Truths You Might Not Know About Francophone Film Production
In many ways I think, through books and film, Africans (those who went through colonization especially) have been relatively ambitious in telling their stories through these mediums. Despite the obvious setbacks they faced, none of us would really be able to personally feel the struggle they went through in creating their own forms of storytelling.These artists took great risks during that time and made the best out their situations.
After independence, film directors in the former French colonies took the lead in African Cinema for a number of reasons. Francophone Africa had the largest number of film directors, many of whom had acquired sophisticated techniques from their studies abroad. Consequently, they were the best equipped to produces films capable of competing with American and European films for the attention of African audiences.In addition, France offered its former colonies financial and technical support for film production through institutions such as the Consortium audiovisuel international (CAI) and the Bureau du Cinema. The first to take advantage of such assistance was the Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, whose 1963 Borom Sarret is now considered by many historians to be the first African film.
During the early years of independence, Francophone film directors such as Timite Bassori( Cote D’ivoire), Gaston Kabore (Burkina Faso), Ousmane Sembene, Moustapha Alassane (Niger), and Med Hondo (Mauritania), not only produced films but also became advocates for African cinema. They identified and denounced the barriers to African film production. These hurdles came from American and European distributors’ monopoly over African movie theaters (which enabled them to flood the market with foreign films); the lack of production facilities in Africa; and censorship by African governments. Francophone directors, in 1969 initiated the Federation Panafricaine des Cineastes (FEPACI), an organization that fought for the cultural, political, economic liberation of African film.
The FEPACI’s call for cultural liberation has indeed been heard. During the 1970s and 80’s, many African filmmakers, with encouragement from FEPACI, avoided sensationalist Hollywood- style filmmaking in favor of productions about African daily life including social issues and politics. The organization has also helped promote African film both in Africa and abroad. They have additionally aided the Festical Panafricain du Cinema de Ouagadougou (FESPACO), a biennial film festival held in the capital of Burkina Faso.
Africa’s Francophone filmmakers has in the pas however, criticized FEPACI’s failure to make African cinema more commercially viable in Africa itself. Filmmakers such as Irissa Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) and Souleymane Cisse (Mali) have asserted that the FEPACI tends to promote heavy-handed political films that lack technical sophistication. In order to win broader audiences, they argue, African filmmakers need to improve their techniques and choose plots that are accessible to rural African audiences.
Source: Encyclopedia Of Africa