British Film Institute’s Mama Africa


This September, as part of the bfi Black World initiative, the NFT will host a season of films which challenge the representation of African women in African cinema, complemented by an extended run of a bfi release – the powerful first feature film from Fanta Nacro, The Night of Truth (2004).
African women have traditionally been portrayed on screen as either mothers, manipulators, or most commonly, victims. This season presents a new wave of mostly Women film-makers, who tackle these prejudices head-on, broadening the possibilities for the ways in which Africans are perceived on screen today.
Several films stemming from South Africa address contemporary social traumas such as AIDS and rape- the most common crime in South Africa. The Man Who Stole My Mother’s Face (2003) is the director, Cathy Henkel’s personal account of her mother’s recovery after brutal rape in Johannesburg.
The Sky in Her Eyes (2001) sees a young girl and boy’s relationship blossom after the death of a mother to AIDS; and differing reactions to the discovery of AIDS & HIV in the family are considered in A Red Ribbon Around My House (2001).
The female form is celebrated in shorts such as, Body Beautiful (2003), which examines the body in relation to food; hair is shaped and styled in the award-winning, About Braids (2002); and a woman rediscovers her sexuality through provocative belly-dancing in the Tunisian feature, Satin Rouge (2002).
Independent Women are championed throughout the season: Riches (2001), sees a mother-turned-teacher coming to terms with her new life in a quiet town after having fled the apartheid; Fanta Nacro’s, Close Up on Bintou (2001), challenges traditional family roles, as a mother defies her husband, by taking on extra work in order to pay for her daughter’s education; an unlikely love affair is forged in the feminist melodrama, Madame Brouette (2002) (which won Best Film Music award at Berlin). Female relationships are dissected through psychotherapy, mysticism and spirituality in Maandamizi: The Ancient One (2000).
Finally, teenage dreams are the subject of Hangtime (2001), where the aspirations of a teenage boy are nurtured by American basketball scouts, only to be quashed by an absent father; and a woman with a restricted growth becomes a social outcast in the adult fairy tale, Kounandi (2004).

This bfi Touring Programme in partnership with African Film Tour is part of the bfi Black World Initiative that celebrates the influence of black creative talent on cinema, TV and relating art forms.
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