AFRican Cinema and Revolution -- Part Three
Sitting in the audience at the conference felt a little like sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving. There were a lot of things said about revolution, language, and representation that I have only dealt with theoretically. To have to grapple with these things on a daily basis creates the type of artist-scholars that say things like:
"Post-independence, in many countries with no financial support, large parts of African cinema died. In its wake in Nigeria and Ghana we have had offshoots. But are these really cinemas or post-cinemas? In the wake of technological transformations, the stories emerging are post-cinematic. They are very little touched by the great narrative questions of classical cinema. We have to move beyond a language of representation to a cinema of embodiment. What could it be?"
-- John Akomfrah
Without batting an eyelash. I wanted to reply, You're asking me? Moussa Sene Absa said it best when he noted: "We are not filmmakers, we are storytellers. We have people go into a room and it is dark and we say, 'I'm going to tell you a story.' It is a great pretension!"
Finally, the truth comes out. Even as I sit here and write this blog I am pretending. It requires a degree of audacity and tenacity mixed in with raw ambition. To make this tiny, insignificant thing seem great in scope.
I don't believe that only privileged white men should engage in this grand pretense of filmmaking. Spending tens of millions of dollars on movies about Santa Claus while AFRican filmmakers struggle to find one million to make a socially/historically/politically significant film. AFRican filmmakers hold themselves to a higher standard, taking their role as cultural producers very seriously. But I look forward to the day when some of us own the means of production and don't have to take ourselves as seriously any more. Can make nonsense films about nonsense things just like whites do. Even Zola Maseko said he would like to make a film about a man and woman falling in love, but it doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary.
But what was missing from the discussion, as always, were AFRican women. There were none at the table. Maybe that seat is reserved for me someday. I think if even one Ibibio woman makes a film as a result of seeing me do it, then we will all have succeeded.
Why I really got into filmmaking. I thought that if the world color-coded films, then children would have color-coded dreams. They might not be able to envision themselves as doctors, lawyers, business people, even the President.
And I think it shouldn't be that way simply because small-minded people own the means of production.
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