I enjoyed having two homes in different countries [Sweden and Burkina Faso], and it helped me to get a greater understanding and perspective of different cultures and values.--Theresa Traoré Dahlberg
That issues around identity, positionality and social location permeate film screenings and debates of the African Diaspora of the Nordic Region is indicative of its widening interest in positive, realistic representations emanating from global Africa/Diasporas. Hence creating distinct spaces where topics and concerns regarding the experiences of people of African descent may be raised, debated and understood. Swedish-Burkinabé Theresa Traoré Dahlberg, born to a mother from Sweden and a father from Burkina Faso reflects this diversity and desire to show realistic images of Africa in her filmmaking: Taxi Sisters about a women taxi driver from Senegal, and Ouaga Girls, profiling women auto mechanics in Burkina Faso. While making the film Ouaga Girls Theresa Traoré Dahlberg was introduced to the wife of the French ambassador to Burkina Faso, who also sang opera, she asked her to film her during her rehearsals. The film shoot developed into an intimate portrait of her daily activities at the ambassador residence, entitled, The Life of an Ambassador's Wife released in 2018. The film brings out above all, the conflicting feelings that Theresa had around power and privilege. The filmmaking experience took her back to the colonial legacy of Burkina Faso, as if the ambassador residence was a throwback in time to that period. In 2018, she was featured on the Black Archives Sweden portal during which she discussed her interest in exploring her family archive through photographs, films, sound collections, memories and oral histories, which too are the main focus of the BAS. During her interview with the Archives, she noted: "The Black Archive allows for deeper perspective than what I have previously been exposed to or had access to."
The Stockholm-based Cinema Africa Film Festival, created in 1998, provides a platform and forum for African films in Sweden. The 2015 edition was dedicated to African women in film, featuring film screenings and a panel discussion with African women directors.
Similarly, in 2015, the Danish Centre for Gender, Equality and Diversity organized "Stories Untold" a project that involved twelve women from Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon, in order to tell their stories through film.
FilmAfrikana, an independent Oslo-based film festival founded by Norwegian-Ghanaian Lamisi Gurah, had as its objective to expose the Norwegian public to films by people of Africa and the African Diaspora. While it is no longer active--though the Nordic Black Theatre continues to thrive--its goal was to provide a different perspective regarding the African continent. The 2011 edition, featured women of Africa and the Diaspora in front of and behind the camera.
Finland has been a partner of Zambia screen culture since the 1990s, since then there has been a flurry of African-film focused initiatives. Pioneer filmmaker and activist Musola Cathrine Kaseketi received support from Finnish sponsors to attend the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg, where she graduated with honors, including the award for Best Student of the Year in 2000. Her relationship with Finland continued with the creation of Vilole Image Productions in 2002, which was supported by the Embassy of Finland through the Fund for Local Cooperation.
In 2010 Seya Kitenge Fundafunda attended a film internship program in Helsinki, which showed a particular interesting in training young Zambians interested in filmmaking. Similarly, Jessie Chisi enrolled in the training program. In addition she connected with the Finnish film association, Euphoria Boralise, doing several projects.
Wanjiku wa Ngugi, when residing in Finland, founded the Helsinki African Film Festival in 2010. She felt that even though perceptions of Finland give the impression of conservatism, to the contrary, she sees that there is much more openness within Finnish society, which was also evident by the fact that the festival initiative was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hence, Wanjiku used the Festival to create an opportunity to see a different view of Africa. Her objective for founding the festival: "to show the diversity of this continent, and begin a different conversation, one informed by a more realistic view as told by the Africans themselves."
The 2011 edition focused its theme on "Women's Voices and Visions"." Wanjiku had this to say about the theme for that year: "We wanted to not only celebrate women in film but also raise awareness about the African women’s experience, highlight the global economic and political issues that affect them. We also wanted to showcase the diversity of African women, as well as hopefully move away from the tendency to depict African women as weak, voiceless and always as victims."
A selection of articles about African women and the Nordic Region (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden) on the African Women in Cinema Blog
Theresa Traore Dahlberg
Spotlight on Seya Kitenge Fundfunda
Wanjiku wa Ngugi (Helsinki African Film Festival)
Focus on Women: Perspectives from Oslo