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date: 23 February 2020

Africa, film in

A Dictionary of Film Studies

Annette Kuhn,

Guy Westwell

Africa, film in 

The African continent, which consists of over 50 separate countries, is extremely diverse and it is important to recognize this diversity by referring to African cinemas in the plural, acknowledging distinct traditions, histories, and cultural differences rather than treating African film as a kind of unitary national or continental cinema. In film studies it has been common to consider African cinema in relation to two main regions. The first, North Africa (sometimes also referred to as the Maghreb) shares a common language, Arabic, and a strong historical and cultural connection to the Middle East, which has helped to foster a tradition of Arab cinema. The second, Sub-Saharan Africa, has greater historical, linguistic, ethnic, and social diversity and a number of distinct but overlapping film cultures have emerged partly as a consequence of the influence of, and resistance to, different colonial regimes. While this regional separation remains to a degree, from the 1960s a significant number of pan-African film initiatives have been successful in fostering collaborative projects and a great many African filmmakers have been and remain mobile and active across regional and national boundaries. Recent work in film studies has sought to be more discriminating and precise about the diversity of African cinema, especially through a more situated examination of separate regional cinemas in west, east, central, and southern Africa, as well as work on national cinema specific to individual countries. Whereas in the 1980s and early 1990s African cinema was considered de facto to be a kind of political, polemical cinema tied to the process of decolonization, the term is now subject to careful qualification as a descriptor. See also north africa, film in; sub-saharan africa, film in; postcolonial cinema.

Further Reading:

Armes, Roy, African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara (2006).Find this resource:

—— Dictionary of African Filmmakers (2008).Find this resource:

Diawara, Manthia African Cinema: Politics and Culture (1992).Find this resource:

Givanni, June Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema: Audiences, Theory and the Moving Image (2000).Find this resource: