African cinema

African cinema

The term African cinema usually refers to the film production in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa Fact|date=January 2008following formal independence, which for many countries happened in the 1960s. Some of the countries which belong geographically to Africa (Egypt, for example) had developed a national film industry much earlier. Often, "African Cinema" also includes African directors living in the diaspora.


Film during the colonial era

During the colonial era, Africa was represented in cinema by Western filmmakers. The continent was represented as being without history or culture. Examples of cinema about Africa shot during the colonial era include jungle epics such as Tarzan and The African Queen, and various adaptations of H. Rider Haggard's 1885 novel titled King Solomon's Mines.cite journal | author=Murphy, David| title=Africans Filming Africa: Questioning Theories of an Authentic African Cinema| journal=Journal of African Cultural Studies| year=2000| volume=13| issue=2| url=| pages=239–249| doi=10.1080/713674315] As with many African writers, for example Chinua Achebe, repudiating stereotypes and images about Africa and Africans was an important motivation for many African film makers.

In the French colonies, filmmaking was formally forbidden to Africans. The first francophone African film, "L’Afrique sur Seine" by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, was actually shot in Paris in 1955.

Before independence, only a few anti-colonial films were produced. Examples of this include "Les statues meurent aussi" by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais about European robbery of African art (which was banned by the French for 10 years), or "Afrique 50" by René Vauthier about anti-colonial riots in Cote D'Ivoire and in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso).

Many of the ethnographic films produced in the colonial era by Jean Rouch and others were rejected by African film makers because in their view they distorted African realities.

1960s and 70s

The first African film to win international recognition was Ousmane Sembène's "La Noire de..." also known as "Black Girl". It showed the despair of an African woman who has to work as a maid in France. The writer Sembène had turned to cinema to reach a wider audience. He is still considered to be the 'father' of African Cinema. Sembène's native country Senegal continued to be the most important place of African film production for more than a decade.

With the of the African film festival FESPACO in Burkina Faso in 1969, African film created its own forum. FESPACO now takes place every two years in alternation with the film festival Carthago in (Tunisia).

The Federation of African Filmmakers (FEPACI) was formed in 1969 in order to focus attention on the promotion of African film industries in terms of production, distribution and exhibition. From its inception, FEPACI was seen as a critical partner organization to the OAU, now the AU. FEPACI looks at the role of film in the politico-economic and cultural development of African states and the continent as a whole.

Med Hondo's "O soleil O", shot in 1969, was immediately recognized. Politically not less engaged then Sembène, he chose a more controversial filmic language to show what it means to be a stranger in France with the 'wrong' skin colour.

Djibril Diop Mambéty's sophisticated comedy "Touki-Bouki" (1973), about a young couple in Dakar who want to make a trip to Paris at all costs, is still considered one of the best African films ever made.

1980s and beyond

Souleymane Cissé's "Yeelen" (Mali 1987) and Cheick Oumar Sissoko's "Guimba" (Mali 1995) were well received in the west. Some critics criticized the filmmakers for adapting to the exotic tastes of western audiences

Many films of the 1990s, e.g. "Quartier Mozart" by Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon 1992), are situated in the globalized African metropolis.

A first African Film Summit took place in South Africa in 2006. It was followed by FEPACI 9th Congress.

Production and reception

African film makers often have difficulty accessing African audiences. The commercial cinemas in Africa often have to book blindly and show primarily Hollywood or Bollywood films. However, there are still limited venues where African audiences have access to African films, e.g. at the Panafrican film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Most African filmmakers still rely heavily on European institutions for financing and producing their films. A commercially viable video production has been set up in Nigeria, colloquially known as Nollywood.


The political approach of African film makers is clearly evident in the Charte du cinéaste africain (Charta of the African cinéaste) which the union of African film makers FEPACI adopted in Algiers in 1975.

The filmmakers start by recalling the neocolonial condition of African societies. "The situation contemporary African societies live in is one in which they are dominated on several levels: politically, economically and culturally."Fact|date=July 2008 African filmmakers stressed their solidarity with progressive filmmakers in other parts of the world. African cinema is often seen a part of Third Cinema.

In the words of Souleymane Cissé: "African filmmakers' first task is to show that people here are human beings and to help people discover the African values that can be of service to others. The following generation will branch out into other aspects of film. Our duty is to make people understand that white people have lied through their images." (Thackway, p. 39)

Some African filmmakers, e.g. Ousmane Sembène, try to give back African history to African people by remembering the resistance to European and Islamic domination.

The role of the African filmmaker is often compared to traditional Griots. Like them their task is to express and reflect communal experiences. Patterns of African oral literature often recur in African films. African film has also been influenced by traditions from other continents such as Italian neorealism, Brazilian Cinema Novo and the theatre of Bertolt Brecht.

Women directors

Ethnologist and filmmaker Safi Faye was the first African women film director to gain international recognition.

In 1972, Sarah Maldoror had shot her film "Sambizanga" about the 1961-1974 war in Angola. Surviving African women of this war are the subject of the Documentary "Les oubliées" (The forgotten), made by Anne-Laure Folly two hundred and twenty years later.

Directors by country

*Angola: Sarah Maldoror, Zeze Gamboa
*Benin: Jean Odoutan, Idrissou Mora Kpai
*Burkina Faso: Idrissa Ouedraogo, Gaston Kaboré, Dani Kouyaté, Fanta Régina Nacro, Apolline Traore, Orissa Touré, Pierre Yameogo, Sanou Kollo, Pierre Ruamba
*Cameroon: Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Bassek Ba Kobhio, Jean-Pierre Dikongue, Jean-Marie Teno, François Woukoache
*Cape Verde: Fernando Vendrell, Francisco Manso
*Central African Republic: Didier Ouenangare
*Chad: Issa Serge Coelo, Mahamat Saleh Haroun
*Côte d'Ivoire: Desiré Ecaré, Fadika Kramo Lancine, Roger Gnoan M'Bala, Jacques Trabi
*Democratic Republic of Congo: Mweze Ngangura, Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, Joseph Kumbela, Zeka Laplaine
*Egypt: Salah Abu Seif, Youssef Chahine, Yousry Nasrallah, Ezzel Dine Zulficar, Sherif Arafa, Tarek Al Erian, Atef El Tayeb, Khaled Youssef, Ali Badrakhan, Dawood Abdel Said, Magdy Ahmed Ali, Marwan Hamed, Amr Arafa, Barakat, Ehab Mamdouh, Sandra Nashat, Enas El Deghedy, Adel Adeeb, Mohamed Khan, Ehab Lamey, Shady Abdel Salam, Hala Khaleel, Khairy Beshara, Ali Ragab, Hady El Bagoury, Radwan El Kashef, Ashraf Fahmy, Samir Seif, Ali Abdel Khaleq, Nader Galal
*Ethiopia: Haile Gerima
*Gabon: Imunga Ivanga
*Ghana: Kwaw Ansah, King Ampaw, John Akronfrah, Fara Awindor
*Guinea: David Achkar, Gahité Fofana, Mohamed Camara
*Guinea-Bissau Flora Gomes
*Mali: Souleymane Cissé, Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Abdoulaye Ascofare, Adama Drabo
*Mauritania: Med Hondo, Abderrahmane Sissako, Sidney Sokhana
*Niger: Oumarou Ganda
*Nigeria Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugboma, Amaka Igwe, Zeb Ejiro, Lola Fani-Kayode, Bayo Awala, Izu Ojukwu, Greg Fiberesima,Tunde kelani Jide Bello
*Kenya: Judy Kibinge, Jane Munene, Anne Mungai
*Senegal: Ousmane Sembène, Paulin Soumarou Vieyra, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Moussa Sene Absa, Safi Faye, Ababacar Samb-Makhbaram, Ben Diogaye Beye, Clarence Delgado, Ahmadou Diallo, Bouna Medoune Seye, Moussa Touré, Mansour Sora Wade, Samba Félix Ndiaye
*Somalia: Abdisalam Aato
*Sudan: Gadalla Gubara
*Togo: Anne Laure Folly
*South Africa: Lionel Ngakane, Seipati Bulani-Hopa, Mickey Dube, Gavin Hood, Zola Maseko, Sechaba Morejele, Morabane Modise, Teddy Matthera
*Zimbabwe: M.K. Asante, Jr.

Films about African cinema

*"Caméra d’Afrique", Director: Férid Boughedir, Tunesia/France 1983
*"Les Fespakistes", Directors: François Kotlarski, Eric Münch, Burkina Faso/France 2001
*"This is Nollywood"


*Olivier Barlet, "African Cinemas : decolonizing the gaze", Zed Books, London, 2001
*Fernando E. Solanas, Octavio Getino, "Towards a Third Cinema" in: Bill Nichols (ed.), "Movies and Methods. An Anthology", University of California Press 1976, pp. 44-64
*Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, "Black African Cinema", University of California Press 1994
*Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, "Questioning African Cinema: Conversations with Filmmakers", University of Minnesota Press 2002, ISBN 0-8166-4005-X
*Melissa Thackway, "Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film", Indiana University Press 2003, Includes a comprehensive bibliography and a select filmografy
*Africultures : see (French and English)
*Samuel Lelievre (ed.),"Cinémas africains, une oasis dans le désert ?", "CinémAction" no 106, Paris, Télérama/Corlet, 1st trimester 2003
*Écrans d’Afriques (1992-1998) - French and English - to read on or

ee also

* Somaliwood
* African literature
* List of African films
* Political cinema
* Third Cinema
* Women's cinema
* World cinema


External links

* [ Africiné - AFCC (African Federation of Film Critics)]
* [] Very Large African Cinema & Movies selection
* [ The Heavy Flag of Pan-African Cinema]
* [ Africultures]
* [ Nigerian Movies]
* [ Harvard Film Archive]
* [ African Cinema]
* [ African Cinema in the 1990s]
* [ African Media Program] Comprehensive database of African media
* [] Library of African Cinema in California

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cinema of Niger — Cinema of Africa Cinema of Algeria Cinema of Burkina Faso Cinema of Egypt Cinema of Kenya Cinema of Morocco Cinema of Niger Cinema of Nigeri …   Wikipedia

  • Cinema africain — Cinéma africain Cet article fait partie de la série Cinéma des cinq continents Continents Cinéma africain Cinéma des Amériques Cinéma asiatique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cinéma Africain — Cet article fait partie de la série Cinéma des cinq continents Continents Cinéma africain Cinéma des Amériques Cinéma asiatique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • African literature — refers to the literature of and for the African peoples. As George Joseph notes on the first page of his chapter on African literature in Understanding Contemporary Africa , while the European perception of literature generally refers to written… …   Wikipedia

  • Cinema of Africa — For the African American cinema genre, see blaxploitation. Cinema of Africa Cinema of Algeria Cinema of Burkina Faso Cinema of Egypt Cinema of Kenya Ci …   Wikipedia

  • Cinema of South Africa — Open Air Cinema in Johannesburg …   Wikipedia

  • Cinema of Senegal — Film icon for Senegal Cinema of Africa …   Wikipedia

  • Cinema of Burkina Faso — List of Burkinabé films Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou …   Wikipedia

  • Cinéma africain — L expression « cinéma africain » désigne les films et la production cinématographique associés aux pays d Afrique, de l Afrique du Nord à l Afrique du Sud en passant par toute l Afrique sub saharienne. Si cette expression est passée… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cinema — [[t]sɪ̱nɪmɑː[/t]] ♦♦♦ cinemas 1) N COUNT A cinema is a place where people go to watch films for entertainment. [mainly BRIT] The country has relatively few cinemas. (in AM, usually use , movie house) 2) N SING: the N You can talk about the cinema …   English dictionary