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Images of childhood in Southern Africa: A study of three films

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A striking characteristic of many films from across the African continent is their focus on childhood experience and the centrality of child protagonists. Unlike many films in the West, such films are not necessarily produced for young audiences, but express broader social, communal and cosmological concerns. This article focuses on Southern Africa and has two broad points of focus the one is what I have called lived geographies, a focus on the representation of children in the context of space and place; the other is what I have come to think of as rites of passage, in this case, not those formal ceremonies that bring about a transformation in identity, but the circumstances and experiences of children that are so profoundly life changing. In discussing the films Malunde, Yesterday, and The Wooden Camera particularly, it is argued that rather than trying to formally categorize childhood representations, it is important to recognize such representations as transformative and dynamic.
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Keywords: Southern Africa; childhood; cinema; identity; lived geographies; space and place

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Glamorgan.

Publication date: 01 December 2010

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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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