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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31 July 2021

Rosine Mbakam: nouvelle présidente de la commission documentaires/séries | Incoming president of the commission of documentary/series (Fonds Image de la Francophonie)

Nouvelle présidente de la commission documentaires/série
Incoming president of the commission of documentary series
(Fonds Image de la Francophonie)

La cinéaste camerounaise succède à Rahmatou Keïta, qui avait elle-même pris le relais de Marguerite Abouet en 2019.

The Cameroonian filmmaker succeeds Rahmatou Keïta, who had taken over from Marguerite Abouet in 2019.


Rosine Mbakam, originaire de l’Ouest du Cameroun, a suivi une première formation de réalisatrice à Yaoundé avant de rejoindre la chaîne Spectrum TV à Douala, puis d’intégrer l’INSAS, la prestigieuse école de cinéma de Bruxelles. Elle est l’auteur de plusieurs longs-métrages documentaires, dont le dernier, « Les prières de Delphine » a obtenu, cette année, le Prix des Jeunes au Festival « Cinéma du réel » de Paris. Ses trois longs-métrages documentaires sont diffusés actuellement par le MoMA (Musée d'Art Moderne de New York).

Au même moment, elle tourne, au Cameroun, le court-métrage de fiction « Pierrette », soutenu par le Fonds Image de la Francophonie.

Rosine Mbakam assurera la présidence de la commission Documentaires/séries du Fonds Image de la Francophonie jusqu’en 2023. Les autres membres actuels de la commission sont : Tella Kpomahou (Côte d’Ivoire), Emmanuel Mbédé (Cameroun), Myriam El Hajj (Liban), Delphine Manoury (France), Mamady Sidibé (Guinée) et Pierre Barrot (France, représentant l’OIF).


Rosine Mbakam, originally from western Cameroon, trained as a director in Yaoundé before joining the Spectrum TV channel in Douala, and afterwards INSAS, the prestigious film school in Brussels. She is the author of several feature-length documentaries. The most recent, Les prières de Delphine, won the Youth Prize at the "Cinéma du Réel" Festival (2021) in Paris. Her three feature-length documentaries are currently being broadcast by MoMA (New York Museum of Modern Art).

She is presently filming the short fiction “Pierrette” in Cameroon, which is supported by the Fonds Image de la Francophonie.

Rosine Mbakam will hold the presidency of the Documentaries / Series commission of the Image Fund of La Francophonie until 2023. The other current members of the commission are: Tella Kpomahou (
Côte d’Ivoire), Emmanuel Mbédé (Cameroon), Myriam El Hajj ( Lebanon), Delphine Manoury (France), Mamady Sidibé (Guinea) and Pierre Barrot (France, representing the OIF).


30 July 2021

Zalika Souley nous a quitté | Zalika Souley has passed away (1947-2021)

Zalika Souley nous a quitté | Zalika Souley has passed away
La doyenne des actrices du Niger, Zalika Souley, est décédée mardi à Niamey, à l'âge de 74 ans, « des suites de maladie », a-t-on appris mercredi soir. Née en 1947 à Niamey, sur les rives du fleuve Niger, Zalika Souley a été attirée toute jeune par le cinéma, devenant la première actrice professionnelle noire du 7ème Art sur le continent africain.
The dean of actresses of Niger, Zalika Souley, died Tuesday in Niamey, at the age of 74, "as a result of illness", it was reported on Wednesday evening. Born in 1947 in Niamey, on the banks of the Niger River, Zalika Souley was drawn to cinema as a young girl, becoming the first professional black actress of the 7th Art on the African continent.

23 July 2021

Gender Matters in the South African Film Industry 2018 (Report by the National Film and Video Foundation in Partnership with Sisters Working in Film and TV)

Gender Matters in the South African Film Industry
2018 Report
National Film and Video Foundation
in Partnership with Sisters Working in Film and TV
This 48-page report, published in 2018, was made possible through the collaborative effort of the South African entities, National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and Sisters Working in Film and TV (SWIFT). The NFVF, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture overlooks the myriad aspects of the South African film and video sectors. SWIFT is a network of South African women whose focus is the empowerment and advancement of women in the visual media.

Source location:
The purpose and objectives of report below is reprinted from page 7
Purpose of this Report

This report endeavours to provide information and statistics on women participation and roles in the local film industry, along with a more nuanced set of explanations and challenges they face as practitioners. Various interventions at different levels were undertaken to address issues of women participation in the film industry. Some of those interventions included the establishment of:
- Sisters Working in Film and Television (Swift) – aimed at protecting and advancing the course of women in South African film and television;
- NFVF Female Filmmaker Slate – designed to correct the disparity between men and women in the film industry; and
- Women of the Sun – a South African advocacy group which committed itself to making it possible for the female filmmaker to participate. Women in Film and Television South Africa was also founded at the end of 2005 as a Section 21 organisation that concentrates on networking and skills development in its quest to boost the status of women in the industry. However, these two organisations no longer exist.

Aims and Objectives of the Study
The study aims to explore the role played by women in the South African film industry, and to quantify their total participation. The report further aims to uncover:
- Trends and insights into the status of women in the SA Film Industry;
- How various interventions (i.e. NFVF female filmmaker slate) have assisted in 
addressing gender parity in the industry;
- Challenges faced by female filmmakers;
- The role played by advocacy groups such as WOS, WIFTSA and SWIFT;
- Interventions to fast-track female filmmakers’ development; and
- The barriers to entry in the SAFI. 

21 July 2021

Cannes 2021. Un certain regard. Hafsia Herzi: Bonne mère | Good Mother

Cannes 2021. Un certain regard.
Hafsia Herzi: Bonne mère | Good Mother
France (Tunisia)
Fiction - 96min - 2021

Source: SBS Distribution

Nora, a cleaning lady in her fifties, looks after her small family in a housing estate in the northern part of Marseille. She is worried about her grandson Ellyes, who has been in prison for several months for robbery and is awaiting his trial with a mixture of hope and anxiety. Nora does everything she can to make this wait as painless as possible...

Nora, la cinquantaine, femme de ménage de son état, veille sur sa petite famille dans une cité des quartiers nord de Marseille. Après une longue période de chômage, un soir de mauvaise inspiration, son fils aîné Ellyes s’est fourvoyé dans le braquage d’une station-service. Incarcéré depuis plusieurs mois, il attend son procès avec un mélange d’espoir et d’inquiétude. Nora fait tout pour lui rendre cette attente la moins insupportable possible…

Hafsia Herzi is a French-Tunisian actress, filmmaker and scriptwriter of Tunisian/Algerian descent.

20 July 2021

Domoina Ratsara, Malagasy film critic: Putting Madagascar onto the cinema landscape

Domoina Ratsara, Malagasy film critic:
Putting Madagascar onto the cinema landscape

Domoina Ratsarahaingotiana, film critic and journalist, studied communication and local development. Interested in the empowerment of minority groups, her aim is to give them a voice.

She is president of the Association des Critiques Cinématographiques de Madagascar (ACCM) created in December 2018.  She has served on numerous juries and is becoming increasingly visible in film criticism discourse and debates.

Her focus on film criticism emerged around 2010, while participating in various cinema-related events. There, she realized the power of critique and the cinematic gaze and the importance of the image in people's perceptions of themselves and their society.

As a Berlin Talents" invitee of the 68th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2018 she talked about her emergence in film criticism. Below is a summary.

Most of the time African cultures were portrayed by people from the outside, with exterior perceptions of the continent. That is why it is important for Africans to talk about their own culture, their own history. Most people in Madagascar do think that cinema can bring changes in perception of what we are and can actually change the future. A part from poverty there is a richness--and cinema can change this image. In the coming years, I wish that we will have relevant works that will project Madagascar onto the cinema landscape.

Image source: Berlin Talents

19 July 2021

Cannes 2021. Leyla Bouzid: Une histoire d'amour et de désir | A Tale of Love and Desire (Semaine de la Critique)

Leyla Bouzid
Une histoire d'amour et de désir
A Tale of Love and Desire 
(Semaine de la Critique)

Leyla Bouzid
France - 2021 - 102min

Ahmed, 18 ans, français d’origine algérienne, a grandi en banlieue parisienne. Sur les bancs de la fac, il rencontre Farah, une jeune tunisienne pleine d’énergie fraîchement débarquée à Paris. Tout en découvrant un corpus de littérature arabe sensuelle et érotique dont il ne soupçonnait pas l’existence, Ahmed tombe très amoureux d'elle et bien que littéralement submergé par le désir, il va tenter d’y résister.

Ahmed, 18, French of Algerian origin, grew up in the suburbs of Paris. At the university, he meets Farah, a young Tunisian girl, full of energy, who has just arrived in Paris. While discovering a collection of sensual and erotic Arab literature he never imagined existed, Ahmed falls head over heels in love with Farah, and although literally overwhelmed with desire, he will try to resist it.


16 July 2021

Durban FilmMart Programme 2021. Africa in Focus: WOMXN IN FILM

Durban FilmMart Programme 2021
Africa in Focus: Womxn in Film

Tackling head-on the challenges that face women film professionals across the continent, the Africa in Focus: Womxn in Filmpanel will traverse issues of gender equality and safe working spaces, how to go about changing the structures of production and the infrastructure of the industry, while navigating spaces of sexism and other antiquated notions. Featuring Edima Otuokon (Ladima), Zanele Mthembu (SWIFT), and Antoinette Engel (Black Women Disrupt), the conversation will explore newly-created initiatives that challenge the status quo and take us into more equitable ways of working.

Text and Image Source:

12 July 2021

Recent films. Yamina Benguigui : Soeurs | Sisters (Algeria)

Yamina Benguigui
Soeurs | Sisters
Drama - 99min - 2020



For thirty years, French-Algerian sisters Zorah, Nohra and Djamila have been living in the hope of finding their brother Rheda, abducted by their father, and hidden in newly decolonised Algeria. Their relationship is shaken when Zorah, the eldest sister, decides to write a play based on the traumatising events of their childhood that haunted them their whole life. But when they learn that their father is dying, the three sisters decide to go to Algeria to seize their last opportunity to have him reveal where their brother is. When the past catches up, the three sisters have no choice but to put their differences aside.

Depuis trente ans, trois sœurs franco-algériennes, Zorah, Nohra et Djamila vivent dans l'espoir de retrouver leur frère Rheda, enlevé par leur père et caché en Algérie. Alors qu'elles apprennent que ce père est mourant, elles décident de partir toutes les trois le retrouver en Algérie dans l'espoir qu'il leur révèle où est leur frère. Commence alors pour Zorah et ses sœurs une course contre la montre dans une Algérie où se lève le vent de la révolution.

Yasmina Benguigui : Note d'intention | Director's statement (excerpt)

A few years ago, I received a call from the provinces: my father had just been hospitalized and was in serious condition. My childhood memories, with brutal force, came back to me.

We grew up in a no man's land that was neither France nor Algeria, in the shadow of our father. An anonymous fighter of a war that he continued to pursue despite Independence, so that his wife and children in France could become Algerian patriots.

We shattered his dream by anchoring ourselves to French soil. It was this choice that attached our generation to the land of the country my father fought for Algerian independence.

Immigrant mothers also fought for their place, and in their desire for emancipation, they were often confronted with the desperation and violence of fathers, and for some even, the brutal kidnapping of their children.

SISTERS is a personal film about the place of women of immigrant origin born in France, about their struggle for their rights, about their demands, about dual alliances.

It was this in-between-ness that I explored in confronting the heroine, Zorah, and her two sisters, Djamila and Norah, and the difficulty of escaping her history and the ghosts that haunt her.


Il y a quelques années, j’ai reçu un appel de province : mon père venait d’être hospitalisé dans un état grave.

Mes souvenirs d’enfance revinrent brutalement à ma mémoire.

Nous avions grandi dans un no man’s land qui n’était ni la France, ni l’Algérie, à l’ombre de notre père, combattant anonyme d’une guerre qu’il poursuivait malgré l’Indépendance pour que sa femme et ses enfants en France deviennent des patriotes algériens.

Nous avons brisé son rêve en nous arrimant au sol français. C’est ce choix qui a fixé notre génération sur la terre du pays que mon père avait combattu pour l’indépendance de l’Algérie.

Les mères de l’immigration se sont aussi battues pour y avoir leur place et dans leur désir d’émancipation, elles ont dû souvent faire face au désespoir et à la violence des pères, et pour certaines même, au kidnapping brutal de leurs enfants.

SŒURS est un film personnel sur la place des femmes issues de l’immigration nées en France, sur leur lutte pour leurs droits, sur leurs revendications, sur la double appartenance.

C’est cet entre-deux que j’ai exploré en confrontant l’héroïne, Zorah, et ses deux sœurs, Djamila et Norah, à la difficulté d’échapper à son histoire et aux fantômes qui la hantent.

10 July 2021

Cannes 2021. Aïssa Maïga: Marcher sur l'eau | Above Water (Cinema for the Climate | Le cinéma pour le climat)

Update: FESPACO 2021
Competition Feature Documentary
L’étalon d’argent du meilleur documentaire
Silver étalon for the best documentary

Cannes 2021
Aïssa Maïga
Marcher sur l'eau | Above Water
(Cinema for the Climate | Le cinéma pour le climat)

Documentary - 90min - France | Belgium | Niger


Also see:

Marcher sur l'eau a été tourné dans le nord du Niger entre 2018 et 2020 et raconte l'histoire du village de Tatiste, victime du réchauffement climatique, qui se bat pour avoir accès à l’eau par la construction d'un forage. Chaque jour, Houlaye quatorze ans, comme d’autres jeunes filles, marche des kilomètres pour aller puiser l'eau, essentielle à la vie du village. Cette tâche quotidienne les empêche, entre autres, d'être assidues à l'école. L'absence d'eau pousse également les adultes à quitter leur famille chaque année pour aller chercher au-delà des frontières les ressources nécessaires à leur survie. Pourtant, cette région recouvre dans son sous-sol un lac aquifère de plusieurs milliers de kilomètres carrés. Sous l’impulsion des habitants et par l’action de l’ONG Amman Imman un forage apporterait l’eau tant convoitée au centre du village et offrirait à tous une vie meilleure.


Between 20218 and 2020, Aïssa Maïga went to Niger to film one of many villages that has been fallen victim to  global warming. Tehre, she followed a little girl, who, while waiting for a  a well to be built, must travel several kilometers for water everyday. Does access to water correlate with access to education for girls in Sub-Saharan African countries? This is another question that is raised in the film.

Aïssa Maïga est une comédienne française révélée au public avec son rôle dans Les poupées russes de Cédric Klapisch. Elle est ensuite nommée au César comme meilleur espoir féminin pour son rôle dans Bamako d’Abderrahmane Sissako. Elle est remarquée dans des comédies populaires françaises comme Il a déjà tes yeux ou Bienvenue à Marly Gomont, ou dans des drames intimistes tournés en langues étrangères. Elle a notamment été choisie pour interpréter des partitions dramatiques dans The boy who harnessed the wind, de Chiwetel Ejiofor et Taken down, de David Caffrey. En 2021, Aïssa Maïga tournera dans la série anglaise The Fear Index, le long-métrage d’Andrea Bescond et Eric Metayer, Quand tu seras grand et le film américain The man who saved Paris. Aïssa Maïga a co réalisé avec Isabelle Simeoni pour la télévision (Canal Plus) Regard Noir, un road movie documentaire tourné au Brésil, aux États-Unis et en France sur la place des femmes noires dans les fictions et les solutions pour l’inclusion de tous les talents. Marcher sur l’eau est son premier long métrage documentaire.


Aïssa Maïga is a French actress and filmmaker.

09 July 2021

Cannes 2021 - Marché du Film. Sara Chitambo: "Black people don't get depressed" (South Africa)

Cannes 2021 - Marché du Film

Original title: Black People Don’t Get Depressed
Directed by: Sara Chitambo
Produced by: Cati Weinek (The Ergo Company, South Africa)
Country of production: South Africa, Nigeria, Canada
Project curated by: IEFTA (International Emerging Film Talent Association

A filmmaker despairing for mental peace goes through the unavoidable journey of facing her depression. She speaks to others about their mental health as Africans and undergoes practices that mark ending of suffering. The characters in 3 countries have the commonality of difficult experiences, but also the desire to overcome. Images of transcendence are woven with poetry to build a rich observational film.

Director’s profile:
As a director Sara Chitambo is passionate about telling authentic, emotionally compelling stories and serious about continually mastering her craft as a filmmaker. She holds a Masters Degree in Documentary Film Production from Sussex University and has wide range of experience in television and film production.

Producer’s profile:
Cati has raised finance for feature films, such ‘The Letter Reader’ (2019), ‘The Tokoloshe’ (2018) ‘Mrs Right Guy’ (2016), Vryslag (2015) and the cult classic Gog’Helen’ (2012) Career highlights include developing and producing the Oscar winner Tristan Holmes’ first feature film, “The Fragile King” (release date 2021), developing feature films with award-winning storytellers such as Zola Maseko, Pieter Grobbelaar, Stephina Zwane, and Adze Ugah; and ultimately and above all being a proud parent of two ‘born-free’ babies. 

06 July 2021

African women, cinema and cultural heritage

African women, cinema and cultural heritage

African women screen practitioners have played an important role in the promotion and preservation of African cultural heritages. Moreover, their engagement as cultural producers of screen culture ensures the visualization of the vast cultural treasures of the African continent. For Sarah Maldoror (1929-2020), this was the leitmotif of her filmmaking practice: "I play a cultural role as filmmaker. What interests me is to research films about African history, because our history has been written by others, not by us. Therefore, if I don't take an interest in my own history, then who is going to do it? I think it is up to us to defend our own history, to make it known—with all of our qualities and faults, our hopes and despair.

Seipati Bulane Hopa, Secretary General of FEPACI from 2006 to 2013 highlighted the significance of African cultural heritage in her tribute to Rwandan producer Chantal Bagilishya:
"Chantal’s passing [in 2009] and that of others before her should not be in vain. The recent flooding of the library at the FESPACO took us by shock, the damage and loss that it incurred offers a powerful metaphor that evokes and invokes a greater consciousness of creating a future that is founded on pillars of prosperity - for procrastination is known to be opportunity’s natural assassin. We must aspire to that which necessitates measures that compel us toward creating tangible tools that help us create an infrastructure that is robust and responsive in managing African audiovisual cinema institutions.

The continuing loss of Africa’s intellectuals, the continuing loss and devaluation of Africa’s intellectual property can not continue to pass as unfortunate incidents – unfortunate incidents that seem to leave us in despair – feeling helpless and disempowered.

It is through the loss of our talent, the passing on of our most militant of our creative force that we must recharge our creative, intellectual energies, sharpen our creative weapons and compel change by looking at change with a different eye and an approach that compel us to be the change we want to see and be."

Ghanaian filmmaker Anita Afonu's passion for the preservation of Ghana's cinematic history inspired her film Perished Diamonds, which relates the history of Ghanaian cinema, and the initiative to restore its hidden and lost legacy. Her motivation was twofold, as a film school graduate she had a personal obligation to preserve Ghanaian cinema, and as a citizen of Ghana to uphold the ideas of Kwame Nkrumah. She had this to say in our interview: "Former President Nkrumah believed that the medium of film was a very important tool to change the mentality of the Ghanaian if he was going to make any changes as president. He believed that by showing films made by Ghanaians and shown to Ghanaians, that it would boost their self-esteem and encourage them to work for the better Ghana that he had set out. As president Dr. Nkrumah laid the groundwork for Ghanaian cinema..."

For Marie-Clémence Paes, Franco-Malagasy filmmaker/producer, the role of oral tradition is a point of departure in their work: "All of our films have always been based on the knowledge transmitted by oral cultures. The central idea being that there are treasures that are transmitted from generation to generation by word of mouth that are never written down, and they should not be neglected or looked down upon."

Sara Gubara journeyed into cinema through her father, Gadalla Gubara, pioneer of Sudanese cinema. His sudden blindness thrusted her into the forefront, she became his eyes. She has been determined to keep filmmaking alive in Sudan: “I love cinema and because of my father...I don’t want this to die.”

In their work, Cameroonians Marthe Djilo Kamga and Frieda Ekotto center the role of women as artists and cultural activists in the context of knowledge production. African women makers are the “primary sources” of their study and research--their voices and the relating of their experiences inform the project Vibrancy of Silence.

Through cinema, Liberian activist Pandora Hodge hopes to bring culture back to the country after the devastation of civil war. In 2017, she founded Liberia's first Art-House Cinema based on the dreams of young people, that youth entrepreneurship and culture are powerful tools for positive change.

In his article "Women and Intangible Cultural Heritage: the practice of the 'creative' documentary film in sub-Sahara Africa", Bertrand Cabedoche invokes the "Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage", signed by UNESCO, which designating “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.” (art. 2.1). Through their films and activism, African women screen practitioners uphold these ideas and the promotion African cultural heritages.
Report by Beti Ellerson
Following are relevant articles on practices of cultural heritage on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Femme, cinéma et valorisation du patrimoine culturel au Cameroun | Women, cinema and the cultural heritage preservation of Cameroon - Conférence

Soussaba Cisse Bogo Ja Mali

Sarah Maldoror: Pioneer

Joyce Jenje-Makwenda - Women in Film and Television in Zimbabwe: Modern Storytellers

Safi Faye: A song to women

Words of/La parole à Marthe Djilo Kamga & Frieda Ekotto : Vibrancy of Silence: A Discussion With My Sisters

Remembering Khady Sylla: Djia Mambu interviews Mariama Sylla, producer and co-director of “A Single Word” (with the late Khady Sylla)

Anita Afonu: Preserving Ghana's Cinematic Treasures

Marie-Clémence Paes: “there are treasures that are transmitted from generation to generation by word of mouth”

Women and Intangible Cultural Heritage: The experience of the “creative” documentary film in sub-Sahara Africa

Rahma Benhamou El Madani: "I try to connect to my roots through my films"

Mis Me Binga 2018 – Mireille Niyonsaba : Tresor Tissé | Woven Treasure (Burundi)

Katy Lena Ndiaye's walls of women, women's words

Fatou Kande Senghor: My work my passion

Hachimiya Ahamada: Dreams from the Comoros

Women and Intangible Cultural Heritage: The experience of the “creative” documentary film in sub-Sahara Africa

Tsitsi Dangarembga: Critical cultural debate

Rama Thiaw a filmmaker in the Struggle

Annette Mbaye d'Erneville: Mère-bi

Horria Saihi: A portrait

Chantal Bagilishya: "Special Tribute to one of Africa’s treasures in the world of cinema" by Seipati Bulane Hopa

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