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

26 September 2021

"Une Histoire d'amour et de désir" | "A Tale of Love and Desire ". Interview with/avec Leyla Bouzid by/par Falila Gbadamassi

"Une Histoire d'amour et de désir"
"A Tale of Love and Desire "
Interview with/avec Leyla Bouzid by/par Falila Gbadamassi
"A Tale of Love and Desire" or when Leyla Bouzid takes an interest "in the romantic initiation of a shy young man". Interview by Falila Gbadamassi,, published 24/08/2021.
Translated from French by Beti Ellerson, an African Women in Cinema Blog collaboration with

En français :

Leyla Bouzid, Franco-Tunisian filmmaker
Falila Gbadamassi is an editor at Africiné Magazine

A Tale of Love and Desire closed the International Critics' Week at the last edition of the Cannes Film Festival. With tenderness and care, the second feature fiction film by the Franco-Tunisian director recounts the budding love and amorous tribulations of a young student couple of North African origin. The film was in competition at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival held from 24 to 29 August 2021.

On the benches of the university, Ahmed (Sami Outalbai), 18, meets Farah (Zbeida Belhaj). He is French of Algerian origin. She comes from her native Tunisia to continue her studies in Paris. The curriculum they have chosen leads them to the discovery of a sensual and erotic Arabic literature. Their intellectual endeavor soon intertwines with a quest of love. And the less reticent member of this new couple is not the one we think.

Falila Gbadamassi: What inspired you to want to make this film?

Leyla Bouzid: A lot of things came together but the initial idea was to focus on the romantic initiation of a shy young man. I wanted to describe these emotions and construct a story of emancipation around a young man particularly from North African culture. Little by little, things evolve that nourished the film.

This film may seem to have as its purpose to clarify to the spectator, that the idea that you have today of Arab culture concerning sex and love was constructed by completely erroneous images…

In any case, it is an image which is reductive and oversimplified. Thus, the idea is to propose a level of complexity, nuance and subtlety where we are often too restrictive. I do not think the film can completely change this image, but at least it is making a point by saying that there are other representations beyond what is being shown at the present.

Your feature film is very instructive. In it we find interesting literary references precisely on love and desire treated by Arab authors. What was your research process? Where did you find your sources?

I tried to read and find information to nourish the characters who discover this literature and, indeed, there is an educational dimension because the protagonists themselves learn these texts. There is obviously a lot more information than what is presented in the film.

Your attention is focused more on the character of Ahmed, and Farah, who he falls in love with seems more liberated than him when it comes to matters of love. Why this choice?

It seemed to me that a young Frenchman of North African origin can experience difficulties with love, may be shy and reserved; and that a young Tunisian who arrives from Tunisia, though not necessarily liberated, may not, at any rate, have problems at this level. However, Ahmed only represents himself. I wanted to talk about a shy young man. These people exist but are rarely represented. We are always stuck in clichés. We only see representations of men of North African origin with a very virile, visible masculinity on display.

You explain why he is shy and to what extent social pressure can play a role. Ahmed lives in the outskirts of Paris where his peers have very set ideas about matters of love or relationships between men and women. They have constructed codes of which they themselves do not know the origins. Ahmed talks with a big brother of the neighborhood who he respects and who explains to him, among other things, that their Arab-ness has been stolen from them, the content of which remains unclear, even for him, who makes this claim. Is there an explanation for this type of situation that you relate in your film?

They are in search of an identity and of a reclamation. They themselves don't know. This is what the film is about. I do not know what this means either, but I am trying to put a level of complexity into all of this. The film has an interest in this Arab identity but it is also a film about a romance. And Ahmed is not shy because of the neighborhood, where there can be a form of sexual misery, or at any rate, where there are difficulties living a love relationship. Ahmed is shy because he is someone who has an inner world, who likes to read and who probably has a very pure vision of love. That is his temperament.

How did you choose Sami Outalbai, who interprets Ahmed, and Zbeida Belhaj who embodies Farah?

Sami, who interprets Ahmed, has been acting since he was very young, though in secondary roles. I saw him in the ARTE drama mini-series Fiertés by Philippe Faucon, where he played a small role, but he seemed really interesting to me. When I saw him, I thought to myself that he was within the age range, and he had the profile and physique to be Ahmed. I met him and he immediately signed on to the project. I then cast him and he was incredible: he has a very beautiful voice when he reads the texts. I met Zbeida in Tunisia. I discovered her during my previous film [As I Open My Eyes, her first feature film released in 2015]. She was very young then: she was 14, she was the right age. I wanted to make sure that she was someone who lives in Tunisia.

In a way, you are a woman who puts herself in the shoes of a young man with the character of Ahmed. How would you explain this?

I don't know if I put myself in his shoes but in any case I try to get a sense of what he might be experiencing, to follow him and to film him. I looked at him and tried to be with him. But he eludes me a bit too. He has a part of the mystery that I left up to him to express.

You are Franco-Tunisian. Presently, African cinema is also very much that of its diaspora. Do you think that your gaze is different from that of a filmmaker in Tunisia or is there, in fact, no real difference since, no matter where you are, the perspective you have of your country or cultural space does not actually change?

I grew up in Tunisia and came to France at the age of 18. For this film, I think that my journey and my trajectory have allowed me to take a step back from the discourse about the Maghreb community in France and what it is considered to be, which often does not consider its diversity. So I am putting diversity within diversity. Our trajectory necessarily nourishes our perspective. Hence, my journey is nourished by my lived experience and the fact that I am from another country when I arrive in France. It's a great opportunity to have a double culture and to be able to have that kind of distance. Afterwards, depending on the projects and films, there are stories that can be told from anywhere. You don't have to be from one place or another. For this film, the issue was about the questioning of identities, an interrogation on the representation of this identity. I am always mindful of authenticity, and it is also nourished by what I have seen.

Falila Gbadamassi, special correspondent

10 September 2021

Congolese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture (Congo-Brazzaville - RC)

Congolese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture (Congo-Brazzaville - RC)

The 2000s witnessed the emergence of women of the moving image from the Congo Republic. Nadège Batou wears the hat of journalist, filmmaker and festival organizer. Originally working as journalist, she wanted to expand her audience beyond the community-based media, hence, acquiring the necessary training as director and producer. She is founder and director of the Festival des 7 Quartiers in Brazzaville. “The 7 Neighborhoods in Brazzaville Festival” is a mobile cinema event that takes place every 4 months for 7 days in the 7 districts of Brazzaville. Annette Kouamba Matondo, also a journalist and filmmaker, is an avid blogger, using social media to showcase local social activities and women’s initiatives.  Her film, "One does not forget one forgives: the Case of the Beach Disappearances" [English ranslation], is a portrait of an artist: Sylvie Diclo Pomos, and the duty of memory: about the Case of the Beach Disappearances, a devastating history in the Congo, as well as a personal tragedy for her. While making the film she realized "[I was] too deep into the skin of a journalist that I had to get rid of this hat in order to wear that of the director."
Communications specialist Claudia Haïdara Yoka is a filmmaker and founder of the Brazzaville-based Tazama Women’s Film Festival. According to its website the Tazama Women’s Film Festival was created with the idea to bring together women filmmakers from the African continent and provide a new platform for exchanges, meetings and sharing. The particularity of this festival lies in its desire to appeal to women who would like to participate and to serve a cause: The fight against Cancer in Africa. Tazama, which in Kiswahili means TO SEE, thus allows us to reflect on the need for African artists to engage and support the efforts of existing organizations in Africa. TO SEE, hence, in the sense to realise the extent of the disease and contribute to its eradication. Festivals bring the public together and women filmmakers are the carriers of powerful messages.

Ifrikia Kengue's transmedial journalism spans diverse communication platforms that include social media, video, digital newspapers, all of which are means to spotlight Congo-Brazzaville. Ifrikia Mag, launched in 2014, aims to give a voice to the Republic of Congo.

The African Women in Cinema Blog endeavors to present the myriad screen experiences of women of Congo-Brazzaville. While not claiming by any means to be exhaustive, the Blog presents a small selection of voices that are indicative of the diverse and wide-ranging screen cultures of Congo-Brazzaville.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Links to articles on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Florence Bamba: Numero 10

TAZAMA - African Women Film Festival | Festival du film des femmes africaines - January | janvier 2014 - Congo-Brazzaville

Annette Kouamba Matondo: The Duty of Memory and the Case of the Beach Disappearances

A Conversation with Nadège Batou

08 September 2021

Congolese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture (Congo-Kinshasa - DRC)

Congolese Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture (Congo-Kinshasa - DRC)
While information on the details of the first woman-directed films from ex-Zaire is not available, the works are credited to Angebi Ngeleba for the 45-minute, 16 mm film Bakola Miziki released in 1980, and Kilaba Ngansem Lhape for the film Oeuvre Maman Mobutu co-directed with Bokufa Bosomba in 1990.
The few films produced during the 1990s come out of the diaspora, by Belgium-based Monique Mbeka Phoba, who has been mentor and inspiration to many. Phoba continues to produce in the 2000s and is also involved in co-productions and African cinema organisational functions. She has been mentor to two Belgium-based practitioners, the sisters Pauline Mulombe, filmmaker and Cecile Mulombe Mbombe, cinematographer as well as a host of young filmmakers working directly in the Congo. Other Belgium-based Congolese women in cinema, include Wendy Bashi, filmmaker and journalist, and host of the programme Reflets Sud on TV5 Monde. Similarly, journalist Djia Mambu, as film activist, is actively involved in the promotion of African cinema throughout the globe, and advocates for positive and realistic representations of people of African origin. U.K.-based filmmaker, actor, writer Shana de Carsignac Mongwanga works at the intersection of social change and art, and has a keen interest in using film to reflect her reality as an African-European, but also to use art as a common cause for Congolese women based in the UK and in Congo DRC. Franco-Congolese Claude Haffner, points her camera to the country of her birth, as she returns to the Congo as an adult on a voyage of rediscovery. Raised in France by a French father and Congolese mother, her bi-racial, bi-cultural identity is explored in her documentary film, Footprints of my Other, whose French title, Noire ici, blanche la-bàs highlights the duality of her identity: being black here--in France, and white there in Congo. Similarly, Métis, the 2016 documentary by Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette and Mélissa Quinet--who is the granddaughter of Elodie, explores mixed-race identity, though in a very different context. The film traces the experiences of Quinet's grandmother and her best friend Gerty, when Congo was under Belgian rule. Like many other children from interracial unions they were at the same time not recognised by their father and also taken from their mothers by government authorities to be placed in orphanages run by nuns.

Machérie Ekwa Bahango, of the current generation of Congolese filmmakers, has navigated between Congo and U.K. Her first film, Maki'la, which is also a feature, received international attention for its selection at the Berlinale Forum in 2018. Kinshasa-born Mariam Donda gained experience in directing and scriptwriting during a workshop conducted at the International Film Festival of Kinshasa in 2015, and in 2018 directed the short documentary film Maïmouna, advocating for the education of the girl child.
Julie Djikey, a multifaceted visual artist, uses the screen culture platforms of social media and new technologies to disseminate her performance art. Born in Congo-Kinshasa, her artistic approach endeavors a systemic reparation of the stereotypes of contemporary Congolese art.
In 2014, The Association of Women Filmmakers of DR Congo organized the first edition of Cinef (cinema au féminin). Launched under the theme "Empowerment of Congolese women through its initiatives for development”, the theme was developed during a seminar in which stakeholders in the cultural arena were invited to take stock of the current state of culture in DR Congo.
In April 2021 a panel discussion among women of RDC and the diaspora was held under the title Regard des femmes cinéastes-RDC 'influence ta communauté: "Perspectives of women directors of the RDC: Influence your community". Organized by Yole!Africa,  a non-profit organization promoting peace through art and culture, the Zoom round table included an impressive list of panelists and participants:

Carine Ilunga, actress-philanthropist
Djia Mambu, journalist and film critic
Clarisse Muvuba, producer-director-screenwriter
Monique Mbeka Phoba, screenwriter-director-producer-film theorist
Bernadette Vivuya, director-moderator

Nancy Bwinika, actress
Annie Mahamba, actress
Chery Muhima, actress
Madeleine Ndeze, actress
Alice Mely Ndoole, actress
Nicole Nikuze, actress-director-producer
Baudouine Rudahigwa, actress-director
Diane Uwamahoro, actress
Charby Wale, actress-producer
The African Women in Cinema Blog endeavors to present the myriad screen experiences of women of DRC. While not claiming by any means to be exhaustive, the Blog presents a small selection of voices that are indicative of the diverse and wide-ranging screen cultures of DRC.
Report by Beti Ellerson

Links to articles on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Festival Films Femmes Afrique 2020 - Mariam Donda : Maïmouna
Amelia Umuhire : Congo-Rwanda webseries Tuko - Life in Goma (FR-EN-DE)
CINEF #4 2018 - Cinéma au féminin (Kinshasa) : Abeti Masiniki by/de Laura Kutika and Ne Kunda Nlaba

Mis Me Binga 2018 – Delphine Wil : Mémoire de missionnaires | Missionary Memories (Belgique | Belgium)

“Maki'la” by/de Machérie Ekwa Bahango, a/un film noir by/par Hassouna Mansouri (analysis/analyse)

Berlinale (Forum) 2018: Maki'la by/de Machérie Ekwa Bahango

Djia Mambu : “Black”, pourquoi Mavela et pas Loubna ? | Contradictions in the representation of Mavela and Loubna in the film “Black”

Métis (Mixed-race), 2016 : by/de Maëlle Cherpion, Charlotte Manguette et Mélissa Quinet

Djia Mambu : journalist and film critic, a committed writer at the service of Africulture | journaliste et critique de cinéma, une plume engagée au service d’Africulture

That Sister There! by Michèle Solle, a review of the film "Sister Oyo" by Monique Mbeka Phoba | Cette soeur-là ! par Michèle Solle, une critique du film “Soeur Oyo” de Monique Mbeka Phoba

Festival Cinema au féminin (CINEF) 2014 - Kinshasa - Programme

Cinema au féminin (CINEF) : 10-14 June | juin 2014 - Kinshasa

Monique Mbeka Phoba: "Sister Oyo", the importance of social media, and the Kisskissbankbank crowdfunding campaign

Julie Djikey: Performance "Ozonisation"

FILM: République Démocratique du Congo : violations graves des droits humains | Democratic Republic of Congo: Serious human rights violations

Claude Haffner: "Black Here, White There" | "Footprints of My Other "

Shana Mongwanga: For a Common Cause

The Sisters Act of Cecile and Pauline

A Conversation with Monique Mbeka Phoba by Beti Ellerson

06 September 2021

FIFF - International Women's Film Festival of Cotonou | Festival International des Films de Femmes de Cotonou, Benin 2021 : African cinema: perspectives on the economic power of rural women - « Regard du cinéma africain sur le pouvoir économique de la femme rurale »

The International Women's Film Festival
2nd edition Cotonou, Benin from 14 to 18 September
La 2ème édition du Festival International de Films de Femmes du 14 au 18 septembre à Cotonou, au Bénin
African cinema: perspectives on the economic power of rural women
Regard du cinéma africain sur le pouvoir économique de la femme rurale

The International Women's Film Festival of Cotonou aims to highlight and promote the works of African women filmmakers
Le Festival International des Films de Femmes de Cotonou ( FIFF Cotonou ) vise essentiellement à valoriser et à promouvoir les œuvres des femmes cinéastes d’Afrique.

The Five FIFF Awards | Les cinq prix du Fiff-Cotonou
  • The Golden Amazon: the grand prize of the festival is awarded for the best fiction film | l’Amazone d’or : le plus grand prix du festival est attribué au meilleur film de fiction
  • The Documentary Amazon: the second prize of the festival is awarded for the best documentary film | l’Amazone du documentaire : le deuxième prix du festival est attribué au meilleur film documentaire
  • The Amazon of the jury: is the jury's favorite | l’Amazone du jury : le coup de cœur du jury
  • The Amazon for the screenplay: the award for best screenplay | l’Amazone du scénario : le prix du meilleur scénario
  • Tella Kpomahou Amazon for best performance: Awarded for Best Female Performance | l’Amazone Tella Kpomahou de l’interprétation : attribuée à la meilleure interprétation féminine
The festival program includes five major activities | Le festival programme est marqué de cinq grandes activités
  • conference-debates | les conférence-débats
  • film screenings | la projection de films
  • the tourist visit | la visite touristique
  • free workshop in film criticism | formation gratuite en critique cinématographique*
  • the Soirée of the Amazones, which will include the awarding of distinctions for the best woman filmmakers | la Soirée des Amazones: la remise de distinction des meilleures réalisatrices.
* As part of this second edition, the Ecranbenin association will organize a free workshop in film criticism. The workshop will be led by Djia Mambu (Journalist and Cinema Critic for several media networks including TV5 Monde) and Charles Tesson (Critic, Director of Cannes Critics' Week and Film Historian)

*Dans le cadre de cette deuxième édition, l'association Ecranbenin lance une formation gratuite en techniques de critique cinématographique. La formation sera animée par Djia Mambu (Journaliste et Critique Cinema pour plusieurs médias dont TV5 Monde) et Charles Tesson (Critique, Directeur de la Semaine de critique de Cannes et Historien du Cinéma)

Filmmaker Monique Mbeka Phoba is the jury president of this second edition | La cinéaste Monique Mbeka Phoba est la présidente de cette deuxième édition.

05 September 2021

Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture of Côte d'Ivoire

Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture of Côte d'Ivoire

Cinema is a vehicle for unity and social cohesion--Naky Sy Savane

Martine Ndah directed her graduation film Tresse à la douzaine in 1988, at the Parisian film school Varan, the first film by a woman Ivoirian director. After a pause, in the late 1990s, productions from the Ivoirian diaspora were also part of the Ivorian cinema culture, notably with the works of French-based filmmaker Isabelle Boni-Claverie. The popular cult series “Ma Famille” (2002), renamed “Ma Grande Famille” (2007) when re-launched, was conceived and directed by actress turned filmmaker Akissi Delta, whose long career on the screen of Ivoirian cinema added to the public appeal of her production. Inspired by the story behind her success, Ivoirian Siam Marley presents a portrait of her role model in her film Couvre Feu (2016).

For Naky Sy Savane being an actress is also being a feminist activist in the context of cinema as a form of engagement. In 2005, she created the Afriki Djigui Theatri to promote African culture in Côte d’Ivoire. In addition, she helms the Ivorian-based FESTILAG, the Festival international du film des lacs et des lagunes (International Lakes and Lagoons Film Festival). At its 2019 edition she brought together actresses throughout the continent for the historic general assembly of African actresses. During the festival event tributes were made to the pioneering actresses of African cinema.

Actress-activist-producer Hanny Tchelley, who founded the International Festival of Short Films of Abdijan, also produced the 2002 series, Vies de Femmes. The 26-minute series of six episodes traces the experiences of six prominent African women in West Africa. Sita Houelefohoua Silue's short film about energy and the challenges that rural societies face, further highlights the role that African women take on as activist-cultural producers. Moreover, Marie-Christine Amon and Alexandra Amon had this to say about their series Chroniques Africaines: Chroniques africaines: "With two women at the helm of Chroniques africaines [producer Alexandra Amon and director Marie-Christine Amon], we hope one day to have the privilege of being among the women who have marked the audiovisual industry in Africa...".

Marguerite Abouet’s acclaimed graphic animation film Aya of Yopou City (2013), highlights the broad spectrum of the genres that Ivoirian women image-makers have embraced and offer to their spectators.

Akre Loba Diby Melyou puts a spotlight on the ubiquity of digital technology and its impact on societies across the globe and in Africa in particular. Her series, simply titled "Blog", reflects the growing relevance of social media in Africa and its importance to Ivorian women of the screen.

The African Women in Cinema Blog endeavors to present the myriad screen experiences of Côte d'Ivoire. While not claiming by any means to be exhaustive, the Blog presents a small selection of voices that are indicative of the diverse and wide-ranging screen cultures of Côte d'Ivoire.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Links to articles on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

First general assembly of African actresses - FESTILAG Côte d'Ivoire

Akissi Delta: TV Series - Ma Grande Famille (Côte d'Ivoire)

FESPACO 2019: Blog de/by Akre Loba Diby Melyou (Côte d’Ivoire)

FESPACO 2019: L’energie, defi de survie à Nanagoun by/de Sita Houelefohoua Silue (Côte d’Ivoire)

Mis Me Binga 2018 - Dorcas Gloria Ahouan-Gonou : Le fruit defendu | The Forbidden Fruit (Côte d’Ivoire)

FESPACO 2017: Normalium by/de Siam Marley (Cote d’Ivoire)

FESPACO 2017: Destin trouble by/de Rita Ambeu et Lidia Kassa (Côte d’Ivoire/Gabon)

FESPACO 2015 - Chroniques africaines (“African diaries”) by/de Marie-Christine Amon (Côte d'Ivoire)

FESPACO 2015 – Siam Marley : "Cinq boîtes de lait" | "Five cans of milk"

ARTE: Trop noire pour être française ? | Too black to be French? by/de Isabelle Boni-Claverie

Naky Sy Savane: “Cinema is a vehicle for unity and social cohesion” – International Film Festival of the Lagunes

Aya de Yopougon, un film d’animation de Marguerite Abouet

A Conversation with Siam Marley

A Conversation with Isabelle Boni-Claverie

02 September 2021

Festival Cinéma au Féminin (CINEF) 2021- Kinshasa (RDC): TV5MONDE, partenaire de la 5ème édition | CINEF festival partners with TV5MONDE for its 5th edition

TV5MONDE, partenaire de la 5ème édition du festival CINEF qui se tient à Kinshasa du 25 septembre au 01 octobre 2021

The CINEF festival partners with TV5MONDE for its 5th edition, which takes place in Kinshasa from 25 September to 01 October 2021

« Il n’y a de véritable Renaissance que lorsque la femme est libérée », c’est le thème retenu pour la 5ème édition du Festival Cinéma au Féminin, CINEF prévue du 25 septembre au 01 octobre 2021 à Kinshasa (RDC). Cadre véritable de la promotion des œuvres produites et réalisées par les femmes, CINEF qui célèbre en outre le cinéma et la culture, demeure un événement riche et varié où projections, ateliers de formation et rencontres professionnelles ont une place prépondérante.

"There is no real Renaissance until women are liberated" is the theme chosen for the 5th edition of the Festival Cinéma au Féminin, CINEF scheduled from 25 September to 01 October 2021 in Kinshasa (DRC). A real framework for the promotion of works produced and directed by women. CINEF, which also celebrates cinema and culture, continues to be a rich and varied event where screenings, training workshops and professional meetings have a prominent place.

Le Mozambique à l'honneur pour la première fois au Festival Cinéma au Féminin."Entre Dieu et moi" de Yara Costa Pereira sélectionné dans la compétition long-métrage documentaire. La réalisatrice évoque la menace de la cohabitation multiculturelle face aux sectes évangéliques et islamistes wahabites.

Mozambique in the spotlight for the first time at the Festival Cinéma au Féminin. "Entre Dieu et moi" by Yara Costa Pereira selected in the feature-length documentary competition. The director evokes the threat to a multicultural coexistence in the face of evangelical and Islamic Wahhabi sects.

Contact :
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YouTube : Festival Cinéma au Féminin
E-mail :
WhatsApp : +243 82 47 52 525

À lire aussi | See also
Clarisse Muvuba : The Cinef, women who dare | Le Cinef des femmes qui osent - Interview/entretien by/par Wendy Bashi