Les deux visages d'une femme bamiléké. The two faces of a bamiléké woman

Les2visagesOn the occasion of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (until 4 February), which offers an interesting Africa programme , this highlight is about Les deux visages d'une femme bamiléké, one of the films on the programme, which is now also available (on DVD, with English subtitles) at the ASCL Library.

Journey back home
Filmmaker Rosine Mbakam was born in 1980 in a traditional bamiléké household in Cameroon. She left her country when she was twenty-seven. This film is an account of her journey back home, together with her European husband and their son, after living for seven years in Europe. The film shows her reunion with her mother and is structured around places where the filmmaker lived when she was a young girl. Now a mother herself, she sees her mother and aunts from a different perspective, and the daughter asks questions about things she used to take for granted. Mbakam's mother was sixty-eight at the time the film was made. She grew up in a time of national liberation struggles and experienced the atrocities of the French repression. She got married at eighteen to a man her parents had chosen for her.

Everyday life
The film focuses on the daily life of the women, showing them doing chores in the village of the ancestors where some family members still live, as well as on the compound of the family house in Yaoundé, where Rosine Mbakam grew up and her mother still lives. While the women are preparing meals, they talk freely about their lives, experiences and the choices they made.

Hidden voices
The filmmaker begins her film on a dark road at night, using this darkness as a metaphor for the hidden history of her family, on which she wants to shed light. In beautiful images, filmed very close to the women and their surroundings, Rosine Mbakam gives life to voices hidden in the silence and puts light on the faces of the women of her community.

After her studies in video journalism and audiovisual techniques in Yaoundé from 2001 to 2004, Rosine Mbakam worked for the private channel STV (Spectrum Télévision) in Douala from 2004 to 2007. To pursue her training,  she then went to Belgium to study as a director at INSAS (Brussels). She directed several short films and also Mavambu, a portrait of the Congolese artist Freddy Tsimba.

The film received the Prize of the Flemish Unesco Commission 2017.

Elvire Eijkman