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Hackney Picture House: Introduction to African Cinema

Hackney Picture House: Introduction to African Cinema

Six Weeks on Wednesdays from 9th Jan, 7-9pm
Keith Shiri Duration: 120 min

This course will introduce students to the history of African cinema, its politics and aesthetics and offers an opportunity to study Africa through the cinematic output of different countries. You will be introduced to the most significant pioneers of African cinema including Ousmane Sembene, Lionel Ngakane and Jean-Pierre Dikongue Pipa. We will consider African films within the social/historical context in which they were made considering themes such as regional experiences of colonialism, the role played by film in nation building and anti- colonial liberation and recent discussions of sexuality and gender.  The classes will be in a seminar style and will feature the screening of selected clips and trailers of films spanning a little more than 50 years. (Main image credit: Black Girl: Ousmane Sembene)

Week one: An historical overview of African cinema 

This week will look at the pioneering work by Ousmane Sembene a major figure in postcolonial African cinema. His film Black Girl a searing account of racism and isolation of a young black girl transported from Senegal to work as a maid was the first feature film directed and produced by an African.

Suggested Viewing: Black Girl, dir. Ousmane Sembene (Senegal)

Week two: The look of Africa: Aesthetics of African film 

Week 2 will compare and contrast creative styles of 2 celebrated films by filmmakers of different generations so as to build an understanding of visual style in African Cinema. We will examine films by Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety such as Touki Bouki and Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako’s film Timbuktu. These films will inform a discussion on the particular aesthetics of African film.

Suggested Viewing: Timbuktu, Dir. Abderrahmane Sissako

Week Three: Film as a tool of anti-colonial liberation 

This week will consider the politics of representation. We will look at how Africans have been portrayed in the colonial period and the ways that film was taken up in Africa as a tool of cultural and political liberation.

Suggested viewing: Darwin’s Nightmare dir. Hubert Sauper
Africa Addios. Dir. Gualtiero Jacopeti and Franco Prosperi. A controversial, racist film that violently slanders Africa.

Week four: Cinema in the fight against apartheid 

In this week we will look at how cinema became an important tool of resistance against apartheid in South Africa.

Suggested viewing: A Dry White Season dir. Euzhan Palcy (Martinique). Adapted from South African writer André Brink’s novel, A Dry White Season focused on the politics of South African apartheid. It was such a compelling project brought Marlon Brando out of retirement to fulfil the project’s vision.

See Also

Week Five: Nollywood: Building new African identities. 
Nollywood is a colloquial name given to Nigerian film industry. This week we look at the creative energy young Africans have brought to drama by embracing digital technology and their dynamic approach to dramatized film and TV.

Suggested viewing: Fifty dir. Biyi Bandele (Nigeria): A riveting exploration of love and lust, power and rivalry, and seduction and infidelity, set in Africa’s most populous city, Lagos.

Week Six: Gender and sexuality 

We will discuss issues of gender and sexuality by drawing attention to the current debates on homoeroticism in African Cinema.

Suggested viewing: The Wound, dir. John Trengove (South Africa): The Wound is a tender and intimate film that explores sexuality, masculinity and cultural identity against the backdrop of the Xhosa initiation ceremony.

Tickets are £70 for the full six week course (£65 concession / £60 Picturehouse Members). Book here   

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