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African Women in Film, the Moving Image, and Screen Culture

Summary and Keywords

While African women in film have distinct histories and trajectories, at the same time they have common goals and objectives. Hence, “African women in film” is a concept, an idea, with a shared story and path. While there has always been the hope of creating national cinemas, even the very notion of African cinema(s) in the plural has been pan-African since its early history. And women have taken part in the formation of an African cinema infrastructure from the beginning. The emergence of an “African women in cinema movement” developed from this larger picture. The boundaries of women’s work extend to the global African diaspora. Language, geography, and colonial legacies add to the complexity of African cinema history. Women have drawn from the richness that this multiplicity offers, contributing on local, national, continental, and global levels as practitioners, activists, cultural producers, and stakeholders.

Keywords: African women in cinema studies, intersectionality, moving image, screen culture, transnational, African women’s history

Positioning African Cinemas

During the nascent period when an African cinema culture was taking shape, African women were stakeholders in its formation. A “cinema culture” was not a mere descriptor but existed in terms of the social, cultural, political, and economic structures that ensure the production, dissemination, exhibition, and critique of African films. These efforts toward an African cinematic structure initially took form within a continental pan-African format. Hence, mapping the history of African women as media makers and activists in cinema, visual media, and screen culture entails a contextualization of the forces of its evolution. It necessitates as well an understanding of the continental histories as they relate to language, religion, political history, social realities, geography, colonialism, and the varied components that contribute to the continent’s diversity and multiplicity, thus emphasizing that this vast continent is not monolithic. The historical exploration of African women in cinema engenders an intersectional approach in order to understand the overlapping simultaneity of their experiences, especially as related to gender, ethnicity, and positionality.

Emerging during the period of independences, African cinema situated itself oppositionally, grounded in a postcolonial gaze and a “Third Cinema” theoretical framework, in an effort to counter a half-century of cinematic history during which it was constructed as the other, outside of history-making and knowledge production. Paradoxically, its practitioners often operated transnationally, in the West—training, studying, filming, editing, and even exhibiting their works outside the borders of their country. This phenomenon is due to the complexities of a mode of expression and production that was created and developed beyond the boundaries of the African continent, more than fifty years before its practitioners were free to engage with it on their own terms. More indicative of their realities, many of the women pioneers in African cinema evolved into this arena from other areas, some related to culture, though others were social and political in nature. This interdisciplinary component of African cinematic practice has been the framework within which African practitioners have functioned, and it continues to the present. Though one of the main factors for this phenomenon is the non-viability of careers in cinema as a sole means of livelihood, another equally important aspect that becomes evident in the examination of the histories of African women in cinema is the desire to use multiple tools to express their experiences, as well as the interest in sharing, supporting, and forming linkages as a means of empowerment and engagement.

African Women in Cinema in Context

Hence, this introduction to African women in film appends to its title African women in cinema, visual media, and screen culture in order to encompass the plethora of mediums of the moving image—television, video, the Web, and present and future screen devices. Similarly, the introduction includes the cinema-related professions that many African women practitioners navigate, engaging in multiple duties and performing diverse functions throughout the cinematic journey. Fanta Nacro and Aminata Ouedraogo, both graduates of the historic Institut Africain d’Etudes Cinématographiques de Ouagadougou (INAFEC), note the multifaceted aspect of the core curriculum of the Ouagadougou-based film school in Burkina Faso, which operated from 1976 to 1987.1 The core program encompassed radio, television, print journalism, and film, after which the student could specialize in cinema or communication. Among the alumnae of INAFEC, as well as among their cohorts in other countries, a blurring of these boundaries is observed; hence, a television journalist later produces a documentary or fiction film, and a filmmaker subsequently follows a path in radio production or film criticism and print journalism. For instance, Ouedraogo produced several films and later settled in the area of film organization and administration, notably at the helm of the historic pan-African women’s organization, the Pan-African Union of Women in the Image Industry. Nacro has been a role model both in her own country and beyond, taking on the myriad tasks of consultant and visual media advisor and serving as chairwoman of the African Guild of Directors and Producers. She has gained international recognition with her acclaimed film Night of Truth (2004). International human rights lawyer Anne-Laure Folly was particularly active in documentary productions relating to African women’s rights in the 1990s and continues to be committed to African professional film organizations, notably, as regional secretary of FEPACI (Pan African Federation of Filmmakers) from 2006 to 2013. The fluidity of these roles, while perhaps time-consuming and overwhelming for some who are obliged to manage many at once, also provides a broader understanding, facilitates networking, and expands the possibilities of outreach.

Communication as a broad category encompassing the diverse aspects of the exchange of information and ideas; and culture as a means to educate, express artistry, and creativity, have been the spheres in which some of the notable pioneers of African cinema circulated. Both branches of activity have served as a training ground for the women who have set the course for the many who follow, and moreover, the terrain has often been within a transnational context.

Senegalese Anne Mbaye d’Erneville studied journalism in Paris in the 1950s, returning to her country on the eve of independence to found a variety of cultural bodies, creating a cinema culture that has laid the foundation for contemporary cultural infrastructures.2 Her influence in cinema culture has spanned radio, print, television journalism, and beyond. Cameroonian Thérèse Sita Bella (1933–2006), who held many functions as a journalist, is most widely known for Tam Tam à Paris, a thirty-minute film that she directed in 1963 documenting the National Dance Company of Cameroon during its tour in the French capital. After the production of the film, while in France Sita Bella continued her work as a journalist, during which she participated in the creation of several African-focused cultural initiatives. She returned to Cameroon in 1967, working in various culture- and cinema-related positions. Ghanaian Efua Sutherland (1924–1996), renowned dramatist and playwright, created the acclaimed Atwia Experimental Community Theatre Project. To document the initiative, she collaborated in the production of the documentary Araba, the Village Story in 1967, for the US television network ABC. However, historical and contemporary information about the details of the film and the specificities of her role in its production is not available.

Senegalese Safi Faye, hailed as a pioneer and role model, began her early career as a teacher. She also acted in the film Petit à Petit (1968–1971) by Jean Rouch, the renowned founder of cinéma-vérité, who she met at the 1966 First World Festival of Black Arts in Senegal—an event and encounter that set the stage for the trajectory that she would follow. Soon afterward, she matriculated at the Sorbonne in Paris to study ethnology, during which she learned how to use film equipment for fieldwork. This experience endeared her to filmmaking, especially the use of the camera as a tool for understanding what she observed as well as a means of communication with the predominantly oral people of her country. Soon afterward she enrolled in film school, also in Paris, during which time she directed her first film, La Passante, in 1972. Hence, within her cinematic practice, her work as an educator (teacher-historian), ethnologist, and filmmaker has been intricately linked.

The inclusion of French-born Sarah Maldoror of Guadeloupian parentage (née Sarah Ducados, choosing the name Maldoror after the novel, Les Chants de Maldoror) points to the complexities of naming and the problems of identification within the context of transnational and diasporic African cinemas. Before embarking on a career in cinema she co-founded with other African and Caribbean artists the theater group Compagnie d’Art Dramatique des Griots in Paris in 1956. She went on to study filmmaking in the Soviet Union on a scholarship in the 1960s. She lived for a short time in Guinea, Morocco, and Algeria, where she worked as an assistant to director Gillo Pontecorvo on his classic film, The Battle of Algiers (1966). Maldoror’s life, personal and professional, has been intricately linked to Africa. She was married to Mario de Andrade, Angolan writer and one of the leaders of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and as a politically engaged filmmaker she directed several films in Africa about the liberation struggles, including the acclaimed Sambizanga, for which she is internationally known. Hence, her pan-African, universal vision presents a conundrum for the classification systems that attempt to contain African filmmakers and practitioners along national designations, and this practice is becoming increasingly problematic in the contemporary era of ever-expanding African diasporic realities.

By way of introduction to the history of African women in cinema, the accounts of the pioneering women are indicative of the personal and professional experiences and practices of the women who follow them. They come to filmmaking for diverse reasons and practice within it for varying periods of time—some only once, for a particular purpose, regaining their chosen profession; those from other fields, allying filmmaking practices with other interests; while still others are committed to using the camera as a main tool of expression. These experiences also show the peripatetic nature of their cinematic practices, their connections with entities in the West, and at the same time their firm commitment to their culture, history, country, and to Africa. Moreover, their experiences relay the interdisciplinarity of their perspectives and their vision of cinema—multiple, fluid, and interchanging.

African Women in Cinema: Movements, Developments, Tendencies

A chronological review of key markers in the evolution of African women in cinema culture highlights the social, political, cultural, and economic environment that has been vital for the survival and success of practitioners and professionals in the field. Moreover, it describes the experiences of African women in cinema, who, buoyed by the local, regional, continental, and global events of their time, replicated these experiences in their work.

The discourse and engagements of the pre-independence movements in the 1950s set the terrain for early cultural bearers such as d’Erneville and Maldoror, who were directly involved in the meetings and discussions that were taking place among the political and cultural influencers of the decolonization movements in Africa and around the world. Hence, in the early 1960s, the era of liberation for most African countries represented a call for action as African women set out to implement these lessons learned. Maldoror’s trajectory reflects that of other African diasporan artists, stirred by the independence movements and liberation struggles and eager to become cultural warriors. For instance, US-born Carrie Moore Sembene, a doctoral candidate in the Department of French at Indiana University, left the United States in the early 1970s to do research on the works of Ousmane Sembene, later dubbed the “elder” of African cinema; she married him as well, collaborating on many projects with him and performing the role of his translator.

Conversely, many African artists studying in the West were influenced by the civil rights movement led by black people in the United States. For instance Nigerian Joyce Nwosu, who was a student in Italy in the 1960s and wrote her thesis on African cinema, closely followed the events during that period, which had a profound impact on her as a young African woman and one of the few black people in Italy at the time. Similarly, already moved by the politically and culturally charged events of the 1960s, Ijeoma Iloputaife (artist name Omah Diegu), also from Nigeria and a student in the United States in the late 1970s, was among a cohort of film students of color at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). The movement forged by this group of film students beginning in the late 1960s came to be known as the L.A. Rebellion, based on their ideas and experiences at the UCLA film school: to legitimize African, African American, and Native experiences and visual representation by confronting Eurocentric aesthetics and questioning Western culture as the point of reference in film language and elements of style.3 Influenced by the Third Cinema theory conceptualized by the UCLA professor Teshome Gabriel from Ethiopia, this practice of interrogating, rejecting, and returning the hegemonic gaze became the leitmotif for this generation of filmmakers of color.

The 1960s was also the decade of cultural institution building and global cultural outreach with Africa at the center of these initiatives, having already established roots in the pan-African and decolonization movements, which influenced the founding of institutions such as Presence Africaine in Paris, in 1947, and the meetings of the First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists held also in Paris in 1956 and the second congress, in Rome in 1959. The First World Festival of Black Arts (FESMAN) in 1966 put Senegal on center stage as host of the event. The same year the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (JCC), the Carthage Film Festival, was created in Tunisia, and in 1969, the Pan-African Festival of Film and Television of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) in Burkina Faso. These two events, and in particular FESPACO, played foundational roles in the promotion of African cinema on the continent. While both are by definition pan-African and continental, the focus on African and African diaspora filmmaking has been especially the case of the latter, while JCC also includes the Arab world. In 1969, the Pan-African Federation of Cineastes (FEPACI) was created, with actress Zalika Souley from Niger among the founding members, indicative of the multifarious activities undertaken by film professionals in Africa. Thirty-five years later, filmmaker Seipati Bulane-Hopa of South Africa took the helm of FEPACI, until 2013. Hence these two institutions, FESPACO and FEPACI, formed the seminal infrastructure for an institutionalized pan-African cinema culture. During the creation of both organizations women performed important roles. And in the case of FESPACO, Burkinabé Alimata Salembere played a formative role as founding member and president of the organizing committee of the first edition, and she continues to hold an important place as a pioneer in the formation of a continental-based African cinema culture. The organizing committees of the second, third, and fourth editions of FESPACO were also presided by a woman, Simone Aïssé Mensah. In 1983, as Secretary General, Salembere oversaw the eighth edition of the festival. Hence, the establishment of a continental-based cinema culture, which was the objective of these institutions, took root during the decade of the 1960s with women prominently situated in leadership positions.

Concurrently, in the same decade women’s movements were taking shape throughout the continent, parallel to those developing globally. The emergence of the Dakar-based Awa Magazine in 1963, initially launched by d’Erneville in 1957 under the name Femmes de Soleil, is an example of the early engagement of African women at the intersection of gender and culture. Also one of the founders of the women’s movement in Senegal, d’Erneville’s pioneering feminist voice reverberated within diverse cultural milieux, notably cinema, where she has been a seminal figure in the development of the Senegalese public as cultural readers.

The activism of the 1970s—in the middle of which the UN (United Nations) Decade for Women was declared—was influenced by the global women and feminist movements that evolved in the 1960s. The burst of activities, in preparation for the first UN women’s conference held in Mexico in 1975 up until the last conference in 1985 and even beyond, ensured that the focus on women’s issues would have a visible, long-lasting impact. Hence the 1970s as well as the 1980s would see the emergence of United Nations–initiated projects as well as other international NGO-focused initiatives around women and development, and in particular the emergence of African-initiated organizations. These initiatives included media advocacy and awareness, research regarding African women in the mass media, and films related to consciousness-raising around women’s development and empowerment. Films directed by African women have been produced under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as research on women in the mass media by African women; for instance, the study in 1978 supported by the African Training and Research Centre for Women and Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade for Women Research Series, entitled Women and the Mass Media in Africa: Case Studies of Sierra Leone, the Niger and Egypt, was the first such report on this theme. In addition, The United Nations–commissioned film Souls under the Sun, about the daily life of women and children in rural Senegal, released in 1981, was directed by Faye of Senegal.

The Africa-based organization the Association of African Women for Research and Development (AAWORD), created in 1977, whose principal objectives are to encourage multi-dimensional development of African people and to promote the importance of indigenous, Africa-based research, has emphasized the importance of gender at the intersection of media and development. Under the auspices of AAWORD the seminar “Women, Communication and Development: What Perspectives for Nairobi 1985?” was organized in October 1984 in Dakar, in preparation for the United Nations Conference for Women. The objective was to make the participants more aware of the daily lives of women and their importance as media practitioners who engage in the communication process. Hence, to achieve this goal it was necessary to demystify, decode, and monitor biased discourses and practices regarding women in the media, set new standards, and outline alternative methods that reflected women’s experiences and activities. The organizational meeting was held during the seminar for the creation of APAC, the Association of African Women Professionals in Communication, who would formulate the conceptual and operational framework for the development of the strategy.

Similarly, the women of the Federation of Africa Media Women-Zimbabwe Chapter who attended the Nairobi conference in 1985 presented a draft of their constitution, with the aim of “advancing the cause of women media practitioners and to empower women through the media.”

The international focus on women continued throughout the 1990s with follow-up conferences at five-year intervals: in 1990, 1995 (Beijing +10), and 2000. In preparation for the Beijing +10 conference, the African Ministerial Conference on Women was held in Dakar, Senegal in November 1994. Among the activities, a two-day workshop focused on the role of the media in changing the image of African women and the potential for communication in development. Also in attendance at the meeting, the Pan-African Union of Women in the Image Industry emphasized the importance of presenting African perspectives at the international event and that African women film practitioners and stakeholders should take the lead in the visualization of these perspectives.

Literacy training, girls’ education, women’s empowerment in sustainable development, women’s health, the bodily integrity of girls and women, and AIDS prevention have been prominent themes in research and explored in consciousness-raising films. In addition, women of the moving image endeavor to provide positive, empowering portrayals of women as role models and in positions of leadership. As highlighted in the research findings, positive images of women role models could lead to an increase in women in leadership roles. This assertion was one of the main premises of the women film practitioners at the seminal meeting of the pan-African gathering in Ouagadougou, at FESPACO in 1991: “For if images produced by African women do not give another view of African women’s reality, then there is a great risk that women themselves, because they are the main educators of children—the citizens of tomorrow—will not be able to show an alternative vision of the world.” This gathering was the genesis of an organized pan-African movement of women in cinema. In alliance with the newly founded organization, the Pan-African Union of Women in the Image Industry, regional and national entities emerged or coalitions were formed with existing organizations. Twenty years later, in order to promote the works of women in cinema on a continental level, the Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africaine de l’Image (JCFA) was created. Launched in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2010 by the FESPACO organization, it is held in alternate years of the biannual festival.

Throughout the 1990s continuing into the 2000s, a plethora of African women-initiated entities have been formed both in Africa—on local and regional levels—and the diaspora. Many of these projects have an objective to promote and empower African women, others to provide positive images of Africa as a whole and to offer a showcase for film production. To present select examples among many others: in the Southern African region, Zimbabwe in particular, the Africa Women Filmmakers Trust (AWFT), established in 1992, highlights the importance of communication technologies as a tool for empowerment. In the same decade the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ) was created and has an objective to reinforce, through the medium of the moving image, a gender perspective of women’s experiences and stories. Since its inception in 2002, the Harare-based International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) has performed a vital role in the promotion, exhibition, and critique of films that are woman-centered and that present positive representations of girls and women. In West Africa, Mauritanian filmmaker Mariem min Beyrouk, considered a pioneer in the field of visual media in her country, founded the Association of Mauritanian Women of the Image in 2009, which brings together women in technical and artistic fields in the visual media. In East Africa, the Udada Women’s Film Festival and Mama Afrika Film Festival created in the mid-2010s have been important venues for the promotion and empowerment of African women filmmakers and stakeholders and the showcasing of their work. In the region of Central Africa, Claudia Haïdara Yoka created the Brazzaville-based Tazama Women’s Film Festival in 2015, as a platform for women filmmakers from the African continent to exchange, meet, and share. These initiatives also attest to women’s leadership and their desire to network and coalesce with diverse international stakeholders who support their interests.

African Women as Stakeholders in African Cinematic Structures

Currently, in virtually every country on the continent there is a presence of African women practitioners and stakeholders in cinema, though the trajectory has been uneven and sporadic. The notion of “cinema” and “filmmaking” has a much wider and more fluid sense in the context of African cinema practices. Television programming, video production, and web series and other transmedia storytelling, which have emerged since the 2010s, are included in the broader concept of African cinema—especially as is practiced by women. Moreover, cinema culture infrastructures comprised of advocacy groups, cine-clubs, associations, and culture-focused publications have often been more prolific than the actual production of films and the emergence of makers themselves. Some countries count only a handful of filmmakers, though on the global cinema scene, activists and stakeholders who have origins in these locations are very visible. Hence, individual women have forged paths that have set the foundation for future practitioners in cinema, visual media, and screen culture. Both in Africa and in the diaspora, women’s cultural activism has laid the groundwork for audiences to view and appreciate African films—important to the cultivation of a discerning spectatorship.

As a film culture and industry does not exist in many African countries, film festival structures have been created to provide these functions. Hence they serve as a means to build a foundation to develop and establish standards for film practitioners and stakeholders. Included in many film festival structures are scriptwriting and actor directing workshops, filmmaking and editing master classes, and seminars on the theoretical aspects of understanding and analyzing a film—all of which are vital skills for the film practitioner. Examples of these initiatives include: Mahen Bonetti, founder and director of the African Film Festival New York (AFF), launched the Sierra Leone Cultural Conservation Project (CCP) in 2011, and in collaboration with the CCP one main objective is to establish an ongoing sustainable media arts program. Pandora Hodge of Liberia founded the first art movie house, Kriterion Monrovia. Her objective is to bring culture back to the country after the devastation of civil war. Cultural activist and advocate Mpho Letima is the Executive Director of Sesotho Media and Development (SMD), an organization that promotes a human-rights-based approach through film screenings in the communities throughout Lesotho. One of its key objectives is the development of a local film industry in the country. The Lesotho Film Festival, created in 2012, is organized through the SMD. Filmmaker Caroline Kamya has initiated a TV training program for young people at the Uganda Arts and Media Academy. In 2009 Christelle Aquéréburu created the Togolese film school Ecran, laying the groundwork for the formation of a cadre of audiovisual professionals. In addition, the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), created by Nigerian Peace Anyiam-Osigwe in 2005, honors the cinematic achievements of Africans and diasporans.

Transnational, Diasporic, and Pan-African Identities

African cinema as an entity has long been fraught with questions of identification in the context of ethnicity, location, positionality, audience, and language. Where is African cinema located? What is its social position? The transnational nature of so many of its practitioners—many living outside of the continent—blurs the boundaries of continental and diasporic localities. In addition, questions around race and ethnicity abound: Where are Arab and Maghreb practitioners positioned? Africans of Indian origin? Africans of European origin? Those of the historic African diaspora—from the Caribbean and United States? What is an African film? Is its identity based on content, form, setting, or the culture and ethnicity of the actors? Is a film African even when African audiences do not ever see it? What of the linguistic categories: lusophone, francophone, or anglophone versus films in African languages?

Since its inception, African cinema has grappled with these identity issues. And while mainly critics and scholars have been the source of many of these debates, African filmmakers have not been able to provide a concrete response. Though some refer to themselves simply as filmmaker, period. Or simply replying: as a filmmaker, full stop. And as transnational African filmmakers sojourn for increasingly longer periods of time outside of the continent—some having spent more time elsewhere than in their country of origin—the positionality of homeland and hostland is increasingly unidentifiable. One or two generations later, born of immigrant and expatriate parents based in the West, these children and grandchildren of African cinema are taking up the camera, and this conundrum becomes even more complicated.

These issues, many specific to African cinema, are based on several factors: the complexities and multiplicity of African colonial history, the treatment of Africa as a monolithic entity, and the transnational characteristic of African cinematic practice. A few examples of pioneers illustrate the latter point: one of the first films by an African from sub-Saharan Africa, l’Afrique sur Seine, was produced in France in 1955 by Senegalese Paulin Soumanou Vieyra with the African film student group Le Groupe Africain du Cinéma. Similarly, Cameroonian Thérèse Sita Bella directed Tam Tam à Paris in 1963 in the French capital, while Nigerian Joy Nwosu studied African cinema at Pro Deo University in Rome in the mid-1960s. These few examples are indicative of the prevalence of transnational practices within African cinema culture and studies. And yet, there are no lines of demarcation that specify African identity. Hence, “African” is employed to designate any citizen of the more than fifty African countries, extending to those who reside transnationally beyond their homelands.

Locating Africanity

A discussion on women in film (from Africa) requires some focus on the category “African.” Highlighting the divergence of interpretation that may come from practices of defining is a summary of the “misunderstanding” that occurred in 1991 during the historic meeting at FESPACO (Pan-African Festival of Film and Television of Ouagadougou). The event was announced as a meeting of African women professionals of the image. At the gathering, women from the African diaspora were among the attendees but were expected to leave, as well as others, when, at the end of the introductory portion opened to the press, an African-women-only announcement was made at the start of the official meeting. The diasporan women were surprised to learn that the announcement did not include them. Not to elaborate the debate here but to make an important point, Sarah Maldoror’s presence at the meeting caused a bit of an identity crisis, as she and her films had always held an esteemed place in African cinema history. Moreover, some African women in attendance were based in the West—living for long periods of time outside of the continent. And yet, Burkinabé Aminata Ouédraogo explained the decision, noting that women of the diaspora and African women do not live the same reality, and that while they have similar problems they are not posed in the same way. The definition of “African” women was based along the lines of parentage, and hence it was restricted to those who were born on the continent or had immediate African parentage. In another context, British-Nigerian Ngozi Onwurah, who was born in Nigeria and moved to England as a child, has challenged the monolithic positionality of African identity within African cinema discourse and organizational planning and programming, proposing instead for the differentiation of geographical location. Hence she argued against the practice of conflating African women filmmakers who live and work on the continent with those based in the West, as according to her, the experiences of the two groups are very different.

Embracing the diverse African diasporas encourages the inclusion of the transnational and exilic histories resulting from the peopling and migration histories of the continent. At the same time, it challenges the notion of a unifying entity that defines, denotes, or identifies African cinemas, at least conceptually. Sub-Saharan African diasporas are dispersed in the Americas, Europe, and beyond, as do the North African and Arab diasporas extend to the larger Arab world as well as the West. And what of white South African diasporas, located in other regions beyond South Africa?

Even within the continent, regional and ethnic diversities, while at the same time being acknowledged, are often a basis for separation along linguistic categories of anglophone, francophone, and lusophone—hence former colonial borderlines—or geographical categories such as North Africa (Arab) and sub-Saharan Africa (African). Moreover, South Africa is often divided into categories of color; for instance, the official taxonomy of the South African population is: “Black African,” “Colored,” “Indian or Asian,” “White,” and “Other.” Hence there are very specific racial and ethnic identifiers in South African nomenclature that do not exist in other countries, which are reflected in the creative expression of the artists. Black visual activist Zanele Muholi focuses her lens—both still and moving image—on the experiences of black lesbians. Zulfah Otto-Sallies (1961–2016) explored the lives and histories of the Cape Malay community in the Bo-Kaap society of Cape Town, especially as it relates to intergenerational relationships and attitudes toward tradition versus modernity. Embracing the technologies of the new millennium, Jabu Nadia Newman’s web series “The Foxy Five” is an intersectional feminist exploration of the lives of its five black protagonists as they confront the myriad issues around gender, sexuality, and race. In her films and writing, white South African documentary filmmaker Bridget Thompson examines her evolution as a filmmaker outside of the “white cultural Bantustan into the wider black world intellectually, politically, socially, culturally and spiritually.”4 Similarly, filmmaker and historian Rina Jooste, an Afrikaans-speaking South African of European descent, asserts her identity and claims her experiences as part of African history. Hence, the complexities and ambiguities of South African cinema by white South Africans revolve around the vexed history of apartheid and their positionality as white people in the post-1994 South Africa.

The women media makers of the African diasporas of Europe are variously described as African diasporic and Afro-European. There are those whose gaze is firmly rooted in the experiences related to the continent, such as Franco-Malagasy Marie-Clémence Paes, whose interest is in stories beyond the French metropole. British Sudanese Taghreed Elsanhouri focuses her lens on Sudan, before and after the partition. Belgo-Congolese Monique Mbeka Phoba is particularly interested in stories directly related to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Swedish Burkinabé Theresa Dalberg Traoré gravitates to the stories of African women who work in non-traditional métiers. On the other hand, French filmmakers Alice Diop and Maïmouna Doucouré of Senegalese descent and Josza Anjembe of Cameroonian origin tackle issues related to immigration and African-French dual identity. Similarly, Belgian Congolese Pauline Mulombe, with an eye on issues related to her country of origin, focuses her work on themes related to Belgian Congolese experiences in Belgium. British filmmaker Amma Asante of Ghanaian descent positions her camera on racialized British histories. South Africa–based Kitso Lynn Lelliott, born in Botswana and raised in South Africa, is a multimedia artist whose work reflects her transnational subject position.

Similarly, filmmakers of the new African diaspora of North America, of which the majority are based in the United States, are comprised of the first US-born generation of immigrant and expatriate African parents. The complexity of their identity formation reflects the vexed history of race and ethnicity in a country fraught with the legacy of slavery and racism in relations to the extant African American population. Hence locating a place within which they may find home is their challenge. In some of her work, Ghanaian American Akosua Adoma Owusu probes the “third consciousness” of her identity, different from the “double consciousness” of African Americans, famously defined by African American intellectual W. E. B. Dubois. Sierra Leonean American Nadia Sasso explores questions regarding her own dilemma, prominently posed in the title of her film, Am I Too African to be American? Too American to be African? (2015). In 2007, US-based Botswana filmmaker and multifaceted artist Thato Rantao Mwosa created and directed Ya Ma’Afrika, a television show relating the experiences of African women living in the United States. In her film Bound: Africans versus African Americans (2014), US-based Kenyan filmmaker Peres Owino deals with the tensions between Africans and African Americans that she experienced when arriving in the United States. US-born Korean Tanzanian Eliaichi Kimaro examines the triple identity of her dual-ethnicity in A Lot Like You (2011). By contrast, Senegalese American Issa Rae and Ethiopian American Nnegest Likke deal with US-focused topics and in some ways integrate more deeply into African American cultural references. US-based Ghanaian producer Nicole Amarteifio appeals to diasporan and Ghanaian audiences with her return-to-Africa-themed web series An African City, created in 2014. These select examples are indicative of the complexities of positionality and social location and hence describe the paradox of the transnationality of African cinema identity.

Futures and Innovations of African Screen Cultures

African cinema has always embraced diverse screens and mediums, and while a variety of genres and themes have been represented throughout its history, certain categories, less visible in the past, are coming to the forefront. Pioneer animation filmmaker Cilia Sawadogo emerged in the 1990s, with a growing cohort of women in the field since the 2000s. Themes related to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer) subjectivities are being openly embraced, despite the homophobia of governments such as in Kenya, which initially banned the lesbian-themed film Rakifi (2018) by Wanuri Kahiu, who in 2009 also made headlines with her afro-futurist short film Pumzi. The music video as a film category is becoming increasingly relevant, and women are positioning themselves to become full actors, notably US-based Sanaa Hamri from Morocco and Franco-Senegalese Leila Sy.

The new millennium signaled a turning point in African film production, spectatorship, reception, and distribution as the ubiquity of digital technologies revolutionized the cinematic practices of African women practitioners. Since the first two decades of the 2000s, social media and a variety of web-based platforms have offered game-changing possibilities for African women media makers of the screen, including promotion, fundraising, networking, exhibition, and audience-building. With new, ever-evolving technologies comes the challenge of infrastructure, both literate- and non-literate based public, and the necessary financial investment. Women throughout the continent are taking on the task, working in partnership with international and regional stakeholders to enrich the knowledge production in their respective countries; building on their own skills, which allows them to train others; and networking to share, exchange, and empower.

Discussion of the Literature

The first written works regarding African women in film were journalistic in nature, with photographs and short profiles of women television presenters and the first African actresses of the nascent African cinema. These reports published in 1966 and 1972 were included in the Senegal-based French-language women’s magazine Awa, la revue de la femme noire (1964–1973). Similarly, Amina le magazine de la femme africaine et antillaise, also a French-language magazine, created in 1972, initially based in Dakar and later in Paris in 1975, has an early and present history of featuring profiles and interviews of filmmakers, actors, producers, stakeholders, and other professionals in cinema. These reports are an important source of information, often not found elsewhere, on the contemporaneous experiences of filmmakers, actors, and other professionals, especially as it relates to newly released films and other relevant events. Hence, this literature provides a valuable contribution to the global archive of African women in cinema practices.

The Italian-language book “Cinema e Africa nera,” one of the first studies about African cinema by an African, published in Italy in 1968, was based on the academic research of Nigerian Joy Nwosu, who studied at Pro Deo University in Rome. The little-known book was rediscovered by Italian scholar of African cinema, Leonardo De Franceschi, who was instrumental in its reprinting in 2014 under the title Cinema e Africa, L’immagine dei neri nel cinema bianco e il primo cinema africano visti nel 1968, also in Italian, as a critical re-edition, including extensive explanation of text.5 The significance of this work, as Nwosu notes in a video interview arranged by De Franceschi, is that it was a seminal text and a record of the period as it relates to African cinema history. It is also important to note that its obscurity most certainly is based on the fact that it is an Italian-language text. That it is neither in French nor in English dooms it to the dusty shelves of African cinema history, a point that must be considered in reading any review of literature and citation of texts.

Ousmane Sembene was one of the first—and with the corpus of his work complete, continues to be the most studied of African filmmakers—to put women at the forefront of his films, depicting them as the complex, multi-layered women they are in reality. Therefore, his work has an important place in discourse on representations of African women in cinema. Moreover, as he was also a writer with many of his novels adapted to film, there is the added interest for scholars of comparative literature. The 1969 article “Les femmes dans l’oeuvre littéraire d’Ousmane Sembene” by Jarmila Ortova is one of the first works analyzing the representation of women in his literary works—by 1969 he had already authored six texts and directed four fiction films.6 This French-language study framed the context for other works that analyze the representation of women in the film adaptation of the literary works of Sembene. For the English-language corpus of work on Sembene, Carrie D. Moore’s 1972 article “The Role of Women in the Works of Sembene Ousmane” was one of the first.7 The unique aspect of her work is that she is an African American woman who voyaged to Senegal to do research on Sembene for her doctoral thesis, completed in 1973, and they ended up getting married. She has been called at the same time his muse and partner in the struggle. As author of the first English-language graduate work, Carrie Moore Sembene is considered an important Sembene scholar, her research and study essential.

In 1974 the journal Women and Film featured Sarah Maldoror in three parts under the rubric “Third World Perspectives.”8 It is one of the first comprehensive English-language analyses of the early works of Maldoror, with her reflections and an interview. The volume was published shortly after the completion of her masterwork Sambizanga in 1972. The second comprehensive English-language study of her work from 1970 to 1986 by Françoise Pfaff is included in her book Twenty-Five Black African Filmmakers, published in 1988.9 With the international release in 1975 of Safi Faye’s award-winning film Kaddu Beykat, also presented at Cannes, a corpus of writing on her filmmaking practices followed. The literature, initially French-language texts then also in English, were in the form of profiles, reviews, interviews, and analyses of her work and of her as a pioneer woman filmmaker. A perusal of the literature on African women filmmakers reveals that she is the most studied. Even to the present there continues to be an interest in tracing the steps of the doyenne of African cinema, despite the fact that so many of her works are no longer accessible. The first comprehensive study of Faye and her work from 1972–1984 is also by Pfaff and included in her book Twenty-Five Black African Filmmakers.10 The article entails a biography, major themes, survey of criticism, filmography, and bibliography. What may be viewed as part two, “Through an African Woman’s Eyes: Safi Faye’s Cinema” by Beti Ellerson, is a critical analysis of the filmmaker, published in 2004.11 It also includes an interview and timeline of her career.

Hence, the emergence of the pioneer African woman filmmaker with a corpus of work to study marks the advent of African women in cinema literature, mostly in French and English. Literature in German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish would be published later as the interest in African women in cinema studies took hold internationally. The 1977 article “La femme dans le cinéma africain” by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra is one of the first analyses of women in African cinema, in front of and behind the camera.12 Most of the other works during this period add to the previous corpus of work on Safi Faye and the representation of women in the films of Sembene. The journal Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, which analyses visual media at the intersection of race, gender, and class, featured several articles on women and African cinema beginning in the 1980s. In the February 1984 issue, Claudia Springer’s article “Black Women Filmmakers” highlighted three African women, Nigerians Ruby Bell-Gam and Ijeoma Iloputaife as well as Anne Ngu from Cameroon.13 It is one of the first analyses of African women film practitioners studying and working in the United States. The 1980s also witnessed the emergence of graduate studies on African women in cinema, generally focusing on representations in film. And of note was the presence of African women taking up academic studies on African women in cinema; for example, Rosette Léonie Yangba-Zowe’s 1987 research, “Divers aspects du marriage and the role des femmes dans l’oeuvre cinématographique d’Oumarou Ganda,” on the diverse aspects of marriage and the role of women in the films of Oumarou Ganda, a pioneering filmmaker of Niger.14 The trend continues with Chido Matewa’s master’s dissertation, “The Role of the Media in the Subordination of Women in Africa,” and the section “Case Study of Africa Women Filmmakers Trust,” in her doctoral dissertation, “Media and the Empowerment of Communities for Social Change”; Wanjiku Beatrice Mukora’s master’s dissertation, “Disrupting Binary Divisions: Representation of Identity in Saikati and Battle of the Sacred Tree”; Dominica Dipio’s doctoral dissertation published as the book Gender Terrains in African Cinema; and Joyce Osei Owusu’s master’s and doctoral dissertations, “Women and the Screen: A Study of Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s Life and Living It and Scorned” and “Ghanaian Women and Film: An Examination of Female Representation and Audience Reception.”15

From 1990 to 1998, Ecrans d’Afrique/African Screens, the pan-African review published by the pan-African Federation of African Cineastes, provided a wealth of cinema-related information such as profiles, interviews, newly released films, films in production, in-focus presentations, analyses, and relevant announcements, with women prominently featured in the pages and on the covers.16 Though it is no longer active, it is an important archive for research and study.

Pfaff’s 1991 article “Eroticism and Sub-Saharan African Films,” one of the first studies on sexuality and the body in African films, is a forerunner to the abundance of works on the theme appearing in the 1990s and 2000s, for instance, Gender and Sexuality in African Literature and Film edited by Ada Uzoamaka Azodo and Maureen Ngozi Eke in 2007; the doctoral dissertation of Ousmane Ouedraogo, “Gender and Sexuality in West African Francophone Cinema” in 2008; and the doctoral dissertation of Naminata Diabate, “Genital Power: Female Sexuality in West African Literature and Film,” in 2011.17 Of note, Diabate is also an African woman researching African women in cinema.

Chinyere Stella Okunna’s 1996 study “Portrayal of Women in Nigerian Home Video Films: Empowerment or Subjugation?” is a precursor to the plethora of subsequent research on representations of women that proliferated in the 2000s, especially on what would be known as “Nollywood.”18 Agatha Ukata’s 2010 doctoral dissertation “The Image(s) of Women in Nigerian (Nollywood) Videos” is an example of the heightened attention paid to this phenomenon and the representations of women in the images. And to further emphasize, they are both African women researching about African women.19

In her 1997 essay, American scholar Nancy Schmidt offers agendas for research on sub-Saharan African women filmmakers, mentioning the names of many of the women who were the focus of articles during the 1980s and 1990s and offering a profile of three: Faye, Mariama Hima, and Lola Fani-Kayode, all from West Africa.20 She emphasized that her objective was not to present research findings but rather to highlight the diversity of women and the range of filmmaking practices and to suggest the possible ways that future research may enhance African cinema studies. As more films by and about women became accessible in the 1990s, there was a growing interest in studying, teaching, and discussing women-directed films and films in general with realistic and empowering women characters—in the classroom as well as in cultural venues and film festivals.

The emergence of an “African women in cinema movement” gave impetus to a body of work in the form of manifestos, declarations, proceedings, and repertories. Najwa Tlili’s Femmes d’Images de l’Afrique Francophone, published in 1994, was a direct result of one of the objectives of the colloquium “Images de femmes,” the African women’s meeting held at the Vues d’Afrique festival in Montreal in 1989, to create an index bringing together the biography and filmography of francophone African women.21 The directory also includes short dialogues of varying lengths, of forty women in response to the question “why do you make films?” as well as an interview with artist/filmmaker/activist Werewere Liking. The historic meeting at FESPACO (Pan-African Festival of Film and Television of Ouagadougou) in 1991, which in many ways became the genesis of a continent-wide “women of the image” movement, set out its objectives through a pointed declaration, outlining the exasperations, hopes, frustrations, and interest of the participants, and by inference, African women professionals of the image in general. Similar manifestos were presented at the meeting of the African Women Filmmakers Conference in 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa and in 2013 at the African Women Film Forum in Accra, Ghana. Hence, these statements serve as a record of the intentions, ideas, and experiences of the period and also as a means to assess the decision-making process at a certain time and the manner in which issues were later resolved.

Diasporan scholar Ellerson’s 1996–1997 postdoctoral work on African women in the visual media culminated in seminal works on African women in cinema studies, including the book Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television, released in 2000; and the companion film, Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema, in 2002.22 The book introduces the concept of “African women cinema studies,” presenting a methodology, historiography, theoretical framework, filmography, and bibliography. And also of importance, there is a collection of interviews of pioneering women and those who had recently entered the profession. This is significant in that those voices informed the methodology and provide the framework for future research as primary sources: as women’s stories, expressing their needs, interests, and problems. The film, based on excerpts of the filmed interviews transcribed for the book, has been a valuable source in women’s studies, African studies, and international studies. The Internet-based Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema and the African Women in Cinema Blog are extensions of this project, with the continuation of interviews, analyses of films, and the dissemination of related content.

The plethora of scholarly works—including articles, books, conferences, forums, and colloquia that have bourgeoned in the new millennium—ensure the development of the sub-field of African women cinema studies and its continued growth.23 Also of note are several publications that were an outcome of or inspired by meetings, panels, and forums, including: African Feminist Engagements with Film, Feminist Africa, 2012; celebrating 40 years of films made by women directors in francophone Africa, Journal of African Cinemas, 2012; Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa, edited by Jyoti Mistry and Antje Schuhmman, 2015; and the articles in English, French, and Portuguese included in Lutas de Mulheres no Cinema de África e do Médio Oriente, Africana Studia, 2016.24 The growing presence on the continent and globally of studies, research, critiques, symposia, and spaces for networking and the production of knowledge is a promising sign for the future.

Primary Sources

The Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema is a virtual environment whose objective is to provide a space for study and research on myriad topics relating to African women of the screen. Its database classifies the names and titles of filmmaking professionals—as a general listing and by country—and also includes a catalogue of films by year. One of the limitations of such an endeavor is the inability to include films produced on the local level that often lack the resources for wider promotion. Hence, the films are drawn from international distribution sources and information appearing on social media.

The African Women in Cinema Blog is an ongoing project, which consists of primary sources, such as written interviews and transcriptions of panel discussions and relevant announcements such as calls for films and other cinema-focused activities, and secondary sources, which entail proceedings and reports of conferences, panels, and festivals.

The book Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2000) is a primary source consisting of a compilation of thirty-six interviews conducted between 1997 and 1999. In addition, the film Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema includes the women in the book and features a few others, along with selected excerpts of their films.

Similarly, several films are devoted to African women in cinema, such as Regards de femmes (2005) by Michel Amarger, the ten-episode documentary series Regard au féminin by Issaka Compaore (2012), and the film Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood (2016) by Tope Oshin, featuring some of Nollywood’s leading women directors.25

African film festival websites are excellent sources for research, as many maintain an archive of the biographies, film synopses, and filmmakers’ intentions related to the film professionals invited to the festivals. Others have frequent updates of ongoing, year-round activities. Some of these festivals with extensive databases include Films from Africa in Cologne: African Film Festival, Cologne, Germany; and the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) in Zimbabwe maintains its website at the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA), which is an umbrella portal. In addition to the IIFF website it also houses the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WZOF) website and the African Women Filmmaker Hub. Similarly, the Wild Track Newsletter, also located at ICAPA, relays relevant information regarding women in cinema in the Southern Africa region and beyond; and the African Film Festival, New York, United States, is a transmedia platform offering an array of film, culture, and art-related projects in addition to the activities around the annual festival event, which include online DVD sales, ongoing year-round projects, and archives of past events.

The 2010 edition of the International Women’s Film Festival of Creteil, a mainly French-language event, dedicated a portion of the festival to African women under the title Trans-Europe-Afrique.26 The videotaped interviews and portraits under the title Festimage, also in French, are archived on the DailyMotion video sharing website; six women film professionals are featured, as follows: portrait of actress Aissa Maiga; portrait of Jacqueline Kalimunda (Rwanda) and her film Homeland; tribute to Safi Faye (Senegal) with Gala; cinema lesson with Safi Faye; and portrait of Pascale Obolo, talking about her film Femme Invisible and actress Dalande Gomis.

Africultures is a French-language portal (with numerous English-language texts and English summary translations) for the documentation, analysis, and critique of contemporary African cultures. Its cinema component has a wealth of information regarding films and filmmakers as well as analyses of their films and interviews. Similarly,, also a French-language portal, is the site of the Federation africaine de la critique cinematographique (the website of the African Federation of Film Criticism). It contains a database for the documentation, analysis, and critique of African and African diaspora cinema.

Further Reading

Anani, Elma Lititia, Alkaly Miriama Keita, and Awatef Abel Rahman. Women and the Mass Media in Africa: Case Studies of Sierra Leone, the Niger and Egypt. Addis Ababa: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 1981.Find this resource:

    “Lutas de Mulheres no Cinema de África e do Médio Oriente.” Special issue, Africana Studia 26, no. 1 (2016). (Articles in English, French, and Portuguese.)Find this resource:

      Association of African Women for Research and Development (AAWORD). “L’Association des Femmes Africaines pour la Recherche et le Développement/AFARD.” Women and the Media in Africa. Occasional Paper Series 6. Dakar: AFARD-AAWORD, 1992.Find this resource:

        Bakari, Imruh, and Mbye Cham, eds. African Experiences of Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1996.Find this resource:

          Bonetti, Mahen, and Beatriz Leal Riesco, eds. Looking Back, Looking Forward: 20 Years of the New York African Film Festival. New York: African Film Festival, 2013.Find this resource:

            Bonetti, Mahen, and Morgan Seag, eds. Through African Eyes. Vol. 2, Conversations with the Directors. New York: African Film Festival, 2010.Find this resource:

              Bonetti, Mahen, and Prerana Reddy, eds. Through African Eyes: Dialogues with the Directors. New York: African Film Festival, 2003.Find this resource:

                Dipio, Dominica. Gender Terrains in African Cinema. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 2014.Find this resource:

                  Ellerson, Beti. Sisters of the Screen: Women of Africa on Film, Video and Television. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2000.Find this resource:

                    Ellerson, Beti. “Teaching African Women in Cinema, Part One.” Black Camera, an International Film Journal 7, no. 1 (Fall 2015): 251–261.Find this resource:

                      Ellerson, Beti. “African Women of the Screen at the Digital Turn.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media 10 (2015–2016).Find this resource:

                        Ellerson, Beti. “African Women and the Documentary: Storytelling, Visualizing History, from the Personal to the Political.” Black Camera, an International Film Journal 8, no. 1 (Fall 2016): 223–239.Find this resource:

                          Ellerson, Beti. “Teaching African Women in Cinema, Part Two.” Black Camera, an International Film Journal 7, no. 2 (Spring 2016): 217–233.Find this resource:

                            Ellerson, Beti. “Traveling Gazes: Glocal Imaginaries in the Transcontinental, Transnational, Exilic, Migration, and Diasporic Cinematic Experiences of African Women.” Black Camera, an International Film Journal 8, no. 2 (Spring 2017): 272–289.Find this resource:

                              “African Feminist Engagements with Film.” Special issue, Feminist Africa 16 (2012).Find this resource:

                                Harrow, Kenneth, ed. Women with Open Eyes: Women and African Cinema. Matatu 19, Amsterdam, GA: Rodopi, 1997.Find this resource:

                                  “Celebrating 40 Years of Films Made by Women Directors in Francophone Africa.” Special issue, Journal of African Cinemas 4, no. 2 (2012).Find this resource:

                                    Matewa, Chido. “Case Study of Africa Women Filmmakers Trust,” in “Media and the Empowerment of Communities for Social Change.” PhD diss., University of Manchester, 2002.Find this resource:

                                      Mistry, Jyoti, and Antje Schuhmman, eds. Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa. Johannesburg: WITS University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

                                        Osei Owusu, Joyce. “Ghanaian Women and Film: An Examination of Female Representation and Audience Reception.” PhD diss., Swinburne University of Technology, 2015.Find this resource:

                                          Pfaff, Françoise. “Safi Faye.” In Twenty-Five Black African Filmmakers. By Françoise Pfaff, 115–124. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1988.Find this resource:

                                            Pfaff, Françoise. “Sarah Maldoror.” In Twenty-Five Black African Filmmakers. By Françoise Pfaff, 205–216. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1988.Find this resource:

                                              Springer, Claudia. “Black Women Filmmakers.” Jumpcut 29 (1984), 34–37.Find this resource:

                                                Thackway, Melissa. “African Women and Film: On Screen and behind the Camera.” In Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film. Edited by Melissa Thackway. Oxford: James Curry, 2003.Find this resource:

                                                  Ukata, Agatha. “Conflicting Framings of Women in Nollywood Videos.” African Nebula 1, no. 1 (2010), 65–75.Find this resource:

                                                    Wanjiku, Beatrice Mukora. “Disrupting Binary Divisions: Representation of Identity in Saikati and Battle of the Sacred Tree.” Master’s diss., McGill University, 1999.Find this resource:


                                                      (2.) Rokhaya Oumar Diagne and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, “Annette Mbaye d’Erneville, femme de communication/Annette Mbaye d’Erneville: A Lady with a Talent for Communication,” Présence Africaine 153 (1996): 93–101.

                                                      (3.) “L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema,” University of California Los Angeles, 2011.

                                                      (4.) Bridget Thompson, “What Shaped/Shapes My I/Eye.” (Paper presented at the People to People International Documentary Conference, 2007.)

                                                      (5.) Cinema e Africa nera (Rome: Edizione Tindalo, 1969). Io Odio, Tu Odi (Rome: Edizione Tindalo, 1968), and Cinema e Africa. L’immagine dei neri nel cinema bianco e il primo cinema africano visti nel 1968 (Arcne: Roma, 2014).

                                                      (6.) Jamila Ortova, “Les femmes dans l’oeuvre littéraire d’Ousmane Sembene,” Presence Africaine 71 (1969): 69–77.

                                                      (7.) Carrie D. Moore, “The Role of Women in the Works of Sembene Ousmane,” Pan African Journal 5 (1972): 263–276.

                                                      (8.) Sarah Maldoror, “Third World Perspectives: Focus on Sarah Maldoror.” Women and Film I, nos. 5–6 (1974): 71–76; Sylvia Harvey, Introduction, 71–72; Sarah Maldoror, “It takes time to march”, review of Sambizanga, 72–73; Nadja Kasji, “Monangambee”, review of film by Sarah Maldoror, 73–74; and Elin Clason, “Sarah Maldoror: A Woman in the Struggle,” Interview with Sarah Maldoror, 74–75 continued on page 110.

                                                      (11.) Beti Ellerson, “Through an African Woman’s Eyes: Safi Faye’s Cinema,” in Focus on African Films, ed. Françoise Pfaff (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004), 185–202.

                                                      (12.) “La femme dans le cinéma africain” (pp. 82–88) is a 1977 article reprinted in Réflexions d’un cineaste africain a collection of Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, who is the editor. The Editions OCIC is an acronym for Organisation Catholique Internationale du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel, Brussels.

                                                      (14.) Rosette Léonie Yangba-Zowe, “Divers aspects du marriage and the role des femmes dans l’oeuvre cinématographique d’Oumarou Ganda” (Mémoire diplôme de l’EHESS, 1988), cited in Nancy Schmidt, “Sub-Saharan African Women Filmmakers: Agendas for Research,” in Women with Open Eyes: Women and African Cinema, ed. Kenneth Harrow, Matatu 19 (Amsterdam, GA: Rodopi, 1997): 170.

                                                      (15.) “Ghanaian Women and Film/An Examination of Female Representation and Audience Reception,” PhD diss. (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, 2015), and “Women and the Screen: A Study of Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s Life and Living It and Scorned,” Master’s dissertation (University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009).

                                                      (16.) Ecrans d’Afrique/African Screens (Ouagadougou and Milan: FEPACI, 1990–1998), ed., Gaston Jean-Marie Kaboré, Editor in chief, Clément Tapsoba.

                                                      (17.) Françoise Pfaff, “Eroticism and Sub-Saharan African Films,” ZAST Zeitschrift für Afrikastudien 9–10 (1991): 5–16; and Ada Uzoamaka Azodo and Maureen Ngozi Eke, eds. and introduction, Gender and Sexuality in African Literature and Film (Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 2007).

                                                      Ousmane Ouedraogo, “Gender and Sexuality in West African Francophone Cinema (Les Représentations de la Sexualité dans le Cinémas Francophone de l’Afrique de l’Ouest)” (PhD diss., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2008); and Naminata Diabate, “Genital Power: Female Sexuality in West African Literature and Film” (PhD diss., The University of Texas at Austin, 2011).

                                                      (18.) Chinyere Stella Okunna, “Portrayal of Women in Nigerian Home Video Films: Empowerment or Subjugation?” Africa Media Review 10, no. 3 (1996): 21–36.

                                                      (19.) Agatha Ukata, “The Image(s) of Women in Nigerian (Nollywood) Videos” (PhD diss., University of Witwatersrand, 2010).

                                                      (21.) Najwa Tlili, Femmes d’Images de l’Afrique Francophone (Montreal: Vues d’Afrique, 1994).

                                                      (23.) The 1998 Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil devoted a significant portion of the program to African women in cinema. The catalogue includes profiles and short biographies of an impressive list of makers, as well as the article, “Réalisatrices d’Afrique: Les images d’Afrique aux féminins pluriels” by Michel Amarger. The 2008 Cannes Film Festival included the roundtable “L’engagement des femmes cinéastes,” with a visible presence of African women and women of color. The 2nd Women in Film Forum, “Creating Compelling Social Justice Content for Film and Television,” held in Ghana in 2013 and organized by the African Women’s Development Fund, published an online report. Sisters in African Cinema was the focus of the 2016 Afrika Film Festival Cologne. The catalogue includes a feature article by Ellerson. Reports of the ongoing and annual events of the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) held in Zimbabwe are featured in its “Wild Track Newsletter” and the online portal of ICAPA (Institute of Creative Arts for Progress).

                                                      (25.) Michel Amarger, dir., Regard de femmes (Apt, France: Festival des Cinémas d’Afrique du Pays d’Apt, 2005); Issaka Compaore, dir., Regard au féminin (Ouagadougou: Sahel Films Productions [Safipro], 2012); and Tope Oshin, dir., Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood (Lagos, Nigeria: Sunbow Productions and Tope Oshin Productions, 2016).

                                                      (26.) “Trans-Europe-Afrique,” International Women’s Film Festival at Creteil, 2010.