Africa's Film Industry Embraces Transnationalism: African Filmmaking Is Exploding into a New Era. If You Cast Even a Quick Glance at the Production Companies and Funding Agencies Behind a Handful of Recent African Films, You Can See Multi-National Origins. Lindiwe Dovey, Co-Director of Film Africa 2012, Explains Just What This Trend Means

By Dovey, Lindiwe | New African, October 2012 | Go to article overview

Africa's Film Industry Embraces Transnationalism: African Filmmaking Is Exploding into a New Era. If You Cast Even a Quick Glance at the Production Companies and Funding Agencies Behind a Handful of Recent African Films, You Can See Multi-National Origins. Lindiwe Dovey, Co-Director of Film Africa 2012, Explains Just What This Trend Means


Dovey, Lindiwe, New African


SEVERAL CO-PRODUCTION TREAties have recently been signed between African and other countries. This transnationalism is also evident in the content of numerous films, revealing a continent that is engaging with other people and places across the globe, from East to West. This is exciting and promising for African film.

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'African Cinema' began in the 196os as a body of work mostly funded by the French-controlled Bureau of African Cinema, which financed about two-thirds of the sub-Saharan African films made up until 1980. African filmmakers complained that this meant that the French had editorial power to select what they wanted and often hired French editors to cut the films.

Some of the most interesting films made during this period, however, were not funded by the French: such as the Senegalese doyen Ousmane Sembene's films, which were largely funded by his own production company Filmi Doomirev in co-production with other companies, and the Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety's films, which he co-produced with an independent Swiss funder, Silvia Voser.

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These early examples of rebellion against the dominance of French 'aid' to African filmmaking are now becoming standard practice, partly enforced by the fact that the French have broadened their own net, funding not just African films, but 'world cinema', through their new 'Cinemas of the South' programme.

Even Nigerian films, which used to be funded through local channels in the 'Nollywood' model, are now being made via co-productions. The role of the African diaspora is key to this process. Take, for example, The Assassin's Practice, a nail-biting thriller starring Kate Henshaw, which was made by Nigerian-born UK-based director Andrew Ukoko, and which will be screened at the Film Africa 2012 festival which runs I-II November across London. Ukoko works between the UK and Nigeria, drawing on resources from both contexts to realise his vision.

UK-based Nigerian filmmaker Obi Emelonye works in a similar way, and his debut The Mirror Boy was the first Nigerian film to have a mainstream theatrical release in the UK. It did very well--grossing about $65,000 from just a few screenings. These new Nigerian films have all the energy of 'Nollywood), but they are high-concept, with high production values, strong scripts, and brilliant performances. And their producers have a global approach--look out, for example, for J. …

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Africa's Film Industry Embraces Transnationalism: African Filmmaking Is Exploding into a New Era. If You Cast Even a Quick Glance at the Production Companies and Funding Agencies Behind a Handful of Recent African Films, You Can See Multi-National Origins. Lindiwe Dovey, Co-Director of Film Africa 2012, Explains Just What This Trend Means
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