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Women in ‘African cinema’ and ‘Nollywood films’: A shift in cinematic regimes

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There have been dramatic changes in depictions of women from the feminist perspectives in the first decades of postcolonial sub-Saharan African celluloid cinema (1960s–80s), to women in a global digital era (1990s–present). A classic example of African celluloid cinema, its style and political gravitas, can be seen in Jean-Marie Teno’s latest film, Une feuille dans le vent (2013). Though it appeared in the digital period, and may technically be digital, stylistically and thematically it bears all the hallmarks of ‘FESPACO cinema’. Conversely, the work of Tunde Kelani, one of the stalwarts of Nollywood video film, falls under the rubric of ‘African video film’, often dubbed ‘Nollywood’. To understand what the shift from ‘serious African cinema’ to Nollywood has meant for women and feminism in African cinema, I will elaborate on Butler and Athanasiou’s notion of dispossession in considering Teno’s ‘celluloid’ Feuille and Frank Arase’s digital Beyonce (2006). I hope to bridge issues of early African feminism that focused on representation to those now framed in terms of genre cinema.
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Keywords: Fespaco; Nollywood; digital; dispossession; feminism; genre

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Michigan State University

Publication date: December 1, 2016

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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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