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Ten directors

Despite the well-documented difficulties in production, distribution and exhibition that it has faced over the last fifty years, African cinema has managed to establish itself as an innovative and challenging body of filmmaking. This book represents a response to some of the best of those films. It is the first introduction of its kind to an important cross-section of postcolonial African filmmakers from the 1950s to the present. The book brings together ideas from a range of disciplines, film studies, African cultural studies and, in particular, postcolonial studies, to combine the in-depth analysis of individual films and bodies of work by individual directors with a sustained interrogation of these films in relation to important theoretical concepts. It provides both an overview of the director's output to date, and the necessary background to enable readers to achieve a better understanding of the director's choice of subject matter, aesthetic or formal strategies, ideological stance. The book focuses on what might loosely be called the auteur tradition of filmmaking, closely associated with Francophone African cinema, which explicitly views the director as the 'author' of a work of art. The aim is to re-examine the development of the authorial tradition in Africa, as well as the conception of both artist and audience that has underpinned it at various stages over the past fifty years. The works of Youssef Chahine, Ousmane Sembene, Med Hondo, Djibril Diop Mambety, Souleymane Cissé, Flora Gomes, Idrissa Ouédraogo, Moufida Tlatli, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, and Darrell James Roodt are discussed.

Daisy Connon

Towards a Theory for African Cinema is an English translation of a talk given in French by the Tunisian filmmaker and critic Férid Boughedir (1944–) at a conference on international cinema, which took place in Montreal in 1974. In his presentation Boughedir discusses the vocation of the African filmmaker, who must avoid succumbing to the escapism and entertainment values of Western cinema and instead strive to reflect the contradictions and tensions of the colonised African identity, while promoting a revitalisation of African culture. Drawing on the example of the 1968 film Mandabi (The Money Order) by the Senegalese director Sembène Ousmane, Boughedir conceptualises a form of cinema which resists the influences of both Hollywood and auteur film and awakens viewers, instead of putting them to sleep. Boughedir‘s source text is preceded by a translator‘s introduction, which situates his talk within contemporary film studies.

Film Studies
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David Murphy and Patrick Williams

virtuosity unknown in African cinema since the release of Djibril Diop Mambety’s Touki-Bouki in 1973’ ( 2002 : 218). At the time of their respective releases, both films appeared as bolts out of the blue in the African film landscape, announcing the arrival of singular and daring young talents. The two men were in their mid-twenties when they made their first feature films and both eschew the dominant social realism of their

in Postcolonial African cinema
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Representing postcolonial African cinema
David Murphy and Patrick Williams

Representing Africa Despite the well-documented – and seemingly intractable – difficulties in production, distribution and exhibition that it has faced over the last fifty years, African cinema has managed to establish itself as an innovative and challenging body of filmmaking, and this volume represents a response to some of the best of those films. It is the first introduction

in Postcolonial African cinema
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David Murphy and Patrick Williams

Introduction The Senegalese director and novelist Ousmane Sembene began his film career in the early 1960s, and is often hailed as ‘the father of African cinema’ for his role in the development of filmmaking on the continent. Born in 1923, in the provincial port of Ziguinchor, Sembene is credited with a series of landmarks ‘firsts’: the first film by a sub-Saharan African in Africa

in Postcolonial African cinema
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David Murphy and Patrick Williams

African cinema history. Although Ukadike’s critical appraisal of Ouédraogo’s work is less than fulsome, he acknowledges that: ‘From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the films of Idrissa Ouédraogo, more than those of any other African filmmaker, made an enormous impact internationally, in terms of both universal acceptability and commercial viability’ ( 2002 : 151). Considering how dramatically Ouédraogo’s critical and popular

in Postcolonial African cinema
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David Murphy and Patrick Williams

out would-be blockbusters in the United States. Humorous or not, there is something to be said for the image, and one of the aims of this chapter will therefore be to explore and attempt to understand some of the contradictions which Roodt and his films embody. If there is any substance to a recent claim that Roodt is ‘the self-defined bad boy of South African Cinema’ (Beittel 2003 : 80), then one – slightly generous

in Postcolonial African cinema
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David Murphy and Patrick Williams

1994 ). While these arguments are formulated above all in relation to postcolonial populations in the metropolis, they carry an obvious rele vance for African filmmakers – although, by and large, it is a debate still waiting to happen in the field of African cinema. Whether or not he feels especially burdened by the fact, Florentino ‘Flora’ Gomes certainly occupies a lonely position as the only

in Postcolonial African cinema
David Murphy and Patrick Williams

had escaped his earlier films, which were often mired in ideological debates about the ‘true’ nature of African cinema. 2 By the early 1990s, the demand in certain quarters for African films to adhere to specific aesthetic and political agendas had weakened considerably, which provided a much more welcoming context for Mambety’s politically and culturally ambiguous narratives. Social, cultural and

in Postcolonial African cinema
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David Murphy and Patrick Williams

) The tendency for directors to gravitate towards ‘softer’ subjects is something which Hondo has also noted: in a recent interview he comments on ‘so-called African cinema’ which is currently ‘drowning in the anecdotal’ (Hondo 2002 ) in contrast to the challenging, and still vitally relevant, subjects tackled by someone like Sembene. There is also a self-perpetuating mechanism at work here: given that the ‘softer’ films are

in Postcolonial African cinema