Few people in the United States are familiar with the work of Flora Gomes, the most prominent figure in Guinea-Bissau's film industry, because none of his feature films or documentaries have been distributed in this country. Indeed, little is known in the West about either the cinema in Guinea-Bissau or the country itself. This tiny West African nation of less than a million people was under Portuguese colonial rule until 1974, when it became independent. Westerners' opportunity for knowledge of Guinea-Bissau came only during the protracted fifteen-year war of liberation against the Portuguese colonial administration, whose rule was brutal and crass. Some in the West came to know about the war from the scanty coverage given it in the news media. The United States had no vested interest in the African liberation struggles during the Cold War, when any nationalist group fighting for freedom and not bonded with the capitalist ideology was considered communist. In fact, the West supported Portugal, partly because of its status as a NATO country and partly because of U.S. interests in the region. The nationalist struggle sought to create opportunities for Africans, which had been practically nonexistent during centuries of Portuguese rule.
It was also from this struggle that the revolutionary thinker and political philosopher Amilcar Cabral emerged as an indomitable revolutionary whose writings have influenced intellectuals, politicians, and cultural producers, including Flora Gomes. Although cinema is linked to the revolutionary process through the use of documentaries as an educational and indoctrinating tool, Guinea-Bissau's cinema is still one of the least known of West Africa's cinemas. The film industry in Guinea-Bissau, which was established immediately after independence, remains a state enterprise. The government oversees the production of films in the country, but the government itself is
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Publication information: Book title: Questioning African Cinema: Conversations with Filmmakers. Contributors: Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike - Author. Publisher: University of Minnesota Press. Place of publication: Minneapolis. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 101.
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