Chosen, new film by Jean-Marie Teno

Chosen (Le futur dans le rétro) is the latest film by internationally acclaimed director Jean-Marie Teno. Born in Cameroon, in 1954, Jean-Marie Teno arrived in France, in 1978, to study audio-visual communication at the University of Valenciennes. In 1987, he founded Les films du raphia and he has since been producing and directing social-issue films on the colonial and postcolonial history of Africa. His website states: “Our films are noted for their personal and original approach to issues of race, cultural identity, African history and contemporary politics.” Jean-Marie Teno’s films have been honoured at festivals worldwide.



Effects of colonialism

Teno’s international breakthrough came in 1992 with Africa, I will fleece you (Afrique je te plumerai), a documentary film about the effects of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Cameroon. Teno: “Thirty years after independence, young Africans continue to fight to get out of a systemic violence put in place by the French colonial administration which continues today in the countries of French-speaking Africa with the support of France.” The voice-over in the film says (in French): “Someone said at independence: the principal victory of colonization was also to have perpetrated a real cultural genocide.” His later films continue to examine the perpetuation of the traumas left by (neo-)colonial history.


Jean-Marie Teno’s latest documentary film, Chosen (Le futur dans le rétro) is, according to Teno’s website, “A filmic essay about multiple histories, multiple journeys, multiple exiles that reflect the experience of our contemporary globalized society. To overcome trauma, many Africans return to their ancestors to read or interpret the events unfolding before their eyes. To do so, they often undertake a trip home, but for many, where is home?” In the film, Teno recounts his meeting with the protagonist, Naana Banyiwa Horne, a woman whose life journey mirrored his own, and that of a generation of Africans, who left one day and are now struggling to find their way back home. 


In 1964, following the death of her mother, 14-year-old Naana Banyiwa Horne becomes a maternal figure to eight younger siblings. Years later, after living and teaching in the US, the university lecturer, who has a PhD in African languages and literature, feels the urge to return home to Ghana and is unexpectedly chosen to be Queen mother Naana Ansomaa III. As the film follows her on her journey home, we meet her sisters, family, and other members of the community. We also join her at the enthronement rituals and we acknowledge her complex feelings surrounding this process. For Naana, motherhood, sisterhood and ancestral bonds are very important, and she accepts the burdens of responsibility and sacrifice. Nevertheless, she feels homeless; Ghana is home and she is happy there, but home is also in the US where her husband, children and grandchildren live. Naana Horne published two very personal poetry bundles: Sunkwa, clingings onto life and Sunkwa revisited.


Literature on Jean-Marie Teno:

Cinema and social discourse in Cameroon / Alexie Tcheuyap (2005)

Please click here for several articles on the work of Jean-Marie Teno (restricted access).

All films made by Jean-Marie Teno from 1992 onwards are available at the library:

Elvire Eijkman