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.

19 March 2018

Festival Africain des Films de Femmes Cinéastes (FAFFCI) | African Film Festival of Women Filmmakers - 2018 (Togo)

Festival Africain des Films de Femmes Cinéastes (FAFFCI) 
African Film Festival of Women Filmmakers 

The first edition of the Festival Africain des Films de Femmes Cinéastes | African Film Festival of Women Cineastes is being held in Lome and Agbodrafo, Togo from 10 to 20 March 2018. 

La première édition du Festival Africain des Films de Femmes Cinéastes se déroule du 10 au 20 mars 2018 à Lomé et Agbodrafo au Togo.

For this first edition a variety of activities are organised: Conferences, panels, consciousness raising sessions, a contest of documentary and fiction films made by all-women film crews, Masterclass entitled: “Mentoring women filmmakers for the advancement of the industry.” 

A key objective is to promote female leadership in cinema. Sonia Larissa Allaglo, head of the organising committee had this to say about the goals of the festival: 

"We want to involve women in the festivities of La Francophonie Day, to create and organise tutorials and support systems among established women filmmakers and newcomers in the field. 


Pour cette première édition, des conférences débats sont organisées. Il est également prévu des séances de sensibilisation. Des masters class sur les conditions des femmes dans l’espace cinématographique vont être animés par des spécialistes. Le festival organise surtout un concours de films documentaires et de films fictions. La compétition met l’accent sur les films tournés par des équipes techniques essentiellement féminines, le lancement d’une collaboration entre les femmes cinéastes avancées et les débutantes et le démarrage d’un projet intitulé : Encadrement des Femmes Cinéastes pour la Promotion de l’Industrie.

Promouvoir le leadership féminin dans le cinéma

Le festival africain des films de femmes cinéastes permet d’améliorer la performance des femmes cinéastes et techniciennes. Les participantes échangent aussi sur le métier du cinéma et la promotion du leadership féminin dans les activités des femmes cinéastes.

Le FAFFCI permet également de célébrer « le mois de la femme avec une implication active des femmes cinéastes ». « Nous voulons impliquer les femmes aux festivités de la journée de la francophonie, créer et organiser les tutorats et le système d’appui entre les femmes cinéastes qui ont fait leurs preuves de même que les débutantes », affirme Sonia Larissa Allaglo, responsable du comité d’organisation.


Première édition du FAFFCI au Togo : L’association PIAC innove dans le 7ème art

Le Togo accueille le premier festival des films de femmes cinéastes

Togo : la première édition du Festival africain des films de femmes cinéastes prévue en mars à Lomé

Togo : Un festival pour valoriser les femmes cinéastes

Les femmes cinéastes du monde se donnent rendez-vous en mars à Lomé pour la 1ère édition du FAFFCI

Des femmes cinéastes du monde entier se donnent rendez-vous au Togo pour un grand festival, une première

18 March 2018

Talents Durban 2018 Call for Entries


Talents Durban 
02 March 2018:

Calling emerging African film professionals
The 39th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, with support from Berlinale Talents, is proud to announce the opening of applications for the 11th Talents Durban taking place from July 20 to 24, 2018.

Talents Durban opens entries to African screenwriters and directors with animation, fiction, documentary and hybrid projects in development. The programme will again welcome projects of all media formats such as film, television series, web series and content for mobile platforms.  The five-day event consists of workshops, discussions, screenings, and specialised programmes for specific disciplines including directing, scriptwriting and reviewing films for print and TV.

Talents Press will once again host mentorship and hands-on training for emerging film critics. The Talent Press programme is a co-operation with FIPRESCI and the Goethe-Institut.

Talents Durban offers…
This once in a life time opportunity affords participants Talents focused mentorships, industry specific expert master classes, workshops, and a creative platform for self-expression and networking. Additionally, Talents Durban will also cover participant’s accommodation, airfare and festival accreditation.

The program also ensures direct access to the DIFF screenings, masterclasses, networking sessions and other activities with experts and industry role players from around the world, Talents will gain a new understanding of not only their discipline but of others in an effort to increase collaboration and diversification.

2018 Focus and Theme
Africa’s animation industry is still very much in its infancy. It is a vibrant and exciting space with a lot of talent and growth, but there is still a lot of structure and development that has to happen for the industry to mature.

Talents Durban aims to remain the fertile soil for aspiring film professionals. We intend on bringing together highly skilled professionals to develop the animation industry and discover hidden gems. In this regard, the programme will focus on animation, with the aim to stimulate conversation and inspire filmmakers into the world of animation. 

This year’s theme “Breaking Rules” is a culmination of current topical issues on the African continent. The idea of breaking forth, expressing one’s individuality and creativity is difficult and somewhat near impossible in a continent filled with rules and boundaries. We live and breathe in a society of rules! Rules should not be broken at any given time. Too often we spend our time following rules without thinking twice. Some of these rules are spoken, but many of them are unspoken. We follow them because it’s simply easier to do.

For the longest time we’ve been boxed in, with boundaries placed on creativity levels and ways of expression. We need to break free from the dull and mundane rules of society. Break forth and embrace our diversity, our inimitable footprint and become masters of our own destinies. 

Rules were made to be broken!

Selection process 
Talents Durban attracts over 500 applications from emerging and already established film professionals across the African continent. This coming edition, Talents Durban will invite 15 Talents, carefully selected by an international selection committee. Prospective Talents are required to complete their application online provided they have a recognised sample of past work and an ongoing project.

How to apply?
Applications are now open, visit:

For more information contact;

Sinethemba Makrwalana 
(+27) 31- 260 1816

DEADLINE: 06 April 2018

Talent’s Durban is an initiative of the Durban International Film Festival in cooperation with Berlinale Talents, with support from the German Embassy of South Africa, the Goethe-Institute of South Africa, Gauteng Film Commission, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission. Through the international programme, with a network that extends to Talents International events in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Rio, Guadalajara, Sarajevo, Beirut and Tokyo, as well as Durban, participants are initiated into a global community of filmmakers and connected via a wide social network platform operated through the Berlinale.

Film Call Out for The AudiovisuElles Days 2018! | Appel à soumissions pour les Journées audiovisuElles 2018 !

Film Call Out for The AudiovisuElles Days 2018! | Appel à soumissions pour les Journées audiovisuElles 2018 !


Appel à soumissions pour les Journées audiovisuElles 2018!

Les Journées audiovisuElles se tiendront du 11 au 17 octobre à Ottawa dans le cadre du mois de l’Histoire de la Femme au Canada en octobre 2018!

En collaboration avec VisuElles Film Festival (ViFF) et le Groupe d’intervention Vidéo (GIV), le Mouvement Ontarien des Femmes Immigrantes Francophone (MOFIF) coordonne les Journées audiovisuElles 2018 avec l’objectif de promouvoir les œuvres audiovisuelles réalisées par des Femmes ou qui abordent des thématiques qui leur sont liées, sous diverses formes artistiques.

Nous lançons l’appel de soumission de films et VR dès maintenant!

Envoyez vos œuvres à visuellesfilmfestival(a) avant le 29 juin 2018 !


Film Call Out for The AudiovisuElles Days 2018! 

The AudiovisuElles Days is taking place for its first edition from October 11 to 17, 2018 in Ottawa within the month of Women’s History Month, October 2018!

In collaboration with VisuElles Film Festival (ViFF) and the Groupe d’Intervention Vidéo (GIV), the Mouvement Ontarien des Femmes Immigrantes (MOFIF), will coordinate the AudiovisuElles Days, to promote Women’s audiovisual works or works with a Women focus, in different type of visual art.

This year, the Festival will take place from October 11 until October 17th, with multiple screenings on various thematics. Send us your films and VR starting now!

Send us your works at visuellesfilmfestival(a) before  June 29th 2018 !

17 March 2018

Report - Part III: Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image | African Women Image Makers Cinema Days 2018

Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image African Women Image Makers Cinema Days, Ouagadougou 02 to 07 March 2018
Editor in Chief, Laurentine Bayala
Contributors : Rachelle Bengnime Some,
Photographer : Saïba Baguian

Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

The close of the 5th edition of the JCFA

The lanterns went out on Wednesday 7 March 2018 for the 5th edition of the Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africaine de l’Image. At the official closing ceremony at CENASA the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism was in attendance along with numerous personalities and a large public to celebrate the women of the moving image who met the challenge, despite the difficult environment following recent attacks in Ouagadougou.

Speeches, trophy presentation, musical performance by Sister Doga, the closing film, were the highlights of the closing ceremony of the JCFA. According to the General Delegate of FESPACO: "This edition has made its mark. Apart from the opening ceremony, all the activities were carried out as planned, which are highlighted in this closing ceremony of the JCFA", thanks to the courage of these women to whom he paid tribute. For these women of the moving image, by continuing the festival, they sent a strong signal to the world. For their representative Naky Sy Savané "when the African woman stands, Africa moves forward", imploring the authorities that every effort should be made to further promote the JCFA. The Minister of Arts, Culture and Tourism was not indifferent to this message. On behalf of the Government, he congratulated and thanked them for this support. "You are more than sympathetic to our pain. You testify that Burkina Faso is still standing with its friends," he said. During the ceremony, film pioneer Aminata Ouedraogo-Bagayoko and actress Naky Sy Savané received tribute trophies. A minute of silence was observed in memory of the filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo and the soldiers who lost their lives during the 2 March terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou.

Bengnime Rachelle Some

Arice Siapi "Every time I come to Burkina Faso, I learn"

Arice SIAPI wears several hats. Promoter of the international multicultural film festival of Ngaoundere, she is also a filmmaker and producer. All this energy that she invests in cinema comes from her love for Ngaoundere, located 900 km from the capital of Cameroon: "My region is isolated from the bustling film culture of the major cities. Moreover, there is no meeting place between professionals. That is why I created this festival.”

Founded in 2009, the multicultural film festival gave her “luck” as there were few opportunities to excel in her art. Through the festival initiatives she was offered training in Europe to strengthen her skills after the screening of her film. Her experiences leads her to the conclusion that cinema is a profession where only the brave ones succeed: "you have to have willpower and tenacity.”

Now she wants to restructure the organisation of her festival to ensure its international reputation. FESPACO and the JCFA already inspire it. She intends to energise and mobilise women around cinematic activities in her native country: "Whenever I come to Burkina Faso, I learn something, even if the realities are not the same. This is the second time that I have attended the JCFA. I realise that there is work to be done at the level of women filmmakers in my country. I'm going to do outreach to women and women's associations so that we can get together to help each other.”

Arice Siapi, who has been an enthusiastic attendee of FESPACO since 2011, received the support of the General Delegate and the head of the festival department. In 2017 they made the trip to Ngaoundéré in order enhance the profile of her festival.

From her point of view, the film industry in Cameroon is in full bloom with the production of television series. However, part of the problem lies with the lack of screenwriters in cinema, because the scenarios tend to focus on telefilms.

By Laurentine Bayala

Au fantôme du père [To the ghost of the father] by Marie Laurentine Bayala: "Dad, where are you"

In this documentary, the director follows the path of mixed-race Franco-Burkinabe, Claire Lagedemond in her journey of identity to find her father, whom she has not seen since childhood. Born in Côte d’Ivoire, she grew up in the village. In Burkina, with her non-literate grandmother, she is now more than 40 years old and determined to find the father who for her has become a ghost. Also, Claire fights to prevent this same situation from happening to her son whose father is also absent. In this film, one has the impression of being transported into an investigation that goes from Ouagadougou to Abidjan, of which we absolutely want to know the outcome. All the ingredients seem to come together: A strong character, suspense and even a dose of humour. The other fact is that the film embodies the message taking the form of a filmed letter intended for the ghost-father. A message that will certainly be carried around the world and which may touch "Mr. Roger". Finally, "this film is an example of a woman’s courage and tenacity, despite her painful journey. It is Claire’s positivity that allowed us to believe in this project, which is now a reality", Laurentine Bayala said to an audience, that through their silence, laughter and comments was very touched by this story. The same is true of the committed production team that took nearly eight years to meet the challenge to see it to fruition. Claire is still pursuing her research. She has since found photographs of her parents. "This information could help to open the path in the hope of filming the reunion between father and daughter," the director hopes.

By Bengnime Rachelle Some

The 5th edition of JCFA closes its doors Wednesday, 7 March 2018. What were the filmgoers’ reactions to the films?

Camille Delevigne, teacher
I was able to attend two sessions at CENASA: a documentary on the rape of women, and a film from Mozambique. I really liked these films that touched on the historical realities of Mozambique and the situation in the DRC regarding the rape of women. We are comforted by the extraordinary work of Dr. Dénis Mukwenge, who we discovered through the magic of the image. We would have liked more people to see these kinds of film that deal with important issues.

Séré Madina, student
This is our first time coming to the JCFA. We came to see the film equipment in the gallery booths. We were able to operate some of the gear and it was really interesting. For the films, I was able to view a documentary on the women who fight everyday to succeed in life.

Ms. Isabelle Ouedraogo, cinephile
Thanks to the JCFA, I was able to see Frontières, a film that I was hoping to see for a long time. I enjoyed the acting and the theme. This film plunges us into the world of these dynamic women entrepreneurs through their experiences and their difficulties. They acted well and I congratulate them. I was able to meet and converse with Naky Sy Savané one of the actresses of the film. Frontières pays tribute to women especially at the eve of March 8th.

Love stronger than bullets

The train D 67 is leaving for Malawi. Will they arrive at their destination despite the soldier escort, which accompanies their movements since the war broke out in the country? Le train de sel et de sucre [The train of salt and sugar], a poignant film during which the characters are gradually revealed as the old and slow moving locomotive enters an increasingly hostile space rumbling with weapons. Despite the crackling of the bullets, a love story is born between nurse Rosa and a soldier, as if to say that love will always triumph over hatred, which is the source of war. How does one talk about the suspense that reaches its climax, when in the middle of the forest the train conductor discovers a skull planted on the rails ... It is a metaphor for life where despite obstacles, one must never abandon ones dreams. This Mozambican film by Licinio Azevedo, won the Golden Tanit at the Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia in 2017.

By Laurentine Bayala

Report - Part II: Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image | African Women Image Makers Cinema Days 2018

Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image African Women Image Makers Cinema Days, Ouagadougou 02 to 07 March 2018
Editor in Chief, Laurentine Bayala
Contributors : Rachelle Bengnime Some,
Photographer : Saïba Baguian

Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

The 5th edition of the Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image (JCFA): the theme “The African woman professional meeting the challenges of the digital age”. According to the responses of some professionals, this is a timely theme. Digital technology is a tool that should be of great assistance to women.

Claire Diao, distributor
For the distributor the medium itself is the challenge, how to render on the screen the good quality in terms of what was shot. As a distributor this is important because it incurs costs. Should it be distributed in DCP, on DVD, Blue Ray, using a USB stick? There is also the issue of sending the files. What do we do when we send a USB stick that never arrives, when sending a link to be downloaded and then there is the complaint that there is not a good Internet connection. I think that there are solutions, means to be devised so that the films can circulate, otherwise, films will be made and it will be impossible to diffuse them even in the digital age.

Kadi Sanogo, filmmaker
Nowadays, digital technology is in the process of taking the lead, facilitating the work of professionals in the film. If we look in our countries, a more and more films are being made every year, because of the accessibility of digital technology, the equipment is light and the cost is lower. It is therefore the moment to seize this opportunity in order to develop the cinema culture; however there needs training to better adapt to it.

Georgette Paré, actress
The advent of digital technology has triggered disruption. This is a boon to cinema in light of the possibilities that this technology offers. We were even lead to believe that with this tool, we would not be unemployed, which is not the case. It is true that it is accessible, that anyone can make images, but is that equivalent to films? Things must be restructured; in order to know this technology better and to take advantage of it as it should be done.

By Bengnime Rachelle Some

A gallery where you get to to see cameras

Different types of camera are exposed at the l’Institut de l’Image et du Son. Whether old or the latest trend, these tools are unveiled to the public for a better understanding of their attributes. Known as the "Galerie ciné équipement" [Cinema Equipment Gallery], this initiative aims to create exhibition and marketing spaces for film production equipment.

Film professionals and the public have the opportunity to revisit the evolution of the film camera and photo camera over time. They also have the possibility of having their devices repaired thanks to the technicians who are on site. Since the opening of the stands of the "Galerie ciné équipement", students from the city of Ouagadougou have been able to satisfy their curiosity by operating the rails or cranes. In addition to this moment of discovery, there is an impromptu workshop that allows young professionals to have feedback on their film projects: "it is an opportunity to have the point of view and the advice of Guy Désiré Yaméogo, a expert in screenwriting. This feedback will allow them to work through blockages" explains Mamounata Nikièma the initiator of the gallery.

She hopes to repeat this initiative at the fiftieth anniversary of FESPACO if the targeted audience shows interest in the event.

By Laurentine Bayala

"Tes cheveux démêlés cachent une guerre de sept ans’’ [Your untangled hair hides a seven-year war], the third documentary feature film by Algerian Fatima Sissani

"Tes cheveux démêlés cachent une guerre de sept ans’’ is the third documentary feature film by Algerian director Fatima Sissani. Released in 2017, the film tells the story of three women involved in the National Liberation Front (FLN). "Why did you become involved in Algeria's independence by joining the FLN?" This question was asked to Zoulikah Bekkadour, Alice Cherki and Eveline Safir Lavalette who decided to fight against the colonisation of Algeria in their youth. Silent for years, today, they agree to revisit colonial Algeria and convey the "secrets" of their fight. A fight, which according to them "is above all a duty of all citizens". Through newspapers, archival photos, nostalgic music, everything, the portrait of these three women brings us closer to understanding the war, the pangs of colonization, segregation, racism, anti-Semitism. Despite the clandestine activities, prison, torture, the psychiatric hospital, nothing could stop the determination of these fighters. An act of resistance hailed by the public who were touched by the experience of these women. One of the filmgoers says in this regard that this part of the history of Algeria is a landmark and must inspire the youth facing the new form of colonisation that Africa is presenting living. Thanks to the documentary, the venture has been won for the director who wants to revisit the history and preserve the memory of her country.

By Bengnime Rachelle Some

Report - Part I: Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image | African Women Image Makers Cinema Days 2018

Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image | African Women Image Makers Cinema Days, Ouagadougou 02 to 07 March 2018
Editor in Chief, Laurentine Bayala
Contributors : Rachelle Bengnime Some,
Photographer : Saïba Baguian

Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

Panel: "The women professional in the digital age"

On the occasion of the 5th edition of the Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image (JCFA), a panel was organized on Friday, 2 March 2018, on the theme of this edition, "The women professional in the digital age". The panelists were filmmakers Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda and Mamounata Nikiéma. Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda is a scriptwriter, director, producer, film teacher, writer and poet, has directed several films, including Le damier-papa national oye!, Article 15a bis, Afro@digital and Juju factory, all of which have won prestigious prizes at major festivals, moreover, he is the initiator of the Thomas Sankara prize at FESPACO. As for Mamounata Nikiema, she is director and producer, manager of Pilumpiku Production, author of several documentaries including Savoir raison garder and Lumière d'octobre. Before the panel presentations, the documentary Afro @ digital was screened to contextualise the discussions. Everyone agrees that digital technology has simplified the work of professionals, though to varying degrees. According to Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, whose generation debuted with the 35 mm, Africa has lagged behind because no country has yet developed a digital policy and film industries are absent on the continent. Though digital technology offers more possibilities for cinema, there is nonetheless some misunderstanding.  By focusing on training, this situation could be changed through generational exchange, and the mastery of this tool by moving image professionals of the "digital generation". In this present group is Mamounata Nikiéma, who has been able to make her way into cinema thanks to the digital. For her, digital technology is a tool that has made it possible to democratise cinematographic practice, to organise the profession, to reduce certain costs and delays in post-production and to guarantee freedom of creation. Digital technology is especially a boon for women who can more easily coincide their role as filmmaker, mother and wife. It is this feeling that enlivens Naky Sy Savané actress and promoter of the Ivorian festival, for whom this theme comes at the right moment, as digital technology is in the process of imposing itself.

The panel was moderated by Claire Diao, film critic, co-founder of the pan-African cinema AWOTELE magazine and director of Sudu Connexion.

By Bengnimè Rachelle Some

Acting, film shooting and digital editing: professionals of the moving image take shape

The 5th African Women Image Makers Cinema Days (JCFA) held from March 2 to 7 in the capital of Burkina Faso. Like every edition, this festival gives pride of place to the training of moving image professionals. This year, the focus is on acting, film shooting and digital editing through two workshops. From 1-5 March 2018, at l’Institut supérieur de l’image et du son (ISIS-SE), about thirty trainees will familiarise themselves with or revisit the basic techniques in each of these sectors. The first training workshop on acting is delivered by Fabienne Bichet, professor of public speaking, and actir Ildevert Méda.

Shooting and Digital editing is conducted by Oumarou Kaboré of Media Africa, Jean Yves Nana of FESPACO and Paul JCFA Djibila of ISIS. For the content of the second workshop, Mr. Kaboré, who is one of the trainers, indicated that participants will attend theoretical and practical sessions. "We started with the theoretical aspects on the first day. We are going in the field for the next two days followed by editing sessions. And the content that has been produced will be presented at the closing ceremony, "he explained. Also, even if the digital has  facilitated the work of professionals, everything still needs a solid base, he added. More and more, we see women audiovisual professionals. Training is required to enable everyone to excel in her field.

By Bengnimè Rachelle Some

A tribute to Aminata Ouedraogo at the JCFA 2018
Activist at the very beginning for the promotion of the woman in the audio-visual professions, Aminata Ouedraogo receives a tribute by her pairs and the JCFA. On the eve of the launch of the festival, the women met with her in order to show their gratitude for all her actions. On this occasion, she received a present from the women filmmakers. The General Delegate of FESPACO, Ardiouma SOMA was part of the delegation to honour Aminata Ouédraogo. Even in retirement, she continues to share her experience with the younger generation in the Burkina Faso National Union of Women of the Image (UNAFIB). In addition to the films she made, Aminata helped in the organisational aspects of FESPACO and directed the film and television market.

The 5th edition of the Journées Cinématographiques de la Femme Africain de l'Image (JCFA): the theme “The African woman professional meeting the challenges of the digital age”. According to the responses of some professionals, this is a timely theme. Digital technology is a tool that should be of great assistance to women. Presently, women are in all sectors of cinema and we know that in everyday life, women work more than everyone else. It allows women to better reconcile their family life and their profession. For example, at the same time remaining within the household environment, she is able to run her business, organise her festival, send emails, do long-distance interviews and make video conferences. Digital technology can therefore be a contribution to the work we do if we know how to use it. There are many pitfalls with these technologies, which means we have to use them intelligently.

Melanie de Vales Rafael: "The nurse who wants to save the war-wounded in Le train du sel et du sucre "
Melanie de Vales Rafael, an actress for 8 years, made her break through on the screen in the role of Nuta in "The Republic of Children" accompanied by American actor Danny Glover. Since then, she continues filming in her country Mozambique in"Under the full moon", then in the film "The Train of Salt and Sugar" the opening film at JCFA 2018. "I am a nurse from a wealthy family living in the South. But when the war breaks out in the north of the country, I leave it with the hope of healing the war wounded, "says Melanie. In Ouagadougou, she is the ambassador for this film, directed by Licinio Azevedo who was nominated at the 2018 Oscars "The film was selected for this year's Oscars, but we did not have enough money to do the campaign. Still we are proud that the film was selected, even if in the end we were not among the finalists "she adds. Mozambican cinema is in its infancy, according to the actress, since a film is only produced every 4 years. "We have a great deal of growing pains with many challenges such as looking for funding." Optimism is allowed for this young actress who is also fashion model.

Apolline Traore wins awards beyond our borders
Frontières won Best Film in Los Angeles in the United States during the Pan African Film and Art Festival from 8-19 February. Apolline Traoré dedicated her award to Idrissa Ouédraogo who had just passed away. This is a reminder that through art, the festival creates a greater understanding among afrodescendants.

Khouribga Festival 2018 the Egyptian Kamla Abu Zekri wins the Ousmane Sembène Award
For her film Un jour pour les femmes [A day for women] Kamla Abu Zekri was awarded the Ousmane Sembène prize at the 20th edition of the Khouribga African Film Festival.

Her feature film uses as pretext the news of the opening of a pool in a popular neighbourhood and the fact that it is open only to women on Sunday, to show, with subtlety and mastery, a space of externalizing feelings and unveiling personalities.

By Laurentine Bayala

14 March 2018

Ghanaian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture

Ghanaian Women in Cinema,
Visual Media and Screen Culture

The presence of Ghanaian women in film production dates back to the 1960s to renowned playwright Efua Sutherland (1924-1996) and her work on the documentary Araba: The Village Story. Produced in 1967 for the U.S. television network ABC, the film documents her acclaimed Atwia Experimental Community Theatre Project, an initiative that has the reputation as an innovative model for the internationally known Theatre for Development (TfD). 

Another seminal presence of Ghanaian women in cinema some fifty years later is that of scholar Joyce Osei Owusu, whose work traces the cinematic history and analyzes the works of women in Ghana and the Ghanaian diaspora; she completed her Master’s thesis in 2009 and her Doctoral dissertation in 2015. Her research is groundbreaking in its capacity to frame the evolution of Ghanaian women in cinema; it is becoming the reference in the discipline, as her objective was to fill the gap of the dearth of literature and critical studies on Ghanaian women in cinema. Her work is also indicative of the growing presence of African and Afrodescendant women scholars of cinema, visual media and screen culture, especially those based on the continent. Hence, my discussion of Ghanaian Women in Cinema, Visual Media and Screen Culture draws from dialogue with Joyce in our interviews--at the start of her research in 2011 and upon her completion in 2015.

In our discussion I was able to prod a bit deeper into the legacy of a pioneer on the timeline of African cinema that continues to remain obscure. While Efua Sutherland’s name is etched into the annals of African cinema history, there is little knowledge about the film and the details of the role she played. I asked Joyce whether she had been able to uncover any information concerning the whereabouts of Araba and its availability for viewing and whether the specifics of Efua Sutherland as it relates to her role in the production is actually known. During her fieldwork in 2013, she interviewed key family members and colleagues who worked closely with Efua Sutherland, but she was not able to uncover much information regarding the film. She agreed that information on her pioneering filmmaking engagement still remains obscure and notes that apparently the film has disappeared and that there are very few details about it and the specific role that she played in its production.

Nonetheless, that in the literature Efua Sutherland has always been connected with the film and also promoted as its producer suggests that during the period of its production in 1967, when the film was circulating and viewed by the public, there had been some discussion about it. Yet while in the literature it is often cited in the specific terms of her as producer, the origin of this assertion is also not clear. Perhaps because it was a U.S.-produced film, which was most probably broadcast to a U.S. public, the film may not have circulated widely outside of the country and gradually faded from public view; which is not unlike the early history of Ghanaian cinema. Anita Afonu discovered this reality when she began her initiative to restore the hidden and lost legacy of Ghanaian cinema. Hence, similarly, Anita also plays a seminal role in Ghanaian cinema; as both filmmaker and archivist she directed Perished Diamonds (2013), which traces filmmaking in Ghana from the post-colonial period to the present while investigating the controversial sale of the film industry in Ghana during that time.

In her research, Joyce Osei Owusu examines the cinematic practices of Ghanaian women based both in Ghana and in the Ghanaian diaspora, with a specific focus on Veronica Quarshie and Shirley Frimpong-Manso, and Leila Djansi who lives and works in the United States. She notes that some two decades after Efua Sutherland’s Araba, British-Ghanaian Yaba Badoe directed the art documentary A Time for Hope in 1983 for the British channel BBC Two. And a decade later Ghanaian video film director/producer Veronica Cudjoe made her debut on the Ghanaian moving image scene with the film Suzzy 1 in 1992. Hence, like women in cinema in many other African countries, the transnational practice of Ghanaian diaspora productions was an early trend in the cinematic history of Ghanaian women in cinema, as well as the prominence of video-making in the 1990s. Moreover, Joyce’s research demonstrates that the interconnection between Ghana and its diaspora continues to the present; indicative in her choice for focused study in her research. In her doctoral study she gives the follow reasons for her selection of the three women: (1) they have prioritised women and women’s issues in their films; (2) their films are popular and accessible; (3) they have made feature films; and (4) they were ready to make themselves available for the study. The second and fourth reasons are especially important to consider when discussing research methodology as the films of local productions, for various reasons, are not always available or accessible and hence are confined to a smaller audience based, and in the case of the fourth, many studies by westerners do not reach out to or perhaps do not have the interest in using the makers as primary sources of their study via interviews and other interactions related to their research.

During my project on African women in Cinema, which began in 1996, I interviewed two Ghanaian women who at the time were positioning themselves to play an important role on the Ghanaian cinema landscape, the late Alexandra Duah and Gyasiwa Ansah, both in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso during Fespaco in 1997. Gyasiwa was a film student in the United States at the time and had been immersed in cinema since a child, as the daughter of the pioneer Ghanaian filmmaker Kwaw Ansah. She talked about her experiences working on most of his productions. She now devotes her time to the TV Africa television station founded by her father.

At the time of our interview Alexandra Duah had already garnered a reputation as a stellar actress in award-winning films such as Heritage Africa (1989) by Kwaw Ansah, and Haile Gerima’s Sankofa (1993). However her experiences in cinema went beyond acting as she also studied film editing and film production. She also wrote, produced and directed four children’s films for Ghanaian television. In addition, she developed the juvenile participation in the programme. She also taught film acting techniques and poise at the Academy of Film Acting in Ghana. During our interview she regretted the fact that she had not been able to find work since her role as the formidable Nunu in Sankofa, though she made a cameo performance in Saikati the Enkabaani (1999) by Anne Mungai from Kenya; an initiative in pan-African film production. Her trajectory is indicative of many African women of the moving image, who move across subfields in cinema or wear multiple hats. And regrettably, who make early contributions in the arena and later their story fades into obscurity. 

Joyce Osei Owusu’s and Anita Afonu’s work will hopefully rectify these disappearances, especially with the force of new technologies which allows for long-lasting archival storage and preservation, at least that is the hope. In addition, their initiatives as well as several other women provide the important networking, sharing and outreach that are necessary for the empowerment and success of women of the moving image. Joyce’s work definitely offers the groundwork for Ghanaian women, present and future, to read their history, its evolution and its growth. Anita Afonu’s documentation on the Ghana film industry provides the context for a broader understanding of Ghanaian women's place within it, and her involvement as festival producer in the creation of Ndiva Women's Film Festival also contributes to women's empowerment--as makers and cultural readers. The purpose of the festival is to bring African women filmmakers and women filmmakers of African descent in the diaspora (directors, producers, editors, animators, actresses, cinematographers, production designers and all women in the film production chain) together in a space where they can network, collaborate, exhibit their work and celebrate each other.

Women of the Ghanaian diaspora continue to make contributions to Ghanaian cultural heritage through a variety of initiatives. U.S.-Ghanaian Akosua Adoma Owusu launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to save the Rex Cinema in Accra, Ghana, which risked being sold for redevelopment. Juliet Asante, also based in the United States is the founder of the Black Star International Film Festival in Ghana, and freelance film festival and arts & culture consultant German-Ghanaian Jacqueline Nsiah served as the producer of the 2016 edition. In addition, Jacqueline focused her Master’s thesis on a New Media project relating the experiences of the Ghanaian diaspora in Germany. Yaba Badoe of the UK diaspora focused her camera on the art of renowned Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo, who has a long history of African diasporic connections that are reflected in her work. Yaba collaborated with U.S. based Nigerian-British Amina Mama—who initiated the project, thus giving it a three-continent outreach base, and if the success of the crowdfunding results is any indication, the spread is wide-ranging. Yaba’s multi-focused project, a film about a writer, is also a reflection of her own experiences as she is a writer as well as filmmaker. A multiple role that is commonplace among African women makers, who are filmmakers, or who make films in conjunction with or in relation to their main profession or major interests. 

This report concludes with a roster of names of Ghanaian women in cinema, visual media and screen culture. Joyce Osei Owusu’s research offers a record of the growing number of women practitioners of the moving image—film, video, new media. In addition to the few that I have added which also include film professionals and other stakeholders, such as organisers and critics, they are presented in alphabetical order, hence, having already acknowledged the pioneers and the firsts, the listing is not chronological, geographical nor based on preeminence, and surely it will be updated regularly to include the others who join them:

Bridget Abadzi, Pearl Adotey, Anita Afonu, Nicole Amarteifio, Barbara Anakwa, Priscilla Yawa Anany, Josephine Anim, Gyisawa Ansah, Amma Asante, Juliet Asante, Akofa Edjeani Asiedu, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Yaba Badoe, Nana Ama Boateng, Frances Bodomo, Hannah Awo Nkeba Bonney, Bibi Bright, Nadia Buari, Veronica Cudjoe, Kafui Danku, Kafui Dzivenu, Hawa Essuman, Lydia Forson, Nana Akua Frimpomaa, Shirley Frimpong-Manso, Nancy Mac Granaky-Quaye, Alberta Hukporti, Juliet Ibrahim, Sam Kessie, Doris Kuwornu, Hajia Hawa Meizongo, Naana Mensah, Vera Mensah Bediako, Yvonne Nelson, Jacqueline Nsiah, Yvonne Kafui Nyarku, Akua Ofosuhene, Yvonne Okoro, Cecilia Oppon-Badu, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Joyce Osei Owusu, Veronica Quarshie, Wilhelmina Quartey, Efua Sutherland, Afi Yakubu, Zynell Zuh.

Following are articles that have been published on the African Women in Cinema Blog. As I complete this piece and reflect on those who have appeared before now, I notice the abundance of references from the diaspora in comparison to those in Ghana, which has in many ways to do with visibility, and to return to the earlier point, accessibility, but it also highlights the importance of making the effort, taking the steps to reach out more actively to non-western sources, non-U.S.-based search engines and data bases, especially with the availability of social media, where African women have a significant visible presence—and also go beyond conventional means, by word or mouth or other contacts. On the other hand it is equally important for readers to reach out to the African Women in Cinema Blog in order to share relevant information and sources regarding Ghanaian women in cinema, visual media and screen culture—this is how the sisterhood of the screen widens, expands, continues.

Report by Beti Ellerson

Articles on Ghanaian women in cinema, visual media and screen culture
from the African Women in Cinema Blog

Shirley Frimpong-Manso Makes Movies

Foremothers in African Cinema: Efua Sutherland

Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Triple Consciousness

A Conversation with Sam Kessie

Joyce Osei Owusu: Researching Ghanaian Women in Cinema

Leila Djansi: A Portrait

A Conversation with Yaba Badoe

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah talks about the 2nd African Women in Film Forum (23-25 September 2013) Accra, Ghana

Ghanaian-American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu launches crowdfunding campaign to save the Rex Cinema in Accra, Ghana that risks being sold for redevelopment

Report on the 2nd African Women in Film Forum (AWIFF) - Accra, 23-25 September 2013

Anita Afonu: Preserving Ghana's Cinematic Treasures

Yaba Badoe talks about the documentary film project “The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo”

Ghanaian-German Jacqueline Nsiah’s digital Sankofa storytelling experience and other diasporic journeys

Season 2 - An African City directed by Nicole Amarteifio

Priscilla Yawa Anany: Children of the Mountain – 2016 Tribeca Film Festival (New York, USA)

Joyce Osei Owusu - Ghanaian Women and Film: An Examination of Female Representation and Audience Reception

Frances Bodomo to be part of the 2016 Sundance Institute Directors Lab

Ndiva Women's Film Festival 2017 - (Ghana) - Call for films