African Cinema: Six Pointers
The films in the Library of African Cinema are often beautiful, sometimes
humorous and always engaging. But to get the most out of them, you must
look at them in a new way. The following six viewing tips can help you
appreciate what is distinctly African in their point of view.
1. Many African films deliberately explore a different style from European
and Hollywood films. Scenes unfold at a measured pace, with the deliberation
of storytelling or folktales. Shots are often framed to reveal the larger
social patterns of rural life. The acting sometimes seems a little formal,
almost reticent. Dont fight these differences; try to appreciate
the timeless rhythms and ordered life of a less industrialized society.
2. Imagine what these stories would look like if they had been directed
by Spike Lee or David Lynch starring Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and
Whoopi Goldberg. How would they be different? What would you be missing?
3. A recurrent theme in many of these films is the tension between self-assertion
and group cohesion. Traditional agrarian societies need to preserve social
harmony and continuity sometimes at the expense of the individual initiative
and innovation so prized in industrialized economies. Notice how many
of the characters in these films are torn between "tradition"
4. African films focus on social problems, personal concerns and cultural
issues you would never see in a Hollywood film or a nightly newscast.
How are Africans portrayed differently in Africa? How have these films
changed your mental image of Africa and Africans?
5. Americans and Europeans often have only a small role to play in African
produced films. Do you have trouble identifying with the problems and
aspirations of African characters? What is local and indigenous to these
cultures and what has resonance with our own?
6. Look in these films for linkages between African American and African
cultures, for example storytelling, family structure and music. What also
strikes you as notable differences between the two?
of African Cinema Collection