Home ARTS AND CULTURE Seventh art: When Africa invents its own cinema, away from Cannes

Seventh art: When Africa invents its own cinema, away from Cannes


As the Cannes Film Festival opens in southern France, African production still appears as the poor relation of the world film industry. Yet, with the means that it has, the continent shows a remarkable inventiveness, sometimes in reverse of the international canons. What if that was its chance?

Every year, almost the same refrain: there are not enough African films in the selection of the Cannes Film Festival! The 2017 edition does not escape the rule, with only three feature films that could be classified in this category, otherwise blurry. The very meaning of the expression “African film” would be very interesting intellectual at the time of globalization, but certainly also academic. It is probably better to go and take a look at the continent where, yes, there are dynamic and meaningful cinematographic industries.

Some will spontaneously quote Nollywood and the richness of Nigerian production, others will evoke the system of financing of cinema set up in Morocco, some will remember remarkable South African or Chadian films. The most informed will say that Ghana now deserves the nicknames of Kumawood or Ghallywood that are sometimes given to him … But the cutoff argument will soon fall. Of course, there is a local production, but it remains of insufficient quality to be represented in Cannes. A quality evaluated as it should in the light of essentially Western criteria and whose appreciation relies on fairly consensual international canons of image, staging, scenario, duration, game…

Without falling into Cultural relativism, it is towards Africa that it is advisable to turn to get an idea of the films that fill the rooms or circulate in the form of DVD. You have to go to Burkina Faso, which is home to the most important festival on the continent every two years and where local films are undeniably successful. We must go to Liberia where, paradoxically, the Ebola epidemic and the closure of borders have encouraged the emergence of local production.

Beyond the attempts at imitation modeled on Asian or Hollywood productions, it is here that Africa looks at herself and gives herself to see without passing through the distorting prism of external judgment. And it is from there that she will invent her own cinema, which could well astonish the world.

Source: Jeune Afrique.