West African Cinema Analysis

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In that conference of 1995 organized by the British Film Institute, it was Professor Mbye Cham who posed the question of why success in music and other forms of African art were not being replicated in cinema (ibid., 183 ). It may not have dawned on the organizers, but the problem of indigenization posed by Professor Cham (himself a Gambian), was dominated by a West African perspective of the cinematographic experience in the persons of Sembène Ousmane (Senegal), Gaston Kaboré (Burkina Faso) and Cheik Oumar Sissoko (Mali), having Samir Farid as the only one from Egypt. Having their films as texts under analysis, it is equally important to get a feel of how they perceived the problem of indigenization of West African cinema - that is part and…show more content…
For Kaboré, reception is the product of a construct of the symbiosis between the filmmaker, the audience and the critic. Kaboré reasons that the questions which critics asked about cinema was, to a large extent, conditioned by what they wanted to see in it. If the aesthetics of the West remained the same, critics will accentuate the negative aspects and never see the positive aspects of African cinema in the making. For Kaboré, the filmmaker, the audience and the critic together have a crucial part to play in the indigenization of film in the continent. Filmmaking for Kaboré as a cinéaste was giving “social significance to the struggle I am involved in” (ibid., 187). “If African filmmakers don’t play their role as consciousness awakeners, maybe tomorrow Africa will be a culturally condemned continent with citizens who bodily live in Africa but are mentally displaced because they will have been showered with images conceived and thought of by other people. This is what we fear?” (ibid., 188). The lack of adequate film laboratories in Africa, the lack of legislations to protect the private investors in the film industry, the perennial economic difficulties for raising funds for film production and Western dominance of the filming industry, were part of Kaboré’s litany of problems that made the indigenization of African cinema a herculean task. Very important…show more content…
Artistic autonomy was hard to arrive at without financial autonomy he opined. What for Sissoko was disconcerting was the delinking reality of images shot in one corner of the world (Africa ) and shown in another (the West), where it will always remain an enigma. The actual people who need to be fed with these products are continually starved of this link that is vital and fundamental. There is therefore the paradoxical situation in which the cinéastes have to choose between making bad African films to please the French (West) or good African films that put off Westerners. Sissoko is of the opinion that at times only Africa is making the effort to reach out to others who remain fixed in their own backyards: “ We Africans make great efforts to understand Europe; that is rarely reciprocated. Our films offer sufficient immediate access for a non-African public to feel at ease. Doubtless there will remain certain mysterious zones for the occidental public, some aspects of the films may seem strange to them, but there is room for dreams and discovery” (ibid.,

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