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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23 June 2020

Conférence du Pavillon des Cinémas d'Afrique : Programme Tables Rondes : "Porter haut et fort la voix des femmes dans les cinémas d'Afrique" (Women's voices heard loud and clear in the cinemas of Africa)

Porter haut et fort la voix des femmes dans les cinémas d'Afrique
(Women's voices heard loud and clear in the cinemas of Africa)

The first Zoom e-conference of the Pavillon des Cinémas d'Afrique in a Programme of Roundtables organized by the ACA-Agence Culturelle Africaine, was held on 22 June 2020. Producer, director, actress, film critic, came together to discuss their experiences and concerns in the world of cinema.

The 1 hour 34 minute e-conference moderated by journalist Hortense Assaga, included Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes, director and producer, Mouna Ndiaye, actress and festival organizer, Nadia Rais, animation film director, Naky Sy Savané, actress and festival organizer, Fatou Kiné Séne, journalist and president of the Fédération africaine des critiques de cinéma (African federation film critics), Olga Tiyon, production and communication coordinator, 7 jours pour 7 films. The diverse women represented the myriad roles that African women hold within the world of cinema, often multiple. Appearances from audience participants, such as Stéphanie Dongmo, film and cultural critic, writer and blogger as well as other notable francophone film critics on the African continent and in Europe, is indicative of the span of African cinema criticism. Moreover, introducing the ACA e-conference series with a focus on the experiences and concerns of women highlights the growing importance of women's visibility and presence.

Hortense Assaga, introduced the round table by highlighting the eternal question of gender parity. She posed several questions as a point of departure: Here we have women who work to have their voices heard and be recognized as full-fledged members within the profession of cinema. How does this manifest itself in Africa? On other continents? How do these women manage? What are their strategies? How do they ensure that their work is recognized, that their presence matters? How do they experience these practices of gendering? How do they negotiate the myriad discourses and politics of gender?

The exchange unfolded less as a "roundtable" dialogue where the participants interacted with each other, but rather as a moderated discussion fed by questions from Hortense Assaga to individual women. Hence, the more existential aspect of the introductory questions--especially as it relates to practices of gendering--were less developed. At the same time, an array of important issues relevant to film professionals in general were explored, highlighting what many women have often asserted, that while women have concerns that are gender-specific, others are shared by both African women and men. For instance, some of Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes's responses from Hortense Assaga's questions around gender were framed in the context of Euro-centric dominance of ideas and values. Having always partnered with her husband, who is also a film professional, there are daily struggles in general. In addition, film critic Fatou Kiné Sène cautions against always looking through a gendered lens, which may distort the actual merit of a film: "It is merit and not our status as a woman that allows us to "box" in the same category as men." Similarly, animation filmmaker Nadia Rais notes that while women in animation are rare, there is already the question of being an artist, hence, the art form of animation cinema adds to the complexity of the question. Since there are not many animation film festivals, these films are included in the midst of fiction films, though the genre is very different: "We're part of another group, and sometimes we feel like we don't really exist. So our problem is not the issue of being a woman." 

Nonetheless, the gendered question of women's experiences in cinema was firmly rooted throughout the discussion.

Hortense Assaga asks, "as a filmmaker and producer, how does she position herself in the context of gender?" Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes has developed an attitude of perseverance: "Coming from a society where women forge ahead as a matter of course, looking out for the most vulnerable in society is active work... everyday it is necessary to say that being a filmmaker from the South, that these stories are equally important." Nonetheless, she admits that the environment within cinema "is very patriarchal, very concentrated, that there is a dominance of men in positions of power...And hence, many women in the profession are often in a position to have to manage this status of inequality...It is in this context that more must be done to build awareness that this is not normal, to have to obey and serve."

For Naky Sy Savane, being an actress is also being a feminist activist in the context of cinema as a form of engagement, which Hortense Assaga, interprets as a commitment, a way of being part of the struggle. "As a feminist, we can't let things go on like this because there are generations following us. If I have a choice, I take the scenarios that advance the cause of women." Similarly, for actress/filmmaker Maïmouna N’Diaye, "to make films is to speak up and say out loud what many people think but do not dare say, in particular women, children and vulnerable people. I think it is our duty, in fact, to use this tool as a voice and shake up things, as a means to make things change so that we can move forward together." Hortense Assaga highlighted Maïmouna N’Diaye's role as the only African on the main jury at Cannes in 2019. She responded: "I felt a bit alone, but this loneliness allowed me to think of all my sisters, from all over Africa, and it gave me strength. I said to myself I am representing all of these women. I was proud of it and it gave me the strength to do it."

Fatou Kiné Sène, who was elected president of the Dakar-based African Federation of Cinematographic Critics (FACC) in 2019, notes the importance of the association website in order to give more visibility to all African films. In Senegal, the Films Femmes Afrique festival highlights the works of African women on the continent. In 2013, FACC created the Women's Cinema Month. Similarly, Naky Sy Savané, who is also founder and organizer of the Ivoirian-based FESTILAG, the International Film Festival of Lakes and Lagoons, highlighted the creation of ACAI, l’Association des Comédiennes Africaines de l’Image (Association of African Actresses of the Image).

Olga Tiyon, production and communication coordinator of "7 jours pour 1 film", emphasized the importance of framing gender broadly in all aspects of the filmmaking process: "As a result, by putting more emphasis on gender, it is easier for these women to enter areas in which they did not have easy access."

Video-recorded and uploaded on YouTube on 23 June 2020 (, excerpts translated into English from the French-language event by Beti Ellerson.

Links to African Women in Cinema Blog articles:
Olga Tiyon

Programme Tables Rondes ACA-Agence Culturelle Africaine
Jun. 22 juin 2020, 09:00 – ven. 26 juin 2020, 18:00

#22_Juin : Porter haut et fort la voix des femmes dans les cinémas d'Afrique
11h30 – Heure de Paris
Productrice, réalisatrice, actrice, critique de cinéma… La parole est à ces femmes de l’industrie du cinéma pour faire entendre leur combat.
#Participantes :
- Mouna Ndiaye, actrice et réalisatrice
- Naky Sy Savané, actrice et promotrice de festival
- Fatou Kiné Séne, présidente de la Fédération africaine des critiques de cinéma
- Marie-Clémence Andriamonta-Paes, réalisatrice et productrice
#Modératrice : Hortense Assaga, journaliste
Pour participer à la conférence, inscrivez-vous gratuitement en cliquant sur ce lien :

#23_juin : Nouvelles opportunités de financement pour les réalisateurs et producteurs des pays ACP
Avec le soutien du Centre national de l’image animée (CNC)
11H30 - Heure de Paris
Modérateur: Olivier Barlet, critique de cinéma

#24_juin : Face à la crise du cinéma liée à la Covid-19, la réponse des Etats.
11h30 - Heure de Paris
Modératrice : Cathérine Ruelle, spécialiste du cinéma africain

#25_juin : un an du projet SENTOO : quel bilan ?
Modérateur : Faissol Gnonlonfin, producteur
11h30 - Heure de Paris

#26_juin : Echanges avec les fondateurs de LAFAAAC, la plateforme digitale qui forme aux métiers des industries créatives
Avec Olivier Pascal, co-fondateur, directeur général de LAFAAAC
12h - Heure de Paris

Pour plus d’infos :

#Agence_Culturelle_Africaine #Festival_de_Cannes

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