The African documentary: “A picture paints a thousand words“

Seminar date: 
03 September 2009
Speaker(s): Mariët Bakker

Mariët Bakker founded Africa in the Picture in 1987 and left the organization in 2005. She has been lecturing on African cinema since 1999, not only at educational institutions in the Netherlands but also in Africa and Asia. She also works as a yoga teacher and personal coach.

In this seminar the founder and former director of the Africa in the Picture film festival, Mariët Bakker, will talk about past and present African documentaries and show clips from the latest documentaries and the ASC's archives. 

The following clips will be shown (amongst others):
Lumumba (1992), by Raoul Peck
Afrique, je te plumerai (1992), by J.M. Teno
Ngor, l'esprit des lieux (1994), by Felix Samba Ndiaye
The life and times of Sara Baartman (1998), by Zola Maseko
Chef! (1999), by J.M. Teno
Si-Gueriki. La reine mère (2003), by Idrissou Mora Kpai
En attendant les hommes (2007), by Katy Lena Ndiaye
In my Genes (2009), by Lupita Nyongo'o

The titles of the films available in the ASC Library link directly to the corresponding record in the online catalogue.

With the coming of digital material about 15 years ago, one can observe a change in the field of African documentaries. Until the mid 1990s there had only been a few African film makers in this genre, for example, Jean Marie Teno from Cameroon and Felix Samba Ndiaye from Senegal. They both work in the tradition of African cinema: politicized, anti-colonial and concerned with issues of urbanization, the environment, corruption and the disappearance of African values. Most documentaries used to be shot on celluloid, with post-production outside Africa. 
This all changed in the late 1990s when Teno shocked us in 1999 with 'Chef!' in which he analyzed the system of chiefdom in Cameroon. It was in this era that young documentary makers from South Africa started to emerge, developing some very subjective films in which they discussed their families, political backgrounds and views of society. Increasingly, young film makers from the continent and the diasporas have surprised us with their work on youth culture, traditional paintings, royal ancestry, labour circumstances and albinism. 
A substantial number of these documentaries have already been shown and/or will be seen at the Africa in the Picture film festival that will be held from 9 - 14 September 2009. The African Studies Centre's library has maintained part of the festival's film archive since it started in 1987 but also purchases material independently.