African Cinema Poised for a Re-Birth
The World Wide Web is experiencing a feeding frenzy with thousands of new outlets popping up, hoping to secure the attention of restless subscribers. M-Net, South Africa’s Electronic Media Network is on the brink of an industrial revolution, thanks to their gratifying efforts geared towards celebrating the majestic but often ignored world of African cinema.
Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembene
The African Film Library is M-Net’s newest and much-heralded offspring and from all indications it promises to meet and exceed all expectations.
AFL’s mission is to highlight the trailblazers that helped define the contours of the African film industry and provide a platform for the present day mavericks ready to carry on the legacy. Movie enthusiasts in the U.S. and Canada will now be able to watch award-winning African films that up till now were not readily accessible for viewing.
The historical significance of this undertaking is etched in the symbolism of a tradition that dates back to 1924, the year Tunisia welcomed Chemama Chikly’s The Girl of Carthage. That film is just one of the many works of art that have remained vaulted until now.
M-Net worked tirelessly for 3 years to iron out the legal logistics and visually enhance a catalogue of 700 works in various languages including English, French, Arabic and Portuguese, Swahili.
The idea is to preserve the artistic integrity of African filmmakers like Ousmane Sembene and Djibril Mambety from Senegal, Yousef Chahine from Egypt and Haile Gerima from Ethiopia in order to ensure that the future generation has the ability to access and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
According to Mike Dearham, curator of the African Film Library and head of sales and library acquisitions at M-Net, this new medium will serve as an online rental system that aims to introduce and share the works of the continent’s impressive roster of creative geniuses in cinema.
Each movie rental costs about $5, and you can begin the process by registering and buying credits at www.africanfilmlibrary.com.
To get a taste of what to expect and the caliber of talent that can be accessed, check out the links below:
Borom Sarret by Ousmane Sembène
1963: Tours Film Festival (France) – Prize for the Best Film
Lumumba by Raoul Peck
2000: Acapulco Black Film Festival – Best Feature Film
2001: Milan African Film Festival – 2nd place – Best Feature Film
2001: FESPACO – Paul Robeson Prize – Best Feature Film
Au Nom du Christ by Roger Gnoam M’ Bala
FESPACO: 1993 – Winner of the Grand Prize for Best Film