African Movies Gaining Spotlight
Africa was predominantly represented by Western filmmakers throughout the colonial era. Western filmmakers depicted black Africans as “exoticized,” “submissive workers,” or “savage or cannibalistic” in the first decades of the twentieth century. See, for example, 1909’s Kings of the Cannibal Islands, 1913’s Voodoo Vengeance, and Congorilla (1914). (1932). Films from the colonial era portrayed Africa as strange and devoid of history and culture. Jungle epics based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan character, as well as the adventure film The African Queen (1951), and many adaptations of H. Rider Haggard’s classic King Solomon’s Mines, are just a few examples (1885). Much early ethnographic film “centered on showing the distinctions between indigenous people and the white civilised man, therefore promoting colonial propaganda,” according to one scholar.
It was nearly impossible to find African films in the 1980s and 1990s. African film industry were significantly smaller than Hollywood’s, with far fewer films produced, and technology wasn’t as advanced back then, according to Adejunmobi.
There were no DVDs or streaming services where anyone could see movies from all over the world.
According to Adejunmobi, Senegalese films were regularly distributed by California Newsreel, a tiny nonprofit film distribution firm. However, others outside of academic circles may not have been aware of the organization, and, simply put, there was little interest.
It’s easier and less expensive to make and distribute movies these days, thanks to DVDs and YouTube.
On the continent, there is also a growing cinephile culture. Films from the continent are honored at the Panafrican Film Festival, also known as FESPACO, the Africa Movie Academy Awards, and film festivals in Durban, South Africa, Zanzibar, and Egypt. This, according to Adejunmobi, is where the actual recognition comes from.
Despite this, the film industry in Africa continues to expand. And the work is stunning, as evidenced by the elaborate choreography in “Night of the Kings,” the delicate light in “Lingui,” the suspense in “Nafi’s Father,” and the obstacles in “Eyimofe,” all of which are beautifully captured on 16mm film. All of this happened during the last few years.