One of the most fascinating things about the new African filmscape is the fact that Africans from every country on the continent now have their say and address cinema audiences across the globe. They choose global themes from the most diverse and sometimes very personal angles: such as the end of nationalist utopias in Africa and the overcoming of proverbial Afro-pessimism.
African Screens presents current developments and creative visions in contemporary African film. An entire series of competing and often contradictory film languages is waiting to be discovered. Critical positions, in particular, are hardly ever seen in Europe because they contradict the politically correct and monolithic definition of African cinema upheld by festivals and cultural institutions here. We can only access its rich cinematic vocabulary and wealth of creative and political ideas once we stop focussing entirely on the difference between African and western cinema, and look instead at the difference in the cinematic languages and political visions inside Africa itself.
A long weekend will be devoted to the final edition of FESPACO in Ouagadougou, which attracts more members of the public than any other festival in the world. It is being held in co-operation with ARIKAMERA 2008, an initiative of the association Toucouleur e.V. Under the motto ‘migrating identities’, the programme curated by Alex Moussa Sawadogo is showing eight important films on the themes of cultural identity and migration.
Manthia Diawara, born in Mali, runs the department of Africana Studies at New York University. With books such as African Cinema (1985) and Black American Cinema (1993) Manthia Diawara, who engages in film and literary criticism, has written some pioneering works in the area of black cultural studies. The films he has directed include Rouch in Reverse, a portrait of the famous ethnographical film-maker Jean Rouch and (with Ngûgî wa Thiong’o) the documentary film Sembene Ousmane: The Making of the African Cinema.