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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01 August 2023

Perspectives from Italy: Sabrina Onana - Crossing the color line - Crossing the color line healing from the past

Perspectives from Italy
Sabrina Onana
Crossing the color line
Crossing the color line healing from the past 

Musa Madre Festival

sabato 29 luglio 2023

21:30 23:05

Borgo Antico Rebeccu Rebeccu, Sardegna, 07012 Italy

“In Italy I am considered black or South American. “In France I am considered “metisse” or a person from the “banlieue” depending on how I am dressed, though I am Italian so it has nothing to do with it. In the United States, I am considered a light skin black woman. In the Antilles I am told that I am “Sabine”. What is interesting when one belongs to several worlds, and several types of representations, everyone projects their “imaginaire” on you in fact. And it is up to you to know where you belong, that you have your place in all of these places. I have learned to live my two cultures, Italian and Cameroonian, and finally, how should I call it, French culture, also somewhere, since I learned how to live the French language, even if it is not my mother tongue.

Sabrina Onana, born in Paris to an Italian mother and Cameroonian father, she grew up in Italy in an entirely white environment and settled in France as a young adult, where she studied political science and sociology. It is there as well that she explored her black identity. It is through this sociological lens that she came to cinema. Influenced by W.E.B. Du Bois’s declaration in the ground-breaking The Souls of Black Folks in 1903, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” she titles her documentary to demonstrate its enduring presence.

The 2-part documentary, explores the experiences of young Afro-Italians who were born or grew up in Italy. Probing myriad questions of belonging, African-ness, Italianity, citizenship, representation, racism, the roots of their immigration history. Part 2, frames Italian history especially in the context of early Italian immigration juxtaposed to present discourse on immigration in Italy. In addition, Part 2 highlights African and Diasporan contributions to world history and culture.


This documentary project aims to correct the distorted vision that contemporary Italy has of its own Afro-descendant children and hopes to establish a healthier and more constructive space of dialogue regarding 'identity' issues in the country and abroad, especially in this particular socio-political and historical period of time.

What does it mean to grow up in Italy, today, as an afro-descendant child of immigrants? From North to South, Crossing the color line tells their stories, experiences, and points of view. The documentary was thought as a 'safe space' where Italian afro-descendants could freely express themselves and rebuild together a first-person narrative: a new Italian youth, with a rich identity, complex and sometimes hesitant, talks about roots, self-acceptance, nationality and dual belonging. Beyond the color line, those testimonies challenge the existing idea of 'italianity' and ask to rethink the sense of belonging to a national identity, redefining the traditional geographical and political boundaries, as contemporary Italy now has another face, which also looks like them.

Crossing the Color Line - Part 1


 Crossing the Color Line - healing from the past - Part 2

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