‘Historicizing the Decolonizing Principle’ focuses on the need for a critical intervention into contemporary debates on African cinema, including its transnational global reality, its intersections across popular cultures, and its place within the pervasive global mediascape and networks. This symposium focuses on crucial ideas around the articulation of ‘African cinema’ and its practices, with the intent to invite new perspectives that prioritize issues pertinent to the African cultural economy and its future. The African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want is an example of a defining influence in relation to perceived futures of the cultural economy, as it provides a historically informed vision for Africa, its people and their cultures, against which to examine African cinema.

African independence, development, and sovereignty are the focal points of this discussion. Discussants will examine how Africans have been engaged in African cinema in the decades of post-independence, how they have provided new ways of experiencing the moving image while highlighting issues of Africa’s decolonization process, and the impact – nationally and globally – of African filmmaking in terms of challenging and redefining perceptions, structures, and discourses.

This symposium will provide an analysis of various approaches to African cinema and cinema in general. The parameters of theoretical and aesthetic considerations may also be explored to frame a rationale for the various perspectives on African cinema.

The films will be made available for free streaming via the Africa Institute website between 4 – 6 November. And on November 6, 2021 at 6 pm (Gulf Standard Time), professor Aboubakar Sanogo will moderate a discussion between film programmer Mahen Bonetti and film curator Keith Shiri, in which they will be exploring the theme of Historicizing the Decolonizing Principle.

 

Films

Camp Thiaroye/Camp de Thiaroye

In this semi-autobiographical film, black soldiers help to defend France, but are detained in prison camp before being repatriated home.

Director: Thierno Faty Sow and Ousmane Sembene | 157 mins | 1988

The Battle of Algiers

One of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo, vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today.

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | 120 mins | 1966

 

Moderator

Aboubakar Sanogo

Aboubakar Sanogo is an Associate Professor in Film Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He is cross-appointed with the Institute of African Studies (IAS), the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture (ICSLAC) and the Curatorial Studies Program. His research interests include African cinema, Afro-diasporic cinema, documentary film and media, transnational and world cinema, film archiving and film heritage, colonial cinema, post-colonialism, race and cinema and the relationship between film form, history and theory. His writings have appeared in Cinema Journal, Framework, Moving Image Review & Art Journal, Rethinking History, Journal of Film Preservation, Film Quarterly, Sight and Sound and Film Comment. He is currently completing two manuscripts on the history of documentary in Africa and on the cinema of Med Hondo and an anthology on the legendary director. Sanogo has also curated film programs at the Smithsonian Institution, The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Il Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival in Bologna and the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). He is the founder of the annual African Film Festival of Ottawa (AFFO), presented in partnership with the Canadian Film Institute (CFI). As the North American Regional Secretary for the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), he initiated and oversees the FEPACI Archival Project. In that capacity, he was instrumental in establishing African Film Heritage Project (AFHP), a major film preservation and restoration initiative in partnership with Martin’s Scorsese’s The Film Foundation and UNESCO.

 

Discussants

Mahen Bonetti

Mahen Bonetti was born in 1956 in Sierra Leone. Bonetti received her bachelor of arts in administrative studies at Bradford College and pursued graduate studies in media communication at New York University. She worked at Young and Rubicam and at Newsweek’s editorial and advertising division, before becoming founder and executive director of the African Film Festival Inc. in 1990. Bonetti believes that media can be used to encourage positive change in the world– not just to entertain, but also to educate.

Keith Shiri

Keith Shiri is an international film curator and program advisor to various film festivals including the BFI London Film Festival. He is an expert and consultant on film business development for the International Trade Centre (ITC), an agency of the United Nations. He is currently the Regional Secretary (Europe) for the Federation of African Filmmakers (FEPACI), a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) University of Westminster, London and the director of Books of Africa.

Further viewing

Lumumba: Death of the Prophet (Raoul Peck | 1990), Xala (Ousmane Sembène | 1975), Soliel O (Med Hondo | 1969), Sarraounia (Med Hondo | 1986), Heritage Africa (Kwaw Ansah | 1989), Camera D’Afrique  (Ferid Boughedir | 1983)

‘Historicizing the Decolonizing Principle’ focuses on the need for a critical intervention into contemporary debates on African cinema, including its transnational global reality, its intersections across popular cultures, and its place within the pervasive global mediascape and networks. This symposium focuses on crucial ideas around the articulation of ‘African cinema’ and its practices, with the intent to invite new perspectives that prioritize issues pertinent to the African cultural economy and its future. The African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want is an example of a defining influence in relation to perceived futures of the cultural economy, as it provides a historically informed vision for Africa, its people and their cultures, against which to examine African cinema.

‘Historicizing the Decolonizing Principle’ focuses on the need for a critical intervention into contemporary debates on African cinema, including its transnational global reality, its intersections across popular cultures, and its place within the pervasive global mediascape and networks. This symposium focuses on crucial ideas around the articulation of ‘African cinema’ and its practices, with the intent to invite new perspectives that prioritize issues pertinent to the African cultural economy and its future. The African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want is an example of a defining influence in relation to perceived futures of the cultural economy, as it provides a historically informed vision for Africa, its people and their cultures, against which to examine African cinema.

African independence, development, and sovereignty are the focal points of this discussion. Discussants will examine how Africans have been engaged in African cinema in the decades of post-independence, how they have provided new ways of experiencing the moving image while highlighting issues of Africa’s decolonization process, and the impact – nationally and globally – of African filmmaking in terms of challenging and redefining perceptions, structures, and discourses.

This symposium will provide an analysis of various approaches to African cinema and cinema in general. The parameters of theoretical and aesthetic considerations may also be explored to frame a rationale for the various perspectives on African cinema.

The films will be made available for free streaming via the Africa Institute website between 4 – 6 November. And on November 6, 2021 at 6 pm (Gulf Standard Time), professor Aboubakar Sanogo will moderate a discussion between film programmer Mahen Bonetti and film curator Keith Shiri, in which they will be exploring the theme of Historicizing the Decolonizing Principle.

 

Films

Camp Thiaroye/Camp de Thiaroye

In this semi-autobiographical film, black soldiers help to defend France, but are detained in prison camp before being repatriated home.

Director: Thierno Faty Sow and Ousmane Sembene | 157 mins | 1988

The Battle of Algiers

One of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo, vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today.

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | 120 mins | 1966

 

Moderator

Aboubakar Sanogo

Aboubakar Sanogo is an Associate Professor in Film Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He is cross-appointed with the Institute of African Studies (IAS), the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture (ICSLAC) and the Curatorial Studies Program. His research interests include African cinema, Afro-diasporic cinema, documentary film and media, transnational and world cinema, film archiving and film heritage, colonial cinema, post-colonialism, race and cinema and the relationship between film form, history and theory. His writings have appeared in Cinema Journal, Framework, Moving Image Review & Art Journal, Rethinking History, Journal of Film Preservation, Film Quarterly, Sight and Sound and Film Comment. He is currently completing two manuscripts on the history of documentary in Africa and on the cinema of Med Hondo and an anthology on the legendary director. Sanogo has also curated film programs at the Smithsonian Institution, The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Il Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival in Bologna and the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). He is the founder of the annual African Film Festival of Ottawa (AFFO), presented in partnership with the Canadian Film Institute (CFI). As the North American Regional Secretary for the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), he initiated and oversees the FEPACI Archival Project. In that capacity, he was instrumental in establishing African Film Heritage Project (AFHP), a major film preservation and restoration initiative in partnership with Martin’s Scorsese’s The Film Foundation and UNESCO.

 

Discussants

Mahen Bonetti

Mahen Bonetti was born in 1956 in Sierra Leone. Bonetti received her bachelor of arts in administrative studies at Bradford College and pursued graduate studies in media communication at New York University. She worked at Young and Rubicam and at Newsweek’s editorial and advertising division, before becoming founder and executive director of the African Film Festival Inc. in 1990. Bonetti believes that media can be used to encourage positive change in the world– not just to entertain, but also to educate.

Keith Shiri

Keith Shiri is an international film curator and program advisor to various film festivals including the BFI London Film Festival. He is an expert and consultant on film business development for the International Trade Centre (ITC), an agency of the United Nations. He is currently the Regional Secretary (Europe) for the Federation of African Filmmakers (FEPACI), a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) University of Westminster, London and the director of Books of Africa.

Further viewing

Lumumba: Death of the Prophet (Raoul Peck | 1990), Xala (Ousmane Sembène | 1975), Soliel O (Med Hondo | 1969), Sarraounia (Med Hondo | 1986), Heritage Africa (Kwaw Ansah | 1989), Camera D’Afrique  (Ferid Boughedir | 1983)

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