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 2014

Women's Media Center celebrates Amma Asante

Photo credit: The Guardian
The Women's Media Center celebrates Amma Asante, among other influential women, at their 2014 4th annual Women's Media Awards for the directorial excellence for her latest film Belle. See article in its entirety at Women's Media Center

British-Ghanaian Amma Asante wrote and directed the award-winning A Way of Life (2004), a tough and uncompromising film that relates, beyond issues of black and white, the complexities of race in Wales. Belle her second feature film released in 2013, a very different work, is a period piece based on a real life story of Dido Belle Lindsay, a mixed-race woman of an aristocratic family in 18th century England.

Links of interest:

29 September 2014

The Art of Ama Ata Aido documentary launching in Accra, Ghana by the African Women’s Development Fund

On 17th September, The African Women’s Development Fund launched The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, a documentary on the life and work of critically acclaimed Ghanaian author, Ama Ata Aidoo, at the British Council in Accra.

The documentary was directed and produced by Yaba Badoe and co-produced by Amina Mama for Fadoa Films. AWDF contributed 40% funding for the project with the remaining 60% accumulated through crowdsourcing on IndieGogo.

Read the article by Shakira Chambas and Sionne Neely in its entirety at

Read other relevant posts on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

27 September 2014

International Images International Film Festival for Women (IIFF) 2014 report by Oshosheni Hiveluah

International Images International Film Festival for Women (IIFF) 2014 report by Oshosheni Hiveluah. Photos : O.H.

This year’s International Images International Film Festival (IIFF) took place from the 15th until the 23rd August 2014 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Flagged under the theme “Women Alive, Women of Heart” the festival had a delightful array of films from all around the world, portraying women in front of the camera and also behind.

The festival officially kicked off with a screening at the Eastgate Mall in downtown Harare. We all anticipated the scheduled opening film Half of a Yellow Sun, which due to technical difficulties could not screen. However, the audience enjoyed Joel Karakazi’s Imbabazi (The Pardon) instead.

I got the chance to talk to filmmaker Veronique Doumbe about the importance of being able to tell our stories, the way we want to and from our perspective. “Films such as Imbabazi make you relive the pain, so we don’t have to go through the same thing”, says Veronique who is producer of the film.
Veronique Doumbe

This rings particularly true for Joel Karakazi, genocide survivor and director of the film, who was brave enough to tackle a very painful part of his life and put it onscreen: “We need to help so that it will not happen again, it’s important to respect each other; there is the enrichment you get from doing something different. I want it to be different so I can learn something and stand for something else. It’s important we don’t force, but accept our differences as that is a matter of respect.”

The festival films were screened at three different venues around the city namely Ster Kinekor at Eastgate Mall, Alliance Française and the Book Café.

In attendance were several filmmakers from across the globe such as Andrew Dosunmu, director of Mother of George. Veronique Doumbe, who produced and edited Imbabazi, was amongst the invited guests. Also present were founder and first festival director Tsitsi Dangarembga and several local filmmakers, fans of films, and government officials, all of whom came to show their support for the filmmaking industry.

Talent Fadzai Jakado
This year’s theme “Women with Heart”, for me was meant to be a reflection of the power and strength of women, no matter how subtle. I ventured to find stories of courageous women, women unafraid to tell their stories. One such story was the 23-minute documentary, A Story of Hope; A Stitch in Time (Collen Mogoboya, 2014) about a local cervical cancer survivor Talent Fadzai Jakado, which screened at the Book Café. Touching, heartfelt and personal, it is a story of hope that assures that we can rise above anything.

Camera Woman (2014) by Khadija Harrad was also a film that stood out for me. It tackled the issue of divorced women in Moroccan society, women being stereotyped because of the type of work they do. A film about women comradeship and the importance for women to support and encourage one another especially when one is down and under.

The festival also hosted a script adaptation workshop lead by British-Nigerian writer Ade Solanke. The feedback from participants was inspiring, some of which highlighted how it empowered Zimbabwean writers with new writing skills.

Images International Film Festival is growing and expanding. This year they are extending the festival to Kenya and Somalia. The festival will also screen and host workshops in November in Zimbabwe town/cities of Bulawayo, Gwanda and Binga.

The 2014 edition of the festival was entertaining and interesting and as other festival goers commented it would help the festival with a big surge of more support so more people can attend the festival and be part of this discussion. IIFF celebrates women who despite daily challenges emerge stronger.


All winning films received trophies and certificates, and some categories were awarded prize money

Walter Muparutsa Prize for The Best Film in the New Man Category
Winner: Under The Same Sun (2013) by Sameh Zoabi

A well made film that portrays men in a very positive light.  In the Israeli-Palestine conflict men have been fighting at the expense of women and children and it was good to see two men advocating for peace and working to create a safe world for their families.

Best Short Film
Winner: Strength in Fear (2012) by Ella Mutuyimana, Rwanda 

Best Documentary
Winner: Little Heaven (2011) by Lieven Corthouts, Ethiopia/ Belgium 

A humane story about children in a situation that is not of their own making. It is a story about hope and resilience that inspires empathy. It captures the festival theme “Women Alive, Women Of Heart”

Best Script
Winner: Biyi Bandele for the film Half of A Yellow Sun (2013)

Best Cinematography
Winner: Bradford Young for Mother of George (2013) by Andrew Dosunmu, USA/Nigeria

Best Actress
Winner: Sumeia Maculuva in Virgin Margarida (2012) by Licínio Azevedo, Mozambique/Portugal

Best Director
Winner: Joel Karekezi, for Imbabazi |The Pardon (2013), Rwanda

Best Depiction of a Woman Alive, Woman Of Heart
Winner: Virgin Margarida

Best Film
Winner: Virgin Margarida

Audience Prize
Winner: Half of A Yellow Sun 

Best African Film
Winner: Half of a Yellow Sun 

Winner: Virgin Margarida

Best Zimbabwean Film
Winner: Two Villages Apart (2013) by Donald Mabido

Service Award For Outstanding WFOZ Member 
Winner: Stella January

Distinguished Woman of African Cinema
Winner: Lupita Nyong’o, Kenya/USA

*The jury did not award the Best Zimbabwean Documentary and Zimbabwean Film with Best sound.

Report by Oshosheni Hiveluah, September 2014


23 September 2014

Examining the past to envision the future | Interroger le passé pour envisager le future by/par Stéphanie Dongmo on/sur Une feuille dans le vent – Leaf in the Wind by/de Jean-Marie Teno

Examining the past to envision the future |Interroger le passé pour envisager le future de/par Stéphanie Dongmo on/sur Une feuille dans le vent – Leaf in the Wind de/par Jean-Marie Teno)

SOURCE: - 2014-09-14. Article by/par Stéphanie Dongmo. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson.

Awarded first prize for documentary at the 2014 Ecrans noirs festival, A Leaf in the Wind by Jean-Marie Teno presents Ernestine Ouandie’s quest for truth, against the background of the history of the independence of Cameroon. 

"How do you expect a leaf without a stalk to live? I'm like a leaf; I need the branch to survive. When you cut the branch, the leaf will dry, the wind will blow it left, right, up, down, and the leaf will disappear one day." This sentence sums up Ernestine Ouandie’s entire existence. Throughout the film, she relates her sorrow and the perpetual quest of the father.

Born in 1961 in Nigeria, Ernestine is the daughter of Ernest Ouandié, the Cameroonian nationalist who led the UPC after the assassination of Ruben Um Nyobe in 1958 and Felix Moumie in 1960. In this 55-minute documentary, she gives herself entirely. She recounts her difficult childhood and her encounter with her father's country in 1987 after growing up in Ghana. She especially decries the veil of silence surrounding the history of Cameroon, which, for her, is an integral part of her family history. 

To date, the circumstances of the surrender of Ernest Ouandié, executed in Bafoussam in 1971, remain unclear. And there is no commemorative plaque honouring the martyrs, portrayed at the time as guerrilla fighters. Ernestine wants the truth, so she may pass it on to her children, because to project into the future, one needs to look at ones past. "It hurts to know that one must die twice. The first death, itself, is hard enough to accept. The second death, which is silence, will bring us nowhere. When history is written, the wandering souls will finally come to rest," she said. 

One morning of October 2009, Ernestine Ouandié went to join these wandering souls. At that moment, Jean-Marie Teno, who interviewed her in 2004, looks at her revelations in a new way: "I was so touched by her story. I did not know what form the film would take at that point. For a long time in the interview, she talks to me about the metaphor of the leaf but I did not understand. It is when she died that I realized that it made sense. I found in her a depth that made ​​me think that her words should be given attention.”

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, once said that "the socio-psychological effects of colonisation are far more important than the political consequences because they penetrate deep into the minds of people and take longer to eradicate." Until his death, Ernestine Ouandé carried this burden, in a country where the history of independence has always been eluded. Facing the camera, this beautiful woman, who one senses is desperately alone in her quest, demands justice for truth. Her thoughts are methodically constructed. Her voice and her eyes are full of emotion. One senses that she is close to tears, but she does not crack. 

To put his story into perspective, Jean-Marie Teno utilises archive footage to recount the struggle for independence. He thus draws a parallel between the life of Ernestine and that of "Comrade Emile," her father. The use of illustrations by Kemo Sambé assists in filling the gaps in the story, and gives the viewer a change from the focus on Ernestine's face. The film shot in English and subtitled in French, is dedicated to the children of Ernestine: Boris, Ernesto and Helen. 

Review by Stéphanie Dongmo

Excerpt about A Leaf in the Wind from a discussion with Jean-Marie Teno during a meeting with Cameroon art critics (l’Association de journalistes culturels du Cameroun), compiled by Stéphanie Dongmo. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson

My latest film, A Leaf in the Wind, is my encounter with Ernestine Ouandié. There are specific circumstances that often dictate most of the films that I make. Beginning in 2000 Ernestine tried to meet with people who had worked on colonial history, who knew a little about the history of her father. Also she and my sister had a mutual friend in Bafoussam where my mother lives and where I go often on vacation. We ended up meeting, we talked, and she had this need to talk about her father’s story and that's how the interview was done.

I was so touched by her story. I did not know what form the film would take at that point. For a long time in the interview, she talks to me about the metaphor of the leaf but I did not understand. It is when she died that I realized that it made sense. I found in her a depth that made ​​me think that her words should be given attention, everything that she said in relation to pan-Africanism, the way Cameroon was perceived by the Anglophone countries after independence. It was the moment to question all of this, as well as history.

In order to put Ernestine’s story in perspective, I needed historical markers. The archival footage of this film is drawn from d’Afrique je te plumerai (Africa I will fleece you, 1992). Ernestine had suffered from the absence of her father during her childhood. When she became a woman, she needed to know the history of her father. So I structured the film around her life, her father’s, and the history of Cameroon. To recount, from someone’s perspective, the larger history of Cameroon, those things we do not talk about. This meeting makes sense only when you have brought together all these reflections and that is why I recorded it at the same time, I had to build a story that allows people to continue to deconstruct a lot of the things that we are taught in order to lock us into a certain way of seeing and thinking.

When I arrived at Ernestine’s house, I only had the camera, a 3-hour tape, and no tripod. There was not enough light in the living room to do the interview so I decided to do it outside. We sat on the porch as if having a conversation. The shot was fairly wide, as I did not want a close-up since I knew that what she was going to tell me was not easy, I put the camera on my lap. I started in French and then realised she was searching for words. After an hour we conversed in English where she felt more at ease and then she really began telling her story.

When you have an interview with someone who has constructed a thought that develops over time, it is not easy to stop her. First, she is a woman who is beautiful, who is a pleasure to look at, and at the same time, there is all this pain that is confined inside. When I showed the film in Europe, many people came out of the theatre with tears in their eyes. We see someone with so much strength who then leaves, and at the same time she is given homage without being judged. Someone talks for 30-35 minutes, we listen to her words, and in these words are her experience. This emotional weight I put in context with the story of her father; something we do not often see in documentaries. 

Speaking to liberate

A film only allows people to begin to search, to talk. We must speak in order to free those who are in pain, one must not be afraid of these words. A history is told from a lot of different perspectives. How each person perceives the same events is interesting to analyse: to know why there was conflict and how we go forward in relationship to this history, to allow us to go beyond it. This work is necessary; otherwise we will continue to have resentment and suffering. And that is why Nkrumah said that the psychological effects of colonialism are much longer and difficult to eradicate than the political and economic consequences. 


When I make films, I expect some knocks; but there are those blows that are very painful because they come from where one least expects them. The work I did for Ernestine, her family, her children, for me it was a commitment to the continuation of what I do, and it is very difficult to see people come up to me thinking it is a film that I made for my own benefit from the hardship of someone else. If I wanted to get rich, I would be doing a different kind of cinema and not this. I think the work I do, as do many researchers and historians, is not always recognized for its fair value. 

It did not go over very well with some members Ernestine's family. I do not hold that against them, I know that human nature is what it is, but I'm here, I'm going to cope. I was touched by the reaction of the children of Ernestine; that is sufficient. The film has not been shown much. Its first showing was on 18 March 2014 at the time of the premiere. An attorney for Ernestine’s family wanted to ban the film.

I wanted to show the film in Cameroon. People were disturbed at the beginning and ended up being captivated by it. I am very interested in how people perceive the film here; I always try to put myself on that level.

22 September 2014

Nadine Otsobogo: “The public is shy about themes on the environment" | « Le public est timide à la thématique de l’environnement ». Interview by/par Stéphanie Dongmo

SOURCE: - 2014-09-15. Interview by/par Stéphanie Dongmo. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson.

Nadine Otsobogo, the General Delegate of the Masuku Nature and Environment Film Festival reflects on the second edition which was held from 13-17 August 2014 in Franceville, Gabon. The only prize of this festival, the Audience Award, was conferred to the short film Siggil by Rémi Mazet (20 min, 2010). 

What is your assessment of this second edition of the Masuku Film Festival? 

Responses were fairly positive, since at the 1st edition there were not as many films, nor as much hype around the festival. The patron last year, the Senegalese environment minister, could not attend the event. This year’s patron was present, she pushed us further. She enjoyed the films, the initiative. Volunteers travelled from Libreville to support us. There is room for improvement of course, but overall it was genuinely positive. I say a big bravo to everyone on the organising committee of the festival. 

Why the choice of Danny Sarazin, the director of International Festival of Wildlife and Environmental Film in Morocco to be the patron of this edition?

I wanted a woman in the mould of Kenyan Wangari Muta Maathai who could accompany us and hammer home the message about environmental protection. I searched on Google and Danny Sarazin’s name kept coming up, her profile interested me because she has been organising a festival on environmental problems in Morocco and the world for the past 20 years so she has seen a lot of things. I thought that if she could past along to us her experiences during these 20 years that it would definitely benefit us. I sent an email as one sends a bottle in the sea. My email had gone by the wayside, but she responded three months later. She was just perfect and that gave us a boost!

Some of the guests who were originally announced did not show up. What happened? 

We had not taken into consideration the administrative aspect, basically. Some people did not have the necessary time to obtain visas; the deadline was too tight. This is the case of Tunisian Habib Ayeb who had to withdraw while at the same time encouraging us. In the first edition, there were no international guests. This was the first time we had to deal with this situation. 

You devoted a “carte blanche” to the French director Jean-Claude Cheyssial. The five documentaries he made ​​on Gabonese spirituality were screened. What motivated you to choose him? 

Jean-Claude Cheyssial has made many films on Gabon. It was important to give a “carte blanche” to a person familiar with Gabon and who came back to give whatever he had received. I thought it would be perfect to give Jean-Claude Cheyssial the opportunity to present his films, to recount his experience as an anthropologist, filmmaker. This could be enriching for us, the Gabonese public, and for the international festivalgoers. Unfortunately, he was not able to come. I hope he can be here for the next edition. The festivalgoers loved his films.

Unlike the first edition, this year you made a call for films. How many did you receive? 

We received thirty films, 18 were selected, in addition to those of Jean-Claude Cheyssial. All of the films selected could not be screened due to the unforeseen limitation of screening venues in the city. 

A film market was planned, as well as workshops and meetings. Why were they cancelled? 

There was a workshop in fact, hosted by François Ako, organized in partnership with the Gabonese Institute of Image and Sound. We realized that it was a bit early to launch the film market, it had been planned first for Gabonese directors, but they withdrew at the last moment, even though they had agreed in principle to the idea. 

What do you plan to do, in fact, to win the confidence of Gabonese film professionals who seem to snub this festival? 

Snub is a big word! At present, I think they do not see where they fit in. There is widespread suspicion of what is new, and we do not have to win over these people. “Culture for everyone” is the objective of our association. And the environment is everyone's business. 

What were some of the difficulties of this edition? 

We had a lot fewer partners than last year. Some roused after the event, better late than never, is it not? This year where it was held, in Franceville, in August, there were at least three screening events organized by other organisations, which we had not expected. It was quite complicated to manage. It's good that there are several festivals or parades in Gabon but what is unfortunate is that in a city like Franceville, that there are several screenings during the same period. These associations did not coordinate their events with ours.

We are not competing; our objective is that the public can enjoy films and that in the end cinema houses are opened. We encourage people to come together to offer the best of Gabonese and international culture since we have the same goal, and not to disperse, having several festivals and multiple screenings in the same country, the same city, during the same period. We need to be logical.

The audience remained rather cautious, how do you intend to garner interest for future editions? 

The public is shy about themes on the environment, I think. But you noticed that when we screened the films of Jean Claude Cheyssial, the public was quite interested; because they were filmed in Gabon, undoubtedly. So we will review our program and with the guidance of Danny Sarazin, our patron, we will increase the environmental initiatives throughout the year.

Is it more difficult to organize a festival dedicated to the environment than a general festival? 

Absolutely. Already, a festival is not a small matter, but on top of it, to have a theme, it's not easy. This is the second edition, but I'm surrounded by a good team. It's very hard, I have learned that sometimes people are full of talk, they promise a lot and in the end, nothing. This festival is like a small niche; but the environment, for me, this is our daily life. It is much healthier to talk about everyday life, what we live on a daily basis. Gabon, Africa, the world, is a beautiful environment that must be protected, and our awareness comes through the image. One gets the impression that it is minute but it is vast. 

In two years, do you feel that this festival has helped raise awareness of the need to protect the environment? 

This year, we were besieged by other images, while the films that we show do not necessarily attract a large public. It will take time, but people are not stupid. I know that little by little, people will appreciate it and understand. At some point, they will say: we want something else, a healthy environment, a clean city, protected forests. I am convinced of that. 

What can we expect now for the next year’s 3rd edition of the festival? 

Already, the filmmakers who were not able to attend will be invited back. The films that were not screened will be re-programmed. This festival is like a baby. Next year it will be 3 years old, it will, hopefully, stand up and walk. 

Interview with Nadine Otsobogo by Stephanie Dongmo, originally published September 14, 2014.

Read also on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

21 September 2014

"Under and through the celluloid ceiling", a review by Sophie Mayer

"Under and through the celluloid ceiling", a review by Sophie Mayer

Women filmmakers, past and present, have been the subject of recuperative catalogues since the 1970s, and Celluloid Ceiling is a new entry into this heroic history of rediscovery and advocacy.

Sophie Mayer reviews the recent publication "Celluloid Ceiling: Women Film Directors Breaking Through", edited by Gabrielle Kelly and Cheryl Robson.

IN: The F Word, Contemporary UK Feminism

10 September 2014

Jessie Chisi talks about "Between Rings: The Esther Phiri Story" and her hopes for Zambian cinema

Jessie Chisi, who lives and works between Zambia and Finland, and is founder and director of the Zambia Short Film Festival, has recently completed the feature documentary, Between Rings: The Esther Phiri Story. She relates about her evolution and experiences in cinema.

Jessie what were your experiences with cinema while growing up in Zambia?

When I was growing up, cinema was like a luxury or fantasy, going there because it was a holiday or a special event in the family or as a reward for passing your exams.  Most of my childhood cinema memories were going to outdoor screenings that were set either in halls or under a plastic stall. I would often use money to pay for the entrance fee rather than for lunch. The films were always projected from a small screen but for me it was phenomenal, that excited me. I watched films such as Lion King, Chaplin and Good Fellas. One of the films that really left an impact on me was the South African apartheid story, Sarafina and stories like Shaka Zulu. I could relate to the pains and agonies of the people. Those stories were always with me. 

You are an emerging filmmaker, what inspired you to want to make films and what has been your learning process, training?

I started writing stories when I was twelve years old. In school I always did well in literature and storytelling, those subjects were my comfort zone; I would shine with them. But what inspired me to be a filmmaker was the fact that no one believed me and I wanted to prove them wrong. Everyone thought that I was a dreamer--filmmaking was a very lonely path for me. Who talks about being a film director at the age of sixteen, and breaths and thinks cinema in a country where at that time the industry was non-existence, barely starting? 

However I began the quest. I met the necessary people who inspired me. People like Cathrine Kaseketi who trained me for a long period; and also Sakafunya Chinyinka who was my mentor; he made me believe in myself. Filmmaking has been a process of inquiring, discovering, experiencing, developing and having fun. I started out as a continuity supervisor, which allowed me to grow, and it opened my eyes since I was constantly working close to the director on any given project. I worked on Karl Francis’ Hope Eternal as continuity supervisor, Cathrine Kaseketi’s Suwi, and Zambian Kitchen Party. As I was looking within to discover myself, I served under people who inspired and challenged me. To think ten years ago that I would have a film that is screened in a festival—it was a far-fetched dream.

You attended the Durban Talent Campus in 2009, what was that experience like?

This was an awesome experience. Actually it was from Durban that I really started believing in myself. I pitched a film for the first time and I made a very good impression. Though it was a project that I never got to make, in Durban I was able to meet talented people and well-established filmmakers, which was a breath of fresh air. I was very motivated, and from Durban I never looked back. I was very young then, outgoing and extremely ambitious, never believing in failure. Then in 2010 I was accepted at the Berlinale Talent Campus.

What did the Berlinale Talent Campus entail and what did you get from the experience?

It is a very competitive campus and I was selected with my project, Woman on Hold. It was among the 12 selected projects from over a thousand applicants.  At the Berlinale my project got the best pitch review and for the most promising film. I was more than humbled and I knew from then on that my journey to real professional filmmaking had begun. Being young, African and a woman, this industry is tough. I had to brace myself for challenges because I knew it would not get any easier; but I remained persistent, focused and consistent. Art is about consistency and managing your inner desires. In addition, while there I learned how the international markets work, and the question I always ask is “where is Africa in this? Can African cinema fit in? Can women filmmakers fit in? And my answer was yes. The world is slowly changing and it is embracing diversity: I strive to take my stories across the globe. So the experience for me in the campus was all about acquiring knowledge, networking and making lasting experiences. 

Your film Between Rings co-directed with Salla Sorri is about your cousin who is a champion female boxer. Did you decide to focus on her in order to follow her training and progress leading up to the 2012 Olympics?

Time flies, and the film has changed a lot. Originally called Woman on hold, the film is now titled Between Rings: The Esther Phiri Story. It is a story about my cousin Esther Phiri, the first-ever Zambian female boxer who was torn between marriage and career because she could not have both worlds as one conflicted with the other. Again those kinds of situations disturb me, first as a human being and second as a woman. I was intrigued and started asking questions like "why shouldn’t she be able to if she loves it?"

Esther’s story is one of a woman who always puts her life on hold to achieve the other thing and always remains empty within herself. She gives up her love for boxing and gives up boxing for her independence. 

You are now living in Finland, working there in film and visual media. What have been your experiences? 

I actually have lived for the past 5 years 50% of the time in Zambia and 50% in Finland. My experience of having a torn life in two different countries has made me more aware of who I am as an artist. I went to Finland to train in filmmaking on a scholarship organized for local Zambian filmmakers. During my training there I made a 22-minute short called Every woman knows. Oh, please don’t ask me, “why another woman story”. I am always around women who protest that women should tell their own stories. This movie was more of my discovery stage. The following year I directed Goodbye, about a woman dying of cancer and her son is waiting to say goodbye and she wants lip gross because her lips are dry, however, the son misses the moment to say good bye but he puts the gloss on her lips anyway. Unborn is a story about a woman who has to make a very critical decision in her life. Between keeping her newly-promoted career or her unborn child. I am actually releasing a second version of a similar situation but this time to be set in Zambia. I am always fascinated about women and their decision-making; how we always have to give up one thing in order to have something else.

What has been the reactions of the Finnish public to your work?

Most of the Finnish who see my short films say that I have a melancholic Finnish way of storytelling. I suppose it is because I now know the culture there. I have studied the people. I have connected with Euphoria Boralise, a Finnish film association with whom I have been doing projects. To me, Finland is a good place to write and to be inside oneself as an artist. The film industry is small, but it is big compared to Zambia.

You are founder and director of the Zambia Short Fest, which is a visible part of the Zambian cinemascape.

The project was born from the fact that Zambia has no film school, yet there is a lot of talent. The Zambia Short Fest wants to encourage rising talents and filmmakers to use short films as their school. We showcase shorts of 15 minutes or less. 2014 is our second edition and we are going to screen 60 films, sixty percent of which are Zambian films and 40% international. There is a three-week intensive film-training workshop prior to the film festival where 24 young Zambians are enrolled. The training is in co-operation with Euphoria Borealis and is funded by the Finnish film foreign ministry.

A Zambian cinema culture is emerging as a result of talented filmmakers like yourself. You have already created the Zambia Short Fest, how else would you like to contribute to its growth and success?

I love Zambia. Zambia has untapped stories and talents and I want to explore that. I have just finished making my first feature-length documentary and I am excited especially to see and hear what Zambian thinks about it. I want to see where this boxer’s story leads me. I am working with an amazing woman, Victoria Thomas who has been a great pillar. She is in charge of African and world distribution of the film. 

Interview with Jessie Chisi by Beti Ellerson, September 2014.

Links of interest:

Wanjiku wa Ngugi talks about the Helsinki African Film Festival