Burundi as director and TV presenter in 2006. In addition she is professor of courses in documentary and fiction production in the department of Communication Sciences and Audiovisual Design at the Université Lumière de Bujumbura. Diane Kanéza is also president of the Film and Audiovisual Professionals of Burundi Collective, a post she has held since 2018.

Women’s presence is especially visible in various organizational positions at FESTICAB, Festival International du Cinéma et de l'Audio-Visuel du Burundi, currently helmed by Francine Munyana. The dominance of women in the festival organization administration--as director of communication, festival programmer, communications manager, public relations manager, communications director--attest to their growing visibility in the film industry. Several of the past and present festival cultural workers include, Ancilla Nigaba, Rachel Opota, Mireille Niyonsaba, Nadège Simbizi, Francine Munyana, Inez Ineza, Ancilla Nigaba, Ginette Karirekinyana, Issola Iradukunda, Glicyne Ntirampeba, Larissa Ndayiragije--some of whom are also filmmakers. Moreover, Burundian filmmaker and director Floriane Kaneza, based in Rwanda since 2015, is the director of the Rwandan Mashariki African Film Festival. She began her career as a actress for the theatre, cinema and television--in TV series for the Burundi National Radio and TV. She trained in film production and directing at Itulive Media and Communications in 2012 and in 2013, along with other partners, created Itulive Actors' Agency, where she served as director. As evident from the above, the leadership practices of women in organizational structures follow a long trend throughout the history of African cinema organization.

Annie Bernice Nikuze put the spotlight on Burundian women artists in her 2017 documentary “La femme Burundaise dans l’art”, at the same time promoting art and culture in Burundi, the film showcases the important role that women perform within these sectors of society. Moreover, the film attests to the enduring place of African women in society in general, in the arts, and, in cinema.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Following are articles published in the African Women in Cinema Blog

Tresor, Tissé, Mireille Niyonsaba, doc., Burundi

Mon identité...None tubipfe ! | My identity, Diane Kaneza, doc., (Burundi)

Floriane Kaneza, director of the Mashariki African Film Festival (Rwanda)

21 May 2020

Mauritanian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Mauritanian Women
in Cinema, Visual Media
and Screen Culture

What prompted me to act was the courage and dedication of these brave women, who have children to feed and educate, and the elder to care for. And despite all of this, they work hard to meet the multiple needs of all these people. While at the same time, most of them are either divorced or married to men looking for work. [These women are extraordinary]… I wanted to show their role in the successful execution of family and society, because everything revolves around them. I wanted others to know about them and to support them--Mariem mint Beyrouk*

Mauritanian filmmaker Mariem mint Beyrouk, considered a pioneer in the field of visual media in her country, received her training in France, Tunisia and Syria after which she joined the newly created Mauritanian television (TVM) in 1982. She founded the Association of Mauritanian Women of the Image in 2009, which brings together women in technical and artistic fields in the visual media. Several initiatives have been dedicated to showcasing women’s works, such as “Femmes et Cinéma en Mauritanie” (Women and Cinema in Mauritania) an event held in Nouakchott in 2011, highlighting films that focus on politics, the environment and social development. One of the main objectives of the Association is to raise women’s consciousness through the visual media, about health issues, women in general, mother-infant health, the excision of girls, marriage of adolescent girls, among other issues.

Mai Mustafa Ekhou, born in Nouakchott, has worked as a photographer since 2011 and has contributed to international and Arab competitions and exhibitions. She entered the world of filmmaking in 2012 and worked as an actress, assistant director, director and independent director films.

Amal Saadbouh, who began directing in 2017, has won the best film award for two consecutive years at the 2017 and 2018 Nouakchott International Film Festival. Her work has also been presented internationally. Moreover, she is a member of the Union mauritanienne des jeunes cinéastes (Mauritanian Union of Young Filmmakers) and l'Académie El Mahrousa des médias (the El Mahrousa Academy of Media).

As Meya Moustapha was recognized for her creativity by the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, for her film in progress "Lem Yentehi Baad", the Egyptian minister highlighted the importance in recognizing young African talent as an example of the capabilities that the continent holds.

Hence, echoing the vision of Mariem mint Beyrou, to show the empowering role that African women hold for society, the continent, and the world.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Following are articles published in the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Mai Mustafa Ekhou : It's not over yet 

Sewdetou (Sada) : Amal Saadbouh 

The First Box by/de Mai Mustafa Ekhou (Mauritania | Mauritanie)

Mariem mint Beyrouk: Mauritanian Women in Cinema

*Source: tv5monde

20 May 2020

RECENT FILMS - Mai Mustafa Ekhou : It's not over yet (Mauritania)

Mai Mustafa Ekhou
It's not over yet (2019)
7 min - Fiction 


"Hell is the others," Sartre says. In a mental hospital in a country, a doctor tests the relationship of two patients with the outside world and their mental health.


Mai Mustafa Ekhou Mauritanian was born in 1987 in Nouakchott She has worked as a photographer since 2011 and has contributed to international and Arab competitions and exhibitions She entered the world of filmmaking in 2012 and worked as an actress, assistant director, director and independent director films The End- Ishtar and Isis-The First Box- Bells-It's Not Over Yet my film Ishtar and Isis won the jury award for the 2014 Nouakchott International Film Festival And received a mention at the Arab International Film Festival in Gabes 2016 my first film won the Jury Prize Nouakchott International Film Festival 2017 my film Ajras won the Jury Prize Nouakchott International Film Festival 2018 my first film won the prize of the first place in the short films contest Arab Youth Creativity Festival - Cairo 2019. 

RECENT FILMS. Faith Musembi: Chumba

Faith Musembi
Chuma (2019)
7min - Sci-fi


It is the fourth year of the Chuma infiltration in Kenya. The Chuma are an extraterrestrial species who look and speak like Kenyans. Although the Chuma have maintained a peaceful existence, the Government of Kenya perceives them as a threat and sets out to eliminate them all. (Source:


Faith Musembi is a Kenyan-born, South Africa-raised, US educated writer, director and editor. She graduated from Emerson College, Boston, with a Masters in Visual Media Arts. She is the founder of Faimus Films, a motion picture production company specializing in documentaries, TV shows, corporate videos and short & feature-length film and a Producer with WildEarth.TV, a live wildlife broadcaster. Her short film, Pendo, was the 2017 Best Local Language Film winner at the Kalasha International Film Festival and scooped both the Best Short Film & Best Screenplay awards under the Swahili Films Awards at the 2018 Zanzibar Film Festival. (Source:

19 May 2020

Beninese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Beninese Women in Cinema,
Visual Media and Screen Culture

Since the 1980s women have held prominent positions in the audiovisual industry in Benin: Michèle Badarou was the first woman director of the national television in 1982. In addition, she was project manager with the Minister of Culture and Communications, director of the audiovisual press at the Ministry of Culture and Communications, notably responsible for the implementation of government policies on informational matters in the public service media, presenter of television news and also producer of television documentaries. Moreover, Gisèle Adissoda was the first woman to hold the post of president of the Association of African Communication Professionals in the late 1980s. In addition, she was the guest of honor at the 4th edition of the Rencontres intergénérationnelles des médias in 2019. In 2016, Jemima Catrayè, was nominated as director of the national television. Until 2015, Rosalie Ndah served as the president of CNA Afrique (Cinéma Numérique Ambulant). 

The film festival structure is also a means to cultivate Beninese cinema culture and women are also at the forefront. Christiane Chabi-Kao is president of Festival Langunimages based in Cotonou, created in 1997 by Belgium-Congolese Monique Mbeka Phoba, who was living in Benin at the time. The festival organizes free film and documentary screenings for the public, in cinema houses or in outdoor venues. The festival also organizes workshops and training sessions for audio-visual professionals (directors, producers, technicians, etc.); during the off-year of the festival, screenings are held in schools and hospitals.

French-Beninese Farah Clémentine Dramani Issifou, founder of BeninDocs Festival International du Premier Film Documentaire (International Film Festival of the First Documentary Film), observes that at the same time there is an emergence of a new generation of documentarians on the continent, their films are still rarely disseminated in Africa or in the West. Hence, the creation of the Festival, the first biennale dedicated to the debut films of young auteurs/directors on the African continent, has as objective to encourage this emerging talent through collaboration on local and international levels.

Similarly, Elvire Adjamonsi, founder and organizer of Africourt Festival of Benin, whose focus is on film shorts, has several objectives for the event: to contribute to the establishment of a film industry in Benin; to permit emerging filmmakers to become familiar with the profession by making short films; to establish a network for the exchange of knowledge and culture; to develop basic skills and practices for emerging filmmakers by writing short film scripts as a stepping stone to refining the quality of feature films.

The first edition of the International Women's Film Festival dedicated to women, held in Cotonou from 13 to 17 September 2019, was organized by the Association "ÉcranBénin" and initiated by Beninese director and blogger Cornélia Glèlè. The aim of the International Women's Film Festival of Cotonou is to highlight and promote the works of African women filmmakers. Introducing the first edition under the theme "when cinema addresses violence against women", a master class  featured Carole Lokossou who  discussed the topic on representations of violence against women in cinema. 

The study "La féminisation du métier de journalisme au Bénin de 1957 à nos jours" by Alphonse Da Silva and Rogatien M. Tossou (2015) traces the evolution of women professionals in the media--print, radio and audiovisual, noting both the early presence of women in the higher echelons of the field of communication, but also the enduring tendencies that continue to serve as impediments to their being successfully integrated. Nonetheless, the growing cadre of women professionals contributing to Beninese screen culture is increasingly visible. 

Report by Beti Ellerson

Following are articles published in the African Women in Cinema Blog:

2019 - Appel à film | Call for films - Festival International des Films de Femmes de Cotonou | Cotonou International Women's Film Festival (Benin)

Mis Me Binga 2018 – Cornelia Glèlè : Blanc-Noir et Heureux | Black White and Happy (Benin)

Habiba : a/un film by/de Sena Calmine Agbofoun (Benin)

BeninDocs 2015: Call for films | Appel à film : Women confronting inequalities…Other perspectives | La femme à l'épreuve des inégalités…Autres Regards

Benin Docs 3 : Women Confronting Inequalities.... Other Perspectives | La Femme à l’épreuve de inégalités.... Autres regards – 11-18 Nov 2015 – Porto Novo – Cotonou – Paris

FESPACO 2015 - Astrid Ariane Atodji: La Souffrance est une école de sagesse | Suffering is a school of wisdom

Christiane Chabi Kao: Festival Lagunimages - 05 to 08 December 2013 (Cotonou)

Farah Clémentine Dramani Issifou: the 2013 Africadoc Benin and Festival des Nouveaux Cinémas Documentaires (New Documentary Cinemas Festival)

Rosalie Ndah, president of CNA Afrique talks about the CNA tribute to women at Fespaco 2013

18 May 2020

Yvonne Orji: "Mama, I Made It" HBO Comedy Special Promo

Yvonne Orji: Mama, I Made It HBO Comedy Special Promo

Source: Yvonne Orji's YouTube Channel

Yvonne Orji: Momma I Made It premieres Saturday, June 6 at 10PM on HBO. Comedian and actress Yvonne Orji (HBO’s “Insecure,” “Night School”) celebrates her Nigerian-American upbringing in her first hour-long HBO comedy special, YVONNE ORJI: MOMMA, I MADE IT!, premiering SATURDAY, JUNE 6 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. The special will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

Interspersed with vibrant, personal footage shot in Nigeria, Yvonne’s native home, during a milestone trip in early January, YVONNE ORJI: MOMMA, I MADE IT! takes an intimate, hilarious look at what being Nigerian-American means to Yvonne – from her international haggling addiction and having her phone tapped by her parents as a kid, to the fine line between cursing people out and putting curses on them.

The special was filmed before a live audience at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. Yvonne Orji is best known for her role as Molly on HBO’s “Insecure.” Her film credits include “Night School” and the upcoming “Vacation Friends.” She co-hosts her critically acclaimed podcast Jesus and Jollof, alongside New York Times bestseller Luvvie Ajayi, and her upcoming book Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams will hit shelves next year. YVONNE ORJI: MOMMA, I MADE IT! is written, performed, and executive produced by Yvonne Orji; directed by Chris Robinson; executive produced by Michelle Caputo, Shannon Hartman, and DC Wade.

Official music video for the theme song to Yvonne Orji’s HBO Comedy Special, “Momma, I Made It!” Premiering June 6, 2020 on HBO & HBO Max

15 May 2020

Dalila Ennadre - Nous venons de perdre l'une des nôtres | We have just lost one of our own (Communiqué : CNNA Cinéaste Non-Alignées Collectif)

Dalila Ennadre
Nous venons de perdre l'une des nôtres
We have just lost one of our own
Communiqué :
(CNNA Cinéaste Non-Alignées Collectif)

(English below)

Elle est partie lentement ce jeudi 14 mai chez elle, entourée des siens. Dalila Ennadre est une cinéaste des laissés-pour-compte. Elle les a filmés tenant elle-même sa caméra que ce soit dans la médina de Casablanca ou dans son dernier film à Larache (Maroc).

Cinéaste Non-Alignées Collectif
Une femme cinéaste qui cherchait dans ses rencontres filmiques une famille. Les personnages de ses films sont devenus des proches au fil des ans. Voilà qu'elle a dû pendant près de trois ans se familiariser et dompter ce cancer qu'elle sentait au fond d'elle comme une épreuve à comprendre. Pendant ces trois années elle a filmé avec toujours la même passion filmique le cimetière de Larache où un autre orphelin avait été enterré Jean Genêt.

Dalila nourrissait pour cet auteur un attachement particulier. Il lui rappelait sa propre histoire. Elle a eu le temps de terminer son film qu'elle nous laisse posthume et qu'on découvrira avec tristesse parce qu'il n'y aura pas d'échange avec sa réalisatrice, mais on l'accueillera avec joie comme un cadeau d'adieu. Notre Collectif Cinéastes Non Alignées l'a compté parmi nous et nous voulions partager avec vous notre deuil. Qu'elle repose en paix d'avoir vécu de sa passion Le Cinéma.

Cinéaste Non-Alignées Collectif
She left slowly this Thursday, 14 May, at home surrounded by her loved ones. Dalila Ennadre was a cineaste for those left to fend for themselves. She filmed them while holding her camera herself, whether in the medina of Casablanca or in her last film in Larache (Morocco).

A woman cineaste who, in her filmmaking encounters, looked for a family. Over the years, the characters in her films became like family. For almost three years she had to familiarize herself with and tame this cancer, while deep inside she tried to make sense out of what she was going through. During these three years she filmed with the same cinematic passion, the cemetery of Larache where another orphan, Jean Genêt, is buried.

Dalila had a special attachment to this author. He reminded her of her own story. She was able to finish her film which she leaves us posthumously and which we will discover with sadness because there will be no exchange with its director, but we will welcome it with joy as a farewell gift. Our Collective of Non Aligned Cineastes counted her as one of ours and we wanted to share our mourning with you. May she rest in peace having lived her passion, Cinema.

Dalila Ennadre a réalisé plusieurs films documentaires sur des sujets liés à la société marocaine. Ses films ont été primés dans les festivals de cinéma documentaire à travers le monde.

Dalila Ennadre has directed several documentary films on topics related to Moroccan society. Her films have received awards at several documentary film festivals around the world.

Du cinéma du possible - Doc, 83 mn, 2015, Label Vidéo
Des murs et des hommes - Doc, 83mn, 2014, Label Vidéo, Djinn
J’ai tant aimé - Doc, 52 mn, 2008, AYA Films, Cinemada / Cinéma du Réel Paris
Je voudrais vous raconter - Doc, 52 mn, 2005, Play Films /Tarifa,
Fatma, une héroïne, sans gloire - Doc, 52 mn, 2004, Ognon Pictures/ Misr International Films
La caravane de Mé Aïcha - Doc, 50 mn, 2002, France 5/Jem Productions
El batalett, femmes de la médina - Doc, 52mn, 2001, L’Yeux Ouverts RTBF
Loups du désert - Doc, 48mn, 1999, L’Yeux Ouverts Idoles dans l’ombre - Doc, 52 mn, 1992
Par la grâce d’Allah - Doc, 26 mn 1987

13 May 2020

REFLECTIONS ON Another Gaze presents: The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) - 12 May 2020

REFLECTIONS ON Another Gaze presents: The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) - 12 May 2020

On 12 May 2020, the feminist film journal Another Gaze [] hosted the virtual event, The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror, followed by hundreds of spectators.

Annouchka de Andrade and Henda Ducados  introduced the life and work of their mother, Sarah Maldoror (1929-2020), as well as participated in ongoing dialogue with the "roundtable" participants and responded to questions from the audience. The interventions of Annouchka and Henda added a rare personal dimension of Sarah Maldoror as mother, as companion to Mario de Andrade, their father, and the behind-the-scenes life of a woman engagée, which the complexities of her life have made of her an enigmatic figure. This was definitely the highlight of the event. *See excerpts of their comments at the end of this report.

The daughters’ introductions were followed by dynamic and powerful readings of extracts in French by Marie-Julie Chalu and the English version by Gazelle Mba of Cahiers d’un retour au pays natal (Return to my Native Land) by Aimé Césaire, a life-long friend and comrade.

The virtual "roundtable" discussion, moderated by founder-editor of Another Gaze, Daniella Shreir included Yasmina Price, Beti Ellerson, Awa Konaté, Janaína Oliveira, Nuotama Bodomo, Rooney Elmi. The myriad interpretations and analyses of the life and works of Sarah Maldoror ranged from academic discourse on the gendered political and social implications of her work, especially her earlier films that focused on revolutionary struggle and anticolonial cinemas, to conversations probing the ways that her work has informed contemporary Black feminist filmmaking, especially African women cultural producers working in diasporic spaces.

Nonetheless, the event could have benefited from the voices of those who know her and her work intimately having interacted with her artistically during her lifetime and who have followed her contemporaneously, which includes knowing directly her present work and how it has been influenced by her early periods. Moreover, she was a longtime resident of Seine Saint-Denis located in the "Grand Paris", a multicultural department which includes a diverse immigrant population. The documentation of its life and people has also been an important part of her work, for instance.

Additional comments added 18 May: A little more than a month after Sarah Maldoror's passing on 13 April, Le Monde published an article on 17 May highlighting the very high mortality level due to the Covid 19 epidemic in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. This is a sad reminder that this epidemic took Sarah's life and that she too lived in this sprawling community where her neighbors are the key workers serving the needs of the Grand Paris, as health workers, caregivers, cashiers, vendors, delivery people, and hence, travel the furthest and most often and are more susceptible to exposure. So it is worth noting that while she is best known internationally for her work related to African liberation struggles, she quietly championed for a better life for the Séquano-Dionysiens--in the everyday, and as noted above, in her cinematic expression.

While the English-language interventions of the event were heavily anglo-phone centred, Annouchka and Henda hope that it will draw more international attention to the works of their mother. Moreover, they have opened Sarah's archives for research and study with the aim of making her work visible to an international public.

There was much talk about "building a legacy", I mentioned during the event, that within the “francophone” cinematic landscape Sarah Maldoror’s work has some visibility and recognition, and on numerous occasions she has received due tribute highlighting her life and legacy, naming a few in the past 2 decades:

2013 - Leçon de Cinema: Sarah Maldoror talks about her work and cinematic evolution.

2011 - Knight of the National Order of Merit(Website of French Government in French of speech by Frédérique Mitterand, minister of Culture et Communication) See translation here.

1998 - Leçon de Cinema: Sarah Maldoror talks about her work and her life. Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil, FIFF, Paris, France (See:

1998 - Sarah Maldoror ou la nostalgie de l'utopie, A film by Anne-Laure Folly (See: (See synopsis here). Annouchka stated that she tried to contact Anne-Laure Folly in 2019, and has been looking for the film as Sarah no longer had a copy. So it is not for sure that the film, is in fact accessible. UPDATE: In fact it is available for viewing at the following link:

As one of the cinematic orphans of Sarah Maldoror, it has been an awakening, as she has led the way for me. When I told Sarah the title of my book "Sisters of the Screen" (2000), she cautioned me that we are not sisters really, but are each in our isolation making films. What she meant in fact was this implied solidarity among women in African cinema that I was projecting did not exist. I was determined that my work would be the beginning of this "sisterhood". Twenty years on, we'll see where we are.

So to Annouchka and Henda, I send my sincerest and heartfelt wishes, and hope that the gestures of support and the tributes in her honour will show that your mother’s work will live, and continue.

Reflections by Beti Ellerson (updated 18 May 2020)

*Following are transcribed excerpts from Henda's and Annouchka's discussion

To share some of the great teachings and lessons that Sarah transmitted to us. I must say, during my teens Sarah's eccentricity bothered me, she wore a big afro, jeans, boots, until the mid-seventies: radical the revolution, seemed very odd to me. I asked her many times, why she could not be normal, and work at the local bakery and wait for us after school with a glass of milk and cakes...

…She always consider my sister and I as individuals. It was tough to deal with that as a child, but as an adult I appreciate that even more. Here we are, I am asked to talk about our mother… Our childhood was never easy but it was fun and unpredictable…People coming in and out of the house all of the time, good hearted strangers babysitting us while Sarah traveled the world. Later on during my history class at the university, I was astonished by the fact that most of the historical figures of the sixties stayed with us in our kitchen and ate with us. There were very few rules that I could remember, but one was to leave regrets/adversity at the door. So thank you Sarah for being so courageous, and passing this on to us, as you gave us the strength to face my fears and venture out and have an impact in this world…

…It is also important to talk about Sarah as a woman, and talk about this great love story that she had with our father which led to the two projects
Sambizanga and Mongambee…her view about feminism, about being a single mother, female head of household, taking care of two daughters and making sure that the collectivity was very important. Not looking at the individual but at the collective…

...We were born in cinema, so we had to go to cinema to see her movies, so we grew up at the cinematheque at Algiers…at that time and it was absolutely lovely because sometimes when she had an appointment she left us in the movie theatre for hours and we were watching movies while she was working and then and she came to take us back, so watching movies was part of our life, it was easy for us.…

...In spite of adversity, poetry was always resonated in her movies. The vibration of poetry was inside her body, poetry was clearly in her DNA and therefore in all of her movies. To give a few examples, Sarah cared about the clouds, she cared about the movement of trees, and for us it was sometimes difficult to keep up with her. Attending political or professional meetings, going to film festivals, she brought us along everywhere, any chance that she had. For instance she would take us spending hours with Aragon reading Victor Hugo. Everything was an occasion to bring art into our daily life…

…She was curious and aware of everything around her and when she decided to make a movie she started with a painting. It was important for her, each movie has a painter or a painting in particular relating to the movie and she would take her crew to a museum to see this painting or the art of this painter before starting the shooting. This connection was very important as we said she did not separate her life, she did not separate art into segments. So for her cinema was all-encompassing, so the music, the art, the painting, the sculpture, was all part of it and she wanted to mix everything, and that was very important, and what she liked was each time she was discovering a new country the first thing she wanted to do was go to a museum to discover the artists of that nation. To feel the art and to nourish her and her movies…

…I would like to focus on the poetical state of mind of Sarah. Sarah Maldoror is well known as a filmmaker and as a militant but this is a reductive point of view of who she actually was. Filmmaker, woman and mother, Sarah was first of all a poetic person, she did not separate her life in segments. Everything that she did was linked to this dimension. Original, generous, surprising. One of the last conversations that we had when she was at hospital, was the attention she had with the nurses. And whether my sister and I needed anything. The choice of her artistic name, Maldoror, along with her political conviction, attitude, sense of humor, guided her through the years. Her career: Sarah chose cinema to spread Africa to Africans and to the others. She always said, "we are responsible, no one else is to blame. We are the only ones who should tell our history, And in the words of Mao che tung: 'To be self supporting" and I would add, never complain and keep going on your road." Indeed Sarah was moving forward...

…At the end of her life what was the most important was education. She saw that education was the key to understanding each other and she focused on the fact that little children to go to cinema even before reading to be educated and open-minded to the world.
Scala Milan which she made in 2005, was quite different than the others, perhaps for some less, militant. And the misunderstanding in Scala Milan, as in Monagambee of the term "complet", between the Portuguese and the militant, it's a story of young people who enter into a competition because they want to go to Italy to see the soccer team. But for Sarah, they go to Italy and they discover the Scala, the opera. Because for the young people in the "suburbs" of Paris, the opera, was something untouchable--unreachable for them, it was not part of their world. They wanted to break all of the rules and say that yes, opera should be accessible for anyone, even for young people in the "suburbs" around the world…

…My sister and I, as was said, are continuing to work on the existing archives, getting back rights and copies and restoring a few others. Our objective is to make Sarah's work known and share the archives. And what should be said is that despite thousands of negative responses, she never gave up nor did it change her attitude. I told her one time when we were talking together, that she never understood the word "compromise"…what I would like to insist upon is the complexity of her thoughts and actions, the desire she had to probe and be proud of black culture, she always remained true to herself, she was open minded, aware of others, absolutely curious of everything, but for sure sensitive to the others, and her surroundings and always, always, ready for the unpredictable...
(Transcribed by Beti Ellerson from online Zoom presentation).

Also read on the African Women in Cinema Blog :

REFLECTIONS ON Another Gaze presents: The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) - 12 May 2020

Sarah Maldoror: Behind the cloud | Derrière le nuage

Remember Sarah Maldoror : A Pioneer in Cinema

Pionnière cinéaste Sarah Maldoror nous a quitté | Pioneer cineaste Sarah Maldoror has passed away (1929 - 2020)

Sarah Maldoror: Role Model and Pioneer

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