By Lindiwe Dovey

Analyzing more than a few South African and West African motion pictures encouraged by way of African and non-African literature, Lindiwe Dovey identifies a selected development in modern African filmmaking-one during which filmmakers are utilizing the embodied audiovisual medium of movie to provide a critique of actual and mental violence. opposed to an in depth historical past of the medium's savage creation and exploitation via colonial powers in very various African contexts, Dovey examines the complicated ways that African filmmakers are protecting, mediating, and critiquing their very own cultures whereas looking a united imaginative and prescient of the long run. greater than simply representing socio-cultural realities in Africa, those motion pictures interact with problems with colonialism and postcolonialism, "updating" either the heritage and the literature they adapt to handle modern audiences in Africa and in other places. via this planned and radical re-historicization of texts and realities, Dovey argues that African filmmakers have constructed a mode of filmmaking that's altogether exact from eu and American different types of adaptation.

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If the condition for a film being considered “African” is its accessibility to an African audience, then video films are more supremely part of “African screen media” than the films analyzed here. However, the nature of critique offered by such video films has been at issue. Nigerian filmmakers and historians such as Afolabi Adesanya and Wole Ogundele, and African film critic Kenneth Harrow, are deeply troubled by the commercial nature of the video industry and what it means for “serious” and critical African art.

Bickford-Smith and Mendelsohn (2007), in a study of African history on the screen, argue that “many history films [about Africa] use the past to raise questions about the present” (10). According to Mbye Cham, “Since the 1970s many [African films] have drawn on the African past for their film narratives, often as a means of engaging with and ‘historicizing’ the pressing issues of contemporary Africa” (quoted in Bickford-Smith and Mendelsohn 2007:3). The essays on South African cinema in To Change Reels (Balseiro and Masilela 2003) reveal this cinema’s profound concern with history; Melissa Thackway designates an entire branch of Francophone West African films as “memory-history films” (2003); Tomaselli organizes his recent book on South African cinema around Ntongela Masilela’s concept of the “consciousness of precedent” (2006); and Mbye Cham (2004) and Josef Gugler (2004) think through the importance of historical representation in the context of African and Western viewing of African films.

How to nurture and finance a noncommercial cinema, which can act as a critique and complement to its commercial counterpart. (California Newsreel 2000) The question, then, is not of competing alternatives, of whether to choose commercial video production over critical filmmaking. It is of how to allow both forms of filmmaking to flourish and to inform and develop one another. Acknowledgment of the possibility of coevalness might shift African film criticism beyond the impasse that has recently arisen over the incommen- introduction 23 surability of the overtly commercial aims of certain filmmakers and the relatively noncommercial aims of others.

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