2017 African Cinema Symposium and Festival

The 2017 African Cinema Symposium and Festival brings together filmmakers, producers, scholars, and organizers of film festivals from Africa, Europe, and the United States to explore the increasing visibility of African cinema as a form of expression through film screenings, scholarly presentations, and Q&A sessions with African filmmakers. Please see the Five Colleges Website for more information.

Invited filmmakers and speakers include: Keith Shiri (Zimbabwe/UK), Idrissou Mora-Kpai (Benin), Jean-Marie Teno (Cameroon), Rama Thiaw (Senegal and Mauritania), Litheko Modisane (South Africa), Mahen Bonetti (Sierra Leone/US), and Djo Tunda Wa Munga (Democratic Republic of Congo). They will be joined by a distinguished panel of Five College-based film scholars and filmmakers.

Film screenings and discussions will explore interconnected sub-themes of:

  • Revisiting the colonial past and revising narratives of the "the dark continent"
  • The aesthetics of anti-colonial liberation and film as a tool of nation building
  • The centrality of film-related dialogues between Africans and peoples of African descent around the world
  • The decline of the nation-state and related contemporary issues
  • The role of indigenous performance and artistic traditions and the influence of contemporary technologies
  • The significance of Nollywood as a site for the construction and circulation of new African identities and ideas about contemporary globalization
  • Gender as a thematic of African cinema and a factor in its production, distribution, and consumption
Sponsored by the Art Museum, Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, Film Studies Department, French Department, Inclusiveness Initiatives Fund, McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, Weissman Center for Leadership and many others From the Five Colleges.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, April 5 (UMass Amherst 137 Isenberg SOM)

  • 7:30-10PM: Film screening/Q&A: The Revolution Won’t be Televised by Rama Thiaw (In partnership with the Multicultural Film Festival)

Thursday, April 6 (Mount Holyoke College Hooker Auditorium)

  • 4:30-7PM: Film screening/Q&A: The Colonial Misunderstanding by Jean-Marie Teno

Friday, April 7 (Mount Holyoke College Gamble Auditorium)

  • 9:30-11AM: Opening Ceremony
  • 11:15AM-12:30PM: Keynote Address by Mahen Bonetti (Director, New York African Film Festival): African Film in Historical Perspectives
  • 1:45-2:45PM: Panel I: Cinema and Activism
  • 3:00-4:30PM: Panel II: Cinema and Collective Memory 
  • 4:45-6:15PM: Film Screening /Q&A: Indochina: Traces of a Mother by Idrissou Mora Kpai 

Saturday, April 8 (Mount Holyoke College Gamble Auditorium)

  • 9:30-11AM: Panel III: Programing and Showcasing African Cinema
  • 11:15AM-12:30PM: Panel IV: Cinema and the Nation State 
  • 1:45-3:45PM: Film Screening/Q&A: Viva Riva! by Djo Tunda Wa Munga 
  • 4:15-6:00PM: Panel V: Defining African Cinema: Filmmakers, Festival Directors and Scholars in Dialogue 

Mahen Bonetti

Director, New York African Film Festival

Mahen Bonetti

Mahen Bonetti is the founder and Executive Director of African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), a non-profit arts organization founded in 1990.

AFF showcases works of African filmmakers and develops ways to share the vision and culture of African film with American and international audiences. In her role as film liaison, she contributes to an interdisciplinary mix of panels and programs, including those established by the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ougadougou (FESPACO), the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York State Council of the Arts, UNDP, Africa’s US diplomatic offices, and the Rolex Arts Initiative Awards.

AFF collaborates each year with the Film Society of the Lincoln Center and BAMcinématek to produce the annual New York African Film Festival. Additionally, the organization curates a series of other film programs with a host of national and international partners. Ms. Bonetti lives in Manhattan with her husband and their daughter and is a recent recipient of Chevalier De L'Ordre Des Arts et Des Lettres, awarded by the French government under the stewardship of the Former Minister of Culture and Communication, Christine Albanel.

Litheko Modisane

Lecturer and Scholar

Litheko Modisane

Litheko Modisane is a Senior Lecturer of Television Studies in the Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Modisane earned his Ph.D. at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Modisane’s scope of interests includes repertoires of symbolic representations in the contemporary political public sphere in South Africa. He is currently writing a book on Nelson Mandela as a cinematic and televisual subject, with a focus on his inspiration of the constructions and reflections on freedom. Modisane is the author of South Africa’s "Renegade Reels: the Making and Public Lives of Black-Centred Films" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), winner of the University of Cape Town Book Award for 2016. The book focuses on the public lives of iconic black-centered films in South Africa in colonial and post-apartheid eras.

Idrissou Mora Kpai

Filmmaker

Idrissou Mora Kpai

Born in Benin, Idrissou Mora-Kpai studied in Germany at the Film University in Potsdam, Babelsberg where he graduated in 1999. Between 2000 and 2010, Idrissou worked in Paris, producing and directing several documentaries, many of which have been presented at international festivals in Berlin, Rotterdam, Busan, Sheffield, and Ouagadougou. In 2013, he received the prestigious Dutch Prince Claus Award for artistic endeavours promoting positive social change. Mora-Kpai’s filmography includes "Si-Gueriki" (2002), "Arlit, the Second Paris" (2005), "Indochina - Traces of a Mother" (2011), "Joe’s Corner Store" (work-in-progress) and "Seme-Border" (in development). "Indochina — Traces of a Mother" will be screened during this festival.

Keith Shiri

Creator of AITP Film Festival, Filmmaker, Festival Programmer, and Consultant to the British Film Institute (BFI)

Keith Shiri

Keith Shiri is program advisor to the BFI London Film Festival and has served in that position for the Venice Film Festival and the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). He was a member of the Berlinale World Cinema Fund from 2004-2007 and a trainer for Esodoc EU (European Social Documentary), a program designed to bring together documentary filmmakers, NGO film practitioners, and news media operators.

Shiri was the Executive Director of the Southern African Film Festival in Harare in 1993 and Director of the London African Film Festival. He also served as advisor to the EU-ACP program, and the Ouaga Film Lab in Burkina Faso. Keith Shiri has served as jury at numerous film festivals, including the Berlin International Film Festival, the Dubai International Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), Tampere Film Festival, and the Inter-Film Festival.

He is also on the advisory board of New York’s Focus Features Africa First Program, which supports and mentors young African filmmakers. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster, London.

Jean-Marie Teno

Documentary Filmmaker, Scholar and Critic

Jean-Marie Teno

Born in Cameroon, Teno arrived in France in 1978 and has been producing and directing films on the colonial and post-colonial history of Africa. His films are noted for their original approach to issues of race, cultural identity and contemporary politics. 

His films include "Leaf in the Wind" (2013), "Sacred Places" (2009), "The Colonial Misunderstanding" (2005), "Alex’s Wedding" (2002), "A Trip to the Country" (2000), "Chief!" (1999), "Clandestine" (1996), "Afrique, je te plumerai" (1992) and "Homage" (1985). "The Colonial Misunderstanding" will be screened during this festival.

Rama Thiaw

Documentary Filmmaker and Political Activist

Rama Thiaw

Rama Thiaw was born in 1978, in Nouakchott, Mauritania. She is a writer, director and producer at Boul Falle Images, a Senegalese production company. Mauritanian and Senegalese, she grew up in Senegal and Europe.

After obtaining a master’s degree in international economics at the Sorbonne University, she chose a career in cinema and studied at the University of Paris 8. In 2002, she participated in a workshop directed by Algerian film director Mohamed Bouamari (assistant to Costa-Gavras and Gillo Pontecorvo in the "Battle of Algiers").

Subsequently, Rama Thiaw worked in collaboration with Zalea TV to make a series of portraits of residents of Aubervilliers, set on the theme of the precariousness of housing. She also produced a 15-minute documentary entitled "District Youth and Religion". Her highly acclaimed film, "The Documentary Won’t be Televised" (2016), will be screened as part of this festival.

Djo Tunda Wa Munga

Filmmaker

Djo Tunda Wa Munga

Djo Tunda Wa Munga was born in 1972 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where he spent his childhood before leaving for Belgium. After completing his studies at the National Film School of Belgium, INSAS, he returned to Kinshasa to work as a producer and assistant director for international TV production outfits like BBC, ARTE, and DRTV2. He shot documentaries, produced TV drama for local and international markets, and wrote numerous scripts.

He established the first production company in the DRC in 2006, and founded a film school, Les Ateliers Actions de Kinshasa, which is currently in its fourth year. He produced "Congo in Four Acts" (2010), a quartet of films about everyday life in the DRC, and he was named the African trailblazer 2010 for MIPTV. In 2012, he founded his UK-based company to develop international projects and create content for global audiences. His debut feature film, "Viva Riva!" (2010) premiered in Toronto and Berlin to positive reviews and has sold widely internationally. The movie will be screened as part of this festival.