Gabonese cinema history dates to the beginnings of filmmaking on the continent, especially sub-Saharan Africa in the 1960s. While the number of Gabonese women in cinema is small, they have had some visibility since the start of the 1980s with the emergence of Rose Elise Mengue-Bekale, though waning in the 1990s. Since the 2000s their presence has been steadily on the increase with official selections and award winning films at international festivals, notably by Samantha Biffot, whose works include, L'oeil de la cité | The Eye of the Town (2012) one of her popular TV series ; Retour aux sources (2013) and The African Who Wanted to Fly (2018).
Documentary filmmaker Yveline Nathalie Pontalier completed professional training in image techniques with a focus on techniques of cinematography in Brussels. In her artistic statement, she had this to say about her work:
Issues regarding social exclusion are recurring topics in my film projects. These choices are driven by my personal background, my environment, and the desire to listen to people to whom no one else listens; allowing them to express themselves by showing the complexity of their lives beyond stereotypes.
For Pauline Mvele, originally from Burkina Faso and who now calls Gabon her home, cinema is a commitment, evident in her choice of themes that focus on the voiceless, the rejected and the weak. To make films is to be socially engaged: "I cannot remain indifferent, silent and blind to certain situations or causes that I see in my country, Gabon, so I decided to make films in order to bring to the surface some of the problems of our society."
Matamba Kombila, of French-Gabonese parentage, explores the evolving complexities of her multiple identities and the cultural, geographical tensions of these positionalities, evident in her recent film, Mundele (2019)
Nadine Osobogo has brought recent prominence to Gabon with the creation of the Masuku Film Festival in 2013, which focuses on nature and the environment. She had this to say about why she launched the festival:
The Masuku Festival has as objective to provide “culture for everyone” … Gabon has a fifty-year history of cinema but only one festival, the Escales Documentaire of Libreville. However, the documentary films are only seen in the capital, in Libreville. Like other countries in Africa, Gabon no longer has cinema houses. It is up to us to create the venues to share our art. To make films is good, but what is the interest of it, if our friends, relatives, neighbors do not see them?
The growing list of Gabonese women in screen culture include:
Manouchka Kelly Labouba, Rose Elise Mengue-Bekale, Matamba Kombila, Pauline Mvele Nambané, Yéno Anongwi, Victorine Bella Meyo, Nadine Otsobogo, Alice Atérianus Owanga.
Gabonese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture on the African Women in Cinema Blog
Matamba Kombila: Mundele n blanche, étrangère
The African Who Wanted to Fly by Samantha Biffot, Gabon
Matamba Kombila: “Sens Dessus Dessous” crowdfunding campaign | campagne Indiegogo
Pauline Mvele: "Sans famille" | "Without family"
Yveline Nathalie Pontalier: crowdfunding sur Indiegogo pour “Le club des silencieux” | crowfunding for the “The Silent Club”
Nadine Otsobogo: Interview by/par Stéphanie Dongmo
Dialemi, de/by Nadine Otsobogo - une analyse du film | an analysis of the film par/by Mohamed Dagnoko
Nadine Otsobogo crée le Festival du Film de Masuku | Nadine Otsobogo creates the Film Festival of Masuku
Samantha Biffot (Gabon) : L'oeil de la cité | The Eye of the Town
Yveline Nathalie Pontalier : Le marechalat du roi-Dieu | The Marshal of the God-king
FESPACO 2013 - Nadine Otsobogo : Elle s'amuse | Dialemi | She's having fun https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2013/02/fespaco-2013-nadine-otsobogo-elle.html
Nadine Otsobogo: The making of The Fish Bucket
A Conversation with Nadine Otsobogo