African Women in Cinema Dossier
 


The African Women in Cinema Dossier by Beti Ellerson:

a regular feature of Black Camera, An International Film Journal


  1. African Women on the Film Festival Landscape: Organizing, Showcasing, Promoting, Networking with Falila Gbadamassi (Fall 2019)

  2. Safi Faye's Mossane: A Song to Women, to Beauty, to Africa (Spring 2019)

  3. African Women of the Screen as Cultural Producers: An Overview by Country  (Fall 2018)

  4. On-screen Narratives, Off-screen Lives: African Women Inscribing the Self (Spring 2018)

  5. Traveling Gazes: Glocal Imaginaries in the Transcontinental, Transnational, Exilic, Migration, and Diasporic Cinematic Experiences of African Women (Spring 2017)

  6. African Women and the Documentary: Storytelling, Visualizing History, from the Personal to the Political (Fall, 2016)

  7. Teaching African Women in Cinema, Part Two (Spring 2016)

  8. Teaching African Women in Cinema, Part One (Fall 2015)

 

  1. African Women on the Film Festival Landscape: Organizing, Showcasing, Promoting, Networking with Falila Gbadamassi 

  2. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2020/01/black-camera-african-women-on-film.html


  3. An important function of the film festival is its capacity to showcase on a local, continental, and international level the works of African women, and to serve as a networking space to professionalize their experiences as stakeholders on the global film festival landscape. As these entities proliferate on the continent and internationally, African women are leading the way, often at the helm of these institutions. The objective of many local film festivals is to facilitate an interconnected triadic relationship between the film, filmmaker, and audience—especially with the organization of press conferences and panel discussions. Hence cultivating a critical audience via ciné-clubs and after-screening debates has been a long-standing practice of these local film initiatives. Drawingfrom this background and historical context, the article and associated timeline outline women's film festival practices in Africa as a vehicle for promoting leadership and showcasing women as role models; the cultural leadership functions that African women have taken on at the helm of film festivals on the continent and the diaspora; the diverse film festivals in Africa and their initiatives toward the empowerment and advancement of women in cinema; the showcasing of African women at African film festivals around the world; and the flagship international film festivals and their interest in including African women in the global cinematic conversation. As there is an abundance of African and women-related film events, because of their obvious relevance they are described in the timeline that follows the discussion, while a few select festivals receive more detailedfocus because of their historical importance, longevity, and significance to this study on African women and film festival practices.



  4. Safi Faye's Mossane: A Song to Women, to Beauty, to Africa (Spring 2019)

  5. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2019/05/black-camera-safi-fayes-mossane-song-to.html


  6. Mossane (dir. Safi Faye), completed in 1990 and released in 1996, is a timeless piece. That is the nature of legends, of myths, of allegories. Destiny has been inscribed, fate already determined. Having created a narrative imbued in Serer mythology, structured around the fate of a fourteen-year-old girl, who because of her stunning beauty, is returned to the Pangool spirits through the waters of the Mamangueth, Safi Faye’s cinematic endeavor was to decide in what way to tell the story and how to visualize it. This article frames the film Mossane within the context of Faye’s corpus of works, especially as it relates to prevailing themes that foreground women’s experiences within the rural sector and countryside, socio-economic matters, education, issues at the intersection of tradition and modernity, rituals and ceremonies and the importance of oral tradition as a foundation for visual storytelling. Set in Faye's Serer homeland, Mossane compares to her early Serer-focused films that draw its cast/participants from the village. While it is her only film in which the scenario and narrative are entirely fictionalized, the themes of class, the quotidian experiences of the rural-dwellers, oral tradition, struggles based on land and nature, the storyteller, are recurrent topics in Faye’s oeuvres. In addition, the article speaks to the manner in which Mossane addresses the right of women to have power over their own bodies and desires and the choice to marry who they choose, by framing the analysis of women's rights in the context of the broader discourse on the peasantry, education, custom and modernity. 



  7. African Women of the Screen as Cultural Producers: An Overview by Country (Fall 2018)

  8. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2018/11/black-camera-african-women-of-screen-as.html


  9. African women as cultural producers in the realm of the moving image, screen culture, audiovisual media—what are their experiences? These women who work actively in the behind-the-scenes roles; in front of the screen as journalist, critic, cultural reader; in the corridors as organizer, activist, advocate, promoter in the vast cinematic enterprise, many wearing multiple hats as filmmaker, actor, presenter, producer, scholar. Whether working on the local, regional, continental, international, or transnational level, their role is vital, their work essential. This survey by country provides an indication of the span of activities of these cultural workers: most striving for the cause, or out of a sense of duty, or of purpose—some in perilous situations, so that African images are seen and stories told—produced, disseminated, distributed, exhibited, discussed, critiqued, documented, archived, preserved.



  10. On-screen Narratives, Off-screen Lives: African Women Inscribing the Self (Spring 2018)

  11. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2018/05/black-camera-on-screen-narratives-off.html


  12. The journeys of on-screen characters, while most do not reflect the off-screen trajectories of the real-life women, some do provide glimpses that parallel the paths that these women have voyaged in their own lives, perhaps influenced by their characters, or more brutally, because of them. Their travels, imaginary and real, had some relationship to their roles as actor and/or the choices they later made as a result of their encounter with/within the world of cinema. It is their on-screen legacy, especially in the case of iconic films, that has been the most enduring; as these women, far removed from their fame in these early films, live quiet off-screen lives a long way from the experiences of their cinematic characters.


  13. Moreover, the filmmakers, who navigate frontiers, negotiate relocations and displacements to extra-African environments, inscribe an autobiographical journeying, problematizing these itinerant identities in their films. Likewise, traveling, sojourning and relocating across the globe involve shifting or ultimately expanding the identity of their cinema. Hence, an exploration of on-screen representations offer a larger picture of their experiences in front of and behind the camera.



  14. Traveling Gazes: Glocal Imaginaries in the Transcontinental, Transnational, Exilic, Migration, and Diasporic Cinematic Experiences of African Women (Spring 2017)

  15. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2017/05/black-camera-spring-2017-beti-ellerson.html


  16. The exilic and diasporic filmmaking experiences of African women of the screen have been evident from the start of African cinematic practices. Women have traveled and relocated outside of their homeland to study, edit, shoot, work, live, and network. Informed by Hamid Naficy's formulation of “accented cinema,” this article traces these peripatetic migrations framed within selected topics that are representative of the histories, trends, and tendencies throughout the evolution of African women in cinema: Oscillating between hostland and homeland, defining home(s) is a frequent practice. In the interstices of hostland and homeland, navigating in third space is a recurrent theme, as well as the mediation of exilic identities. The common phenomenon of intra-continental migration also leads to diasporic discovery. As a growing cohort of African women are born, raised, or settle in the United States, they are also negotiating within the dominant African American paradigm. Germany, a lesser-known site for Afro-women's cinematic journeying, is emerging as an important space for study, work, and exploration. Several questions are posed for reflection and research.



  17. African Women and the Documentary: Storytelling, Visualizing History, from the Personal to the Political (Fall, 2016)

  18. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2016/10/african-women-and-documentary.html


  19. The practice of storytelling, of relating actuality, the real, of recounting history, the personal, the social, the political, are all features of the screen culture in which African women have evolved in myriad ways as stakeholders in the cultural production of their society and the world. Telling stories through documentary in particular has been a dominant mode of expression among African women, perhaps out of a genuine interest in addressing the pressing issues in their societies and relating stories that would otherwise not be told. Their filmmaking practice is indicative of the diversity of themes they address, using eclectic approaches: autobiographical, experimental, hybrid, consciousness-raising, socio-political, as well as within trans-local and transnational spaces—some going beyond the cultural references of the filmmakers. This article brings together current trends and tendencies incorporating African women who span the globe, utilizing diverse languages, reflecting a plurality of experiences, histories, cultures, and geographies.



  20. Teaching African Women in Cinema, Part Two (Spring 2016)

  21. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2016/06/teaching-african-women-in-cinema-part.html


  22. The second part of this essay offers a primer on African women in cinema studies, which is based on actual courses, seminars, and lectures and draws directly from articles posted on the African Women in Cinema Blog since its inception in 2009.



  23. Teaching African Women in Cinema, Part One (Fall 2015)

  24. https://africanwomenincinema.blogspot.com/2016/02/teaching-african-women-in-cinema-part.html


  25. Women in front of the screen, as cultural readers, scholars, critics and theorists of African women in cinema studies also have a vital function in the study and analysis of cultural production as it relates to women's role in creating, shaping and determining the course of their cinematic history, the intellectual and cultural capital that it produces, and the intangible cultural heritage to which it contributes.


  26. Women in cinema as a study and research focus has an extremely broad range of discourse and practice. Women on, in front of, behind the screen--as storytellers, makers, producers, scriptwriters, actresses, role models, consciousness raisers, practitioners, technicians, organizers, fund-raisers, social media community managers, bloggers, agents of change, activists, advocates, audience builders, cultural producers, cultural readers, film critics, scholars, and researchers--all contribute to the idea of "African Women in Cinema" as a conceptual framework.