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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30 June 2021

Black Camera: African Women Professionals In Cinema: Manifestos, Communiqués, Declarations, Statements, Resolutions by Beti Ellerson (Spring 2021)

Black Camera: African Women Professionals In Cinema: Manifestos, Communiqués, Declarations, Statements, Resolutions
by Beti Ellerson (Spring 2021)

Black Camera: An International Film Journal African Cinema: Manifesto & Practice for Cultural Decolonization, Part II Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring 2021, pp. 536-590

Compiled here is a selection of documents that span several decades. The desire is to represent as many regions of the continent as possible, as well as to outline the evolution of African women’s discourse as image-makers. At the same time, it emphasizes the critical need to historicize documents through preservation and archival practice, by all means. Created collectively or pronounced individually, these women-focused manifestos reveal the importance of addressing gender parity and women's concerns through institutionalized structures that empower their voices and recognize their strengths. In addition, these documents show the prevalence of organized meeting venues as a means for African women to network, voice their concerns and negotiate their place, in the same context as written manifestos and declarations with resolutions that follow. Hence, included are several reports and proceedings of conferences whose purpose is to plan, strategize and implement goals. In addition, film festival practices encompass broader engagements of cinema, and are perhaps some of the most important spaces in which to showcase the goals and objectives of film organizations and individual filmmakers, as well as implement them, and, at the same time present films—along with debates about them—that would not be seen otherwise. And with the ubiquity of social media, visual documents, in the form of video clips and slide presentations, continue the call to action, by visualizing ideas, concerns, and strategies for change. Hence, the selection attempts to incorporate these media as well, which together reflect past, present and future visions and voices of African women.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Black Camera Part II
ALSO SEE PART I: Fifty Years of Women's Engagement at FESPACO by Beti Ellerson (Fall 2020)

African Cinema: Manifesto & Practice for Cultural Decolonization, Part II -Black Camera: An International Film Journal Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring 2021

Black Camera

An International Film Journal
Colonial Antecedents, Constituents, Theory, and Articulations

Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2021
African Cinema: Manifesto & Practice for Cultural Decolonization

PART II: Colonial Antecedents, Constituents, Theory, and Articulations

Published by
Indiana University Press


Table of Contents

On the Matter of African Cinema—Some Introductory Remarks
Gaston J.M. Kaboré, Michael T. Martin
pp. 1-8

Colonial Cinema
Roy Armes
pp. 10-28

The Colonialist Regime of Representation, 1945–1960
James E. Genova
pp. 29-60

Politics of Cultural Conversion in Colonialist African Cinema
Femi Okiremuete Shaka
pp. 61-90

The African Bioscope—Movie-House Culture in British Colonial Africa
James Burns
pp. 91-106

From the Inside: The Colonial Film Unit and the Beginning of the End
Tom Rice
pp. 107-128

The Independence Generation: Film Culture and the Anti-Colonial Struggle in the 1950s
Odile Goerg
pp. 129-154

What Is Cinema for Us?
Med Hondo
pp. 156-160

A Cinema Fighting for its Liberation
Férid Boughedir
pp. 161-167

Where Are the African Women Filmmakers?
Haile Gerima
pp. 168-175

The FEPACI and Its Artistic Legacies
Sada Niang
pp. 176-202

The Six Decades of African Film
Olivier Barlet
pp. 203-219

Africa, The Last Cinema
Clyde Taylor
pp. 220-235

The Pan-African Cinema Movement: Achievements, Misfortunes, and Failures (1969–2020)
Férid Boughedir
pp. 236-256

African Cinema(s): Definitions, Identity, and Theoretical Considerations
Alexie Tcheuyap
pp. 258-279

Theorizing African Cinema: Contemporary African Cinematic Discourse and Its Discontents
Esiaba Irobi
pp. 280-302

The Theoretical Construction of African Cinema
Stephen A. Zacks
pp. 303-316

Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Films
Teshome H. Gabriel
pp. 317-337

Africans Filming Africa: Questioning Theories of an Authentic African Cinema
David Murphy
pp. 338-357

Tradition/Modernity and the Discourse of African Cinema
Jude Akudinobi
pp. 358-371

Towards a Theory of Orality in African Cinema
Keyan G. Tomaselli, Arnold Shepperson, Maureen Eke
pp. 372-392

Film and the Problem of Languages in Africa
Paulin Soumanou Vieyra
pp. 393-398

In Defense of African Film Studies
Boukary Sawadogo
pp. 399-404

Dossier 1: Key Dates in the History of African Cinema
Olivier Barlet, Claude Forest
pp. 406-447

Dossier 2: Ousmane Sembène
Samba Gadjigo, Sada Niang
pp. 449-450

Sembène's Legacy to FESPACO
Sada Niang, Samba Gadjigo
pp. 451-458

Vigil for a centennial
Ousmane Sembène
p. 459

Cinema as Evening School
Ousmane Sembène
pp. 460-462

Statement at Ouagadougou (1979)
Ousmane Sembène
pp. 463-478

Art for Man's Sake: A Tribute to Ousmane Sembène
Samba Gadjigo
pp. 479-484

On "Mediated Solidarity": Reading Ousmane Sembène in Sembène!
Michael T. Martin
pp. 485-522

Ousmane Sembène: An Annotated Gallery
Cole Nelson, Eileen Julien
pp. 523-532

Dossier 3: African Women in Cinema
Beti Ellerson
pp. 533-535

African Women Professionals in Cinema: Manifestos, Communiqués, Declarations, Statements, Resolutions
Beti Ellerson
pp. 536-590

The Taking of the Cinemateca Brasileira
Darlene J. Sadlier
pp. 591-608

12 June 2021

African Women in Cinema - Sister Stories | Films about Sisters

African Women in Cinema
Sister Stories | Films about Sisters

Sisters of the Screen, the title of my ongoing project on African women in cinema, invokes the notion of a kinship shared through screen culture. Within this "sisterhood" are also experiences of sisters who have biological relationships. They come together as collaborators on film productions, protagonists in films, daughters of a famous filmmaker mother--keeping her torch alive.

Annouchka de Andrade and Henda Ducados, the daughters of Sarah Maldoror (1929-2020) are continuing the work of the existing Archives that Sarah created which entails retaining rights, recovering and restoring copies of films. Their objective is to ensure that Sarah's work continues to be visible and that the archives are available to all. Their heartfelt reflections on her as "filmmaker, woman and mother" provide a rare portrait both intimate and holistic, of Sarah's life; and at the same time, demonstrate the indelible mark she has left on them as daughters--children of cinema. Two sisters who in their own lives and work, continue their mother's journey to have "an impact on this world"…"always moving forward".

Similarly, Senegalese sister filmmakers Khady Sylla and Mariama Sylla, who collaborated on seven films together, were in many ways, "children of African cinema". Their mother worked at the secretariat of the Actualités Sénégalaises under the direction of Paulin Sumanou Vieyra, a breeding ground and site for the development of the young Senegalese cinema of the period. Nicknamed “Katanga”, it was the venue of hot debates about cinema and other cinematic trends--realism versus Soviet, Italian neorealism, New Wave, Brazil Novo Cinema.... (Translation, cited from Baba Diop, in French)

In her interview, journalist/film critic Djia Mambu asks Mariama Sylla about her experiences working with her sister Khady Sylla, who passed away in October 2013 and to what extent her passing influenced the ending of the film:

Mariama Sylla responded in this way:

"I started working with my sister at the age of 17; she is the one who trained me and introduced me to cinema and scriptwriting. The person I am today is the result of this long journey with Khady, the first-born of our family. I am the youngest and she and I often laughed about being at these two ends, despite the difference in age and education, we were able to come together."

"Khady's passing greatly influenced the final voice-over in the film but the visual editing is the same, as we had completed it just before her death. There are two voices in the film. The first is Khady’s, which was done in her presence, and the second is mine, which I wrote while finalising the film. I went through a moment of shock and anger, then slowly, the phrase in Césaire's work Notebook of a Return to My Native Land was constantly in my thoughts, and all this anger turned into a desire to write about my sister, to tell her a final goodbye, and this is how my voice was laid down in the film."

The film A simple parole was completed after Khady's death. In spirit, the two sisters continued their work together.

Belgian-Congolese sisters Cecile Mulombe Mbombe—cinematographer, and Pauline Mulombe—filmmaker, collaborated on their first joint project, the short film, Tout le monde a des raisons d'en vouloir à sa mère (Everyone has Reasons to be Angry with her Mother). While they have assisted each other on their respective work, this is the first time that they made a film together. They selected the sets and filming locations and did the storyboard together, while Cecile dealt with the technical side—the choice of the technical crew, the equipment and all of the tasks that entailed transforming the script to the realization of the film and Pauline focused on the creative side, hence, her ideas are represented on screen—in terms of her vision of the actors’ roles, the film set, the mise-en scène. Their proximity as sisters provided an immediate level of confidence and understanding in each other. Pauline emphasizes this point: "Only Cecile could know that when I said 'green', in fact, I meant 'blue'." Moreover, Tout le monde a des raisons d'en vouloir à sa mère follows the experiences of three sisters who were born and raised in Europe though their mother insists on raising them based on African values. In our interview, Pauline had this to say about the three sisters:
"The youngest wants to enjoy herself and grow and develop by making the most of European social and cultural life. The middle sister wants to utilize all of the possibilities available to resolve her problems, even if it means doing things that are unthinkable in her culture of origin, such as taking the birth control pill when still an adolescent. The oldest, even if she does not openly show her homosexuality, knows that she is 100% gay."

The daughters at the same time negotiate their relationship with their mother while attempting to understand each other as sisters and as young African women living in Belgium.

Mary-Noël Niba'a comedy series "Jane and Mary", in 6-minute episodes, employs humor to explore the everyday experiences of the eponymous sisters Jane who is 21 and her sister Mary, who is two years younger. Though at the same time close, their contrasting personalities animate the twists and turns of life in Yaoundé, where they live with their uncle Fred who is a wealthy businessman. Many times, it is in the light-heartedness of humor or comedy that the drama in relationships, and otherwise difficult situations may be resolved. In our interview Mary-Noël describes the use of comedy in this way:
"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." 

Hence, the emotional fluctuations in this sister-sibling relationship are treated with amusement and insouciance.

Also with humor, the web-series, Afropolitaine, which focuses on Afro-French culture relates the experiences of two Paris-based millennial sisters and their family dynamics, introducing the milieus of Yvoire, a 24-year-old business student and Yanis, a 20-year-old fledgling activist, as they interact often with opposing views.

In constrast, Alda and Maria by Pocas Poscoal recounts the coming-of-age story of the eponymous 16 and 17 year-old sisters fending for themselves as they make their way in Lisbon. Hoping to reunite with their mother who ultimately does not make the voyage from worn-torn Angola. Partially autobiographical, Pocas draws from her and her sister's experiences as well as the many other Angolan immigrants. She had this to say about making the film:

"In the eighties, hundreds of adolescents were sent to Portugal to escape the war in Angola or to avoid military service. I was one of those young people. With very little money in our pockets, my mother put my sister and me on a plane to Lisbon. In war-affected Angola, Lisbon resonated in our ears like a promise of freedom. We arrived in that city with a heart full of hope. Though my mother was to join us soon afterwards, the Angolan state signed a decree banning anyone from leaving the country. At sixteen and seventeen years old, we were on our own in a Lisbon suburb..." (Cinemassy: Pocas Pascoal with Ciomara Morais, Cheila Lima. 2012).

Iman Djionne's film project in development, "Coura + Ouleye" centers on the relationship between 16 and 19 year-old Coura and Oulèye, paternal sisters born into the complex polygamous family in which their respective mothers are co-wives. After the unexpected death of their father they set off to find his will and in the process get to know each other. Iman had this to say about the theme of the film project: 
"The starting point of this story was wanting to explore what that bond could be like in this particular context where mothers are in conflict, living and raising their children apart. Can it exist, can it thrive even? By doing that, I wanted to examine how one man’s decision affects an entire family, informing who those individual members become and how they relate to the world… Starting out as mirror images of their mothers, Coura and Oulèye’s quest will take them outside of Dakar, far from their family’s burden and society’s expectations, to find a way through their sisterhood to break free from that mold, become their own, and in doing that, possibly bridge a broken community." (Director's Statement-Produire au Sud).

So the notion of "sisters of the screen" broadens to include "sisters on screen" encompassing the collaboration, representation, relationships and connections of biological sisters. Off screen, they collaborate in their production and advocacy as makers and stakeholders. As image-makers African women are striving to create complex, realistic, multi-dimensional representations of sister-sibling relationships on screen.   

 Report by Beti Ellerson
Following are links to the posts on the African Women in Cinema Blog from which the above texts were drawn.

The Sisters Act of Cecile and Pauline

Alda and Maria by Pocas Pascoal

Une Simple Parole by Khady Sylla and Mariama Sylla

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

Iman Djionne (Coura + Oulèye) : La Fabrique 2020 - Les Cinémas du monde

Reflections on: Another Gaze presents. The Legacies of Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020)

07 June 2021

Recent Films. Thato Rantao Mwosa: Memoirs of a Black Girl

Thato Rantao Mwosa (Botswana)
Memoirs of a Black Girl (USA)
2021 - 76min - Fiction

Memoirs of a Black Girl is a coming-of-age story of a girl and her friends who are forced to grow up and make tough decisions. Aisha Johnson, an astute and bright student, is one of the finalists for a coveted scholarship. One day after Aisha does the right thing, her life spirals out of control and her once-promising future is in jeopardy. Aisha learns to survive, navigate life at school and on the unforgiving streets of Roxbury while keeping her eyes on the prize. (Source:

Boston-based Thato Rantao Mwosa from Botswana, is an illustrator, screenwriter and filmmaker. She completed her studies in Film Production and Marketing/Advertising Communication at Emerson College, after which she obtained a certificate from New York Film Academy and a MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen at Lesley University. Thato teaches TV, Film and Documentary Filmmaking at Brookline High School in Massachusetts. (Source: 

Memoirs of a Black Girl Trailer from thato mwosa on Vimeo.


06 June 2021

Ampe: Leap into the Sky, Black Girl by Chineze Okpalaoka and Claudia Owusu (Ghana and Columbus, Ohio)

Ampe: Leap into the Sky, Black Girl

The June 2021 post originally featured the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign announcement (see below). The added text reflects the release of the film Ampe: Leap into the Sky, Black Girl in 2022.
Image: Film poster

Set in the sister cities of Accra, Ghana, and Columbus, Ohio, Ampe: Leap into the Sky, Black Girl is a rhythmic love letter to Black girlhood across the African diaspora. Through the lens of the Ghanaian traditional jumping and clapping game, Ampe, the film takes us on a journey of sisterhood, loyalty, and nostalgia in a space created for us by us. 

Documentary makers:
Chineze Okpalaoka and Claudia Owusu directed the film. Chineze, is a Nigerian-American visual artist and Claudia is a Ghanian-American writer and filmmaker, they are both based in Columbus, Ohio. Nigerian-American Ife Oluwamuyide, associate producer with Chineze Okpalaoka, wrote the screenplay along with Claudia Owusu.


Description from Indiegogo: 
"Ampe Study", which follows the journey of Black girlhood through the lens of the Ghanaian traditional game ampe. Ampe is a rhythmic, high-energy game played by girls in Ghana, West Africa. It includes jumping, clapping, and an all-around cheer and hype as two teams select a stepping pattern and face off. The teams have leading players, referred to as “the mothers'', who start the game and encourage players to compete at their best. The innate joy and competitive edge of ampe reveals the desire that Black girls have to not only be set free, but to also feel a range of emotions without judgement.

For more information on the crowdfunding campaign and to make a contribution to support the research and production of the film: While the crowdfunding campaign is now closed, the link is still active.

Writer/Filmmaker Claudia Owusu has created a series of videos on Vimeo to discuss the project focus, its objectives, treatment, and conceptulization.

Ampe Study - Project Focus from Claudia Owusu on Vimeo.

Image created from Facebook photo.

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