African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen by Lindiwe Dovey

By Lindiwe Dovey

Analyzing a number of South African and West African movies encouraged through African and non-African literature, Lindiwe Dovey identifies a particular pattern in modern African filmmaking-one within which filmmakers are utilizing the embodied audiovisual medium of movie to supply a critique of actual and mental violence. opposed to a close heritage of the medium's savage creation and exploitation via colonial powers in very varied African contexts, Dovey examines the advanced ways that African filmmakers are protecting, mediating, and critiquing their very own cultures whereas looking a united imaginative and prescient of the longer term. greater than only representing socio-cultural realities in Africa, those motion pictures interact with problems with colonialism and postcolonialism, "updating" either the background and the literature they adapt to deal with modern audiences in Africa and somewhere else. via this planned and radical re-historicization of texts and realities, Dovey argues that African filmmakers have built a mode of filmmaking that's altogether particular from ecu and American varieties of adaptation.

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Alternatively, anthropologists such as Brian Larkin and Birgit Meyer express excitement at the local and global access to audiovisual media for Africans created through the video industries. What remains disturbing is the relative lack of research and discussion about the forms and functions of the video films. The general euphoria that Africans are producing and consuming their own films runs the risk of compromising important debate on the content and critique of such African films. While certain video filmmakers, such as Tunde Kelani and Ladi Ladebo in Nigeria and Bob Nyanja in Kenya, have adopted a critical voice, raising important issues around African art, ethnicity, and HIV/AIDS, other video filmmakers trade in the genres of horror, magic, and melodrama and often exhibit themes of 22 introduction vengeance in order to make money (Adesanya 1997:14).

Anthropologist Michael Taussig describes “the violence of the twentieth26 introduction century colonial frontier” in terms of the “mimicry by the colonizer of the savagery imputed to the savage” (1993:66). Taussig’s account of the physical violence of colonial encounters is the counterpart to Homi Bhabha’s notion of colonial mimicry as a form of discursive violence. Bhabha’s concept of mimicry was inspired by Fanon’s recognition in Black Skin, White Masks of the way in which colonialism bred mimicry by the colonized of the colonizers.

Much of the discussion among the builders of African cinema revolves around developing distribution and creating an industry: but the development of an industry could be the worst thing for the more profound social possibilities of African cinema” (2000:144). ). At FESPACO 2007, there was a strong consensus that everyone involved in African film has to work, in the future, toward bridging the gap between critical African films and the African public so that their critique may be fully activated for development purposes: whether this means evolving new popular forms of film that will appeal more to local, African audiences; making more films in African languages; harnessing the democratization process that has been opened up by new technologies; creating coproduction treaties between African nations; showing African films on television; or through creating alternate distribution and exhibition strategies.

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