Not many people are aware about African cinema existence; much fewer know that it has its own traditions and festivals that feature African films and African filmmakers. Africa is thought of as the stage for American’s and European’s producers. However, African movie making schools follow native traditions and culture and address problems which are particular to Africa. There are several genres of films usually presented on the biannual film festival in Quagadougou.
Several narrative movements cover the large part of the African films. The first narrative is the socialist realism. Thematic of this narrative, as it is apparent form the title, include socio-cultural issues of the contemporary society. Many issues addressed in the socio-realistic African movies are unique to Africa, such as the problems of dowry, polygamy, cross-cast marriages, traditions of fetishism and wife-inheritance, witchcraft, etc. Films under this narrative movement are usually non-political, with genres featuring melodramas and comedies. Themes are usually derived from popular culture, such as popular music, theater, oral traditions etc. Socio-cultural narrative not only brings issues to the attention of the viewer, it addresses them in such a way as to contrast them to the traditions. These films are favored the most by the working class, as people can identify themselves with the film characters.
Another topic that is often addressed in the social realist cinema is women’s liberation and the women’s position in the society. Besides the traditional issues concerning women, the new topic of working women is brought to spectators’ attention. In fact, women liberation is a popular thematic in various narratives and genres.
Another narrative of the African cinema is the colonial confrontation films. These are historical movies about African colonization by Europeans. Often African people are depicted as heroes, while their colonizers are demonized. Such historical narratives contribute to the sense of national pride in its spectators, featuring stories about national heroes and their resistance to the imperialism. These are the narratives that are the most controversial as being favored by Africans; they are usually highly criticized by Europeans.
Another film style is the return to the source. Films of this category are not politically charged; therefore they receive less critique and censorship. The issues addressed usually deal with pre-colonial African traditions, which can bear significance in the contemporary society and to be, therefore, a proof of the rich native history and culture of the African people, highlighting their identity. Again, the issue of women liberation is brought to the surface as the movement that has started before colonization.
African cinema, although considered new, is rapidly developing and is a valuable contribution to the World cinema as well as cultural heritage and a gift of African filmmakers to the world. Through diversified movements in African cinema, people of other nations are privileged to have an insight into African culture and history as it is narrated by natives.