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.

31 October 2014

African American Women in Cinema Festival 19-22 November 2014 New York City


African American Women in Cinema Festival
19-22 November 2014 New York City

Source: aawic.org

African American Women in Cinema International Film Festival provides a platform and showcase for aligning experienced and novice filmmakers.
The African American Women in Cinema International Film Festival mission is to expand, explore and create business opportunities for minority female filmmakers throughout the entertainment industry. It is the goal of AAWIC to give artistic women a path to fulfilling their dreams through showcasing their talents, exposure to peers’ interaction and mentoring by established Industry professionals.
This year there will be a special International Day, on November 22nd, at the United Nations Church Center, located at 777 UN Plaza, located at 1 avenue, at 44th street.


Keynote Panel hosted by Winsome Sinclair. 10:00 am to 11:00

Film Screening Program 11:30 am to 3:00 pm


24 October 2014

UDADA Film Festival (Kenya) - 24-29 October 2014 - Interview with co-organiser Matrid Nyagah - Goethe Institut

UDADA Film Festival 24-29 October 2014 - Interview with co-organiser Matrid Nyagah by Sabine Bretz from the Goethe Institut


Kenya will be celebrating the UDADA Film Festival, its first women film festival, from 24-29 October 2014. Organized by Kenyans Wanjiru Kinyanjui, Matrid Nyagah and Naomi Mwaura, since its inception the Goethe-Institut has been one of the main supporters. During the six-day event, filmgoers are welcome at the Goethe-Institut to view films from around the world, interact with the women filmmakers and participate in forums, which focus on various aspects of filmmaking and issues relevant to cinema.

Follow link to interview: 

23 October 2014

Beyond clichés/Au-delà des clichés by/par Olivier Barlet : analysis /analyse, “Girlhood” | « Bande de filles » by/de Céline Sciamma

“Girlhood” by Céline Sciamma: Beyond clichés, analysis by Olivier Barlet | « Bande de filles » de Céline Sciamma : Au-delà des clichés, analyse par Olivier Barlet

Source: Africultures.com. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson


Girlhood [Bande de filles] opened the Directors' Fortnight at the last edition of Cannes [2014] with an excellent reception. Should one see in its success a celebration of ethnography-style clichés or the recognition of the individuality of an experience? 

What is interesting about Girlhood is precisely that it avoids clichés, or rather that they are reworked to go beyond them. Yet this timorous black teenager who realises that the only way to escape her fate is to fight, could have fallen into the ploy of preconceived ideas.

That this does not happen is due to the subtle way the story is told, but above all to Céline Sciamma's aesthetic choices: the camera close to the body gives a soft feeling, capturing gestures and glances with framing that highlights the beauty and humanity of the characters. Marieme who in the gang becomes Vic (Karidja Toure) is in all the shots, the film constantly following her point of view. 

This identification with the heroine is not only an emotional one, but it is also political. While it is the group who goes through an initiation, it is Vic who must experience the solitude that will allow her to define herself and go beyond it. Her painful journey, which entails a series of rejections, illustrates the possibility of reinvention, allowing her to step out of a predestined path, and to leave the immutability of the housing projects. It is she who forges her own destiny and not because she is forced to do so. 

While Girlhood is set in the outskirts of the city, it has none of the codes of the "banlieue film"; a term used to designate films that reduce these spaces to clichés. It is not shot with a handheld camera and drenched in rap music. The film does not try to prove its legitimacy. Rather, it works in scope mode stylised with lustrous colours, using tracking shots and steadycams or placing the camera on a tripod for episodes tending toward sequence shots. This approach allows Vic to have a romantic destiny.

Female violence is not new (though really never recognised), what is new (and which dates from the time when Nicolas Sarkozy was interior minister), though still minor, is the phenomenon of girl gangs. Vic and her friends are neither sweet nor maternal. Loud and strong-minded, they express a political violence, fighting against all rules and assignations.  They are all black, as are the boys who they frequent. Again this is a political choice of representation of this invisible sector of multicultural France--in this French society, when Vic can finally play a video game with her brother, and given the choice between Brazil and France, she chooses France without hesitation.

Hence, it is not neutral to choose black teenager girls to express what is the basis of Céline Sciamma's cinema (Water Lilies, Tomboy): the construction of femininity, the affirmation of desires, the negotiation of identities. As it relates to her objective, she finds in these girls the requisite vitality. 

If Girlhood assists the girls that it presents on screen, it is in being aware of their wonderful energy, it is in filming—without locking them in the stereotype beyond what they themselves are working to resist—their gestures, their dance, their speech, their symbols, and the spaces that they create—such as the hotel room that they book in order to be together.

There is rage in this energy, and it is this rage that will allow Vic to leave the over-determinism of her social environment, and cinematically—to leave the frame. Transgression, a beautiful programme!


Read other analyses of Girlhood on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

A Gang of What? by Claire Diao | Bande de quoi? Par Claire Diao
Gang of Chicks-Bande de meufs by Amanda Kabuiku


A Gang of What? | Bande de quoi ? by/par Claire Diao – Analysis/Analyse : Bande de filles/Girlhood by/de Céline Sciamma


A Gang of What? | Bande de quoi? by/par Claire Diao – Analysis/Analyse : Bande de filles/Girlhood by/de Céline Sciamma

Source: Africultures.com. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson


After two feature films about identity, femininity and the construction of self, Céline Sciamma completes her trilogy with a film about four black adolescent girls employing a stereotypical vision of a girl gang from a neighbourhood. And it is applauded by the French cinema establishment.

"These working class girls flanking the metro with the souk..." (Slate.fr). "These girls from the 'hood (Le Monde). "The riffraff girl gang" (Le Nouvel Observateur). "The black Beatles chicks from the 'hood (Les Inrockuptibles). Here are in several phrases, the French image of black girls who live on the outskirts of the French capital presented in the latest film by Céline Sciamma.

This film demonstrates a mastery of composition, lighting, staging and directing of actors, like her previous films Water Lilies (2007) and Tomboy (2011)—a diptych on identity, self-acceptance and discovery of sexuality. Featuring four beautiful novice actresses: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay and Karamoh Mariétou Touré (as well as two rising actors, currently confined to supporting roles: Idrissa Diabaté and Rabah Naït Oufella) Girlhood was a sensation at Cannes last May [2014] and aided by beautiful advertising, it awaits its place leading up to the Caesars, and will certainly receive an award.

A girl (Karidja Touré, featured in ELLE magazine, 2014), oppressed by her environment, decides to join a group of girls, dancing to the music of Rihanna, they dictate their own laws. She falls in love with a guy from the neighborhood, but not wanting to look like a “sucker”, is forced to hide her feelings. Her mother, who works as an office cleaner, reflects the preponderance of people of color in these jobs in France. Her brother beats her for no reason, while demanding that she wear a blonde wig to meet a dealer (presumably to move about with discretion?) This girl gang, who brawls and steals clothes, reinforces a French cinema that already demonstrates an inglorious representation of its minorities.

It is rather amusing to note that the wave of constant media criticism of this film comes from the "minorities" [of non-European origins], a public that is fed up and disappointed with films such as: "Fatou the Malian, Samba, Girlhood, Cité Rose...France sells you dreams my negroes", cited by LeCritiqueur on Twitter. "The film Girlhood, in summary, will further stigmatize black girls: they are loud and wild," Nihahsah tweets. "A huge disappointment !!! Clichés as long as the weaves of the protagonists, devoid of any credibility, such as the scene of the heroine who steals from a school mate, words put into her mouth that sound incredibly fake!" writes Jamel Zaouche lashing out on Facebook.

How does one interpret the unexpected hopes that this film created in France? The expectations, the desire, to see black people on the screen. Beautiful smiling girls who one wants to love and watch. How does one interpret the media hype surrounding this film? That France needs to reassure itself by looking at characters whose social determinism does not cause discomfort. This poor girl, in her housing projects, beaten by her brother, obliged to help her mother at work, stealing clothes and skipping class! Let us not have to hear the usual verse, that "there are no black actresses in France." How many actresses are waiting patiently for someone to offer them a role commensurate with their talent?

Once again, French cinema locks itself into a quasi-ethnographic vision of these "neighbourhood youth" (condemned to an ageless youth) that one likes to dissect and observe, but does not listen when they speak. So will films of the new generation of filmmakers—this Double Wave composed of artists born in France to parents from abroad—find a place on French screens? Where are the roles representing intelligent, talented black people, whose character is not conditioned by their cultural background or by a fixed image? Who will go listen to the flow of "KT-Gorique in Brooklyn" by Pascal Tessaud, to non jargon-filled dialogue such as "Ghetto Child" by Guillaume Tordjman and Uda Benyamina, the future films of Maimouna Doucouré and Josza Anjembe? When will one realise that actors "from minority origins" are also influenced by Lino Ventura and Jean Gabin? These actors of a bygone era where dialogue and attitudes still make one dream?

One will probably have to wait for the next film by Alice Diop for the public and professionals to become aware of the potential of this generation. As she showed in her documentary The Death of Danton, where Steve Tientcheu broke with "the statistics of social determinism" to become an actor, only to be confronted with "a certain type of role and straightjacket" from which he had difficulty breaking free. Hopefully the actresses of Girlhood can go beyond this. And the film of Céline Sciamma will open the eyes of the industry on the "muzzled" creative potential that exists in this country.


Read other analyses of Girlhood on the African Women in Cinema Blog:

Beyond clichés/Au-delà des clichés by/par Olivier Barlet
Gang of Chicks-Bande de meufs by Amanda Kabuiku


20 October 2014

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series – 25-27 October 2014


Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series  
25-27 October 2014
Women – Films – Empowerment 
Celebrating women of color across the globe

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series, founded by African Voices magazine and Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn Campus, is the first Brooklyn-based festival devoted to supporting films produced, directed and written by women of color. Since 1997, the festival has been enriching the city with over 500 films by women of African, Caribbean, Latino, Asian, Indian and Native American descent. Reel Sisters attracts more than 800 film lovers from across the nation and globe including California, Chicago, Florida to as far away as Britain. The festival screens 25 films each year.
Reel Sisters also provides scholarships to emerging women filmmakers and offers other resources for women filmmakers. The festival not only showcases films, but hosts panels and workshops as well.
Reel Sisters will be held from 25-26 October 2014 at LIU (Brooklyn, New York, USA).
See complete schedule of films and events at: http://reelsisters2.wordpress.com/festival/film-schedule/ 
Text: Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival press page.

17 October 2014

And Still I Rise - Women's History Month Film Festival - Women in Media-Newark Call for Entries 2015

And Still I Rise
Women's History Month Film Festival
Call for Entries 2015
Women in Media-Newark

Women in Media-Newark encourages submissions of films by and about women from every country and nationality world wide!



Women in Media-Newark mission statement:

Women In Media – Newark is an organization that advocates for and educates the public about issues affecting the lives of women using film, video and new media as our platform. Merging culture and academia, we also rally behind the brave women who courageously struggle to assume leadership roles in the film industry with their conscious effort to present a balanced image of women, dispelling the stereotypes, and changing public perception of their sisters worldwide.

12 October 2014

Remembering Khady Sylla: Djia Mambu interviews Mariama Sylla, producer and co-director of “A Single Word” (with the late Khady Sylla)


Djia Mambu interviews Mariama Sylla, producer and co-director of the film “A Single Word” (with the late Khady Sylla). 
SOURCE: Africine.org. Translated from French by Beti Ellerson.
"A Simple Word", premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the documentary by the Senegalese sisters/filmmakers, Mariama and Khady Sylla, draws a picture of their traditional oral culture where their grandmother remains one of the last guarantors of genealogical memory.
Khady Sylla, who died in October 2013, left with us a tribute to the ancestors and those who have gone. It is the seventh collaboration with her younger sister, who considers this the most accomplished of their work.

Djia Mambu: Two Senegalese sister filmmakers, this is rather rare in this realm?
Mariama Sylla: I started working with my sister at the age of 17; she is the one who trained me and introduced me to cinema and scriptwriting. The person I am today is the result of this long journey with Khady, the first-born of our family. I am the youngest and she and I often laughed about being at these two ends, despite the difference in age and education, we were able to come together.
DM: How did you come up with the idea to make a film paying tribute to your ancestors?
MS: The idea for the film came one day when, while sitting on a mat next to our great grandmother, her voice broke the silence of the evening sunset and the purple twilight. She sang of her ancestors. Her slightly husky voice, the emotion that it carried, moved us deeply. Though we were not able to record these words that came from the depths of time, we were satisfied with listening to the voice of this centenarian with whom we had woven so many ties.
It is from this moment that we had a desire to make a film about the oral tradition but seen from the perspective of our family, because we had realised that being of a generation of the written word, that this manner of relaying the word had escaped us.
DM: Oral transmission is at the heart of your culture, and it is your grandmother Penda Diogo Sarr who is the guardian. How did you manage to bring it to the screen?
MS: We filmed several takes as Penda Diogo Sarr taught us the words. We asked her to teach us the foundations of oral culture. She was very happy to do so, patiently repeating the words of a verse about three of our ancestors.
Our grandmother lives simultaneous disappearances, that of her own imminent  person because of her advanced age, and that of the world that witnessed her birth into the world of the Wolof peasantry. And that is why every time she meets her grandchildren, this meeting is highly emotional. All of the imperceptible emotion that you see in the film comes from this sense of loss. "A Single Word" is not an ethnographic film about speaking, but it is rather a portrait and a questioning of the world.
DM: These images of you with your grandmother are full of emotion…
MS:  Seen implicitly, read between the lines of the film, is this elder, in the twilight of her life, trying to convey that which risks disappearing with her. That is why we chose the simplest images as possible, in fusion with the bodies. This vision enabled us to film our ancestor while appearing in the film as secondary characters and as spectators.
DM: In your view, what is the real issue at stake if the oral transmission of culture and heritage disappears in Senegal, Africa, and in the world?
MS: The spoken word for the Wolof peasantry is the vehicle of all knowledge. Speech travels through time. The Wolof is often perceived as a person of the word, master of the oratorical art. Our grandmother Penda lived during colonisation at its most difficult moments: forced labour, the conscription of soldiers... She lived during independence, the rule of the new elites, and the gradual hegemony of the written word over oral tradition. She lived through the gradual disappearance of this world. The spoken word defies death and oblivion.
Presently, as a generation of the written word we have come to realise that the spoken word has eluded us through our existence as Senegalese women educated to master the word by writing it down. The disappearance of the spoken word is having a great impact on our lives not only in Africa but also for all humanity. 
DM: Especially with the explosion of social media over the past decade...
MS: In our opinion, all the crises in the world result from the fact that we live in a silent, nebulous world, where the notion of dialoguing, which includes sharing and talking to each other, becomes obsolete. And then we rely on Facebook and Twitter as a stopgap, as a means of communication--at the same time walking by ones sister in the morning without greeting her.
DM: Did the recent passing of Khady in any way influence the ending of the film?
MS: The passing of Khady greatly influenced the final voice-over in the film but the visual editing is the same, as we had completed it just before her death. There are two voices in the film. The first is Khady’s, which was done in her presence, and the second is mine, which I wrote while finalising the film. I went through a moment of shock and anger, then slowly, the phrase in Césaire's work Notebook of a Return to My Native Land was constantly in my thoughts, and all this anger turned into a desire to write about my sister, to tell her a final goodbye, and this is how my voice was laid down in the film.
DM: As the film screens in the cinema houses of Senegal, people will also view Khady's final work. What message from her will you give them?
MS: Khady often asked this question: "What happened to us as human beings, when Facebook and Twitter are rapidly replacing the ties created by speech, family and friends?". I ask this same question to the filmgoers and those who will read this interview, so that the followers of this virtual world can one day respond to this question.