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 June 2024

Alice Diop filmmaker-sociologist-activist : «Nous, on vote» (We're voting)

 

Alice Diop filmmaker-sociologist-activist : 
«Nous, on vote» (We're voting)

As a racialized person facing this catastrophe, I speak so that an experience, personal and singular, can be heard. I speak so that our words can exist. In this situation of unrest, what helped me was to confront head on the program of the National Rally. I read it completely. I took notes in a journal to develop ideas to engage in this struggle. The extreme right in power is not only a moral discomfort but a veritable existential fear...for people like me it a question of life or death--Alice Diop
 
Alice Diop filmmaker-sociologist-activist, whose films interrogate the social, political, ethnic fabric of French society, has always aimed her camera at the peripheries of French communities. In response to the prospects of an extreme right in power, she has launched the collective «Nous, on vote» (we're voting).
 
Friends, artists, cultural workers, a group with one objective: mobilize the youth in working-class neighborhoods who frown on voting, hence a high level of abstentionism. Her objective is to encourage residents of these neighborhoods to vote in the legislative elections on June 30 and July 7 in France. "It's a question of life or death."

Source and image: Libération, 26 juin 2024

24 June 2024

Closeup: The Africas/Diasporas of Women in the Evolution of a TransAfrican Film Practice and Critical Inquiry curated by Beti Ellerson - Black Camera: An International Film Journal 15. 2 (Spring 2024)

Closeup: The Africas/Diasporas of Women in the Evolution of a TransAfrican Film Practice and Critical Inquiry 
curated by Beti Ellerson
Black Camera: An International Film Journal

Excerpted from introduction:

The objectives of the Close-Up, The Africas/Diasporas of Women in the Evolution of a TransAfrican Film Practice and Critical Inquiry: to recover, to chronicle, to affirm, to reimagine even, African/Diasporan women’s cinematic world-making, indeed self-making—envisioning the manners in which they devise, create, make, a space, a universe, a domain, a world; within which they may tell/relate their stories—storytelling as a project of world-making through cinema.

The Close-Up asks questions regarding the tenets of an African/Diasporan cinematic practice/tradition shaped by women: its beginnings, the forces that compelled, facilitated and informed it, the requisite approaches needed to formulate it, and the propositions on which to explore its cultural, political, and social manifestations.

The title “The Africas/Diasporas of Women in the Evolution of a TransAfrican Film Practice and Critical Inquiry” calls attention to the multiplicity of locations, providing a place for the explication of African/diasporic histories (historical and new Diasporas), as well as an elaboration of the peregrinations as well as the negotiation of hybrid, indeed symbiotic, identities of so many of these women.

The Close-Up comes together under myriad themes, in order to draw from the intersectional, multifarious aspects of women’s transAfrican film practice, histories and critical inquiry.

“(Re)imagining cinematic histories of Africa: African women, cinema and the tale of Kadidia Pâté”, offers a prelude of sorts, relating the story of Kadidia Pâté’s first experience with cinema, as a colonial subject in Mali in 1908, and later in 1934 when she first sets foot in a movie theater, during which the specifics of her engagement with cinema unfolds, related by her son, the inimitable griot, storyteller-historian Amadou Hampâté Bâ.

The introductory essay, “Women’s transAfrican cinematic practice and activism: Mapping the trajectory of an African women’s cinematic consciousness,” conceptualizes the transAfrican nature of women’s cinematic practice and critical inquiry. In so doing, it traces key historical, political and cultural movements of the twentieth century that stimulated the artistic and intellectual sensibilities of the trailblazers who set the course moving forward. The discussion of these pioneering women—several of which are featured in this section—puts into focus the multiple environments that shaped their choices, and offered the requisite context in which to study, work, live and imagine future worlds for themselves and Africas/Diasporas.

“Building a legacy: archiving, curating, disseminating, producing, preserving, African-diasporic cinematic experiences,” brings together a discursive profile of cultural workers who have as mission, to build a legacy by creating, archiving, disseminating, curating, preserving, the collective experiences of cinematic Africas/Diasporas as well as to uphold its oral traditions through visual storytelling.

“Alternative Discourses: theorizing lived experiences in African women’s cinematic practice, meaning-making and shaping of knowledge,” draws its main heading from the words of Togolese international lawyer-filmmaker, Anne-Laure Folly Reimann, who describes the dialogue of the women in her films as “alternative discourses”: beyond the analysis of things, they live them. This appropriately applies as well to the women in front of the screen, as scholars, critics, organizers, advocates, activists and behind the camera as filmmakers. The women presented in this segment, work at the intersection of critical meaning-making and the cinematic practice of counter-hegemonic production of knowledge.

“Mediating diasporic cinematic experiences and practice” probes African women’s cultural identity and social location as diasporic experience. Thus, the section explores the ways that they grapple with exilic, traveling identities in their cinematic practice, research and analysis. It examines as well the multiple ways that “the duty of memory” plays out in the films and visual projects of the women selected to represent this segment. The painful question: Do they remember us? gives rise to the emotional reconnecting needed “to no longer feel hurt” by the tear of separation from dislocation during the trans-Atlantic slave trade and enslavement of Africans in the Americas. The Sankofa proverb: “it is not taboo to go back and retrieve what you have forgotten or lost”, becomes the leitmotif of so many of the stories of Africans who have left and seek to return, whatever the circumstances.

“Critiquing Africas/Diasporas: Intersecting dialogues,” presents a compilation of interviews by Falila Gbdamassi with several celebrated filmmakers, organizers, film critics/activists who navigate within the world cinema landscape—with Africa and the Diasporas on their minds.

“Reconciling Africas, Identities and Diasporas,” prepares the reader of a caveat, but insists it is not a polemic. The title speaks for itself. Discourses, questions, responses, on the very nature of Africa, the African, are not new. Hence, this section returns to a moment in the past when, “in the mouth the teeth sometimes bite the tongue” as a Burkinabe adage goes. In 1991, at the start of the landmark Women’s Meeting at FESPACO, confusion ensued at the announcement that “all non-African women leave the room,” which, as it turned out included diasporan women. Compiled here are diverse responses on both sides of the debate. Thus, by introducing this section, employing in this proverb all the conflicts and anxieties that the event revealed, provides an armature of sorts, in which to continue the conversation raising other stakes and ultimately returning to this pivotal question and its incessant pursuit towards an answer.

The final piece on this theme repositions discussions around African subjectivities, as well as deconstructs the very notion of an African ontology, including questions of ethnicity. Thus, this section considers the positionality of white South African women, especially as it relates to white privilege and the importance of interrogating whiteness. The questions around identities in South Africa focus as well on the Bo-Kaap community largely populated by the Malay diaspora. During this same conversation around complexities of identity, this segment explores the dual positionalities of Arab/African women. And finally, it probes the renegotiated identities of first and second generation diasporans in search of belonging, home, place.
 
The Close-Up is in the memory of Sarah Maldoror and Safi Faye.

22 June 2024

Pauline Mvele Nambané, founding director of the Festival International "Cinéma & Liberté" Libreville, Gabon

Pauline Mvele Nambané, founding director of
the Festival International "Cinéma & Liberté"

Drawing from several sources, following is the vision of the Festival International "Cinéma & Liberté" and a portrait of founding director of the Festival International Cinéma & Liberté, Pauline Mvele Nambané. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

Sources: Marie Dorothee (gabonactu); Steven Mpono (7joursinfo-com) and video conversation with Pauline Mvele Nambané by Urban FM 104.5 La Station Urbaine and image from its YouTube channel.

A culmination of years of dreams and fine-tuning of ideas, the International Cinema and Freedom Festival of Libreville finally comes to fruition. The activities were detailed on Friday the 4th of June 2024 during a press conference which was held at the French Cultural Center in the presence of an array of invited guests.

The 1st edition of the International Cinema and Freedom Festival of Libreville in Gabon will take place from June 24 to 29. Film screenings followed by Q&A, will be held each evening from 18h30 free of charge at the Baie des Rois. Fittingly, Laurence Ndong, the Gabonese Minister of Communication and Media, is the patron of this 1st edition.

During her inaugural address Pauline Mvele Nambané, founding director of the festival, whose vision of the festival is to create a space for an intergenerational exchange, presented the objectives of the film event. She emphasized that the festival, which was the outcome of a collaboration between the Association Gabon Ciné Doc and Clybe Nambané Production, aims to promote, education through images, human rights and freedom of expression. These objectives will be achieved through film screenings, training workshops and other cultural activities. In addition, an international conference on the theme “cinema and citizenship” will be held.

In addition, the festival aims to promote African film heritage. Pauline Mvele Nambané noted that the 1st edition will celebrate and pay homage to many of the great filmmakers of African and Gabonese cinema such as: Charles Mensah, Philippe Maury and Pierre Marie Ndong, as well as Henry Joseph Koumba Bididi, Imunga Ivanga and Prince De Capistran.

Translation from French of the video interview by Urban FM 104.5 La Station Urbaine
(L’interview YouTube originale en français, ci-après)  


The emergence of the Festival International "Cinéma & Liberté"

The festival has a particular interest in films on human rights, freedom of the press and best practices of democratic governance. The goal is to educate, to inform people about freedoms and rights. We are convinced that cinema is a powerful tool for educating, awareness building and a means to change behavior. Through this festival we want to contribute to educating the Gabonese population.


Pauline Mvele, director of the Festival International "Cinéma & Liberté"


I am a filmmaker and throughout the years I have made several documentaries that focus on social themes. I created an association with friends and for several years we toured the schools to do film screenings. So this festival presents a bit of a culmination of everything we have done; and in particular, of my filmography, of my commitment towards these themes.
 

Why the focus on the protection of liberties?

Because I believe that every human being has a mission and we are not here by chance. As a filmmaker I cannot just stand by. When you look at my filmography you will notice that I decided not to remain silent and inattentive regarding certain situations that I observe in my society. So I give voice to these people so that the situations that they live are known and that another perspective can be given.


Violence against women, giving testimony

I received a lot of testimonies when preparing to make the films. With the film, Mivova Yato, which is a documentary about gender-based violence, I collaborated with an association. I received a lot of testimonies but at the time of filming many withdrew, after having agreed, at the moment of the filming they “remove their body,” as we call it. But I do understand perfectly. It’s not easy. Sometimes when one experiences a situation and talks about it with two other people it's okay, but to do so in front of a camera, to say it to the whole world. I really do admire all the people in my films who had the courage to testify, with their faces uncovered. Personally I am not sure if I had experienced certain situations that I would have dared to talk about it. But it is also the role of the filmmaker to provide the environment that instills a sense of confidence and trust with the interlocutors. I do feel that I create an environment where people feel comfortable to confide in me.


What is your method for creating this trust?

I don't know if I would say that I have a method but I think it is because I really like people, I know how to listen to people, I know how to look at them and I am sentient of their situation. To give an anecdote of a great filmmaker, who said that one should film the people one loves and in so doing, inevitably something comes out positive for you.


Accroche-toi, the first documentary film

It was my first documentary, which I continue to hold very dear. However, when I look at it with hindsight I say to myself that I could have done better, but it was not about the technology at the time. No, that has nothing to do with it. I believe that’s often the big mistake people make. To say, “Oh yes I have the most efficient camera so I could make a good film.” It’s not true. Someone can make a good film with a cell phone. So it is one’s cinematic practice that determines the results. I was trained on the job and I had my background as a journalist as well. So yes, there is cinema there, but there is also a lot of reportage in the film. I think today, now 10 years later, I would have made this film differently, especially as the characters were really strong.


Perhaps a remake?

Unfortunately, no. When I watch the film now I am touched, because Libreville is no longer like that… I am taking advantage of your platform to talked about what happened. The three women who you see there, in the film, two of them died. That makes it even more important to talk about the people who are living with HIV, the situation has regressed a great deal in Gabon. Today we need to talk about the fight against AIDS. In Gabon there is no longer awareness, no one is taking charge of the problem. It seems that HIV is touching a progressively younger population, the 18-30 year-old population which are carriers of the disease and it's very serious because it is an illness which is still incurable. There is still no definitive cure so there is this film and it's important that it exists. And it's also an opportunity to pay tribute to these people who agreed to testify openly. Today there are those who are no longer with us, but they continue to live, one could say, because of this film.


In 2014, you made Sans famille, a documentary that received the award for best documentary at the International festival of cinema and audiovisual of Burundi. How did you established contact with the actual and former prisoners or certain prisoners?

Actually with most of my film projects, the first thing that I do is to familiarize myself on the subject, I start collecting documents, I read a lot of books, watch other films and then I talk about it to a few trusted people. I tell them that I am working on a project and ask them if they are also familiar with the subject, I meet with associations that support the cause to see  if perhaps they have leads.


Films focusing on Gabon


All of my films take place in Gabon and these films that I have made actually give me another face of humanity…they allow me to be even more sensitive and give me the force to say that I am on the right path and that I must continue.


Sans famille, did you want to highlight prisoners’ rights

Yes. The central prison of Libreville was built during colonialism, designed for an occupancy rate of 300. At the time that I made the film there were more than 5,000 people. That’s not normal. Because someone made a mistake, they should not have to live in inhuman conditions. And the prison system should assist those who are there so that when they are released they can restart their lives. But nothing is done. I know of initiatives in other countries that are commendable. Every morning prisoners were taken out in order to do farming, the prisoners ate what they cultivated, they ate healthy food. The prison sold the products and saved the earnings and when the prisoners were released they benefited as well. There are initiatives such as these. But when people are locked in their cells 24/24 hours, year after year and nothing is done. When a young person is locked away for six months because they stole something, when they are released they become assassins. They have hardened in general. They become hardened having been around other notorious prisoners, there is a mixture of people of varying crimes and sentences. So yes, it is about the struggle for prisoner rights.


And this first edition of the Festival International "Cinéma & Liberté"

The festival is free to all. The aim of the festival is to have cinema meet the public. In addition to film screenings there will be training workshops. There will be roundtables, an international conferences. There will be five Masterclasses (see details below).
 
There are two other people who come from Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire. In any case we expect big names in African cinema. I would like to thank the French Institute who agreed to support us on this first edition as well as others.

Marie Dorothée of gabonactu gave the following details of the Masterclasses:

“Writing, directing and producing the documentary” led by Natyvel Pontalier, Gabonese director and Laurent Bitty, Ivorian director-producer and Kalid Zairi, director/producer from Morocco.

“Actorat” and “How to succeed in a good production” will be led by Rasmané Ouedraogo, one of the main actors of the series “Bienvenue à Kikidéni”, which is currently broadcast on Canal +.

“From idea to realization and production of a series” by Aminata Diallo Glez, director of successful series: 3 hommes 1village, 3 femmes 1 village, Super flics and Bienvenue à Kikideni.

“The management of cultural projects” by Abdoulaye Diallo and Alpha Bah, both festival directors.

“The structure of the scenario” by Imunga Ivanga. This master class will lead to the production of a film which will be screened during the next edition.

 

09 June 2024

Ruth Hunduma, laureate of the Hypatia Golden Award for the documentary The Medallion at the 10th edition of the Alexandria Short Film Festival (ASFF) in Egypt

Ruth Hunduma, laureate of the Hypatia Golden Award for the documentary The Medallion at the 10th edition of the Alexandria Short Film Festival (ASFF) in Egypt

The documentary portrays the filmmaker's mother, a survivor of the Red Terror in Ethiopia which left hundreds of thousands of victims. A powerful testimony to a nightmare that remains unknown in the West.

Excerpted from an interview with Ruth Hunduma by Nicolas Bardot at lepolyester.com
The idea for the film came from a short story I wrote when I was at university called The Medallion, about the genocide of the Red Terror, from the point of view of my mother. In 2022, during the Tigray War, as I was preparing to travel to Ethiopia to spend time with my mother, my producer suggested that I re-visit the story of The Medallion. Within the context of the civil war at the time, it was the perfect context to open up a discourse not only about the war itself, but also about Western media bias during the Red Terror genocide, which unfortunately, like the Tigray war, attracted little or no attention. I started filming it myself with the cameras that I had on hand; and bit by bit, I started constructing the DNA of the film.

08 June 2024

Tsitsi Dangarembga (ICAPA), Souad Houssein (OPAC), Zanele Mthembu (SWIFT), three women-helmed organizations collaborate to advance and promote women and cinema in Africa

 
Tsitsi Dangarembga (ICAPA), Souad Houssein (OPAC), Zanele Mthembu (SWIFT), 
three women-helmed organizations collaborate to advance and promote women and cinema in Africa

The signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding between (Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa) ICAPA Trust, The Pan-African Observatory for audio-visual and cinema (OPAC) and Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT) of South Africa was held recently, in Harare. Tsitsi Dangarembga, the signatory of the memorandum, had this to say:
 
“This signing ceremony follows meetings between Souad Houssein, founding director of OPAC, Zanele Mthembu, the acting programme manager of SWIFT and myself, in our capacities as representatives of our three organisations. These meetings took place in Harare last year, during the 2023 edition of the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF).”

Today marks a historic moment where together, we strive to break barriers and champion equality in storytelling. The Zimbabwe’s Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) Icapa Trust, Fance's Pan-African Audiovisual and Cinema Observatory (OPAC) and South Africa’s Sisters Working in Film (SWIFT) sign an MOU, paving the way for a transformative collaboration in film and television across Africa. This partnership aims to foster capacity building of African and African-descended women filmmakers through skills development, film promotion and viewing of women friendly films in the region to amplify diverse voices, facilitate joint and individual projects and the establishment of a pioneering International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF)

As noted in the ICAPA December 2023 newsletter, “the objective of this historic meeting of three organizations led by African women was to draft and sign an agreement to collaborate in the areas of training, women’s film festivals, including African women’s film awards and fundraising.”

Text:
The Standard. “Icapa, OPAC and Swift sign MoU” by Tendai Sauta,  June 4, 2024
ICAPA News, 20th edition of IIFF wows Harare, December 12, 2023

07 June 2024

DIASPORAS : Cinemateca Brasileira apresenta a mostra 80 anos de Zezé Motta - the Cinemateca Brasileira presents the exhibition 80 ans de Zezé Motta (the 80 years of Zezé Motta)

Zezé Motta
Cinemateca Brasileira apresenta a mostra 80 anos de Zezé Motta - the Cinemateca Brasileira presents the exhibition 80 ans de Zezé Motta (the 80 years of Zezé Motta)

Entre os dias 7 e 9 de junho, a Cinemateca Brasileira apresenta a mostra 80 anos de Zezé Motta, comemorando a importante contribuição da atriz ao audiovisual brasileiro. Artista plural, com trabalhos no teatro, na música, na televisão e no cinema, a atriz também se destaca pelos anos de luta por maior representatividade de artistas negros e negras nas artes.

From 7-9 June the Cinemateca Brasileira presents the exhibition 80 ans de Zezé Motta (the 80 years of Zezé Motta) celebrating the important contribution of the actress in the Brazilian audiovisual landscape. Zezé Motta's multifaceted practice as artist spans theater, music, television and cinema, she is also known for her activism throughout the years towards a greater representation of black artists.
 

04 June 2024

Mujeres por África : ELLAS SON CINE 12 - 2024 Madrid (They [women] are cinema) Ramata-Toulaye Sy, Myriam Uwiragiye Birara, Sofia Alaoui, Rosine Mbakam, Kaouther Ben Hania

Mujeres por África
ELLAS SON CINE 12 - 2024 Madrid
(They [women] are cinema)
Ramata-Toulaye Sy, Myriam Uwiragiye Birara, Sofia Alaoui, Rosine Mbakam, Kaouther Ben Hania

Mujeres por África organiza esta muestra de cine para dar visibilidad al audiovisual femenino del continente

Ellas son Cine, la muestra de películas dirigidas por mujeres africanas, regresa un año más a la Sala Berlanga de la Fundación SGAE en Madrid (c/Andrés Mellado 53) en su decimosegunda edición, del 4 al 8 de junio con proyecciones a las 19.30 horas. Y lo hace con cinco películas de directoras que recorren el continente africano de este a oeste, de norte a sur: Banel et Adama, de la senegalesa Ramata-Toulaye Sy; The Bride, de la ruandesa Myriam Uwiragiye Birara; Animalia, de Sofia Alaoui, originaria de Marruecos; Mambar Pierrette, de la camerunense Rosine Mbakam, y, desde Túnez y en cooperación con Arabia Saudí, Les filles d’Olfa, de Kaouther Ben Hania.

***

Mujeres por África [Women for Africa] organizes this film exhibition to give visibility to women audiovisuals on the continent

Ellas son cine (They [women] are cinema) of the Fundación Mujeres por África returns to the Sala Berlanga of the SGAE Foundation in Madrid for its 12th edition from 4-8 June with five films that reflect the social condition of women throughout the continent from east to west, from north to south. Films by women from Senegal, Rwanda, Morocco, Cameroon and Tunisia: Banel et Adama by Senegalese Ramata-Toulaye Sy; The Bride by Rwandan Myriam Uwiragiye Birara; Animalia by Sofia Alaoui from Morocco; Mambar Pierrette by Cameroonian Rosine Mbakam, and from Tunisia in cooperation with Saudia Arabia, Les filles d’Olfa by Kaouther Ben Hania.
 

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