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Safi Faye

1. The Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment (BEKE), a project of the International Missionary Council in coordination with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and British colonial governments of Tanganyika (Present day Tanzania), Kenya, Uganda, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) in the mid-1930s, took place between 1935 and 1937. 35 educational films were produced for the education of the black ("bantu") people. The BEKE productions were silent, low quality films with naive plots that usually involved a "wise guy" (giving the good example) prevailing over a "stupid guy" (impersonating bad habits). The main teachings conveyed by the films were about hygienical rules, methods of cash crop cultivation and cooperative marketing, and "prestige films" that highlighted the institutions of British rule.

2. Only three of the BEKE films survive and are held at the British Film Institute Archives, they are: "Veterinary Training of African Natives" (1936), "Tropical Hookworm" (1936), and "African Peasant Farms - the Kingolwira Experiment" (1936).

Veterinary Training of African Natives

3. 1934, in the French colonies, Africans were, by law, not permitted to make films of their own. This ban was known as the "Laval Decree". The ban stunted the growth of film as a means for Africans to express themselves politically, culturally, and artistically.

4. In 1955, however, Paulin Soumanou Vieyra – originally from Benin, but educated in Senegal – along with his colleagues from Le Group Africain du Cinema, shot a short film in Paris by the name of Afrique Sur Seine (1955). Afrique Sur Seine explores the difficulties of being an African in France during the 1950s and is considered to be the first film directed by a black African.

5. Before independence of francophone colonies, only a few anti-colonial films were produced. Examples include Les statues meurent aussi by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais about European robbery of African art (which was banned by the French for 10 years).

6. The first African film to win international recognition was Senegalese, Ousmane Sembène's La Noire de... also known as Black Girl. It showed the despair of an African woman who has to work as a maid in France. The writer Sembène had turned to cinema to reach a wider audience. He is still considered to be the "father" of African Cinema.

7. The Federation of African Filmmakers (FEPACI) was formed in 1969 in order to focus attention on the promotion of African film industries in terms of production, distribution and exhibition. FEPACI looks at the role of film in the politico-economic and cultural development of African states and the continent as a whole, making it a critical partner of the then OAU, now the AU.

8. Ethnologist and filmmaker Safi Faye was the first African woman film director to gain international recognition.

9. In 2008, Manouchka Kelly Labouba became the first woman to direct a fictional film in the history of Gabon. Her short film, Le Divorce, addresses the clash between modern and traditional values and its impact on a young Gabonese couple's attempt to divorce.

10. The cinema of Nigeria (referred to informally as Nollywood) grew quickly in the 1990s and 2000s to become the second largest film industry in the world in number of annual film productions, placing it ahead of the United States and behind only Indian cinema.

11. The release of the Straight-to-video movie Living in Bondage in 1992 by NEK Video Links owned by Kenneth Nnebue launched the Home video market in Nigeria. Nnebue had an excess number of imported video cassettes which he then used to shoot his first film on a Video Camera.

12. April 1966, the first Art Festival was hosted in Dakar; 26 films from 16 African countries were screened at this festival. At the end of the Festival a resolution for the creation of an inter-African body of Cinematography was made and this was led by the African Cinema group.

13. The first African film to win an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film was Tsotsi (2006), a South-African production.

14. Since 1896, more than 4000 films have been produced in Egypt, which accounts for three quarters of the global Arab film production. Egypt occupies the position of one the biggest film producers of the Middle East.

15. Nigerian filmmaker, Adamu Halilu, whose 1976 film, Shehu Umar, a chronicle of the life and times of the eponymous turn of the century figure whose life story he traces in this narrative about Islam in West Africa. The film is an adaptation of the novel Shaihu Umar, written in 1955 in Hausa by Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria.

Shaihu Umar

16. Latola Films was the first and earliest film production company in Nigeria, it started movie production as far back as 1962.

Written By: Olusola Agbaje

The post LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT AFRICAN CINEMA appeared first on Aphroden.

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