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.


My photo
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


Search This Blog

29 September 2021

African Women and Cinema, Italy as a site of cinematic discourse and engagement

African Women and Cinema, Italy as a site of cinematic discourse and engagement

“That is important, if you are doing research on [the topic of African cinema], you must look at my work, and if you have not then that means that you have not done your research properly…Not because of the joy of reading it, but to know what has been there, that it has been done and how it all started…that is why it is very relevant for today.”*

In the above quote Joy Nwosu refers to her book, Cinema e Africa Nera. Her cinematic experience, both artistic and academic, highlights the fact that an Italian afro-diasporic cinema culture was indeed present in the 1960s--her playing the pioneering role. As early as 1962, Joy Nwosu was among the first Nigerians to come to Italy to study. After receiving her diploma in music studies, she began a three-year program in Mass Communications in 1965, specializing in cinematography. For her final project she wrote her thesis Cinema e Africa Nera, on Africa and cinema. The first book to deal with the subject in any language, published in Italian in 1968, and reedited in 2014, also in Italian. The little-known book was rediscovered by Italian scholar of African cinema, Leonardo De Franceschi, who was instrumental in its reprinting in 2014 under the title Cinema e Africa, L’immagine dei neri nel cinema bianco e il primo cinema africano, as a critical re-edition, including extensive explication of text. The significance of this work, as Nwosu notes in the above citation from a video interview arranged by De Franceschi*, is that it was a seminal text and a record of the period as it relates to African cinema history. It is also important to note that its obscurity most certainly is based on the fact that it is an Italian-language text. That it is neither in French nor in English [and perhaps that she is a woman] doomed it to the dusty shelves of African cinema history, a point that must be considered in reading any review of literature and citation of texts. In addition, the film Il nero by Giovanni Vento, in which Joy Nwosu was of the leading actors, was restored in 2020. De Franceschi released the book, "Il nero" di Giovanni Vento in Italian on the film in 2021 as well as engaged in an extensive with renowned film critic Ludovico Cantisani, who wrote a preface to the original version of Cinema e Africa Nera in 1968 .

De Franceschi indeed understood the significance of Joy Nwosu's work. That his interest and research in African cinema was a prelude to his discovery of her work, reinforces the fact that the foundation of researching is to go beyond the surface--in this case to uncover a work written by an African woman in Italian in 1968. Moreover, she herself emphasizes the point that its significance first and foremost is that it was the first book that was written and published by an African from an African perspective regarding Africa and cinema. In an interview arranged by De Franceschi*, Joy Nwosu talks about the challenges as an anglophone speaker, of researching and writing in Italian, but at the same time, the rich research sources available to her of the few African filmmakers at the time.

Following in Joy Nwosu's footsteps, Sr. Dominica Dipio of Uganda resumed this Italian afro-diasporic cinema critique as a student at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where she studied from 1998 to 2003, obtaining a Licentiate and PhD in Media Studies. Her doctoral thesis was published as a book under the title: Gender Terrains in African Cinema in 2014. Hence, thirty years later Sr. Dipio had the benefit of the Gregorian University library and organizing bodies such as Centro Orientamento Educativo (a main sponsor of Ecrans d'Afrique/African Screens) and the African, Asia and Latin America Film Festival in Milan (FESCAAAL), to name a few of the venues in Italy, at which she was able to view and research most of the films analyzed in her thesis.

During the time of Sr. Diopio's studies in Italy, Italian scholar Maria Coletti also focused her research on representations of African women, Di diaspro e di corallo. L'immagine della donna nel cinema dell'Africa nera francofona (Of Jasper and Coral: Images of Women in Black African Cinema), is the published edition of her PhD research at Roma Tre University released in 2001. I asked her about the reception of her work in Italy: I really don’t know, I cannot say there has been a real reception. There are very few academic works on African cinema and women studies, and even fewer networks of researchers on that theme as far as I know. I am no longer in the academy, it is very difficult in Italy, so I am a little out... "I walk alone". I do know that my work has been used in some courses on Third Cinema Films and Theories at the University of Rome-La Sapienza with Professor Giulia Fanara and in some courses on Postcolonial Film Studies at the University Roma Tre with my husband [Leonardo De Franceschi] who is professor there, and who also directs the Panafricana Film Festival” . [Note: the Panafricana festival in presently inactive].

As noted above Centro Orientamento Educativo (COE) was a main sponsor of the Ecrans d'Afrique/African Screens). Founded in 1959 the association "works for the development of a culture and dialogue and solidarity." COE also initiated (the African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival (FESCAAAL) in order to promote the cinema of countries in development, to the Italian public. Moreover COE organizes film weeks in Italian cities in order to showcase African cinema to its public as a means of awareness building and North/South cultural exchange.

Another cinema-focused initiative,, though no longer active, was an archival project for filmmakers of African descent in Italian cinema, created as a spin-off research of a book called L’Africa in Italia: Per una controstoria postcoloniale del cinema italiano (For a Postcolonial Counterhistory of Italian Cinema). Its objective is as follows: Cinemafrodiscendente was created to record the contribution that hundreds of, often unrecognized, figures of the Afrodescendant panorama gave to the Italian film industry since the silent era. The blog follows a cultural policy of affirmative action, aimed to empower the agency of dozens of African and Afrodescendant filmmakers, and is driven by the belief that a more efficient promotion of those figures may represent an added value for Italian film and creative industries.

Specifically women-focused initiatives include the sixth edition of the Bologna Lesbian Film Festival, Some Prefer Cake held in 2012, which featured visual activist Zanele Muholi as the guest of honor with an exhibition and audiovisual project focusing on the life of lesbians in South Africa. In addition, with a focus on theory, a film screening about the late African-American poet, activist and writer Audre Lorde was presented. In 2021, the 30th edition of FESCAAAL was devoted to women. Seven filmmakers from seven countries discussed their personal experience focusing on women's agency, their aesthetic and narrative choices and the emergence of a new women's imaginary from a contemporary, postcolonial and globalized perspective. In 2023, in collaboration with Centro Di Documentazione Flavia Madaschi the festival presented the lesbian cult film Watermelon Woman, by American-Liberian, Cheryl Dunye.


Rim Temimi adds to this expanding Diaspora of Italy. She is enriched by three cultures, that of Tunisia, where she was born, the Algerian ancestry of her father, and Sicily from her mother's family. In her documentary Manco Moro, she embarks on a rediscovery of her Sicilian family. 

Italy as a Diasporic site of inquiry is becoming increasingly visible as afro-descendants take their place in Italian society as scholars and researchers, such as the panel, Corpi colonizzati: riflessioni di donne nere della diaspora (Colonized Bodies: Reflections of Black Women of the Diaspora) held at the Libreria Griot in Rome in February 2023. During the discussion, Angelica Pesarini, Fartun Mohamed Gacal and Iman Mohamed reflect on what it means to study Italian colonialism from the opposite perspective, and on the embedded stories they bring with them as black women scholars. Similarly, Italio-Camerounian Sabrina Onana gives voice to the experiences of young Afro-Italians in the 2-part documentary Crossing the Color Line (2021).


*See the 2015 video interview with Joy Nwosu in English arranged by Leonardo de Franceschi: Incontro con Joy Nwosu, autrice del libro "Cinema e Africa":


Report by Beti Ellerson

Links to related articles on the African Women in Cinema Blog


Perspectives from Italy:

Cheryl Dunye: Watermelon Woman - Some Prefer Cake - Bologna Lesbian Film Festival 2023

Sabrina Onana Crossing the color line - Crossing the color line, healing from the past

Corpi colonizzati: riflessioni di donne nere della diaspora Colonized Bodies: Reflections of Black Women of the Diaspora

FESCAAAL - Festival del cinema africano, d'Asia e America latina

Joy Nwosu, author of "Cinema e Africa nera", published in Italy in 1968 and reedited in 2014

María Coletti talks about her research on the representation of women in African cinema


Zanele Muholi (Women prefer cake festival)


Women in Ecrans d’Afrique/African Screen


27 September 2021

Germany as a site for Afro-women’s cinematic journeying

Germany as a site for Afro-women’s cinematic journeying

Notes continuing...updated November 2023
by Beti Ellerson

Germany, with its rich cinema culture and history, has been fertile ground for African women with an interest in the moving image, many journeying to the country as professionals and students since the 1970s.

An eclectic group of German-based women are taking advantage of this rich audiovisual environment as accomplished creatives looking to enhance their skill sets or novitiates in search of tools to express their identity: some are mixed-race of German and African or African-American parentage, first-generation German-born or raised of African parents, or student immigrants who have settled in Germany or after their studies, have returned to their countries of origin. Hence within this cinematic landscape a current generation of Afro-German women are using the camera and the screen to tell their stories, explore their identities, and to problematize their social location. 

Senegalese filmmaker/anthropologist Safi Faye spent the academic years of 1979-1981 at the faculty of the Freie Universitt in Berlin as a guest professor. Taking advantage of her séjour in the city she enrolled in video production courses in Berlin, directing 3 ans 5 mois (3 Years 5 Months) which was filmed in 1979 and edited in 1983. The 30-minute documentary, produced by the German cultural association, Deutsche Akademische Austansch Dienst, related the experiences of her own daughter as a young child, effortlessly adapting to the newfound culture.* Also while in Germany, with an eye on the experiences of expatriate residents, in 1980 she made Man Sa Yay (I, Your Mother), co-produced with ZDF. The film relates the experiences of a Senegalese student in Berlin during an exchange of letters with his mother at home, revealing his cultural isolation. Safi Faye would continue her ties with Germany with the co-production of Mossane, released in 1996, with Jürgen Jürges as the director of photography.  Later in the 1980s, trailblazer, Flora M'mbugu-Schelling, having already left her mark in Tanzania, ventured to the country to hone her audiovisual interest, which included a German television internship.**

In an environment teeming with cultural and intellectual discourse around identity, representation and visibility, in the mid-1980s, a group of Afro-German women emerged--inspired by Afro-Caribbean-American poet and activist Audre Lorde, forging the Afro-German Women's movement, ADEFRA--Afrodeutsche Frauen. The first wave of women of African descent studying cinema in Germany found roots in the momentum of this period. A cohort of African women with an interest in the moving image as a means of expression, journeyed to Berlin in the late 1980s-1990s to study film; which included Kenyan Wanjiru Kinyanjui who arrived in 1987, Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga in 1989, having recently attained international recognition as a writer; Auma Obama also from Kenya, in 1990 and Branwen Okpako from Nigeria, in 1992. Branwen Okpako had this to say during her filmmaker-in-residence talk about this early period as a student and colleague: “We were all keen to think about the portrayal of the African continent in film. And particularly African women in film and how we could contribute to the complexity of that image and how we could put stories out there that reflected our experience. That was a conversation that started in the early 90s.” Wanjiru Kinyanjui’s student film Blacks in the Western World (1992) as well as A Lover and Killer of Colour (1988) were seminal works on the subject, referring to Wanjiru's first film, Branwen Okpako notes: “it was one of the first films to talk about the postcolonial, diasporic African experience from a woman’s perspective.” Wanjiru Kinyanjui describes her work:

In Germany, I had also written and directed two short dramas, thirty minutes each, for ZDF German Television. These were stories for a multi-cultural project which were made by a multi-cultural team about Berlin's mixture of "tribes": Turks, Germans, Africans, South-Americans, Poles, Czechs, and whoever else was a professional in the fields of writing and directing.  Well, mine were dramas around African-German connections.  One is witty, but the other one concerns a neo-nazi attack on an African man who has an eight-year-old daughter by his German wife. The little girl, through whose eyes we see, is suddenly thrown into an identity crisis: Am I not German? Where do I really belong?***

Wanjiru Kinyanjui and Tsitsi Dangarembga returned to their respective countries and are making important contributions to the cinema cultures there. Both are founders of African women film festivals and are forging links with collaborative outreach efforts between Kenya and Zimbabwe. Branwen Okpako who is now based in the United States, settled in Germany after completing her film studies and the majority of her films have focused on Afro-German experiences; while her 2011 film The Education of Auma Obama traces the experiences of her fellow classmate and the elder sister of U.S. President Barack Obama. Coming to Berlin after reunification, witnessing a city under reconstruction, in transformation, she was struck by the idea that culture is dynamic, that there is continuous movement. She was most inspired about the discourse around identity in Germany among the Afro-German women, how they were constructing a culture, inventing themselves, which motivated her interest in wanting to make a contribution to Afro-German cultural production. In 2021, Branwen Okpako was a featured guest in the virtual film festival Black Lives in Germany: Resilience – Art – Hope, curated by Kevina King and organized by the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst (USA). Similarly, in 2022, The German Studies Association Conference included the panel series, The Visible Voice: The Films of Branwen Okpako (sponsored by the DEFA Film Library and the Black German Heritage and Research Association).

A decade later, Nigerian Ebele Okoye relocated to Germany to study animation in Duesseldorf and Cologne. As a German-based animation maker she shares her knowledge with her compatriots in Nigeria with the creation of an animated film studio that she set up with her brother. “I am bringing Nigerian stories to Germany in the form of cartoons. The knowledge that I have acquired through studying animated films I am bringing to Nigeria.” Iman Kamel of Egypt began her studies in visual art at the Academy of Arts in Berlin but found her creative passion at the Berlin Film Academy. Like many African women who live and work between cultures, she has a sensitivity towards in-between stories, where the protagonists negotiate within liminal spaces. Rwandan-born Amelia Umuhire who came to Germany as a child directs the popular webseries “Polyglot” (2015) which is a reflection of her own experiences as a young Berliner navigating between multiple languages: German, English, French and Kinyarwanda. Namibian Naomi Beukes-Meyer (“The Centre”, 2014), who has lived in Berlin for some twenty-five years, felt that there was a lack of representation regarding African lesbian experiences and wanted to explore it in her work. Psychologist, intellectual, and multimedia artist Grada Kilomba, whose ancestral homelands are both Sao Tome and Angola, was born in Portugal and is based in Germany. As many transnational cultural producers, she situates her work within the global African diaspora. In addition to her short films and video installations, she employs the moving image to perform her ideas and discourse on the myriad issues of race, knowledge, power, and postcoloniality.

U.S. based Nigerian filmmaker and cultural activist Omah Diegu directed the film The Snake in My Bed (1994), produced and released in Germany under the title Die Schlange in meinem Bett, which focuses on her personal experiences with Germany. She had this to say in an interview with me about the case around the story in the film and its aftermath: "There were aspects of my odyssey in Germany that had I included them in my script, my film might never have been produced there. These were not complimentary maneuverings by some higher authorities of the German government. Their actions were mitigated, at some time though, by an elected German politician of a minority liberal party, and at another by the Nigerian Embassy in Bonn. All these intrigues and counteractions were going on outside of the judicial system that was still trying to sort out the German officials’ mess-up with my son’s birth certificate and legal status. Then there was the German activist organization - of which my diligent attorney Marion Tamura Ikeda was a member - that publicized my son’s dilemma in a German newspaper. This had precipitated expert legal opinion being advanced, pro bono by a concerned German citizen, to the relevant court. So in spite of not blatantly telling all in the film (and probably all the better so), I could still make my case to an empathetic German audience; especially those within the lawmakers, bureaucrats and interracial community. My film aired a couple of times on German television and theater. It is of great consolation to think that my story played a part in the enactment of a law in Germany - soon after the debut of my film there. This law recognized the German citizenship of an interracial child born to an unwed German man, as an earlier one had done for the child born of an unwed German woman. This meant equal right of German citizenship to every child born of a German parent! For even though I married his German father in Nigeria, some German bureaucrats, hell bent on throwing my biracial baby to the dogs, were able to feign ignorance of the legality of my marriage. This way, they could camouflage their racism under the umbrella of the absence of a specific law protecting the biracial “illegitimate” child of a German man…On another level, the drive to make The Snake in My Bed at that very time in space was the chance to preemptively tell my son the story of his birth and ancestry in the event of my precipitous demise. That would help him never to let anyone else define him. As his Griot, my son is my primary target audience hence I addressed him directly. I could not have asked for any one more appreciative."****

Photographer-filmmaker Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann, who was born in Germany and raised in Kenya, where she currently lives, has this to say in an interview with me about the multiple identities and complexity of experiences that inform and influence her work: "Being half white and half black, being half African, and half European, and having the perspectives of a German father and a Kenyan mother means that I see two sides to everything – I can put myself in the shoes of two polar perspectives which is advantageous to my filmmaking, especially the films I want to make… This juxtaposition, this contrast was once a battle within me. However now it means that in my work I am drawn to writing stories about people that are misunderstood in their communities. I am also drawn to writing stories whose objectivity comes from their subjectivity of each character." ****

Similarly, pioneer animation filmmaker Cilia Sawadogo of German and Burkinabè parents, employs her art as a bridge between cultures. Born in East Germany she spent half of her childhood in Burkina Faso and migrated to Canada to study and has lived in there ever since. She had this to say in a 1997 interview with me: "The fact is that I come from not only different cultures but also two races—I am half-white and half-black—I truly experience this in every sense of the term.  When I was in Germany, I was told "You are black," but when I was in Africa I was told "You are white," I was put in the category "white" and viewed as such.  When I arrived in Canada, I was again told "You are black."  Thus, I lived in all my environments within a context of never being entirely part of a particular race.  What was good for me in this experience was that I acquired a tolerance and a sense of a universality of many things.  I also learned the acceptance of difference and the diversity of cultures. Personally, I can say that I am a person who is multi-cultural in every sense of the word.  Which means that I feel very European sometimes, often very African, and very Quebecois…"Poly-cultural," yes.  I think it brings something particularly interesting. I think it reflects the way that I make films. My films are never about a specific culture. They are films that always touch on a universal theme. I consider myself a citizen of the earth before anything else.  I am an Earthwoman."***

German-born Mo Asumang (The Aryans, 2014) and Nancy Mac Granaky-Quayes (Beento, 2007 and Kniffel, 2013) of mixed-race parentage, follow the footsteps of the first generation of Afro-German women writers, who through their writing and research forged a Afro-German Studies movement. Hence, they are using their cameras to cultivate a nAfro-German screen culture in order to visualize their stories, explore their identities and to problematize their social location. Moreover, associations such as the Black Filmmakers in Germany (SFD) presented a film series by Afro-German and black filmmakers living in Germany at the Berlinale under the title Neue Bilder. The 2023 Berlinale featured several German-produced films in the 1980s by African women dealing with issues of immigration and identity. The Berlinale Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung 2023 featured Man sa yay (I, your mother, 1980) by Safi Faye and Wanjiru Kinyanjuri's A Lover and Killer of Colour, released in 1988. In 2021, Wanjiru Kinyanjuri's seminal film Black in the Western World, was also featured in the Special Fiktionsbescheinigung.

Ghanaian-German Jacqueline Nsiah, of Ghanaian parentage is a polyglot transnational researcher and cultural media maker--whose Ghanaian-ness and polyglot transnationalism is as much a part of who she is as her German-born heritage. She had this to say in an interview with me about the Afro-German movement and her identity as a Ghanaian-German: "The Afro-German movement is poignant and very active indeed but I must say that I never felt part of that movement; I couldn't relate to the movement, I understand it but it's not my story. Although I was born and raised in Germany and lived there until my 21st year, I always felt Ghanaian as well as German. I never felt like I didn't have an identity or didn't know where to place it. My parents play a big role in this; both my parents are from Ghana and I was raised speaking Twi and eating Ghanaian food. Also, my parents tried to take us to Ghana as many times as possible. Though I never felt 100% Ghanaian, I always felt very connected."**** She joined the Berlinale Selection Committee in 2023.

Winta Yohannes, born in Eritrea and raised in Germany, is a transnational visual artist of photography and filmmaking. She graduated from London Film School and after creative journeys in New York, London and Paris, she return to Germany and is based in Berlin. Her work along with Branwen Okpako was presented in a film series by Afro-German and black filmmakers living in Germany under the title Neue Bilder, at the Berlinale in 2007 organized by the Black Filmmakers in Germany (SFD) association. In September 2022, an entire panel was devoted to a discussion of the films of Branwen Okpako (sponsored by the DEFA Film Library and the Black German Heritage and Research Association). On of the panelist, Karina Griffith, is preparing her dissertation research on Black German Cinema.

Brenda Akele Jorde, born in Hamburg, studied at the University of Potsdam in Media Studies and then at the Film University at Babelsberg where she completed her final project, the feature documentary, The Homes We Carry. She had this to say about her film: “As an Afro-German director, I want to tell stories about Afro-German families, so that we can see ourselves as a part of German society. Showing the story of Sarah's family means making Afro-German identity visible and emotionally tangible across generations. Like many others, Sarah eventually understands that being Afro-German is not a contradiction, not wrong and unwanted, but an enrichment and a wonderful gift…” (Source DEFA Film Library)

Perhaps Ebele Okoye sums up the complexity of identities of many of the above women. In an interview on German television, to the question “where is your Heimat, your homeland?” she responds “I have two homes, I come from Nigeria and I moved to Germany, and at the moment, Germany is where my heart is, because I have my husband who is my first family here…I cannot say where my Heimat is, it is very difficult, but at this moment, in some areas I feel very connected to Germany and in some areas I feel very connected to Nigeria. That is why I feel that both are my homeland. I feel quite at home in Germany."

Report by Beti Ellerson

*Drawn from Françoise Pfaff. Safi Faye in Twenty-Five Black African Filmmakers.

**Amina Magazine, May 1991.

***Beti Ellerson. Sisters of the Screen, Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television, 2000.

****African Women in Cinema Blog.

Following is a selection of articles focusing on African women and Germany published on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Brenda Akele Jorde: The Homes We Carry. Black History Month Köln 2023 

Wanjiru Kinyanjui: A Lover and Killer of Colour - Berlinale

Wanjiru Kinyanjui: Black in the Western World - Berlinale

Ines Johnson Spain: Becoming Black

Grada Kilomba Talk at 2019 Verbier Art Summit

Report on Fokus: Sisters in African Cinema at the Afrika Film Festival Cologne

Iman Kamel Talks about her Beloved Home Egypt

Ghanaian-German Jacqueline Nsiah's Sankofa

Amelia Umuhire: Polyglot Webseries

Mo Asumang: Die arier aryans

Naomi Beukes-Meyers: Germany Namibia

The Legacy of Rubies, an animation film by Ebele Okoye

Omah Diegu: artist, and filmmaker of the iconic L.A. Rebellion film movement

A conversation with Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

Conversation with Branwen Okpako

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

Update: FESPACO 2021
Étalon de bronze
Leyla Bouzid
Une histoire d'amour et de désir
A Tale of Love and Desire  
Tunisia - 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. 

"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 :
Facebook : Festival du Cinéma au Féminin
Twitter : @Festival_Cinef
Instagram : festival_cinef_2021
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

Blog Archive