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Contemporary African Cinema

Contemporary African Cinema

Olivier Barlet
Copyright Date: 2016
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    Contemporary African Cinema
    Book Description:

    African and notably sub-Saharan African film's relative eclipse on the international scene in the early twenty-first century does not transcend the growth within the African genre. This time period has seen African cinema forging a new relationship with the real and implementing new aesthetic strategies, as well as the emergence of a post-colonial popular cinema.Drawing on more than 1,500 articles, reviews, and interviews written over the past fifteen years, Olivier Barlet identifies the critical questions brought about by the evolution of African cinema. In the process, he offers us a personal and passionate vision, making this book an indispensable sum of thought that challenges preconceived ideas and enriches an approach to cinema as a critical art.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-497-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History, History, Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Question of Criticism (pp. 1-106)

    You know African cinema; it tends to be serious, not light.

    —Dani Kouyaté, in joint interview of theOuaga Sagaproduction team, by Olivier Barlet (2004)

    I wish to ram into every word the pain of those living in the clutches of a century that messes up hopes and maintains a relationship of panic with the future.

    —Sony Labou Tansi,Antoine m’a vendu son destin

    What is the cause of Hami’s death? Evil is eating away at the village community, which can only quell the scourge with the help of Calacado, the diviner, who determines everyone’s place. Like the child...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Thematic Continuities and Ruptures (pp. 107-178)

    We never write just one thing, we write what keeps us awake at night: how to relate history today?

    —Kossi Efoui, “Afrique noire: Ecritures contemporaines”

    O brothers, if our syntax is not a cog of freedom

    if our books still weigh on the docker’s shoulder

    if our voice is not a guiding star to railway workers or shepherds

    if our poems are not the arms of justice in the hands

    of our people;

    O let us remain silent!

    —Jean Sénac, “Salut aux écrivains et artistes noirs,” a letter-poem sent to the Congrés de Paris, September 22, 1956

    On May 7,...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Postcolonial Clichés (pp. 179-218)

    They say Africans are not ready for democracy. So I wonder: have they ever been ready for dictatorship?

    —Wole Soyinka, in the filmBlack Business, directed by Osvalde Lewat (Cameroon, 2007)

    “Africa is a more or less dangerousguignol,” Roland Barthes wrote ironically in his article “Bichon and the Blacks,” published inMythologies. That was in 1957, on the a medium has played a considerable role in entrenching the colonial clichés on which discrimination is founded. Things are changing, but film still contributes to this process.

    Combining remarkable iconographic research that has given rise to exhibitions, books, and films, and...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Memory and Reconciliation (pp. 219-268)

    Populations who have frequented the abyss do not boast that they are chosen. They do not believe they engender the power of modernities. They live the Relation, which they decipher as the forgotten abyss comes to them and as their memory is strengthened.

    —Edouard Glissant,Poétique de la relation: Poétique III

    Which memory

    but that perforated by roads of fiery substance.

    —William Souny,Sahan

    “Yesterday is in the arms of tomorrow,” as Tchicaya U Tam’si poetically put it inPhalènes. The future stems from the past, just as the past bears the future. Memory is inscribed within this dialectic, which...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Styles and Strategies (pp. 269-338)

    We don’t ask: will the spectator like the film,

    but rather: will the film like the spectator?

    —Luc Dardenne,Au dos de nos images

    Mille mois/A Thousand Months(Morocco, 2003) opens with a sequence of eight shots in which the villagers gather on the hillside, scrutinizing the horizon. They are there to sight the new moon, which signals the start of Ramadan, but we do not know it yet. “I like toying with the audience in this way to thwart its expectations,” said Faouzi Bensaïdi. Not disposing of all the visible elements, the audience is invited to imagine its own...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Economic Perspectives (pp. 339-380)

    All problems have two ends to them.

    —Malian proverb, in the filmTaafe Fanga, directed by Adama Drabo (1997)

    It is often said that there is no market for African film. Indeed, the rare films that do get produced struggle to make it in the North, while in the South, the situation is deteriorating: cinemas are closing, piracy is rampant, television does not broadcast them, governments are not reacting, and audiences prefer American movies or local, popular productions. Does this mark the end of reflective cinema in Africa?

    “Our cinema no longer has a home,” as Beninese director Idrissou Mora...

  10. Conclusion (pp. 381-382)

    While new technologies permit the emergence of multiple postcolonial cinematic forms in Africa, the critical stake is more than ever to encourage these forms to allow emancipation, in order to progress and to define the outlines of a new critical art. The ruptures at work during the 2000s mark a turning point for film works still tempted by the essentialist concepts of nationalism or cultural Pan-Africanism that accompanied Independence. Before the current tyranny of pragmatism, this reconfiguration opens the path to the essential reconciliation of doubt and hope.

    “At the very least, this is what happens: identity equates with immunity,...

  11. Notes (pp. 383-402)
  12. Bibliography (pp. 403-434)
  13. Index of Filmmakers and Films (pp. 435-452)