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.

30 September 2016

Report on Fokus: Sisters in African Cinema – Afrika Film Festival Cologne 2016

Report on Fokus: Sisters in African Cinema – Afrika Film Festival Cologne 2016 by Beti Ellerson

The Afrika Film Festival, organized by FilmInitiativ and held from 15-25 September 2016 in Cologne, Germany, had as its focus for the 14th edition, “Sisters in African Cinema. Women were visible in all spheres of the festival—on its organisation team and its advisory board for the Fokus film selection, the patrons of the 14th edition were Mallence Bart-Williams (and her brother Patrice), the opening ceremony featured the live band “Sisters”.

Stories by and about women, a dominant theme throughout the festival was evident in the overall festival selection of films. Of the 83 films from 25 African countries, 33 were included in the Sisters in African Cinema selection, some of which were screened during follow-up events beyond Cologne in other cities in Germany.

Among the thirty-three women-directed works included autobiographical films and those reflecting the politics of identity, such as La souffrance est une école de sagesse by Astrid Ariane Atodj and Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Kwaku Ananse; women’s biographies and films relating women’s movements in the context of feminism and womanism, such as The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo by Yaba Badoe, Feriel Ben Mahmoud's Feminists insha'allah - La révolution des femmes, un siècle de féminisme arabe and Sisters of the Screen: African Women in Cinema by Beti Ellerson. Reflected in women’s transnational, exilic and diasporic experiences are their immigration stories, which include Ta Mère by Touria Benzari, Raja Saddiki's Aji-bi les femmes de l'horloge, Les gracieuses by Fatima Sissani, Hadja Lahbib's Patience, patience, t'iras au paradis! and Gay Enough by Hawa Sanneh and Anna Fundin. Several films recounted very tender, touching stories from the perspective of the girl child, such as Monique Mbeka Phoba's Soeur Oyo, Maman(s) by Maimouna Doucouré, Maryam Touzani's Aya wal bahr, Amirah Tajdin's Minerva’s Lilies and Soko Sonko by Ekwa Msangi. Others told coming-of-age stories, such as A peine j’ouvre les yeux by Leyla Bouzid, Marguerite Abouet’s and Clement Oubrerie's animation film Aya of Youpou CityAyanda by Sara Blecher, Rahmatou Keita's Jin’naariya!, Kwaku Ananse by Akosua Adoma as well as Ta Mère by Touria Benzari. Also included were films reflecting a woman’s gaze on masculinity, male sexuality and intimacy, such as Alice Diop's Towards Tenderness, Boys of Soweto by Meja Shoba, and another film by Akosua Adoma Owusu, Reluctantly Queer. Françoise Ellong's W.A.K.A. relates the complexities in the perception of woman and mother. Mai Mustafa's Ishtar and Isis, Le challat de Tunis by Kaouther Ben Hania and Dis ek, Anna, another film by Sara Blecher, break the silence of abuse against girls and women as well as divulge misogynistic attitudes and practices in society. Youth, change and society is a common theme in Sarra Idris's Adams and Howa, and a theme that is prominent as well in Leyla Bouzid’s A peine j’ouvre les yeux. Moreover, in Randa Maroufi's Le Park the subject of youth, change and society intersects with the ubiquity of social media and new technologies. Race and class, a recurrent theme in South African films is prominent in Vicki Kisner's film Sheila. Artistic imaginaries are the common thread in the storytelling practices of Colleen Alborough (Balance), Anna M’barek (Nuit blanche) and Wendy Bash (Les rumeurs du lac).

Hence, the representation of African women filmmakers throughout the continent and the diaspora and the diversity of their films show the depth of their imaginary, the breadth of their écriture and the complexity of their cinematic gaze.

The Afrika Film Festival focus, Sisters in African Cinema, invoked the company of kindred spirits converging on a shared experience—cinema. African women in cinema far from being a monolith, is wide-ranging, plural, diverse and multi-faceted. Moreover, the discursive intersectionality of African women’s cinematic storytelling is derived from their active participation in their societies, the continent as a whole, extending to the transnational locations of the global African diaspora.

A key feature of the 14th edition of the Festival was the Sisters in African Cinema Roundtable moderated by Beti Ellerson (USA), featuring Leyla Bouzid (Tunisia), Françoise Ellong (Cameroon), Judy Kibinge (Kenya) and Monique Mbeka Phoba (Democratic Republic of Congo). The 1-hour-45-minute dialogue with simultaneous translation in French and English (and German for the audience) enhanced the spontaneous exchange among “sisters”, enabling a rare in-depth cross-continental/transdiasporic discussion. The roundtable setting ensured a friendly, welcoming space in which to share and dialogue. Below is an excerpted transcription of the roundtable in English.

Beti Ellerson (in English): Exploring the notion of a sisterhood in African cinema I would like to pose the question, “where do you position yourself in the context of a “sister in African cinema”? Does it exist for you? To what extent is it a reality or an idea? What could a sisterhood in African cinema be, in an ideal situation? 

Judy Kibinge (in English): The term invokes an idea, something that we are heading towards. I feel a sense of sisterhood every time I meet an African female filmmaker. You are joined in purpose. But having said that I don’t feel the existence of a big network because I feel that things keep us from that network, language for instance. I wish that we could take this translation booth and headphones to breakfast even. Because there are so many things that you want to say and there is a distance caused by language, at festivals for instance. But despite that, when you speak with sisters, with filmmakers, who create these pieces like you, there is definitely an immediate kinship.

Françoise Ellong (from French): The first time I felt this sisterhood is when Véronique Doumbé [Cameroon and Martinique roots) included me in a Facebook group called, “I’m African, I’m a Woman, I Make Films”. And in this group I could connect with many, many women who were filmmakers. And then I became aware; because before then I had not had a vision of the notion of a sisterhood. This discovery aroused my interest to know more about a woman’s perspective in filmmaking. They come from diverse countries, with different backgrounds, different experiences. I had the sense of belonging to a group that protects and supports. Where we learn about each other’s projects and experiences.

Leyla Bouzid (from French): For me this notion is rather abstract. I am not sure if it actually exists. I am thinking about it in the context of today’s reality. I am not sure if it is relative to the situation in the Maghreb, in North Africa. I am thinking about the many women filmmakers in Morocco and in Tunisia. I am lucky to come from a country where there is a tradition of producing a significant number of women filmmakers. And where cinema is also considered important. I am not sure if there is a “sorority”, but I do know that there is a female sensibility that is very strong. I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable about the cinema of women of sub-Saharan Africa, and have not had the opportunity to see many films. However, I did have the chance when I attended the Journées cinématographiques de la femme africaine (The Film Festival of African Women) in Burkina Faso, which meets in alternating years with Fespaco. And also since films are not very accessible this notion remains rather abstract. And if it did exist what should it be: a possibility to view these women-directed films, to be able to be influenced and nourished by them, that they be part of our personal film archive and that we are able to discuss among ourselves. This is big a lack for me.

Beti Ellerson (in English): Twenty-five years after the 1991 historical event at Fespaco, 20 years after the start of my on project of Sisters of the Screen, then the creation of the African Women in Cinema Blog in 2008, and now through this roundtable, I continue to have the desire to keep the vision of a pan-African network of women alive, to debate, communicate and discuss.

Monique Mbeka Phoba (from French): I would say if there is a way to embody this sorority in African cinema it is Beti Ellerson, who has played a pivot role in this idea, she has published continuously, and following the spirit of this historic event 25 years ago, she has done nonstop research. To follow what the elders are doing and to then discover arriving talents, this has been her work for [the past two decades] which she publishes both in English and French, to enable the visibility of these portraits, productions, projects. I would add in terms of my own professional journey, that I was close to those who worked in the 1990s, during a very activist period. Militant in the sense that we were sisters and brothers in solidarity and support. Militant is a term that is now a bit outmoded, but this is what formed me. And I see my profession as one that allows me to make films and projects but also one in which I must communicate as it relates to the existence of an African production, within which there is women-produced works. It is not that I just decided to do this one day, but rather it came naturally. When a newly-arrived woman appears on the scene, I immediately connect with her, go to see her film. For instance with Françoise Ellong, I have known her and about her work for a while now, and I am familiar with other Cameroonian women, and as soon as I am able to, I reach out to them. Hence, in addition to dealing with my own work, I reach out to others. And in this little space in which I navigate I transmit information about them as well. In terms of Leyla, though from sub-Sahara Africa I am very connected to the cinema of women of North Africa…of course in Central Africa and West Africa. My concern is that I am not as familiar with South Africa where there is so much happening….In addition, among the Anglophone regions there is more a focus on marketing and commercialisation. I recall an amusing comment from a Nigerian who asked me what’s with those Francophone African films, it seems to be more about making a piece of art....

Beti Ellerson (in English): The festival focus had the intention to bring together this continental perspective and unfortunately Sara Blecher from South Africa was not able to attend…And now reflecting on Martina Backes question during the Sisters of the Screen Q&A about what would I add at to the film if it were today, I would say with the “ollywood” phenomenon taking hold in Africa: Nollywood, Riverwood, Ghollywood, etc. These practices, which were not in existence 20 years ago, are definitely part of the discourse today.

Now to talk about “African cinemas” in the plural, what does this identification mean to you? To what extent does it enhance or obstruct your own identity as a filmmaker/cultural producer? How would you define African cinema?

Françoise Ellong (from French): I don’t like the term “African cinema”, as it gives the impression of only one type of cinema. I prefer the description “African cinemas”, where I would actually situate myself. I wrote for a magazine and every Sunday I had as objective to have the readers discover an African film…And this is how I discovered the diversity of African cinemas... I observe that African films are very engagé, socio-politically committed, with strong images, a focus on change, often “auteur” films. I have often wondered if there is the possibility to bring together a balance between entertainment and this commitment… Many of my friends have a pessimistic vision of African cinema. They say that one leaves a movie theatre feeling depressed, etc. They prefer to leave with a sense of enjoyment, which contrasts with African films, which are too heavy. I understand their sentiments, there is this persistence of demanding messages, and though while important and necessary, they are overwhelmingly so. I envision an African cinema that wants to show another vision of Africa. I think that it is very important. My latest film focused on a particular personage, though I do not want to do this with my next film. I want to make a thriller, to do other things. With my first film I realise that I entered into this film category of giving a message, problematizing. For me the word that comes to mind with the term “African cinema(s)” is engagement, socio-political commitment. When I look at [Sisters of the Screen], it reflects the kinds of films that are made in Africa. They are [“warriors”], leading a combat, with a desire to make change, they want to educate. It is very forceful. However, I think that the new generation of spectators are looking for other things. And while they may be presented these themes, in addition, there must be something more entertaining.

Judy Kibinge (in English): African cinema, hmm. There are so many Africas in a way, there are so many realities. Cape Town is not Douala, is not Nairobi, is not Lagos. You can go on and on with so many countries, we are over 54 countries. And in my country alone in Kenya we have over 48 different tribes speaking distinctly different languages. And so a Maasai film will not be the same as a Kikuyu film. And so for me it becomes a bit difficult to give this general feeling of what African cinema is. And even the challenges behind them are singular challenges and are not the same challenges. In South Africa they have enormous government-supported fund that enables scores, dozens of filmmakers each year to make their films. So that is why you begin to see South Africa producing all of these Oscar-winning/nominated films. But maybe there is one example that I suppose might summarise the perception of what for a long time African cinema was, and that I made my first feature film in 2002 and I think it was really in a landscape where as [Françoise] said, the film had to be very heavy, that always had to tackle social issues. My producer, who is Kenyan but had been working for a long time as an executive producer in Hollywood, we made a film that was set in Nairobi. It featured young professionals, it was about relationships, it had a lot of club scenes, it had our leading Kenyan musician singing in these clubs, it had infidelity, it had people smoking and drinking and so on. It was not an invented reality; this is Nairobi. I was taken aback when a French journalist asked me, “why are you trying to make a European film?” I looked at him and I thought where does this man think I live, on a tree? We have clubs in Kenyan, people cheat on each other; they actually drink wine in Nairobi. I think at one point there was this perception that African films had to be set in a village, had to have a girl-child and had to have an old man talking to a goat. It does not have to be that, there are so many ways, there are so many people, there are so many lives, there are so many stories, and that’s why we are as diverse as we are and we need to tell these stories. And the very fact that they are set in Africa is what makes them, I think, African films. 

Leyla Bouzid (from French): I agree with both of you that it is very difficult to talk about an African cinema, even if we put it in plural form we are still talking about the same abstract expression. It is as if there is a point in common even though the countries are different. I would like to see African cinema anchored in the terrain of world cinema, or just cinema period. There is very little discussion regarding a “European” cinema even though there are many different countries. Of course there are festivals with a focus on European cinema. I think African cinema should be situated within the terrain of cinema in and of itself, and of the cinematic language. To show things that we do not expect coming out of African cinema, such as thrillers, etc. For me paradoxically that which brings together African cinemas is their invisibility. In order to see these films one must be active and willingly involved. One must be knowledgeable, actively researching them. Even films like Touki Bouki are invisible. You both mentioned that at film festivals you were able to see other African films. For me too, most of the African films that I have seen, which are very few, were at Carthage (Tunisia) and Fespaco (Burkina Faso). In addition, there is not an exchange or film market established between these two countries. If there is not a public that is passionate about this cinema can we really say that it exists? One talks about Asian Cinema even though there are different countries. But people from these countries go to see these films, there is a demand. I hope that there will continue to be more and more filmmakers, where each filmmaker is anchored in her own cinema, and that there is a growing public. If there is a public that awaits these films then perhaps it can exist. But I think that if one must struggle to see these films, or must be in the right place, or at a specific festival, then it is difficult to speak about this cinema. Perhaps I am a bit pessimistic.

Monique Mbeka Phoba (from French): I think what is interesting is to have a cinema that conveys Africa’s existence through African eyes. Perhaps it is a definition that is too broad. Though it is one that I understand, as it encompasses as well the diaspora as well as those who may not be African but who have a sensibility towards Africa. It is that cinema that allows us to say that Africa is alive, despite all the films that we see which wipes it out. I don’t understand why it is that I see films of an Africa that I do not recognise, which do not speak to me. But yet Africa is not hidden away, it is very visible. For instance the young Ghanaian woman on her motorcycle in the Afripedia series, I know a young woman like that, a bit outlandish, wacky, funny. There are plenty of people like that in Africa, but yet you do not see representations of them outside of Africa. This is how I describe African cinema, a cinema that is alive, not an Africa that is mortified, an Africa that is mythicized, an Africa that is museumized.

Beti Ellerson (in English): I would like to now ask individual questions to each filmmaker as a strategy to enhance dialogue and exchange among us.

Addressing the phenomena of new technologies and social media, and what I see as a game changer, I wonder if that is also your impression. I know that there are some millennials among us—those under 35. With Françoise Ellong for instance, we met through social media, and I even remember once having a 10-minute Twitter discussion together!! So I will address that question to you regarding social media, the Internet, new technologies and your experiences as a filmmaker. 

Françoise Ellong (from French): In fact, I find social media incredible. Even before the completion of W.A.K.A. I already had an enthusiastic public. I did my studies in communication and the role of media was an integral part of it…A lot of people do not know how to use social media. I studied it and particularly Facebook, in terms of how and when to post information in order to reach the maximum viewers. Also the specificities of the “Like” function…. When I began conceptualising the film project I talked about everything, my online community had the impression of accompanying me in making the film…I used crowdfunding to assist in funding the film…. I observed that there were those whom I did not know who were more actively involved then those who I knew…. Hence, I use social media as a professional tool, beyond the personal updates of the everyday. Social media has an extraordinary influence, which means that I no longer have to fight to disseminate information, as I have an active public who follows me…. The print media continues to have a role, but with young people it is social media that is most influential.

Beti Ellerson (in English): Leyla you follow the footsteps of your father Nouri Bouzid who is a famous filmmaker from Tunisia and as you stated in an interview with Olivier Barlet, “it is not easy to not be in his shadow”. Talk about carrying the baton to your generation, and also how you have negotiated your own path, your own écriture.

Leyla Bouzid (from French): My father is an important filmmaker in Tunisia and when I decided to go into cinema it was difficult to formulate my own identity in relationship to him, which is one of the main reasons, if not the reason that I left Tunisia to study cinema in France; in order to find my own way of working. I really took a distance from him, while at the same time we are close and continue work together. For my filmmaking it was absolutely necessary to take this distance. He is an important African filmmaker who began in the 1980s, very militant, who struggled a great deal. He has a very strong personality. And it is impossible to make a film while in dialogue with him. In fact it is difficult to make a film while in dialogue with another filmmaker. There are many greats among African male filmmakers and perhaps what is pertinent within this focus as “sisters”, is the search for our own emotions, our own sensibility, which does not mean that there is a specific female sensibility, but to have a sincerity in the manner in which we tell our stories, even regarding men, to get out of this paternal African cinema. Because there are these fathers in African cinema, I think, beyond my personal family. So I left and made a lot of shorts. And in these shorts I found my own path and I think that the journey of a filmmaker is to find one’s own way and one’s manner to say and tell them. I made the feature film far away from Tunisia which allowed me to have a distance…my father was prohibited from being on the set, except in a cameo appearance. And there are those in Tunisia who said, but I saw him in your film and I responded, but yes, I put him there, and when I was a little girl, I also appeared in his films…At the premier at Carthage he was able to discover the film and he was very happy. He stated that he was the grandfather of the film…it does not have to look like him, he did not conceive it.  I think it is something anyone could experience. It could have been with any other filmmaker; it was above all to free oneself from a powerful influence that can obscure what one really wants to say. It was a more active and complex process yet a simple one. Initially taking a distance in my film studies. Of course in some festivals I am the daughter of…, but then others where he is not known, with this feature film, which is very different than his, I was able to find my own place.

Beti Ellerson (in English): In my project Sisters of the Screen I tried to show the multifarious aspect of African women in cinema, as filmmaker, actor, producer, organiser, critic. Judy, you also wear multiple hats, you are a filmmaker and also founder of DocuBox, talk about these multiple roles.

Judy Kibinge (in English): When you look at filmmaking from the outside and you say “I’m going to be a filmmaker”, you imagine being in the director’s chair, being consumed in this wonderful project. And a full-house audience when you’re finished. And bits of it are like that. But the reality of filmmaking, I think anywhere, not only on the continent, is that it’s hard. No sooner have you finished one film, you are worrying about distributing it. Because we have not cracked the whole issue of distribution, so you end up taking that film a little further than you would, in different market. And at the end of the day your landlord is calling you and he is wondering where his rent is, and you are wondering where his rent is, because you do not have it at that point. And then you grow up really quickly and begin to wear these different hats. For me who came from a very successful first career in advertising, as a creative director, for a big firm, who did a lot of brand advertising for brands like Coca-Cola for the continent. It was really being thrown into some very cold water after the euphoria of leaving and being my own person and not having a boss to tell me “do another campaign” and then the landlord became my boss. Yes you have these love projects that you want to create, but you quickly realise that you find that you need to take on corporate documentary work, and you need to take on commercial work, and you need to do all these different things, because especially we come from a region that does not have cultural support just to keep going. But I think as beautiful things begin to happen, you realise that this should actually not be a burden because as humans, change is growth, and of course every film is different. And every film is an enormous new learning experience. But sometimes to be put in the corner and forced to extend yourself, helps you grow as a person. So there are these hats that you wear to take on other work that you would not have expected to have done as a filmmaker or film director. And for myself part of the journey, was getting 10 years into filmmaking and feeling so exhausted by the fact that support was so difficult to come by and also growing so tired of blaming other people: oh the government should do this, oh somebody should come and save us, and at some point you realise that that somebody is you. Why not you? Why someone else? With creating DocuBox, which is actually the only East African documentary film funder. And actually to be honest I have not come across an organisation like it on the continent, but I do not want to claim to be the only one. You begin to understand fundraising and also managing other people’s projects. We have about 12 films in production now. And then it extended to screenings every month, and then now it extended to a film hub that we’re opening up, because I think that building a sense of community is important. And then that extends to learning how to be a more efficient fundraiser. And then that extends to figuring out how to work with universities and campuses. And with all that stretching I think that the unfortunate thing with me is that the last two or three years, my filmmaking which I love, has had to take a backseat. But this is also creation, creating a new space, this is also enabling many, many other creative wonderful film projects to be born, even if you, yourself are not the author. You do play a role in that creation. 

Beti Ellerson (from French) Monique you have now close to 30 years experience in African cinema having attended you first FESPACO in 1987, and you were an original "sisters of the screen" in my project which began nearly 20 years. Discussed your evolution, changes in African cinema in the context of your experiences as a woman.

Monique Mbeka Phoba (from French): There were only a few women, directors, mostly of shorts and documentaries, editors, and of course actors. There was a challenge becoming a filmmaker, and also a producer. Through this journey, I see now more and more women filmmakers, of fiction films. And it is no longer something that is surprising, but before it was so…. Now it is not considered an anomaly, and that has been a great progress. And in addition, there were many women who were behind the films made by men. Often when we see many of these successful films, there was a woman who did not receive recognition but who worked just as hard. I think now this happens less and less. Women are being recognised, are taking their place and are insisting that they have something important to say. As a filmmaker, I have been asked why don’t I let this go and take up the project of supporting the film culture in the country. As Judy noted, also in Congo there is no cultural support…one can take a role in forging an institution, which depending on one’s personality may result in being consumed by the demands of others or on the other hand flourish as Judy has…

Reflections on Sisters of the Screen, twenty years after

Twenty years after the conception of the Sisters of the Screen Project, which began in 1996, I was invited by the Afrika Film Festival Cologne to be part of Sisters in African Cinema to discuss the film Sisters of the Screen (2002), subtitled in German. I was delighted to find a new generation of viewers discovering my work. The Berlin screening of the film was particularly fulfilling, as this was the first time in my 14 years of participating in a public screening of the film with a Q&A that there was a large audience of feminists of African descent. They engaged enthusiastically with the women in the film and the issues that they brought out. I was especially excited to discuss it with young millennials in search of African women elders as role models, which is how they referred to these wonderful sisters of the screen! One young woman talked about seeing her aunt and even great aunt among the women! I also realised the extent that the terrain of African women of the screen had expanded to encompass the many young Afro-German women who are using the camera and the screen to tell their stories, explore their identities, and to problematize their social location. 


The notion of “sisters of the screen” has even more significance today as the evolving screen culture encompasses the traditional movie and television screen, as well as the computer screen, the tablet and mobile phone. Hence, this global African screen culture enables a growing glocal dialogue between the African continent and its ever- expanding diasporas.

10 September 2016

Afrika Film Festival Cologne 2016, Fokus : Sisters in African Cinema - Film Selection - DE | EN | FR

Afrika Film Festival Cologne 2016
Fokus : Sisters in African Cinema
Film Selection


Spielfilm  | Feature fiction | Long metrage

A peine j'ouvre les yeux, 102 min (2015) 
Leyla Bouzid  (Tunisia)

Aya of Youpou City, 84 min (2012)
Marguerite Abouet/Clement Oubrerie (Côte d’Ivoire/France)

Ayanda, 105 min (2015)
Sara Blecher (South Africa)

Cold Harbour, 76 min (2014)
Carey Mckenzie (South Africa)

Dis ek, Anna, 123 min (2015)
Sara Blecher (South Africa) 

Le challat de Tunis, 84 min (2013)
Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia)

Ta mere, 78 min (2015)
Touria Benzari (Morocco)

W.A.K.A, 98 min (2014)
Françoise Ellong (Cameroon)


Dokumentarfilm  | Documentary | Documentaire

Aji-bi les femmes de l'horloge, 67 min (2015)
Raja Saddiki (Morocco)

Feminists insha'allah - La révolution des femmes, un siècle de féminisme arabe, 54 min (2015)
Feriel Ben Mahmoud (Tunisia)

La souffrance est une école de sagesse, 72 min (2014)
Astrid Ariane Atodj (Cameroon)

Les gracieuses, 80 min (2014)
Fatima Sissani (France)

Les rumeurs du lac, 52 min (2015)
Wendy Bashi (République démocratique du Congo)

Patience, patience, t'iras au paradis!, 86 min (2014)
Hadja Lahbib (Belgium) 

Sisters of the Screen: African Women in Cinema, 73 min (2002)
Beti Ellerson (USA)

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, 78 min (2014)
Yaba Badoe (UK/Ghana)

Vers la tendresse, 36 min (2014)
Alice Diop (France) 


Kurzfilm  | Short fiction | Court métrage

Adam & Howa, 8 min (2015)
Sarra Idris (Sudan/USA)

Aya wal bahr, 19 min (2015) 
Maryam Touzani (Morocco)

Balance, 4 min (2010) 
Colleen Alborough (South Africa) 

Boys of Soweto, 4 min (2014)
Meja L. Shoba (South Africa) 

Gay enough, 16 min (2016)
Hawa Sanneh & Anna Fundin (Sweden)

Ishtar & Isis, 3 min (2015)
Mai Mustafa (Morocco/Mauritania)

Jin’naariya!, 12 min (2015)
Rahmatou Keita (Niger) 

Kwaku Ananse, 25 min (2013)
Akosua Adoma Owusu (Ghana/USA)

Le Park, 16 min (2014)
Randa Maroufi (Morocco)

Maman(s) 21 min (2015)
Maïmouna Doucouré (France/Senegal)

Minerva’s Lilies, 4 min (2016)
Amirah Tajdin (Kenya/South Africa) 

Nuit blanche, 13 min (2015)
Anna M’barek (Tunisia/France/Germany) 

Reluctantly Queer, 9 min (2016)
Akosua Adoma Owusu (Ghana/USA)

Sheila, 18 min (2015) 
Vicki Kisner (South Africa) 

Soeur oyo, 24 min (2014)
Monique Mbeka Phoba (Belgium/République démocratique du Congo)

Soko Sonko | The Market King, 20 min (2014)
Ekwa Msangi (USA/Kenya)

06 September 2016

Digital Lab Africa 2016 call for projects: over 500 entries from 30 countries!

PRESS RELEASE

Digital Lab Africa call for projects: over 500 entries from 30 countries!

Johannesburg, 2016-09-06

Launched on 1 June 2016 at DISCOP AFRICA Abidjan, the Digital Lab Africa call for projects closed with a bang on 31 August with 522 entries from over 30 Sub-Saharan African countries. This overwhelming response confirms Africa’s creative potential in multimedia content, and reinforces Digital Lab Africa as a springboard for African talent in this field.

In terms of numbers, South Africa and Nigeria are leading the pack with respectively 159 and 86 entries, followed by Ivory Coast (49) and Cameroon (48). In terms of categories, web creation and transmedia registered the highest number of entries (225), ahead of digital music (150), video game (82) and virtual reality (59).

The selected projects for each of the categories (3 per category) will be announced on 30 September 2016. From 2 to 4 November, the finalists will take part in a pitch competition at DISCOP AFRICA Johannesburg, partner of the DLA.

The selected projects will get a chance to win a 3,000 € cash prize and a Digital Lab Africa incubation ticket including mentorship and project development support by leading French multimedia companies (see list of partners below). Additionally, the incubation programme will comprise a 1-month residency in France within digital hubs and participation in benchmark multimedia events. The expected outcome of DLA is market ready content/productions showcasing African creativity at its best.

« We would like to thank all the applicants for submitting their projects. The incredible number and variety of entries we received is a true reflection of Africa’s creativity and potential in multimedia production and digital content » says Frédéric Chambon, DLA Director and Regional Head of Film & Media at the French Embassy in South Africa.

MORE ABOUT DIGITAL LAB AFRICA

The Digital Lab Africa is open to any professional or individual from Sub-Saharan Africa (artists, producers, startups, developers, students) having an innovative project in 4 categories of multimedia production: web creation/transmedia, virtual reality, video game (serious game) and digital music.

The objective of Digital Lab Africa is to provide a springboard for African talent in multimedia creation and to make their project happen with the support of French leading companies (studios, producers, broadcasters, distributors) such as ARTE (Transmedia), Lagardère studios (web creation), Okio-Studio (virtual reality), CCCP (video game), and 1D Touch/Believe Digital (digital music).

The DLA incubation programme also includes the following partners:
Digital hubs, residencies and labs for project incubation: Pictanovo, Cap Digital, Imaginove...

Multimedia benchmark events for project presentation, capacity building, networking and fund raising: Paris Games Week /Game connection, Virtuality, Futur en Seine, Forum Blanc...

Local partners, clusters and professional associations/forums, for local support to the DLA platform and project incubation: Make Games SA/Interactive Entertainment South Africa, Virtual Reality SA, French Tech Hub Cape Town, Tshimologong precinct...

The Digital Lab Africa is initiated by the French Embassy and the French Institute in South Africa as part of their support to the creative industries in the region, in partnership with DISCOP AFRICA and TRACE.

Contacts
Alizee Dallemagne (IFAS), DLA Project Manager/Press contact digilabafrica@gmail.com
Clara Fouilland (IFAS), DLA project coordinator: +27 (0)11 727 5124



03 September 2016

Her Africa Film Festival 2016: Film Submission Call Out – Johannesburg – (IAWRT) International Association of Women in Radio and Television South African Chapter

Her Africa Film Festival 2016:
Film Submission Call Out – Johannesburg – (IAWRT) International Association of Women in Radio and Television South African Chapter

HER AFRICA FILM FESTIVAL
28-29 OCTOBER – 2016
JOHANNESBURG

FILM SUBMISSION CALL OUT
Closing date for submission: 23 September 2016

The International Association for Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) is inviting African female filmmakers, producers, directors, writers, DOP’s, animators, in Africa and the diaspora to submit their films to HER AFRICA Film Festival.

The film festival is a celebration of the African female filmmaker and all works created during the period 2012-2016 are welcome. The content does not have to be exclusively female focused in nature. We are looking for content that is a reflection of how women engage with the medium and see the world.

The festival will be held in Johannesburg at the Bioscope 28-29 October 2016.

Filmmakers will be in attendance for the Q+A sessions and those outside Johannesburg are encouraged to apply for a scholarship to attend their own film screenings.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR:

- Feature length fiction films
- Feature length documentaries
- Animations
- Short Films
- Web Series
- Music videos

Electronic format accepted:
Hi Resolution mp4 or H.264
We transfer or Dropbox using the email: herfilmfestival@gmail.com

Hard copy format accepted:
DVD – Flash Drive

Postal Address:
ATT: Sara Chitambo
IAWRT South Africa, Block D, 257 Brooklyn Road, Brooklyn, Pretoria 0181

All queries to be made to:





27 August 2016

#DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party - 1-30 September 2016: A Conversation with Barbara Ann O’Leary

Barbara Ann O’Leary, founder of #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party discusses the objectives of the initiatives, and activities and projects that took place during the inaugural event in 2015 and throughout the year.

Barbara, could you give a background to the Directed by Women Worldwide Film Viewing Party project?

#DirectedbyWomen is an initiative that I dreamed up in 2014 to help bring joyous, loving, appreciative attention to the work of women film directors.  The vision was to have a Worldwide Film Viewing Party to galvanize attention. In September 2015 we had the first #DirectedbyWomen global party. Groups and individuals in various countries organized events from house parties, community screenings, online streaming live tweeting events, and more. Existing festivals like Portland Film Festival and Scalarama joined in, and there were even a few multi-day/multi-city festivals planned specifically as part of DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party. The hashtag #DirectedbyWomen was used via social media to help share news about what was unfolding during the 15-day celebration.

What are the objectives and projected outcomes?

The intention of the #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party is to invite film lovers to become aware of the thousands and thousands of women who have directed/are directing films, to inspire exploration and appreciation of their work, and to foster a sense of growing community among film lovers. Ultimately the intention is to help the world fall madly in love with films by women directors.

What are the dates and platform?

The #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party takes place 1-30 September 2016. It is a blend of in- person and online events. The events are organized by film lovers who hear about the celebration and choose to create events, so the party is everywhere and anywhere.

What contribution can The Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema, especially its social media networks, play in the promotion of the #DirectedbyWomen project?

I hope you'll blog and tweet out wonderful films by African women as you did last year. That was an excellent contribution to the celebration. That helped many #DirectedbyWomen party participants discover and fall in love with work by African women filmmakers. There are SO many amazing women film directors to explore. I hope we'll also be able to draw attention to your YouTube archive of interviews and other resources. It's a real treasure trove. I'm open to whatever other ideas you have. This party is designed to be non-hierarchical, so everyone is invited to celebrate in ways that resonate for them.

2015 was the inaugural year for the Directed by Women project. Talk about its successes, its overall reception and lessons learned?

When I first envisioned #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party, I saw it as a one-time thing, but before it even started people active in planning events began talking about what they'd do NEXT YEAR. It soon became clear that this had a life of its own and needed to have room to continue. The idea of the party has been to concentrate attention by holding events in various locations, organized in a Do-It-Yourself style so that the richness of what women film directors have created since the beginning of cinema history through to today could begin to reveal itself more fully. Although no one of us could participate in all the events, we were able to NOTICE the ways in which others were celebrating and there was a very palpable sense of connection across time and space. Many people commented on this.

Events were held in Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, UK, USA, and more. I'm not entirely sure where in the world Film Viewing Parties took place as not everyone was remembering to post their information on our global map. There was also a lot of activity online as people shared about their personal film viewing, blogged about women film directors, etc. I've been excited to see new initiatives and collaborations arising out of last year's Worldwide Film Viewing Party. I'd like to see even more interaction between and among people active in the celebration. Let's make it easier to share work by women directors by collaborating together.

Lessons learned?  I think I'm still processing and coming to understand the first party. I'll share a few things I personally learned.

Fifteen days wasn't enough, so this year we've spread out to celebrate during the entire month of September. It makes it easier for monthly film screenings to coordinate with #DirectedbyWomen and gives more opportunity for people to find time to create events.

People who heard about the celebration and thought, "This is AMAZING!" ran off and created incredible events - large and small. This is an initiative that seems to help activate a sense of individual freedom to take action while fostering a deepening sense of global community.

Celebration and appreciation are powerful transformative processes. Turning our attention to what we want to see flourish helps expand invigorating possibilities. I'm looking forward to continuing to invite more and more people in the global film community to turn their attention toward what they want and innovating together to help that thrive. The #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party has opened up some possibilities. Let's keep going. Everyone's welcome to co-create.

As you noted, the African Women in Cinema Blog participated by highlighting films by African women that could be accessed online. In what other ways may African women in cinema participate in the project?

Yes... I loved that. I hope you'll do that again. This year I've been offering a #VideoOfTheDay on the #DirectedbyWomen website and also sharing on social media. I'd love to include even more work by African women in that process. Please send me links!

I've also created an online database of women who have directed film: http://directedbywomen.com/en/directedby.html It's a work in progress. I'd love to include EVERY woman who has directed. Recently I've launched #DirectedbyWomen Timelines to share filmography and incorporate content from other sites around the web. My vision is to weave in interviews from African Women in Cinema and so many other places. I would love to see this resource expand during September to help make it easier for film lovers to discover women directors from all around the world.

And of course because this is a D-I-Y celebration everyone is invited to create events of their own, list them on the #DirectedbyWomen global calendar - http://directedbywomen.com/events/ - and share about them via social media. Any activities that celebrate and appreciate women directors are welcome in the global party. They don't have to be events specifically created for #DirectedbyWomen.

Future initiatives as it relates to the project?

I'm envisioning the #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party continuing each September. I'm hoping to see the database and timelines continue to expand. I'm cultivating a Conversation series feature. 
I've been celebrating birthdays of the women directors whose birthdays I know by tweeting and sharing on Facebook and Tumblr.  But that 366 Days of Birthday Celebrations is a one-year event. I've enjoyed it and it's been a privilege to honor and celebrate so many women in that way, but it's been a LOT of work, so I won't be doing that again next year.

We'll have to see what happens next. Definitely I know I will continue to bring loving attention to as many women film directors as I can on a regular basis as I think it is so important for film lovers to have the opportunity to explore and relish the work of women directors. And thank you for all the amazing work you do to help the film world awaken to and embrace the work of African women directors. The resources you share are so valuable. Your work inspires me. Thank you.


Conversation with Barbara O’Leary and Beti Ellerson, August 2016.

25 August 2016

Djia Mambu : “Black”, pourquoi Mavela et pas Loubna ? | Contradictions in the representation of Mavela and Loubna in the film “Black”

Djia Mambu : “Black”, pourquoi Mavela et pas Loubna ? | Contradictions in the representation of Mavela and Loubna in the film “Black”  

Source : Africultures, 20-10-2015. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson.  

English (Français ci-apres)

Black by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah released on Belgian screens on 11 November 2015. 
Does the black body summon violence in genre films in general, or is it only in these kinds of films?

A slap in the face. This is the experience many people felt while leaving the screening of Black, the new film by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (who directed the provocative Images in 2014) during the Belgian premier at the International Francophone Festival of Namur. It is a dramatic and daring work about the rivalry between two gangs from foreign communities, with the hectic streets of Brussels as backdrop. And, if the images reflect reality, the police are never far away, ready to disperse the crowds. A kind of West Side Story, though devoid of the music and dances often judiciously used in the American film as buffer to the momentousness of the narrative. Adapted from the novel by Dirk Bracke, the film follows a Congolese teenager in Brussels caught between her love for a young Moroccan and the gang to which she belongs.

In these squabbles, women (or rather girls) are victim-objects. In the same way as in the armed conflict in Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, known as the world capital of rape, their body is used as a weapon of war. They are insulted, abused and demeaned in each altercation, yet the encounters are essentially on masculine terrain.

If the creators chose to represent one of the most despicable experiences of one community, why then show so much restraint towards the other? The gang rape of Mavela by Notorius and his buddies, compared to the same act inflicted upon Loubna, is one example. The long cruel scene exposing aspects of the black victim in her most excruciating suffering, positions the spectator as voyeur. How can one resist? The black female body has always been the site of the gaze, while also located in a position of revulsion. Already during the époque when the colonial considered the black woman closer to an animal because of her nudity, her body was almost always described with a passionate desire in his photographs and writings, thus contributing to what now is interpreted as the erotic imaginary of Western fantasies. (1)

The aggression towards Loubna is only suggested, barely touched upon. And having survived this barbaric act, only the latter appears psychologically troubled: turning inward into herself, with moments of absence, withdrawal, to the point that she causes concern among her friends. As for Mavela, once the tears have dried, she shows up at a nightclub accompanied by her attackers. The heinous act thus seems intolerable for one but excusable for the other.

This North African restraint is inscribed in the legacy of representation between the two women. Nudity was taboo for women in the West and excluded among the Arabs. Whereas, among the “savages", it was customary to see the woman nude, even in a noble manner. Today, the Moroccan prostitute of Much Loved (Nabil Ayouch) shocks, whereas the prostitute of Morbayassa, Le Serment de Koumba (Fantamady Cheick Camara, Guinea) does not. (See Djia Mambu : A best actress award for Much Loved | Un prix d'interprétation féminine pour Much Loved – Analysis | Analyse

As it relates to the roles of women, the representations of the two communities in Black, reflect a similar treatment. First, a Maghreb women police officer never misses an opportunity to set the "cousins" on the right path with a sermon. Moreover, the young Loubna though she hangs out with a gang, still has a job as a waitress in a cafe. But what of Mavela and the other "sisters"? Not much. The heroine herself does not seem to do anything outside of her connection with the Black Bronx gang. No desire, no relationships, no job. Her friends in the gang either get pregnant or go astray. As for her unemployed single mother, she is unable to control her daughter. Between hope and despair. On the other hand, in the Matonge neighbourhood there is always the occasion to see the black girls fighting as they tear into each other’s hair. Reminiscent of Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood.

There is a similar representation in the development of the male characters. Apart from a few broken items here and stolen handbags there, the gang of Marwan are “care bears” compared to Mavela. One laughs at their practical jokes, even feeling compassion for this clique of buddies. On the contrary, the Black Bronx are extremely violent, cruel, and even bestial, appearing as animals in the gang rape scene.

In Black, which won the Discovery Award at the International Film Festival in Toronto, there is an effective style of genre cinema: accelerations and explosive action scenes, dramatic slow motion, unvarnished romantic love scene, and an energetic cast of non-professionals. Very rare for a Belgian film, the actors are almost all Black or Arab. But while it is essential to encourage diversity in film, why should violence become a representation that is difficult to detach from? Why is it necessary that when the focus is on a community of foreign origins that the violence film becomes the genre of choice, as if it were an intrinsic characteristic?

La Squale, Dealer, Banlieue 13, La Cité de Dieu, Bande de Filles, Qu'Allah bénisse la France, etc. Since Kassovitz’s La Haine until the recent Dheepan by Audiard, the list is too long.

1) "The African woman has been represented throughout the colonial occupation as the forbidden fruit of the white man (racial adultery and martial adultery) and correspondingly conveys its greatest fantasies".  La femme africaine représente en fait, tout au long de l'occupation coloniale, le fruit défendu de l'homme blanc (adultère racial et adultère martial) et véhicule parallèlement les plus gros fantasmes. (Lissia Jeurissen. Colonisation au masculin et mise en corps de la féminité noire : le cas de l'ancien Congo Belge" in FER-Ulg http://www.ferulg.ulg.ac.be/). Text in French.

Français

Black d'Adil El Arbi et Bilall Fallah sort le 11 novembre 2015 sur les écrans belges. La violence est-elle dans le film de genre une assignation du corps noir ou bien est-ce seulement dans ce genre de films ?

Une claque. C'est l'effet qu'ont eu beaucoup de gens à la sortie de la projection de BLACK, le nouveau film d'Adil El Arbi et Bilall Fallah (qui avaient réalisé le sulfureux Images en 2014) en première belge au Festival international de Film Francophone de Namur. Une œuvre saignante et osée sur les rivalités entre deux bandes issues de communautés étrangères, avec comme fond les rues mouvementées de Bruxelles où à en croire les images, la police n'est jamais bien loin pour disperser les troupes. Un genre de West Side Story, quoique dépourvu des musiques et des danses pourtant judicieusement utilisées comme distance par rapport à la gravité du récit dans le film américain. Adapté du roman éponyme de Dirk Bracke, le film, qui sort le 11 novembre sur les écrans belges, suit une adolescente congolaise à Bruxelles prise entre son amour pour un jeune marocain et le gang auquel elle appartient. LIRE l’article en intégralité sur http://www.africultures.com/php/index.php?nav=article&no=13266 


Published on the African Women in Cinema Blog in partnership with Africultures | Publié sur l'African Women in Cinema Blog en partenariat avec Africultures