Film Screening + Talk

Manthia Diawara, Film Program

Tuesday, July 28 – Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Africa Institute (Sharjah, UAE), in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah, UAE) and the Royal College of Art (London, UK) are organizing a screening program focusing on three films by the acclaimed Malian-American professor and filmmaker Manthia Diawara. The screenings will conclude with a webinar featuring the filmmaker.

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The program will include three of Diawara’s films; An Opera of the World (2017), Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation (2009) and Négritude: A conversation between Senghor and Wole Soyinka (2015). The films will be made available for audiences as free livestream for three days via The Africa Institute website starting Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The webinar, which is scheduled for Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 8:00PM (GST) will host Manthia Diawara in a conversation moderated by Hoor Al-Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute, with Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Art Critic and Founder of SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, and Jihan El-Tahri, Writer and Filmmaker.

This program of screening is driven by the educational mission of the collaborating institutions as a contribution to the understanding, through film and art, of the recent protest movement across the globe against anti-black racism. It also explores the African and Black intellectual traditions through the contributions of specific figures to critical theory and the humanities, such as Édouard Glissant, Leopold Cedar Senghor, and Wole Soyinka as in the case of Manthia Diawara’s selected films.

(Available for free streaming from Tuesday, July 28 – Thursday, July 30)

1. An Opera of the World


The centerpiece of Manthia Diawara's An Opera of the World is a staging of Wasis Diop’s Bintu Were, A Sahel Opera, filmed on location in Bamako, Mail in 2007– a pioneering work telling the story of migration from West Africa to Europe by combining traditional Malian music with the structure of the Western operatic art form.

Diawara’s film serves as a mirror to build an aesthetic and reflexive story, through song and dance, about the current and yet timeless drama of migration between North and South, and the ongoing refugee crises. The film ponders on the realities of cultural encounters through the concepts of métissage and hybridity. The success and limits of fusing African and European perspectives are tested by interlacing performances from the Bintou Were opera, past and present archival footage of migrations, classic European arias, and interviews with European and African intellectuals, artists and social activists – including Alexander Kluge, Fatou Diome, Nicole Lapierre and Richard Sennett.

Director: Manthia Diawara
70 minutes
English and French with English and Arabic subtitles

2. Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation


This film chronicles a 2009 series of interviews between the scholar and filmmaker Manthia Diawara and the Martinican author, literary theorist, and philosopher Édouard Glissant. Diawara conducts their conversations on the Queen Mary II in a cross-Atlantic journey from Southampton (U.K.) to Brooklyn (New York) as well as on the island of Martinique. During the discussions, Glissant explores his theoretical and philosophical trajectories, particularly his “theory of relation” which produced the concept of “Tout-monde” and was the genesis of his later work.

Director: Manthia Diawara
48 minutes
French with English and Arabic subtitles

3. Négritude: A conversation between Senghor and Wole Soyinka


This imagined dialogue between Léopold Sédar Senghor, one of the founding fathers of Négritude, and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka was reconstructed almost entirely from archival materials. It probes the relevance of the concept of Négritude against the views of its many critics, not only to the decolonization and independence movements of the 1950s and 1960s but also to an understanding of the contemporary artistic and political scenes of nationalism, religious intolerance, multiculturalism, the exodus of Africans and other populations from the South, and xenophobic immigration policies in the West.

Director: Manthia Diawara
59 minutes
French and English with English and Arabic subtitles

Manthia Diawara

Manthia Diawara was born in Mali, West Africa. He holds the title of University Professor of the Humanities and Arts at New York University, US. Manthia Diawara is a prolific writer and filmmaker. His essays on art, cinema and politics have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, LA Times, Libération, Mediapart and Artforum. He is the author of two acclaimed memoirs : In Search of Africa (Harvard University Press, 2000) and We Won’t Budge: An African in the World (Basic Books, 2008). He has published several books on African and African-American cinema. Diawara’s notable films include: An Opera of the World (2017), Négritude: A Dialogue between Soyinka and Senghor (2016), Édouard Glissant, One World in Relation (2010), Maison Tropicale (2008) and Rouch In Reverse (1995).

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