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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26 March 2022

Essodong Elisabeth Lemou: Ménézé/Ma Grand-mère - Vues d'Afrique 2022

 
Vues d'Afrique
Essodong Elisabeth Lemou
Ménézé/Ma Grand-mère
Togo
2021 - 13min - Fiction


Synopsis
For some time, Ménézé sees in her dreams her paternal grandmother who is in distress. Against the advice of her father, who feels a fierce hatred towards her and who he accuses of witchcraft, Ménézé goes to the village to see her grandmother. She is far from imagining the welcome that awaits her.

Depuis quelques temps Ménézé voit dans ses rêves sa grand-mère paternelle qui est en grande difficulté. Contre l’avis de son père qui voue une haine envers cette dernière, l’accusant de sorcellerie, Ménézé se rend au village pour voir sa grand-mère. Elle est loin d’imaginer l’accueil qui l’attend.

Bio
Essodong Elisabeth Lemou, born in Lomé, attended the l’École supérieure des études cinématographique at Lomé and in 2014 she received her diploma in directing.

Essodong Elisabeth Lemou, née à Lomé s'inscrite à l’École supérieure des études cinématographique à Lomé et en 2015 fais sa Licence option réalisation.



 

Imen Abou El Wafa: Et si… (And if…) - Vues d'Afrique 2022


Vues d'Afrique 2022
Imen Abou El Wafa
Et si… (And if…)
Tunisia
2020 - 12min - Fiction


Synopsis
The film relates the adventures of Lilia, a housewife in search of an escape from her monotonous daily life where her only role is that of mother or a wife. By drawing on her imagination she is able to invent a parallel life marked by new encounters and new emotions.

C’est l’histoire de Lilia, une femme au foyer qui cherche à s’évader de son quotidien monotone où son unique rôle consiste à être mère ou épouse. C’est en puisant dans son imagination qu’elle parvient à s’inventer une vie parallèle marquée par de nouvelles rencontres et de nouvelles émotions.

Bio
Imen Abou El Wafa, who completed her studies at the University of Law and Political Science of Tunis, has always been passionate about writing and directing. After a successful career in the legal field, she decided to participate in the national competition of the Gammarth Film School in Tunis. She was at the head of her graduating class, and she directed "Et si…" in November 2020. The film has been selected in several festivals.
 
Diplômée de l’Université de droit et des sciences politiques de Tunis, Imen Abou El Wafa a toujours été passionnée par l’écriture et la réalisation. Après une brillante carrière dans le domaine juridique, elle décide de participer au concours national de l’École de cinéma de Gammarth à Tunis. Majeure de sa promotion et elle réalise « Et si... » en novembre 2020. Le film sera sélectionné dans plusieurs festivals.
 
Image and French text: Vues d'Afrique

Fatoumata Kandé : Vivre pour t'aimer (Living to love you) - Vues d'Afrique 2022


Vues d'Afrique 2022
Fatoumata Kandé
Vivre pour t'aimer (Living to love you)
2022 - 100min - Guinea - Drama/Comedy


Synopsis
The wealthy family of a terminally-ill man has a hard time finding him a caregiver who can cater to his every whim. They finally find Ary, a young woman from a poor family who has been repatriated from London. Ismael, a capricious patient, and Ary, a tough cookie, engage in a battle of acceptance between patient and caregiver.

Une famille riche d’un patient en fin de vie a du mal à lui trouver une aide-soignante capable de supporter tous ses caprices. Elle trouve enfin Ary, une jeune fille d’une famille pauvre qui a été rapatriée de Londres. Ismael, un malade capricieux, et Ary, une dure à cuire, s’engagent alors dans une bataille d’acceptation entre patient et aide-soignante.

Bio
Kandé Fatoumata, Miss Guinea of 2010, passionate about cinema, set off in pursuit of her dream in London where she made her debut on the screens in cinema and on English television. In 2016, she produced her first series for television entitled “Twisted” and in 2018, “Just One Blood”. She holds a degree in international business, business law and business management.

Kandé Fatoumata est la Miss Guinée 2010. Passionnée de cinéma, elle se lance à la poursuite de son rêve à Londres et fait ses débuts sur les écrans de cinéma et de télévision anglaise. En 2016, elle produit sa première série pour la télévision intitulée « Twisted ». En 2018, « Just One Blood ». Elle est diplômée d’une licence en busines international, droit des affaires et gestion d’entreprise.

Kady Traoré: La Soeur de quelqu'un (Someone's sister) - Vues d'Afrique 2022


Vues d'Afrique
Kady Traoré
La Soeur de quelqu'un (Someone's sister)
Burkina Faso
2021 - 9 min - Fiction


 
 
Synopsis
Setou arrives from the village at the home of her brother Souley and his wife Maria who give her a warm welcome. But they are puzzled to see her at this hour so late at night. Setou and her big brother Souley are extremely close. In the early morning, the household is tormented by a dreadful scene.

Setou venant du village arrive chez son frère Souley et sa femme Maria, qui l’accueillent chaleureusement, mais sont intrigués de la voir à cette heure tardive de la nuit. Setou et son grand frère Souley sont très proches et fusionnels. Au petit matin, la maisonnette est tourmentée par une scène effroyable.

Bio
Kady Traoré, filmmaker/producer from Burkina Faso, completed her studies l’Institut Supérieur de l’image et du son, specializing in the Visual.

Kady Traoré, réalisatrice/productrice du Burkina Faso,  diplômée de l’Institut Supérieur de l’image et du son avec une licence en image.
 
Image and French text: Vues d'Afrqiue

Amel Blidi: Tchebchaq Maricane - Vues d'Afrique 2022

 
Vues d'Afrique
Amel Blidi
Tchebchaq Maricane
Algeria
2021 - 26min - Fiction

 
Synopsis
1995. A neighborhood in the outskirts of Algiers. Samia and Nouara, both 12 years old, are best friends. One morning, gunfire resounds in their world, silencing their laughter and games. In just a few dans, the violence that seemed far away, burst out before them, reshaping their lives and modifying their behavior…

1995. Alger, un quartier de banlieue. Samia et Nouara, 12 ans, sont les meilleures amies du monde. Un matin, des coups de feu résonnent dans leur monde, faisant taire les rires et les jeux. En quelques jours, la violence qui leur paraissait lointaine éclate devant elles, remodelant leurs vies et modifiant leurs comportements....

 
Bio

Amel Blidi, journalist at the El Watan daily for 15 years, crossed over into directing in 2013, where she made her first documentary entitled Tomorrow is another day. Two other short documentaries followed: A l’ombre des mots in 2015 and Drôles de rencontres in 2017. Tchebchaq maricane is her first short fiction.

Amel Blidi est journaliste au quotidien El Watan depuis une quinzaine d’années. En 2013, elle franchit le pas de la réalisation à travers un premier film documentaire intitulé « Demain est un autre jour ». Deux autres courts métrages documentaires suivront : « A l’ombre des mots » en 2015 et « Drôles de rencontres » en 2017. « Tchebchaq maricane » est son premier court métrage de fiction.

Eman Hassan: Horeyah - Vues d'Afrique 2022


Vues d'Afrique
Eman Hassan
Horeyah
Egypt
2020 - 10min - Fiction


 
 
Synopsis
A young girl suffering from the controlling manner of her brother and mother after her father's trip, decides to rebel against them.

Une fille souffre du contrôle de son frère et de sa mère après le voyage de son père et décide de se rebeller contre eux.

Bio
Eman Hassan studied filmmaking at the French University in Egypt. She directed two films that have been included in numerous festivals and was named among the list of inspiring filmmakers at the Kalakari Film Festival in 2021. In addition, she served on the international showcase jury film festival SFTF.

Eman Hassan a étudié le cinéma à l’Université française en Egypte. Elle a réalisé deux
films, selectionés dans de nombreux festivals et était nommée parmi les réalisateurs inspirants au Kalakari Film Festival en 2021. Par ailleurs, a fait partie du jury international du showcase du festival du film SFTF.


Image: Vues d'Afrique

 

25 March 2022

Fatoumata Bathily: Taajabone - Vues d'Afrique 2022


Vues d'Afrique 2022

Fatoumata Bathily
Taajabone
Senegal - 2021 - 21 min


Synopsis
Saly, a young twenty-eight-year old woman, encourages her husband Moussa to get into a makeshift boat. Later she learns that the boat has capsized and that Moussa has disappeared. Traumatized and  deeply shaken by this tragedy, Saly feels guilty and falls into a depression that nothing seems to be able to pull her out of. Will she be able to get beyond her suffering in order to find again the desire to live?

Saly une jeune femme de 28 ans a encouragé son mari Moussa à monter dans une pirogue de fortune. Un jour, elle apprend que le bateau a chaviré et que Moussa a disparu. Traumatisée et fragilisée par cette tragédie, Saly se sent coupable et sombre dans une dépression dont rien ne semble pouvoir la tirer. Arrivera-t-elle à dépasser ses souffrances pour renouer avec l’envie de vivre ?


Bio
Fatoumata Bathily, born in Dakar is a passionate reader, since very young she began to write short stories. In 2014, she wrote a 13-episode animation series « Les aventures de Kady et Djudju. In 2019, she   participated in the short film training program Up Courts metrages, and in 2020 she wrote and directed her first short film Taajabone, produced by Cinekap. The film won the Grand Prix National Annette Mbaye d'Erneville, at the 2021 Dakar Court Festival.

Fatoumata Bathily est née à Dakar. Passionnée de lecture, dès le bas âge elle commence à écrire de petites histoires. En 2014, elle écrit une série d’animation de 13 épisodes, « Les aventures de Kady et Djudju ». En 2019, elle bénéficie d’une formation en réalisation dans le programme Up Courts métrages, et en 2020, elle écrit et réalise son premier court métrage « Taajabone » produit par Cinekap. Il a remporté le Grand Prix National Annette Mbaye d'Erneville, au Festival Dakar Court 2021.

Vues d'Afrique 2022


Vues d'Afrique 2022
 
26-31 mars en ligne | 26-31 online
1-10 avril en salle | 1-10 April in theaters
 

23 March 2022

Sarah Maldoror's Sambizanga, 50 years on

Sarah Maldoror's Sambizanga, 50 years on
Notes by Beti Ellerson

Sambizanga directed by Sarah Maldoror (1929-2020), is considered an African film classic. The African Women in Cinema Blog gives tribute to this masterpiece, during the 50th year of its release in 1972.

Sarah Maldoror had this to say about her film, Sambizanga*:

"In this film I tell the story of a woman. It could be any woman, in any country, who takes off to find her husband. The year is 1961. The political consciousness of the people has not yet matured. I'm sorry if this situation is not seen as a 'good one' and if this doesn't lead to a heightened consciousness among the audience as to what the struggle in Africa is all about. I have no time for films filled with political rhetoric."

***

"I'm no adherent of the concept of the 'Third World.' I make films so that people--no matter what race or color they are--can understand them. For me there are only exploiters and the exploited, that's all. To make a film means to take a position, and here I take a position, I am educating people. The audience has a need to know that there's a war going on in Angola, and I address myself to those among them who want to know more about it. In my films, I show them a people who are busy preparing themselves for a fight and all that that entails in Africa: that continent where everything is extreme--the distances, nature, etc. Liberation fighters are, for example, forced to wait until the elephants have passed them by. Only then can they cross the countryside and transport their arms and ammunition. Here, in the West, the Resistance used to wait until dark. We wait for the elephants. You have radios, information--we have nothing."

 ***
 
"Some say that they don't see any oppression in the film. If you want to film the brutality of the Portuguese, then I'd shoot my films in the bush. What I wanted to show in Sambizanga is the aloneness of a woman and the time it takes to march."
 
For Sarah Maldoror born in France of French-Guadeloupean origin, culture has always been a weapon for struggle and liberation as well as a means to re-appropriate the history of African people told from their perspective. Her fiction and documentary films attest to her commitment in this regard. She began in the theatre in 1956 as a founding member of the “Les Griots”, the first black theatre company in Paris. Through acting and stage management she acquired vital skills that would later apply to filmmaking. During that period she also met Angolan writer Mario de Andrade who studied sociology at the Sorbonne and was one of the leaders of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), with whom she would share many years and together they would have two daughters. In the early 1960s she went to Moscow to study filmmaking at Gorki Studio under Sergei Gerassimov and Mark Donskoy; there she met Ousmane Sembene who was also a student. When she first learned about the film scholarship to study there, with much excitement she recalled the Sergi Eisenstein film, Battleship Potemkin, a classic in militant cinema. Soon after Maldoror worked as assistant to Gillo Pontecorvo on The Battle of Algiers (1966) to which Eisenstein’s film is often compared. Later, she too emerged as a trailblazer in militant filmmaking in Africa.

While in Algeria with Mario de Andrade she lived within a milieu of revolutionaries that would have a significant influence on her filmmaking practice. There she directed her first film Monangambee (1969) which portrayed the brutality of the Portuguese towards those incarcerated because of their opposition to colonial rule. Soon after she directed Sambizanga (1972) based on the novel, The True Life of Domingos Xavier by the Angolan writer and militant Luandino Vieira who at the time of the shooting was held as a political prisoner by the Portuguese in the notorious Tarrafal prison.

After leaving Algiers she went to Guinea Bissau, where she directed Des fusils pour Banta, co-produced by Guinea Bissau and financed by Algeria, though never completed. There she joined the resistance movement where she met freedom fighters who were committed and prepared to die. She recalls the shooting of Des fusils pour Banta while in the war zone as an experience that changed her perspective of war in the abstract to “feeling” the reality on the ground. The historical context of Sarah Maldoror’s beginnings demanded a militant cinema and her reputation as a revolutionary and feminist has stayed with her ever since.

The True Life of Domingos Xavier was a point of departure for Sarah Maldoror as it described an Africa fighting for its liberation, an image unknown to the outside world, and hence her role was to give the struggle a voice through cinema. Set in Angola in 1961, the defining moment of the nascent liberation struggle there, the film was shot in Congo-Brazzaville in 1972 when the liberation war against the Portuguese was still raging. Made with an eclectic group of non-professional actors, Domingos de Oliveira, himself a tractor driver, embodies the character Domingos Xavier on which the story is based. Eliza Andrade, an economist who lived in Algiers at the time, interprets the role of Maria. Most of the actors were members of the MLPA and the African independence party of Guinea and Cape Verde. Awarded the Tanit d’Or at Carthage, the film would establish Maldoror’s reputation internationally as a cineaste engagée.

Sambizanga begins with the raging waves of an agitated sea bordering a construction site, intercut with close up shots of men breaking stones, shuttling them on their heads, of tractors shoveling rocks--to the protest song, Monangambee.
 
The next sequence introduces Domingos--husband, father, model employee and overall good neighbor, enjoying soccer with the young boys. In the same way, Maria, wife, mother and conscientious homemaker, is a caring and thoughtful neighbor. Domingos and Maria, with their infant son Baptiso, a seemingly ordinary working class family, find their lives disrupted by the commitment to the Movement.

Sambizanga parallels Domingos’ world composed of the underground resistance movement and the Portuguese powers that attempt to crush it, and the journey of Maria who meet a cohort of women who support, encourage and comfort her on the long journey from Dondo to the Luanda suburb Sambizanga for which the film is named. Her trajectory represents the majority of the film, symbolic of the long journey ahead towards independence. Parallel to Domingos imprisonment is the search for his identity by the members of the underground movement. Within the Meseke street intelligence network the young boy Chico stakes out the entrance to the prison to see who comes and goes, then reports the information to his grandfather who then tells the postal worker Cisco, who disseminates the information to strategic sources.

The diverse positions of the players in the resistance movement and the informal street intelligence network highlights the breadth of involvement by those in all echelons of society: construction worker, teacher, postal worker, the disabled, tailor (who also teaches Marxist discourse to the apprentice), homemakers, and neighbors. The comrades in prison play a crucial psychological role as they support each other, such as the sympathetic warder who smuggles a note in his cup from comrades, and even at death, during the tender moment when Domingos’ body is thrown into the cell, they close his eyes. As they tenderly wipe his face and body, they mourn, sing, remember.

The solitude of both Domingos and Maria frames the story, while Domingos endures a brutal torture and death in silence, refusing to utter the names of comrades, Maria’s long silent walk is punctuated with her cries of despair and the film’s music score of the moans of Ana Wilson’s mourning song.

Finally, Maria arrives at the prison only to find out that Domingos is dead. Though she is unaware that he has died only moments before, his battered body returned to his cell. Around this same time the outside street intelligence network finally discovers the identity of the prisoner.

That Maria is totally unaware of Domingos’ commitment to the movement underscores the compartmentalization of his life into two identities: family and movement. Maria leaves the inscribed boundaries of her home space abrogating the compartmentalized resistance struggle of family and movement within women’s space as wives, mothers and nurturers, to navigate the physical and social environments during her journey to find Domingos. The solidarity within the world of women is visible from the beginning as they come to comfort Maria after Domingos is snatched from their home and within the social boundaries along the way as they spontaneously come to her aid, along the winding roads as she passes by, at the watering station, at the home of Mame Tete as they comfort her while mourning his death.

The pacing of the three main elements coincides with the urgency of the events, culminating with the tragic death of Domingos: Maria to find her husband, the secret police to get Domingos to talk, and the Mekessa intelligence network to find out the name of the newly arrived prisoner. As Maria approaches Luanda the torture of Domingos intensifies, as does the urgent search by the comrades of the underground movement for the name of the prisoner, as they realize that under torture their names may be revealed and the movement comprised.

The story begins and ends with rising, clashing waves of the sea, a metaphor for the growing resistance movement, which bookends its essential elements: the workers and the community together forge a liberation struggle; the impenetrable commitment of members such as Domingos, the various actors in the information/intelligence network, the myriad organizers from all sectors of the population, and Maria, committed to family as she goes to find Domingos with strength and resilience, and the litany of women who support her along the way. As she endures the abduction and death of her husband, the women support her—comforting her, breastfeeding her child, cooling her face, coiffing her hair and offering her food and shelter, the myriad ways that women have always contributed to the liberation struggle.

Everyone has her or his role in the resistance, as strategist, foot soldier distributing pamphlets, runner of vital information, watchman, mothers protecting their sons in hiding, revealing secrets that put their own lives at risk, such as the mother of Sousinha—another militant working underground—all indicative of the myriad ways that women actively participate in the struggle.

Sarah Maldoror has always emphasized the importance of showing women’s involvement in the struggle, “since wars will only end when women take part in making it happen. They don’t have to carry a bazooka, but they must be present.”** Sambizanga illustrates this point very well as Maria, homemaker, wife, mother, like most of the women, goes about daily life oblivious to the inner workings of the struggle and those involved; nonetheless, the presence of the many women who cared for and supported her on her journey in search of Domingos was essential. Would she become involved in the struggle having been catapulted into it in this way? Perhaps, though the film ends with her deep in mourning after learning about the brutal death of her husband. Sarah Maldoror’s intention was to show the collective organization of a resistance movement, slowly coming together, as the disparate players contribute to making it happen. Maria’s response to this world which she has only now learned about, could be another story.

Notes:
*Sarah Maldoror, “Third World Perspectives”, Women and Film (Nos 5-6, 1974)
**Interview with Sarah Maldoror by Jadot Sezirahiga in the revue Ecrans d’Afrique (1995).
 
References:
Beti Ellerson. Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television. Africa World Press, (2000)
Francoise Pfaff. Twenty-five Black African Filmmakers. Greenwood Press, (1988).


17 March 2022

Girlpower: African Black Girl Magic through Cinema & Animation Storytelling

Girlpower: African Black Girl Magic through Cinema & Animation Storytelling


Perhaps one of the most memorable representations in cinema of African girlpower and agency is that of twelve-year-old Sili, determined, proud and increasingly empowered by her desire for independence despite formidable obstacles. The Black Girl Magic of the young protagonist of La petite vendeuse de Soleil by Djibril Diop Mambety (1999) is all the more compelling in her drive to make a living for herself and her grandmother while obliged to navigate the mean streets of Dakar on crutches. Though she does not read or write, Sili proves that she too can sell newspapers--even more effectively than the boys. She says to her grandmother as she heads out to find employment, confident in her ability to secure a job rather than beg on the streets: Grandma I will go find work tomorrow. I am not a boy. What boys do, girls can do, too!
While securing her employment at the Senegalese daily newspaper, "Le Soleil", she signs her 'contract', by drawing an image of the sun--which means soleil in French. Her exchange with the employers reveals this decisive moment:

Sili at newspaper distribution center: 'Hello. I want to sell the Soleil.'
 
Male owner of newspaper distribution center: Y'ou want to sell the Soleil? A girl selling newspapers?'
 
Female administrator: 'Boss, what boys do, girls can do too.'
 
Male owner: 'Give her the papers in the back there.'

Female administrator gives her the papers after counting them: '13 Soleils, that’s a lucky number.'

In the ultimate Black Girl Magic moment, wearing a bright yellow dress and large yellow "sun"glasses and flashing a toothy smile, Sili dances with other physically-challenged friends.

Similarly, Supa Modo (2018) by Likarion Wainaina follows the journey of Jo who is terminally ill, from hospice to home. During her remaining time, surrounded by family, friends and neighbors, she lives out her dream of being a super hero.

'Representing and empowering girls is a big responsibility,' declares elementary teacher Bruktawit Tigabu from Ethiopia. Her animation project "Tibet Girls" is designed to meet this objective. The Tibeb Girls exhibit their girlpower as they journey to raise consciousness and empower girls along the way:
 
'In my village whenever a girl is in trouble the Tibeb Girls come to the rescue!'

'Power Girl, with super-human strength and speed.'
 
'Whiz Kid Girl, with the super power to see the future.'
 
'Empathy Girl, with super power to feel other's feelings.'
 
'When all three girls come together, their powers multiply into an unstoppable force to make great changes.'

Embarking on a futuristic journey empowered by science and technology, Sema, along with her brother, endeavor to protect their village. The animation series Super Sema highlights the importance of STEM to the future generations of Africa.

Similarly, the teen girls of Mama K's Team 4 take on the role of heroine--even beyond their village. In a neo-futuristic African city, they vow to rescue their fellow world citizens. 
 
(Image: Artistic rendering of screen capture:  La petite vendeuse de Soleil by Djibril Diop Mambety)
 
Report by Beti Ellerson

References from the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Super Sema Afro-futuristic animation
https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2021/03/super-sema-afro-futuristic-animation.html

09 March 2022

PanAfrican Film Festival (PAFF) 2022 - Voices of Black Women Get Lift From Virtual Film Series


PanAfrican Film Festival (PAFF) 2022 
Voices of Black Women Get Lift From Virtual Film Series
https://www.paff.org/voices-of-black-women-get-lift-from-virtual-film-series/

08 March 2022

The African Women in Cinema Blog celebrates International Women's Day | Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma fête la journée internationale des femmes


The African Women in Cinema Blog celebrates International Women's Day
Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma fête la journée internationale des femmes

International Women's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an opportunity to take stock of past struggles and achievements, and above all, to prepare for the future and the opportunities that await future generations of women.

La Journée internationale des femmes est célébrée dans de nombreux pays à travers le monde. C'est un jour où les femmes sont reconnues pour leurs réalisations, sans égard aux divisions, qu'elles soient nationales, ethniques, linguistiques, culturelles, économiques ou politiques. C'est une occasion de faire le point sur les luttes et les réalisations passées, et surtout, de préparer l'avenir et les opportunités qui attendent les futures générations de femmes.

***

Since its creation in 2009 the African Women in Cinema Blog has promoted the advancement of research and communication relating to African women in cinema and using social media to encourage dialogue and the exchange of information, ideas, experiences and resources.

Depuis sa création en 2009 le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le domaine cinématographique et de la culture visuelle à tenter de faire progresser la recherche et la communication relatives aux femmes africaines dans le cinéma et d'utiliser les médias sociaux pour promouvoir le dialogue et l'échange d'informations, d'idées, d'expériences et de ressources.



06 March 2022

Films Femmes Afrique Festival 2022: Tribute to Safi Faye: A "Peasant Letter" still relevant today | Hommage à Safi Faye : Une «Lettre paysanne» encore actuelle by/de Mame Woury Thioubou.


Films Femmes Afrique Festival 2022
Tribute to Safi Faye: A "Peasant Letter" still relevant today | Hommage à Safi Faye : Une «Lettre paysanne» encore actuelle by/de Mame Woury Thioubou.
 
Le quotidien.sn. Published 3 mars 2022. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson. Cropped image Films Femmes Afrique Facebook page.

Version originale en français: https://lequotidien.sn/cinema-hommage-a-safi-faye-une-lettre-paysanne-encore-actuelle/

Safi Faye, a pioneer of women in the 7th art in sub-Saharan Africa, she was the first Senegalese woman to go behind the camera, leaving an indelible mark on Senegalese cinema. As part of the 2022 5th edition of the Films Femmes Afrique (Ffa) Festival, a tribute was paid to her at the Ousmane Sembène Cinema Complex. The director's first feature film, Kaddu baykat was screened.

Kaddu Baykat (Peasant Letter) is a severe indictment of the plight of the peasants of Senegal. The reason, no doubt, why the film was censored upon its release. According to journalist and film critic Baba Diop, "the film was controversial at the time, because it criticized Senegalese politics, with the exploitation of peasants who, facing a drought, were nonetheless forced to pay taxes. And when they could not pay, they were locked in seccos and sprinkled with Ddt (a chemical), as punishment and humiliation. Senghor and his government, who were the perpetrators of these misdeeds, did not appreciate it being discussed”.

But despite that, Kaddu Baykat challenged with its courageous stance. In the film, Safi Faye depicts the ills and problems of a Senegalese peasantry bent under the yoke of an agricultural system dominated by groundnut cultivation. A culture that is imposed on them to the detriment of the food crops that allowed them to live. Along with the heavy taxes they have to pay, they also face a cycle of drought. It is in this context that Ngoor strives to raise the necessary sum for his marriage with the beautiful Coumba. Tired of plowing a soil that the rains have scorned, he takes the road to the capital, in this rural exodus that hundreds of thousands of rural people will also undertake in the hopes of finding a means of surviving. Safi Faye conveys the voices of these peasants in this peasant letter. The film, released in 1975, is in a denunciatory tone. Safi Faye challenges the authorities, but also proposes a reflection on the future through reforestation and the protection of nature. This cinema-verité that Safi Faye initially discovered alongside Jean Rouch then during her studies in the humanities in France and Germany, makes her a committed filmmaker. "It's a committed and militant film," says Baba Diop.

Martine Ndiaye, president of the Ffa, had great difficulty in getting a hold of the film. In fact, for several years the works of Safi Faye have been held by a German production house. The process in getting a hold of it was rather trying, she says. “It was difficult to find the film. I looked in France without success and it was finally in Berlin that we found the film. Because Safi Faye has given all of her filmography to be restored by the end of 2022.”

As the only woman filmmaker in sub-Saharan Africa for many years, Safi Faye paved the way for the women who would follow many years later. Hence, through this tribute paid to her, the Ffa recognizes that because of her, “Women can make films today. Our theme is Woman Creator of the Future and Safi Faye was her. But her films don't really age,” says Martine Ndiaye.

Nearly half a century later, the themes addressed in the film do not erode. “Filmmakers are visionaries. The problems they were addressing at the time, we see today that they were right to sound the alarm,” says Baba Diop. And practically all of Safi Faye's work is part of this dynamic.

mamewoury@lequotidien.sn

01 March 2022

Commemorating Women's History Month 2022

 

In commemoration of Women’s History Month, 
celebrated during the month of March (in the US).

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