FILMING AGAINST THE ODDS Indaba on 50 Years of Film in Independent Africa
CALL FOR PAPERS African Media Centre, University of Westminster, London, UK / LONDON AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL Filming Against the Odds Conference, London, 27-28 November 2010
This is a call for papers from the African Media Centre at the University of Westminster for a one-day conference on 50 years of filmmaking in independent Africa. A half a century ago, Sub-Saharan Africa welcomed independence with a wave of optimism. A new cinema was born, championed by the Senegalese film-maker Ousmane Sembène. This new cinema would provide a conduit of expression for voiceless Africans – revealing social conditions and sharing stories. Sembène’s first short film, Borom Sarret, was a watershed. It reached a worldwide audience with a plot based on the tale of a poor cart driver whose tragic life mirrored the hazards facing many ordinary people. Borom Sarret’s issues became dominant themes in African cinema. Prior to political independence, colonial rule did not allow Africans to make their own films. African independence seems to have given the environment needed to produce African stories on the screen. Not only was political independence a subject in films, but the environment it created gave an added impetus to both independent and institutionally supported film-making in Africa.
African filmmakers have produced stories that celebrate success and failure in their societies. African history, language and etymology are evident in the ways in which some filmmakers have sought an independent form to help indigenize the medium. Today, Nigeria has become the centre of a lucrative home video industry known as Nollywood. According to a recent UN statement, around 900 titles are released in Nigeria each year and bring revenue of about £100m, and Nigeria has surpassed Hollywood to become the world’s second largest film producer after Bollywood. Movies are made on the cheap and copies are exported, sold on the street, or distributed via increasing numbers of video clubs. The film-makers have to work fast and around the clock in their desperate attempt to fend off the pirates. The contemporary African film industry is clearly of global proportions.
However, the questions that must be asked are: whose languages are spoken in African film? What are the patterns of stories that have been told so far? What formats do African filmmakers use? What themes? How has funding affected what is produced? What are the politics of film-making in Africa? Apart from development, education and entertainment, has film on the continent advanced the emancipation of Africans? What has been the relationship between political independence and African film?
The conference will include a session with leading African filmmakers. Papers may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following: – Precolonial film in Africa – Contemporary and historical dimensions of film in Africa – Language and African film – African languages and film in Africa – Global, national, local aspects of film in Africa – Screen media Africa – Identity politics and the media in Africa – Film funding in Africa – Educational film in Africa – Politics and film in Africa – Distributing films in Africa – Style and aesthetics of African film – History of African film – Film audiences in Africa
Please e-mail your 200-word abstract to Helen Cohen at: firstname.lastname@example.org All submissions must include the title of the conference, topic, an abstract and should list the author’s full name, with contact information and affiliation. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 July 2010 and those whose abstracts are accepted will be notified by 5 August 2010. Conference Fees: Unwaged/Students: £50 Waged/Non-Students: £125 Fees cover registration, conference pack, lunch, coffee/tea and wine reception