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About: Festival des Femmes

Fri, 10 Apr 1998 07:44:08 -0700 (PDT)

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    Originally dated: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 07:44:08 -0700 (PDT)

    > Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:10:16 -0400
    > xposted from H-AFRLITCINE@H-NET.MSU.EDU
    > From: Ken Harrow, Michigan State University
    > [harrow@PILOT.MSU.EDU]
    > I recently was able to attend 5 days of the
    > Festival des Femmes, the 20th
    > anniversary of the Women's film festival at
    > Creteil--Paris. The festival featured Hanna
    > Shygulla, a competition of women directors from
    > all over the world, and African Women
    > Filmmakers--my reason for attending.
    > I missed the opening in which Safi Faye's Mossane
    > was given a gala opening; and I missed the last
    > 3-4 days of the festival. but the scheduling was
    > such that I was able to see many of the African
    > women's films.
    > As for the African women's part of the festival,
    > Safi Faye's work was
    > featured, and although I missed her, I saw a
    > number of her films, including some shorter
    > documentaries unavailable in the states. The
    > highlight of the entire conference, for me, by
    > far, was Safi Faye's older film, Fad Jal, which I
    > believe (I hope) is available from women make
    > movies. it was just great, a beautiful,
    > understated depiction of life and its strains, its
    > high moments, etc, in a serer village ( I can't
    > "hear" the difference between serer and Wolof; it
    > sounded like Wolof to me). some of Safi's other
    > films included Racines Noires, Peasant Letter
    > (available from Mypheduh--also a fine film), Selbe
    > (women make movies has it); Moi, Ta Mere (at the
    > festival the only copy was in German, so it was
    > cancelled!); and Ambassade Nourrices. I saw the
    > latter film on an empty stomach, at dinner time,
    > and it was about an hour long tour of ethnic
    > restaurants, and their owners, in Paris! with
    > close-ups of the food!!
    > another highlight was the gala showing of Wanjiru
    > Kinyanjui's Battle of the sacred tree, during
    > which homage was rendered to the dozen African
    > women filmmakers (and one Italian) and their work.
    > the festival did not really care to distinguish
    > between African women
    > filmmakers, and women like Attali who made a film
    > about Africans... well...
    > in addition, it seemed to me that the organizers
    > were not enormously
    > discriminating in their choices. I saw a number of
    > extremely minor and
    > amateurish works that did not deserve showing at a
    > major festival. since
    > I'm offering criticism, I might as well say that I
    > found that despite the
    > wonderful work and attitude of the organizers, in
    > general the African work was not given the serious
    > attention it deserved, the choices were
    > remarkably poor in a number of instances, and that
    > French culture has many miles to go before it will
    > have recognized African artists with the respect
    > they deserve.
    > that said, it was gratifying to get a look at
    > Valerie Kabore's short films.
    > also, I went into the festival having seen only
    > one film by Anne-Laure
    > folly, the cal newsreel film women with open eyes,
    > which I find flawed.
    > the 3 others I saw there really impressed me,
    > especially les oubliees, a
    > devastating vision of Angola wracked by land
    > mines, war, and its hellish
    > aftermath.
    > Tsitsi Dangaremgba's everyone's child was also
    > featured, along with Anna
    > Mungai's Saikati (I must say, a particularly weak
    > film).
    > there were moments when I saw reportage, as
    > Rokhaya Diop's short films on the Black refugees
    > from Mauritania (into Senegal), that seemed
    > one-sided. The contextualization was not there
    > (nor did Folly do much to contextualize Unita's
    > role in Angola).
    > Also showing was Werewere Liking's Regard de fous
    > (a filmed adaptation of her play Dieu chose);
    > Martine Ilboudo's Messages de femmes, messages
    > pour Beijing; some Fanta Nacro films (regrettably
    > I missed); three films by Monique Phoba; Sarah
    > Malodor's Sambizanga (yes, still being shown!!),
    > warrior marks, and a few others also highlighted
    > were the actresses Isseu Niang (played in Guelwaar
    > and Mossane, as well as Le Mandat) and Zalika
    > Souley (played in 1966 in Alassane's work and then
    > in Oumarou Ganda's films). There presence lent a
    > distinguished air to the festival about 51 films
    > were shown. that did not include north Africa (but
    > did include white south African and Italian, and
    > Caribbean). noted absences: flora m'mbugu
    > schelling and salem mekuria, both of whose works
    > are far better than many I saw at creteil.
    > one cannot deny that it was wonderful that African
    > women's films were given an important place in the
    > festival. however, much of what appeared in the
    > press never even mentioned them, and it is not
    > enough simply to announce their presence. the work
    > of quality that has appeared needs to be featured;
    > old chestnuts going back 25 years do not represent
    > what is exciting today; and a program titled
    > Realisatrices d'afrique really doesn't need an
    > Italian director's work to fill it out.
    > the program included notes by Michael Amarger, who
    > also organized the
    > African section and made the introductions at
    > various showings. he was
    > terrific (reminding me of the same quality of work
    > in presentations made by Cameron bailey at the
    > Toronto film festival in years past).
    > so, it was definitely nice to have been there, but
    > those of you who couldn't make it need not fret
    > too much.

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