Guide to the Film
Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema

The film is arranged thematically into seven chapters:

Chapter 1 - Women Filmmakers' Voices
Chapter 2 - Women Visualizing Their Stories
Chapter 3 - Actors’ Experiences In Cinema
Chapter 4 - Critical Perspectives of African Women and Visual Representation
Chapter 5 - Identities
Chapter 6 - Women Coming Together
Chapter 7 - African Woman Sensibilities

Excerpts are from interviews published in Sisters of the Screen or otherwise indicated with an asterisk (excerpts drawn from published or unpublished interviews by author). The user may refer to the book to explore the issues that each woman discusses in more detail or to find the context in which her statement was made. The page number on which the statements are found is indicated. Links or other information are provided as well.


The introduction begins with an excerpt from an interview with Ethiopian filmmaker Lucy Gebre-Egziabher. She was a guest filmmaker on "Reels of Colour" a local television program that I produced and hosted for broadcast in the Washington DC area. Lucy provides the point of departure for the film as she observes that African women assume simultaneous roles--as filmmaker, mother, spouse, among others. The women emphasize this simultaneity of roles throughout the film.

Lucy Gebre-Egziabher - page 118

Chapter 1 - Women Filmmakers' Voices

Various women filmmakers throughout the continent talk about diverse themes, from how they came to cinema, the specificities of being women directors, to the hazards of the profession.

Safi Faye*
See “Africa Through a Woman’s Eyes: Safi Faye’s Cinema” appears in Focus on African Films. Françoise Pfaff, ed. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2004. 

Sarah Maldoror - page 164

Prudence Uriri - page 335

Horria Saihi* (Algerian director/journalist)

Wabei Siyolwe - page 317

Franceline Oubda - page 231

Tsitsi Dangarembga*
Tsitsi Dangarembga added filmmaking to her communication repertoire as she is internationally known as a writer, especially her acclaimed work, Nervous Conditions

Fanta Regina Nacro - page 216

Gyasiwa Ansah* (Director and daughter of Ghanaian filmmaker Kwaw Ansah)

Aissatou Adamou - page 20

Florentine Yameogo - page 353

Anne Mungai* (Kenyan director)

Chapter 2 - Women Visualizing Their Stories

Several African women discuss their work or provide critical perspectives that are linked to specific excerpts from their films. Film topics include: Experiences of women in the countryside, whose men go to the urban sectors for work; women refugees, the practice of female excision. In addition, actor Naky Sy Savane's perspectives on female excision add an important viewpoint to the discourse on African women's participation as cultural producers in the eradication of a practice they view as harmful to African women.

Safi Faye

Salem Mekuria - pages 180 and 181

Anne-Laure Folly - page 97

Naky Sy Savane - page 293

Zara Yacoub - pages 344 and 345

Monique Phoba - pages 269 and 270

Ngozi Onwurah - pages 224, 225 and 226

Sarah Maldoror
    Fespaco 1997 Filmmaker's Press Conference for Anne-Laure Folly - page 106

Horria Saïhi
1995 Laureate of Courage Prize by International Women's Media Foundation for
    her unflagging work as a journalist in Algeria.
    Link:  International Women's Media Foundation

Film excerpts:

Selbe, Safi Faye
Sidet, Salem Mekuria
Femmes aux yeux ouverts/Women with Open Eyes and Women of Niger, Anne-Laure Folly
Dilemme au féminin, Zara Yacoub
Anna from Benin, Monique Phoba
The Body Beautiful and Monday's Girls, Ngozi Onwurah

Chapter 3 - Actors' Experiences In Cinema

This chapter includes a continuum of actor experiences from veteran to beginner. They talk about their experiences in various internationally acclaimed African films.

Aï Keita Yara - pages 143 and 145
    (Sarraounia, Med Hondo, 1987)

Amssatou Maiga - pages 159 and 160
    (Buud Yam, Gaston Kabore, 1997- film excerpt)

M'bissine Thérèse Diop - page 81
    (La Noire de…, Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

Naky Sy Savane - page 291
    (La Jumelle, Diabi Lancine, 1996)

Hélène Maïmouna Diarra - page 77
    (Guimba, Cheick Oumar Sissoko, 1995 and Taafa Fanga, Adama Drabo, 1997 - film excerpts)

Alexandra Duah - pages 87 and 8
    (Heritage Africa, Kwaw Ansah (1989) and Sankofa by Haile Gerima 1993)

Thembi Mtshali - pages 197 and 199
    (Mapantsula by Oliver Schmidt, 1988 - film excerpt)

Chapter 4 - Critical Perspectives of African Women and Visual Representation

Women from diverse areas of the cinema (director, actor, producer) give critical perspectives on the visual representation of African women in cinema as well as the public reception of the African female image on screen.

Naky Sy Savane - (Actor) page 293

Aï Keita Yara - (Actor) page 144

Hélène Maïmouna Diarra - (Actor) page 78

Catherine Wangui Muigai - (Producer, Sambaza Productions) - page 207

Sarah Maldoror - (Director) page 164

Aminata Ouedraogo - (Director and General coordinator of the Pan-African women's organization, "Women of the Image") - page 242

M'bissine Thérèse Diop - (Actor) pages 81-82

Anne Mungai*- (Director)
    Film excerpt: Saikati the Enkabaani

Chapter 5 - Identities

The myriad identities of African women are explored in this chapter--bi-raciality, immigration, exile, relocation, Arab-African.

Ngozi Onwurah - page 222
    Film excerpt: The Body Beautiful

Najwa Tlili - page 330

Cilia Sawadogo - page 296

Marie-Clemence Blanc-Paes - pages 53 and 55-56
    Film Excerpt: (Producer - Awara Soup directed by Cesar Paes)

Salem Mekuria - page 178

Chantal Bagilishya - page 42

Chapter 6 - Women Coming Together

A complexity of issues around women organizing and working together is intertwined with a discussion of the place of women of the African Diaspora. Following the chapter "Identities" this chapter also explores the positionality of "African-ness" as it continues the conversation on identity. The tensions brought out provide a starting point to address the unresolved conflict during the 1991 Women's Meeting at Fespaco (Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou).

Anne Mungai*

Chantal Bagilishya - pages 47-48

Shirikiana Aina - (U.S director/producer, works with her filmmaker husband, Haile Gerima) - pages 32-35

Zeinabu irene Davis* (U.S. director)

Sarah Maldoror - page 165

Aminata Ouedraogo (Organizer of the Women's Workshop, Fespaco 1991) - pages 246-248

Statement of African Women Professional of Cinema, Television and Video, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 1991 - FESPACO Poster

Chapter 7 - Is There an African Woman Sensibility?

When asked the question: "Is there a African Woman Sensibility?" differing responses are offered. The varying answers reveal the fact that the concept "African women in the cinema" is not a monolith. That there are diverse cinemas and women experience them in different and varying ways.

Ngozi Onwurah - page 230

Valerie Kaboré - page 126

Oumema Mamadali - page 173-174

Florentine Yameogo - page 355

Najwa Tlili - page 332

Zanele Mthembu - page 191

Fanta Regina Nacro - page 214

Ngozi Onwurah - page 230

*Not included in book