Okay this has been an ongoing project for over a year and a half now. African film has little or no exposure in world cinema. These lists will list country by country, key films and filmmakers, film festivals, internet links, books, essays, film links, trailers and clips. The project is now finished and I hope it can come in useful for people interested in films from this area.
I have worked bloody hard on this and have submitted over a 1,000 films but I think it has been worth it. Mubi now has one of the best databases for African film on the web. Definitely in the anglophone world. I really hope the film database continues to grow with weird and wonderful films. There are many more films to be added from all over the world and while I understand the need and demand to add the newest films appearing at the latest festivals. I hope we as a community can still keep submitting some of the older forgotten films.
Damn man, good work.
I love this, good job!
Yes, major kudos for putting this together, AFP. This will be a resource for years to come. Having put together such a comprehensive list, I hate to ask you to simplify, but many of us are very much beginners in this area. Is there a starter kit of 10-20 or so films that you think would be an ideal intoduction to the many aspects of African film?
Serious business! Congratulations.
Here is a list based on the poll The Mubi African Film Poll 2011-2012
This is a tremendous achievement- and should attract a lot of attention. Mubi is very lucky to have such treasure. If only the critics and directors in Sight & Sound’s poll had such interest in and dedication to African and neglected cinemas!
Great work to get this done, AFP – a beautiful job! This should become an invaluable on-line resource for exploring the great variety of films from Africa. These films need to be more widely available and viewed – by critics, film scholars and students of film – and anyone with the spirit of adventure. The wonderful lists provided by AFP should assist anyone wishing to explore any African country, region, or director in more detail. This ‘Dark Continent’ for film is now illuminated!
If only the critics and directors in Sight & Sound’s poll had such interest in and dedication to African and neglected cinemas!
Sight & Sound take note. I believe Battle of Algiers and Touki-Bouki are the only African films to so far crack the latest top 100 Sight & Sound poll.
The list posted by R. is a good place to start for anyone wishing to get an idea about African film. Also see, Kenji’s Essential African Films
Of the several films I’ve watched from this Continent, there appears to be a great difference in films from North Africa and sub-Saharan films, for example. Also, how the colonial experience is handled seems varied in different countries/directors. I need to learn more, which these lists will assist. I began my own explorations thanks to these types of lists and films downloaded from Africa for various Cup events. Thanks for sharing this, AFP.
I’m disappointed in Sight & Sound as i raised the issue of geographical imbalance before the 2002 poll, and again before this one; i asked for a far higher percentage of African directors and critics to be polled, and challenged their previous tendency to include such a high percentage of Anglophone directors with mainly Anglophone taste. But although they have polled a lot more people, they haven’t managed to resolve those problems. I’ve been assured they sent out lots of requests worldwide in different languages that didn’t get replies.
1000 submissions here is incredible. Mubi has a lot of members. The Africa Project lists deserve lots of fans and to be riding high in the popularity rankings, which would help them get more attention.
Well, if anyone cares, I’ve noticed Indiewire.com has been increasingly profiling African and Latin American films or projects in the stories they publish. I just finished reading this first part of an interview with Haile Gerima. ’Tis something to keep an eye on, methinks.
woah I thought Africa was one country this whole time
One of the reasons Mubi is the best movie site. Thank you for all the incredible effort you put in.
I’m sure that with efforts such as these African cinema will soon attract significant attention on the world cinema polls.
My favourites so far are The Night of Counting the Years, Wanderers of the Desert, Yeelen, The Silences of the Palace, The Eloquent Peasant, Black Girl, Harvest: 3000 Years and Farewell Johnny.
One of the 7 Wonders of Mubi!
@Kenji: 212 British voters against 3 from Egypt (or 5 from China!). Do you think they have made any effort? Then film critics in those countries do not like making lists.
So they lied to me. I spoke to a woman from S&S when i was annoyed by the lists in their mag, and she said the mag wasn’t representative, there were a lot more online from various countries to balance things up. They disgust me with their cultural imperialism. They cannot seem to get it into their thick heads or simply don’t want to, how to run a fairly balanced poll. Instead it’s a pretence at internationalism.
In 2002 i sent them a list of international directors from all corners of the world to approach, and hardly any appeared. Fuck Kermode (who considers himself on the Left!), Tarantino and all the others who prop up the Anglophone dominance. The individual lists are more interesting than the overall results, but the media mainly concentrate on the #1 and top 10. This time, of the directors i suggested they poll, i was at least pleased to find Oliveira.
Had i been polled, i doubt i would have included an African film, but as far as i’m concerned, they should get responses from each country (or do their very best), before getting more from others. And i presume- even allowing for their being more male critics and directors- that the gender balance also needs working on.
I told them before the latest poll that i was not even aware, having gathered all their previous lists over the decades, of a Welsh participant (Dilys Powell of Welsh parentage came nearest); i will need to check the latest batch properly for any- none in the mag.
You have your work cut out, Angel, for the TSPDT 1000. I guess Mizoguchi will fall a bit, to compound my disappointment. At least he was picked by Scorsese, which could be helpful over the coming years, but i get the impression many UK/US directors have never even heard of him!
I digress. Respect for neglected cultures is more important than my own taste, and once again Africa, like Latin America, many Asian countries and i presume the Balkans too (let S&S get a blast from Dimitris!) have been short-changed.
When i did my own little poll, by letter (in English) round the year 2000 (didn’t have a computer then) to various neglected countries, i had 4 replies out of 4 from Egypt! Gone with the Wind and The Land (Chahine) came top with that small group. Some didn’t reply, but i did get Indonesia, Singapore, Iran, Romania, Portugal, Finland, Brazil, S.Africa, China, Norway, India and others. And that was also by letter. So i’m surprised by Sight & Sound’s claim to have tried so many hundreds more.
Now what Kuxa/Africa Project has done here should be very valuable for courses and researchers worldwide. Let S&S study carefully and think on their sins.
I proposed to S&S that they run an article critical of their poll and its cultural imperialism- they’d done one page for/against canons-, but rather than agreeing i was asked to take down most of the lists i’d posted here. Fat lot of good the phone call and emails did me.
The below statements are the major problem when dealing with African cinema…. The very name African cinema is perhaps as meaningless as say European Cinema. How can Spanish, Czech, Finnish, Greek, French and British film just be lumped into catagory. The aim of this project was to divide the countries up and create separate chapters for each nation. Ok some countries rise to the fore such as Egypt, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, but then there are places such as Mozambique or Sudan who have a rich and varied history in cinema.
We are in 2012 and the news media continue to talk about “African cinema”. When some websites (such as the Cannes Film Festival’s one) recalls the history of cinema in different countries, we always find a chapter on Africa as if the different nations that constitute the continent are all glued into one single and obscure mass.
Worse, there is a growing confusion between “African cinema” and “Subsaharian French-speaking African cinema”.
Now all these films listed on MUBI are not going to masterpieces the aim of this project was not to differentiate between quality. One of the main reasons for this was the availability of most films is non existent, so there is no way to check for such quality. The second reason is that even a crappy badly made film from Djibouti is an achievement in itself. Some countries have been ravaged by starvation, AIDS, poverty, civil war, rape, persecution, and genocide yet the roots of cinema however small are there against all odds.
Infrastructure is what is needed in many parts of Africa from hospitals to schools to roads. Throwing money at people might save some lives but doesn’t solve the big solutions. Most countries need to develop a cinematic culture, where directors, editors and cinematographers are given proper training. All too often European or American technicians are brought in because they often have greater skills.
Hopefully by displaying what this continent has to offer this will create awareness. At least within MUBI. The Africa Film Poll is a good start for those not familiar with the area. Most of the top rated films are available on dvd somewhere in the world and many are on the internet and places like smz. Kenji’s list is also an excellent start for beginners, likewise Blue k Songs of the Griot.
The world cup has also showcased some great African films, such The Land (Chahine), Bled Number One (Ameur Zaimeche), Man of Ashes (Bouzid)…. and many more… Upcoming matches include O Soleil by Med Hondo, a fantastic film, Summer In Goulette by Boughedir and Ali Zaoua by Nabil Ayouch. It has been a source of disappointment to me that some of the lowest scoring rounds were from African films much the same as the first world cup. I really would love people to make more of an effort and broaden their horizons and watch something out of the comfort zone.
The MUBI Africa poll is a good combat to those awful sight and sound polls. Some of the people who took part in that poll were young filmmakers and esteemed people in their fields like Martin Botha, Kim Longinotto, and Steven Markovitz all contributed. Unfortunately the people asked to contribute were the people who are most popular with an ill informed narrow minded arthouse / alternative film crowd. This sells them magazines. African film like mentioned above only exists as a token gesture in most magazines, literature or international festivals. Unfortunately I don’t think things will change soon……
Unfortunately I don’t think things will change soon……
That’d be a shame, but your effort here on MUBI is worth so much regardless; personally, I’ve discovered most if not all African films I’ve seen from your lists and other MUBI lists, not to mention the ones I want to see, and I’m sure that it’s something similar for many other people seeking out African cinema.
I can understand the concern with lumping all African countries and films under one continent, seen as nobody would think of doing such a thing with European cinema, but seen as most people (myself included) haven’t viewed too many African films compared with films from other continents, I don’t think it such a bad idea to introduce these films as “African” before branching out into separate cultural movements and industries such as Egyptian, Tunisian, Malian, Senegalese, Ethiopian, South African, etc. A lot of people haven’t seen ten African films, never mind ten Egyptian films, and so it’s a good way to start so long as one is then prepared to make the effort to discover the significant cultural and artistic differences amongst the many different countries of Africa, even if some of these countries have relatively under-developed industries compared with other countries and continents.