« I come from a country where the supernatural is not a scholarly element. »
We worked together on the Black Actors dossier a year ago. This year we have decided to publish a dossier in collaboration with the excellent Racines Noires festival (which is itself partners with the Milan African Film Festival and the Geneva Black Movie festival) on the festival’s theme. We have therefore reproduced several of the articles published in their catalogue, in addition to a few of our own. We are delighted to have the opportunity to push the geographic and editorial boundaries of this essential work further, as the musical gesture in film strikes us as being emblematic of a tension present in many black cultural forms.
Initially meant to be called « black musicals », this dossier changed its title! The musical genre is too strongly connoted to incorporate African films’specificity of integrating comedy, music and dance into the very body of the films. In so doing, they serve that tension between a popular vein with which the public can identify and a social message which makes this a cinéma d’auteur. It is not an art for art’s sake cinema, the legitimacy of which would be hard to justify in the African context, but a cinema impregnated with reality, that which constitutes the « body and soul of films », as the Burkinabè filmmaker Gaston Kaboré has put it.
This year, the Ouagadougou Pan-African Film and Television Festival – the famous FESPACO once again screened the films made in Africa and by the Diaspora over the past two years. In spite of their diversity, these films confirm Depestre’s words. African cinemas’magic lies not in special effects or in the forced professionalism of the globalized audiovisual domain’s intensive marketing. « If you must know at all odds, you destroy the magic. Cinema is magic« , wrote the great Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety (cf. Africultures 10). African cinemas’magic lie in their extraordinary ability to draw the basis of a profound questioning from reality, from the torments of black people’s existence. Here, in his quest for identity, man is incessantly confronted with himself, right down to his most violent extremes. This introspection has turned away from radicalism. It doesn’t hand out truths, and imposes no way of thinking. In opening up to the part of mystery and weakness in all of us, it leaves the spectator free to seek the answers within. That is where the magic lies, and this is the cinema we defend.
///Article N° : 5549