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.

17 July 2014

Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil | International Women's Film Festival of Créteil - 2015 - Inscription | Registration

Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil | International Women's Film Festival of Créteil - 2015


The next festival will take place 13 to 22 March 2015!

You may send your films beginning today until 15 December 2014 for the 37th edition.

Information and registration form:


Le prochain festival aura lieu du 13 au 22 mars 2015 !

Vous pouvez nous envoyer vos films à partir d’aujourd’hui et jusqu’au 15 décembre 2014 pour la 37ème édition.

Infos et formulaire d’inscription :

10 July 2014

Homage to Andrée Davanture (1933-2014) grande dame and passionate supporter of African cinema

Homage to Andrée Davanture (1933-2014), grande dame and passionate supporter of African cinema 

I met Andrée Davanture while doing research in Paris for my African women in cinema project. Atria, the structure that she founded in 1980 and that closed in 1998, was a hub for African film professionals, bustling with activity, a site for professional encounters, cinematic discourse, film editing, and research. A homage to the grande dame of film editing, passionate, eager to listen and assist, who left us on 1 July 2014.

Nicknamed Dédée, Andrée Davanture’s passion as editor spans some 50 years. Chief editor of the stunning Mossane (1996) by Safi Faye and the haunting The Night of Truth (2004) by Fanta Nacro, her sensitive hand is visible in a host of African films, notably of the renowned Souleymane Cissé (for which she was editor of all of his feature films). Her African film work dates as early as 1974 with Sous le signe du Vaudou by Pascale Abikanlou, and in 1975 with Cissé's Den Muso and Muna Moto by Jean-Pierre Dikongue, spanning the decades with Oumarou Ganda’s L’Exile (1980), Wend Kuuni (1982) by Gaston Kaboré, and the illustrious list continues.

Rest in Peace, chère Dédée.
(Beti Ellerson)

Tributes to Andrée Davanture:

Souleymane Cissé: We have just lost a sister, a friend, a mother, who has contributed enormously to African cinema in general, especially Malian cinema…the enduring memory of a warrior who has always supported our cinema and always had the right words that pushed you to go beyond yourself in the cinematic process.  (

FESPACO: For her indefatigable technical, artistic and pedagogical contribution to African cinema, FESPACO gives a spirited tribute to Andrée Davanture. She has contributed to the formation of the history of African cinema. She leaves us with weapon in hand, on the work in progress of film director Souleymane Cissé. (Fespaco)

Michel Amarger (Afrimages / RFI / Médias France): The influence of Andrée Davanture for the generation of filmmakers of African independences is considerable. She supported them, gave them contacts, and encouraged them on their scripts. Today this impetus leaves an imprint on a new generation that knew her and benefited from her advice. (Africiné)

Olivier Barlet (Africultures): "I saw Borrom Sarret [Ousmane Sembene, 1963] and I remember crying." For Andrée Davanture, also, there was a click, which was an emotion. "It is a cinema that deeply moves me, a vital cinema." This is the key that motivates these "fous d'Afrique", those passionate about Africa* who dedicate their lives to the service of contemporary African cultural production. 

"In the profession, continues Andrée, many do not understand the choice I made." Indeed, against all odds, she fought for a certain relationship to filmmakers whose difference baffled many. "I am completely idealistic. Time passes and I remain. Life is so short!! If there is no interest in growing every day, what force does one have to fight against death if not the solidity and the importance of what we feel? "

After her death on 1 July 2014 at the age of 81 years, this interview from 1995 resonates even louder. (1) Already, when I was preparing my first book on African cinemas, Andrée’s warm welcome and her way of telling me with the right words what I felt myself, gave me a wonderful energy. (Africultures)

*Corrected translation: Olivier Barlet refers to the book "Fous d'Afrique" by Jean de la Guérivière, about those generations of French who have a passion for Africa.

08 July 2014

"I am not interested in denouncing polygamy: my film goes beyond that". Interview with Angèle Diabang by Olivier Barlet about "So Long a Letter"

"I am not interested in denouncing polygamy: my film goes beyond that". Interview with Angèle Diabang by Olivier Barlet about "So Long a Letter" 

Source: Africultures.comPhoto © Olivier Barlet, Cannes, mai 2014. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

Senegalese director Angèle Diabang was selected to participate in La Fabrique des cinémas du monde during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival professional program that contributes to the emergence of young artists of the South on the international market. Designed by the French Institute, the annual program invites with their producers, ten directors to Cannes who are developing their first or second feature film. Angèle Diabang's project in development is the adaptation of the celebrated novel by Mariama Bâ, So Long a Letter. 

Adapt a celebrated book; this is an impressive and risky project! Why this choice? 

I made the choice to adapt it into a film because I think the debate on polygamy but also on the situation of women vis-à-vis society, family and love is as important today as ever. At the present we are in an era where the image has a great impact, many young people no longer read. We look at more and more images, films, either on the Internet or television, even if there are no more cinema houses in Dakar. I thought it would be great to take an emblematic work of African literature, and adapt it for the screen. 

Is polygamy still practiced in urban areas? 

I think so, even in the urban environment and though our country has evolved and modernized, polygamy is still there. 

It is true that the topic is dealt with in recent films, such as 5x5 by Moussa Touré. 

Exactly, the debate is on going. 

You come from the documentary genre; you have directed and produced many, why this passage to fiction. What desire is manifested in this? 

It is true that so far I have produced and directed documentaries, and also a short fiction, but I have never made strict boundaries between fiction and documentary. I always knew that one day I would also do fiction because there are stories I want to tell that are impossible to do with a documentary: it would be too sensitive and not sufficiently subtle. I prefer to relate it through fiction. In the case of Mariama Bâ, it is an adaptation and so I can only do it in fiction. But I would never set limits with respect to these two genres. Rather, the documentary is a learning experience for me, allowing me to grow and develop into fiction. 

While it is a fiction, it is still quite documentarised, since it is her own story... 

Exactly. This novel is, so to speak, a "semi" autobiography and I'm sure there will be a documentary aspect in my film. 

The literary adaptation is relatively rare in black African cinemas. It is an approach that has not shown real results. I remember the workshop "Etonnants scénarios" that I introduced a while ago in Bamako, whose objective was to bring together writers and filmmakers. However no concrete projects emerged from it. How did you go about your process? 

It came about when producer Eric Neve from La Chauve-Souris and I agreed to work together on the novel. It took us several months to find out who had the rights and how to obtain them to make the film. When we got the rights, I knew that since I am not a screenwriter and having made documentaries, I did not want to write the film adaptation, but rather have someone else do so. Because Eric Neve believes strongly in me, and my talents, he pushed me to do it. He told me: "Begin, and when you know where you want to go, you take on an author," and now, I'll begin the third version of the script by myself! So far it's going well, people who read it are quite surprised and happy with the results. After this writing phase, I think there will be a screenwriter or a second writer. 

Were the rights difficult to obtain? 

Not really. There have been discussions with the rights holders for Mariama Bâ, but there were no difficulties. 

Eric Neve has worked with Moussa Touré for the film La Pirogue, which is also loosely adapted from a literary work. How is your rapport with someone who is known to be an efficient producer, with his expectations and his constraints? 

For me it is easy and pleasant to work with Eric Neve who I have known for a long time. We have had a very human relationship, pleasant and friendly. For the fiction, he was the one who pushed me to direct it, since for the last several years I have only worked as producer. He believes in my talent as a director and really propelled me, encouraging me to resume directing. He is in tune with what I want to do but he knows also how to read and make constructive criticism. 

With a producer of his weight, the funding issue may be easier? 

We are still in development. I'm at the Moulin d'Ande, which allows me to isolate myself, insulated from everything, and concentrate on writing. When Eric makes films, he does not say: "This is an African film, we will try to mend it." No, he simply says: "we will have the budget required for the film," regardless of the cost. He does not fix the budget according to the origin of the project. 

Is he aware of the importance of the topic to contemporary African society? 

Yes, I think he is aware. He has a house in Gorée, he comes to Senegal often and is steeped in Senegalese culture. We are on the same wavelength. 

Can one imagine that the film once completed could be used for educational purposes, in schools for example, bringing the classroom to cinema? 

I'd love to do that in fact. Since I finished Fémis, I have thought about a cine-school project or image education in Senegal. For this film, it will be imperative that I make the rounds of the schools to present it to students since it is a novel that is in the curriculum. If a student told me that after seeing the film that she/he revisited the novel to read, I would have succeeded because I have participated in reuniting this student with the literature! 

As a woman I suppose this is a topic that touches you? 

Yes, but with this film I am not interested in denouncing polygamy. Neither my producer nor I come with an anti-polygamy approach. There is merely the desire to show how the sociocultural rules of Senegalese society evolve and how we as women are a bit torn between a certain modernity—we are well educated, we travel, we want more freedom—it is a position specifically female, and that wants to respect tradition. How to manage this split between a strong tradition that is worn with pride and the desire for more freedom? It is in this sense that the project interests me, and less in the direction of pushing to abolish polygamy, because I am for freedom of choice: whether homosexuality, polygamy, the freedom to practice religion, everyone is free to choose. If someone feels good being in a polygamous relationship it is her right, after which she deals with the consequences. It is not for me to say whether polygamy is right or not. 

I remember an anthropology book, “The Woman of My Husband” by Sylvie Fainzang and Odile Journet, which showed that polygamy in rural areas had an important function for women as it facilitated the sharing of heavy workloads, including childcare. But the book concluded that nonetheless polygamy was still negative for the status of women. 

It is true that it is rather difficult. I could not* be in a polygamous marriage, but that is me. I think it is difficult for women as for men because you have to manage two families, and today, financially, with the economic crisis, polygamy is not particularly useful to those involved. If a woman arrives at a certain age and is not yet married, she is not very well regarded by society. So when she reaches her forties, she resigns herself to be a second or third wife. Perhaps the evolution of sociocultural rules will bring about attitudes that will accept that a woman can live, be free, be someone socially respected without being married. It is not because a woman is married that her moral values are superior to those of others. I hope that we can one day see these attitudes come to fruition, thereby preventing the practice of women having to marry because of social pressure. I think that there are still many marriages that take place because of social pressure, both by women and men. I would like the adaptation of So Long a Letter to participate in moving things in that direction. I have friends who are in a polygamous marriage and who are happy with their situation, so who am I to say to them that it is not good. I would like the debate to evolve beyond "is polygamy right or not?". 

This goes against a number of stereotypes about African women. 

Exactly. As Eric Neve has often said, modernity does not mean Westernization. I think this way of condemning polygamy means that if you are not like us, you're not modern enough. But we can be modern without copying Westerners! 

Does La Fabrique des cinémas du monde allow you to make significant developments? What have been some of the results? 

Actually there have been important developments, as the project has already gained visibility. Before then, I had been developing it by myself underground. Today I can dare to talk about it, people know about it, are waiting for it. We met the artistic directors of the Critics' Week, and so they know us and are interested in our work. Apart from that, we met German, Norwegian and Brazilian producers, which has enabled us within this professional framework to discuss our project concretely with co-producers with whom we could finalize it. Having our project selected at La Fabrique makes it better received: having already been among the ten chosen out of more than one hundred candidates. And when looking at the percentage of projects completed at La Fabrique, one recognizes its quality. 

Will there be a follow-up that continues throughout the next year? 

Exactly. One already comes to Cannes with an established schedule of activities and meetings. We have the opportunity to indicate whom we would like to meet during the festival; it is a luxury! I was able to see the director of the CNC Brazil, for example. If I need contacts later, they will help me advance in this new phase. We were fortunate to have Walter Salles as a sponsor: a generous person with a great artistic sensibility. It was really a great opportunity; it was wonderful!

Last year with Raoul Peck, the participants said the same thing: in other words, sponsors really do participate! 

Yes, Walter had read all projects before coming. I, myself was lucky because he had read So Long a Letter well before knowing about my project and when he saw that I had adapted it, he was enthusiastic. But he really had a genuine sensitivity regarding all the directors and producers who were there. He was interested in all the projects. 

Last personal question: how do we combine family life with cinema when you have a young child? 

It is not evident! For the last two years I have not really worked because I was taking care of my child, my work was a bit on hold. But I'm glad to restart with projects such as So Long a Letter and my documentary about Dr. Mukwege of DRC, as well as working with the Société des gestions collectives (League of collective management) in Senegal. Now that my child has grown a little older, I can balance my work and family life, one just needs to find a balance. It is not easy I’ll admit, but I am trying to find it!

* Correction: The word NOT added.

ALSO SEE: Angèle Diabang adapts "So Long a Letter" to film - Interview by Agnès Chitou 

"Je n'ai aucune envie de condamner la polygamie : mon film va au-delà" entretien d'Olivier Barlet avec Angèle Diabang à propos d'Une si longue lettre

"Je n'ai aucune envie de condamner la polygamie : mon film va au-delà" entretien d'Olivier Barlet avec Angèle Diabang à propos d'Une si longue lettre

Photo © Olivier Barlet, Cannes, mai 2014

La réalisatrice sénégalaise Angèle Diabang a été sélectionnée pour participer à La Fabrique des cinémas du monde durant le festival de Cannes 2014, programme professionnel qui contribue à l'émergence de la jeune création des pays du Sud sur le marché international. Conçu par l'Institut français, ce programme invite chaque année à Cannes une dizaine de réalisateurs, accompagnés de leurs producteurs, qui développent leur premier ou deuxième long-métrage. Le projet en développement d'Angèle Diabang est de l'adaptation du célèbre livre de Mariama Bâ Une si longue lettre.

Adapter un livre aussi célèbre, voilà un projet impressionnant et risqué ! Pourquoi ce choix ?

J'ai fait ce choix de l'adapter en film car je pense que le débat sur la polygamie mais aussi sur le rapport de la femme à la société, à la famille et à l'amour est toujours d'actualité. Aujourd'hui, nous sommes dans une période où l'image compte beaucoup, les jeunes ne lisent plus. On regarde plus d'images, de films avec internet ou bien la télévision, même si nous n'avons plus de cinéma à Dakar. J'ai pensé que cela serait bien de prendre un monument de la littérature africaine, et pas seulement sénégalaise, et de l'adapter à l'écran.

À lire dans son intégralité :

Angèle Diabang adapts "So Long a Letter" to film - Interview by Agnès Chitou -

Angèle Diabang adapts "So Long a Letter" to film
Source et Photo: 19 June 2014 / by Agnès Chitou. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

Filmmaker Angèle Diabang tackles for her first step in fiction So Long a Letter*, a classic of the African literary tradition. Her project is one of ten selected by La Fabrique des cinémas du monde at the French Institute, and presented in May 2014 during the Cannes Film Festival. 

Senegalese filmmaker Angèle Diabang trained in her country, as well as in Germany and France, notably at the Femis. She directed her first short documentary, Mon beau sourire (My beautiful smile) in 2005. Having learned her lesson from her difficulties with a producer, for her next projects she decided to create her own production company Karoninka. "There is a certain tenuousness, as a filmmaker. I feel safer in production," she explains. Next she directs two documentaries: Senegalese and Islam in 2007 and Yandé Codou, the griotte of Senghor in 2008. Her company has produced a dozen projects. So Long a Letter, adapted from the novel of her celebrated compatriot Mariama Bâ, will be her first fiction. It is one of ten projects selected this year at La Fabrique des cinémas du monde, a program designed by the French Institute and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), the Cannes Film Festival and the Film Market. Through the program, the filmmakers, who are working on a first or second feature, are invited on the Croisette (Cannes) with their producers. "So Long a Letter" (1979) by the Senegalese writer Mariama Bâ is a classic of African literature. Why the desire to adapt it to screen?

Angèle Diabang: The debate, which is at the heart of the book, is still relevant. Mariama Bâ wrote the novel over 30 years ago during a time when the issue of the struggle for women's liberation was already happening and our country became independent two decades before then. In Senegal, there had never been a woman writer before then. Women began to distinguish themselves. It was therefore important that this novel existed during the 80s. We are now in 2014. We have evolved quite a bit. The world is more modern, we are in the full stage of globalization, but I think the debate on the place of women in society and within the family is still current. I revisited the book that I studied at school and I decided to make a film because we are also in the era of the image. In Senegal, for example, our young people do not read. Bringing to the screen a novel that has marked our literature is another way to speak to the younger generation, to guide them indirectly through the image to reading. How did you work on this adaptation, the scenario of your future film?

Angèle Diabang: I propose a contemporary adaptation. The film will be set in in a Senegal of the last ten years. I am on the third draft of the script. My producer Eric Neve has really encouraged me; he is very involved in the writing process of the films. He is not just about finding the money. He really helps with the startup and development of a project. He secured the writing residency at Moulin d'Ande (a cultural center in Normandy, France). This is where I am currently developing the film project and it is wonderful to be able to be secluded in this paradisiacal place to focus on my thoughts and writing. We will later decide whether to procure the services of a second author to finalise the text, or at least a screenwriter to make the dialogue more dynamic, or to get another perspective. It is sometimes easier to work with another person. It is a well-known novel in West Africa and beyond and therefore a challenge to adapt. What do you see as the essential elements that will best render the ambiance of the novel to the screen adaptation? 

Angèle Diabang: For me, So Long a Letter is not limited only to a story of polygamy. When talking about the novel, one often thinks of nothing else. What concerns me is the strength of women, all women. What stands out is this great story of friendship between Rama and Ada, but also between Rama and her husband Modou. Although he took a second wife, Buchi, the friendship between the two partners is maintained. Although Rama was disappointed in love, stabbed in the back, and held a deadly grudge against Modou, the strength of their friendship remains and it is the singularity of their relationship. Modou may well come home and Rama may continue to discuss certain issues with him. I would like to highlight the strength of all these women in my film and that there is the realisation that polygamy has consequences for everyone involved. Modou, who has a family that everyone dreams of having, suddenly overnight cannot see his children, spends twice as much, and is therefore obliged to borrow in order to meet his financial commitments.

Afrik. com: Polygamy is still a current practice in Senegal. Though the Senegalese are very modern, they remain very attached to this aspect of their tradition, including the younger generation. How do you explain this?

Angèle Diabang: I do not know how to explain why polygamy still exists. But at the same time, I would like to say that all men are polygamous. If they do not take a second or third wife officially, they all have a second or third “office” (one mistress or more). Including Westerners who criticize the practice and express indignation at polygamy among Africans. They, too, are polygamous since they also have mistresses. Their situation is tantamount to maintaining two relationships simultaneously and to having their two women believe that they are the only one. This is what the polygamist does. Yet he has the guts to take responsibility for what he practices, contrary to he who has a mistress. Hence the importance of knowing what to keep in the story. That is why I said that the question is still a valid one. How to be both as modern as we are today and to be in touch with our traditions, our cultural heritage, which sometimes is not always easy to carry, although we are proud? Me, I'm very proud! The strength of my films comes from the fact that I am Senegalese, open to the world, and I know how to enjoy what it has to offer me. Women, it seems, is one of your preferred subjects. In one of your documentaries, you raised the issue of the veil, which has become increasingly common with the rise of radical Islam. The film Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako (in competition at the last Cannes Film Festival) also refers to the theme. In African capitals, in fact, we see more and more women wearing the full veil...

Angèle Diabang: This was not seen in Senegal when I was growing up. This is contradictory to living in a more modern and liberated world, to see so many women in full veil: all in black, eyes hidden and gloved hands. For me, this is something else! I have friends in Senegal who wear the veil, but they are more coquettish than me. They are adorned with colorful outfits. I do not see them at all as being confined. If someone wears the veil voluntarily, that is her choice. But when it's something that imprisons and that is imposed, that is different. I don’t accept this! 

* As its title suggests, the novel by Mariama Bâ is a long letter from Ramatoulaye, the heroine of the novel, addressed to her friend Ada who moved to the United States. The woman has just lost her husband Modou, an event that takes her back to her marriage, devastated by polygamy.

ALSO SEE: "I am not interested in denouncing polygamy: My film goes beyond that". Interview with Angela Diabang by Olivier Barlet about So Long a Letter:

Angèle Diabang adaptera "Une si longue lettre" au cinéma - Entretien par Agnès Chitou

Angèle Diabang adaptera "Une si longue lettre" au cinéma. Jeudi 19 juin 2014 / par Agnès Chitou. Source & Photo :

C’est à un classique du patrimoine littéraire africain que la cinéaste Angèle Diabang a décidé de s’attaquer, pour ses premiers pas dans la fiction. Son projet est l’un des dix projets sélectionnés par la Fabrique Les cinémas du monde de l’Institut français, et présenté en mai dernier durant le Festival de Cannes.

Elle voulait être ambassadrice « comme (la cantatrice américaine) Barbara Hendricks. « Quand j’ai quitté le droit pour aller faire du cinéma, je me suis dit que je pouvais toujours être ambassadrice... grâce à l’art », confie la cinéaste sénégalaise Angèle Diabang. Elle se formera dans son pays, en Allemagne et en France, notamment à la Femis. Elle réalise son premier court métrage documentaire, "Mon beau sourire", en 2005. Pour ses projets suivants, elle décide de créer sa propre maison de production Karoninka, échaudée par ses déboires avec un producteur. « Quand on réalise, on est fragile. Je me sens plus en sécurité dans la production », explique la cinéaste. Elle réalisera ainsi deux autres documentaires : "Sénégalaises et islam" en 2007 et "Yandé Codou, la griotte de Senghor" en 2008. Sa maison a produit une dizaine de projets. "Un si longue lettre", adapté du livre éponyme de sa célèbre compatriote Mariama Bâ, sera sa première fiction. Il est l’un des 10 projets sélectionnés cette année à La Fabrique Les cinémas du Monde, programme conçu par l’Institut français avec l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), le Festival de Cannes et Le Marché du film. Le programme invite sur la Croisette des cinéastes et leurs producteurs qui travaillent sur un premier ou deuxième long métrage afin de les aider à le concrétiser.

07 July 2014

Por um cinema africano no feminino (III): “um foco sobre as mulheres burkinabês no cinema"

Por um cinema africano no feminino (III): “um foco sobre as mulheres burkinabês no cinema"

Dando seqüência às publicações que visam divulgar a produção e a participação de mulheres africanas no cinema, o FICINE traz este post escrito pela diretora e pesquisadora Beti Ellerson. O texto foi publicado originalmente em African Women in Cinema Blog, um espaço criado para a discussão de diversos assuntos relacionados à participação das mulheres africanas no cinema que faz parte do Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema. Boa leitura!

* Texto publicado originalmente em

Tradução de Janaína Oliveira