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Beyond colonial stereotypes: reflections on postcolonial cinema in the African Great Lakes region

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The African Great Lakes region – Rwanda, Burundi and Congo-Kinshasa – is usually remembered for its social upheavals and fratricidal wars, rarely for film-making. Moreover, some cinema critics recognize that in the region, like in other African countries, many contemporary films remain subtly informed by colonial clichés and western sponsors' unilateral choices, with little or no consideration for African film-makers' interests and needs. First, the article describes the core of colonial cinema with its stereotypical and sensationalist images, which are the ingredients likely to stir western audiences. Second, through the analysis of some representative films, it shows how the colonial-inspired marketable clichés surreptitiously inform today's film-making. Finally, and most importantly, this enquiry examines films that embody what may be defined as milestones of postcolonial imagination in the region. The conclusion points to production initiatives and to more freedom in the choice of topics.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jac.1.1.79/1

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film. 
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