This symposium will examine the ideas that led to the emergence of ‘African cinema’. Acknowledging that ‘African cinema’ offered itself for critical global recognition in relation to issues of cultural identity, national independence movements, and Pan-African solidarity,  the discussants will be encouraged to consider the declarations, articulations, and the work of those referred to as the ‘pioneers of African cinema’. These parameters will also be considered in the context of contemporary debates around filmmaking in Africa and the African diaspora; and in relation to current perspectives on cinema that incorporate concepts such as ‘Black Africa’, ‘Africa North of the Sahara’, Afrofuturism, Afrosurrealism, and the meaning of cinema in the twenty-first century. The films will be made available for audiences as free streaming, via the Africa Institute website, between 21 – 23 October, 2021.


Talk

 

Films

Afrique sur Seine

One of the first short features produced by Africans, Afrique sur Seine was filmed in Paris in 1955, and has been called the launching point of African cinema. Questions focused on Africa are posed by a generation of artists and students, in search of cultural understanding.

Directors: Jacques Mélo Kane, Mamadou Sarr and Paulin Soumanou Vieyra | France | 21 minutes | 1955 | French with English subtitles

Le Retour d’un aventurier/The Adventurer’s Return

Returning from the United States to his village in Niger, a man brings western outfits to his close friends, who begin to identify with the image of a western cowboy.

Director: Moustapha Allasanne | 34 minutes | 1966 | French with English subtitles

Al-ard/The Land

Youssef Chahine’s adaptation of Marxist writer Abd al-Rahman al-Sharqawi’s 1953 novel, set in the 1930s, is an epic chronicle of life in a rural Egyptian village. A small peasant village’s struggles against the careless inroads of the large local landowner, The Land shows why political oppression does not necessarily lead to a sense of solidarity among the disinherited.

Director: Youssef Chahine | 130 minutes | 1970

Moderator

Gaston Kaboré was scheduled to moderate the webinar, but due to last minute changes, the webinar was moderated by Imruh Bakari. Bakari is a filmmaker, writer and creative industries consultant. He studied at Bradford College of Art, and is a graduate of the National Film & Television School, Beaconsfield. He also completed postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He teaches Film Studies and Film Production programs at the University of Winchester in the UK. His professional work includes a number of film and television credits, which include Riots and Rumours of Riots, Street Warriors, The Mark of the Hand, Blue Notes and Exiled Voices and African Tales.

Special guest film director Gaston Kaboré attended the webinar; Kaboré’s films include Wend Kuuni (God’s Gift – 1982)Boko (1988), and Rabi (1992). Gaston Kaboré is also the founder of IMAGINE, a film training center in Ouagadougou that offers residencies and workshops for African artists.

Discussants

Mamadou Diouf

Mamadou Diouf teaches African Studies and History at Columbia University in the School of Arts and Science. He is Leitner Family Professor of African Studies (Middle Eastern, Southern Asian and African Studies Department) and History (History Department). He previously served at the University of Michigan (2000-2007), CODESRIA, and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. His more recent publications include the following edited books: Deborder la Négritude. Arts, Politique et Sociétiés à Dakar (with Maureen Murphy, 2020), The Arts of Citizenship in Africa. Spaces of Belonging (with R. Fredericks, 2015), Les Arts de la Citoyenneté au Sénégal. Espaces Contestés et Civilités Urbaines (with F. Fredericks, 2013) and Tolerance, Democracy and the Sufis in Senegal (2013). Diouf is currently preparing the forthcoming exhibition, “Léopold Sédar Senghor and the Reinvention of the Universal” with Sarah Frioux-Salgas and Sarah Lignier for the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris (2023). Since 2011, Diouf has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council, and has chaired its Executive Committee since 2020. He is also the chair of the Scientific Board of the Réseau Français des Instituts d’Études Avancées.

Lindiwe Dovey

Lindiwe Dovey is Professor of Film and Screen Studies at SOAS University of London, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. From 2019-2024 she is Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded project African Screen Worlds: Decolonising Film and Screen Studies project, which has brought together an international team, partners and participants to try to make Screen Studies and the film industry more globally representative and equitable by centring African filmmaking, and through creative, scholarly, and activist work. Originally from South Africa, Lindiwe has authored two acclaimed books and many articles on African filmmaking, and also co-founded, and has directed and curated, two of the most important African film festivals in the UK: Film Africa and the Cambridge African Film Festival. She holds a BA in film production and theory from Harvard University, and a PhD in African film and literature from the University of Cambridge.

 

Further viewing:

The Africa Institute and the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive recommend watching these other films for further explorations on the theme.

Black Girl/La Noire De (Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror, 1972)

Cairo Station (Youssef Chahine, 1958)

This symposium will examine the ideas that led to the emergence of ‘African cinema’. Acknowledging that ‘African cinema’ offered itself for critical global recognition in relation to issues of cultural identity, national independence movements, and Pan-African solidarity,  the discussants will be encouraged to consider the declarations, articulations, and the work of those referred to as the ‘pioneers of African cinema’. These parameters will also be considered in the context of contemporary debates around filmmaking in Africa and the African diaspora; and in relation to current perspectives on cinema that incorporate concepts such as ‘Black Africa’, ‘Africa North of the Sahara’, Afrofuturism, Afrosurrealism, and the meaning of cinema in the twenty-first century. The films will be made available for audiences as free streaming, via the Africa Institute website, between 21 – 23 October, 2021.

This symposium will examine the ideas that led to the emergence of ‘African cinema’. Acknowledging that ‘African cinema’ offered itself for critical global recognition in relation to issues of cultural identity, national independence movements, and Pan-African solidarity,  the discussants will be encouraged to consider the declarations, articulations, and the work of those referred to as the ‘pioneers of African cinema’. These parameters will also be considered in the context of contemporary debates around filmmaking in Africa and the African diaspora; and in relation to current perspectives on cinema that incorporate concepts such as ‘Black Africa’, ‘Africa North of the Sahara’, Afrofuturism, Afrosurrealism, and the meaning of cinema in the twenty-first century. The films will be made available for audiences as free streaming, via the Africa Institute website, between 21 – 23 October, 2021.


Talk

 

Films

Afrique sur Seine

One of the first short features produced by Africans, Afrique sur Seine was filmed in Paris in 1955, and has been called the launching point of African cinema. Questions focused on Africa are posed by a generation of artists and students, in search of cultural understanding.

Directors: Jacques Mélo Kane, Mamadou Sarr and Paulin Soumanou Vieyra | France | 21 minutes | 1955 | French with English subtitles

Le Retour d’un aventurier/The Adventurer’s Return

Returning from the United States to his village in Niger, a man brings western outfits to his close friends, who begin to identify with the image of a western cowboy.

Director: Moustapha Allasanne | 34 minutes | 1966 | French with English subtitles

Al-ard/The Land

Youssef Chahine’s adaptation of Marxist writer Abd al-Rahman al-Sharqawi’s 1953 novel, set in the 1930s, is an epic chronicle of life in a rural Egyptian village. A small peasant village’s struggles against the careless inroads of the large local landowner, The Land shows why political oppression does not necessarily lead to a sense of solidarity among the disinherited.

Director: Youssef Chahine | 130 minutes | 1970

Moderator

Gaston Kaboré was scheduled to moderate the webinar, but due to last minute changes, the webinar was moderated by Imruh Bakari. Bakari is a filmmaker, writer and creative industries consultant. He studied at Bradford College of Art, and is a graduate of the National Film & Television School, Beaconsfield. He also completed postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He teaches Film Studies and Film Production programs at the University of Winchester in the UK. His professional work includes a number of film and television credits, which include Riots and Rumours of Riots, Street Warriors, The Mark of the Hand, Blue Notes and Exiled Voices and African Tales.

Special guest film director Gaston Kaboré attended the webinar; Kaboré’s films include Wend Kuuni (God’s Gift – 1982)Boko (1988), and Rabi (1992). Gaston Kaboré is also the founder of IMAGINE, a film training center in Ouagadougou that offers residencies and workshops for African artists.

Discussants

Mamadou Diouf

Mamadou Diouf teaches African Studies and History at Columbia University in the School of Arts and Science. He is Leitner Family Professor of African Studies (Middle Eastern, Southern Asian and African Studies Department) and History (History Department). He previously served at the University of Michigan (2000-2007), CODESRIA, and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. His more recent publications include the following edited books: Deborder la Négritude. Arts, Politique et Sociétiés à Dakar (with Maureen Murphy, 2020), The Arts of Citizenship in Africa. Spaces of Belonging (with R. Fredericks, 2015), Les Arts de la Citoyenneté au Sénégal. Espaces Contestés et Civilités Urbaines (with F. Fredericks, 2013) and Tolerance, Democracy and the Sufis in Senegal (2013). Diouf is currently preparing the forthcoming exhibition, “Léopold Sédar Senghor and the Reinvention of the Universal” with Sarah Frioux-Salgas and Sarah Lignier for the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris (2023). Since 2011, Diouf has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council, and has chaired its Executive Committee since 2020. He is also the chair of the Scientific Board of the Réseau Français des Instituts d’Études Avancées.

Lindiwe Dovey

Lindiwe Dovey is Professor of Film and Screen Studies at SOAS University of London, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. From 2019-2024 she is Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded project African Screen Worlds: Decolonising Film and Screen Studies project, which has brought together an international team, partners and participants to try to make Screen Studies and the film industry more globally representative and equitable by centring African filmmaking, and through creative, scholarly, and activist work. Originally from South Africa, Lindiwe has authored two acclaimed books and many articles on African filmmaking, and also co-founded, and has directed and curated, two of the most important African film festivals in the UK: Film Africa and the Cambridge African Film Festival. She holds a BA in film production and theory from Harvard University, and a PhD in African film and literature from the University of Cambridge.

 

Further viewing:

The Africa Institute and the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive recommend watching these other films for further explorations on the theme.

Black Girl/La Noire De (Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror, 1972)

Cairo Station (Youssef Chahine, 1958)

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