Curatorial mission and shifts in African cinema criticisms, discourses, intellectual production
In African Cinema, and considering the various dynamics through which cinematic practices are channelled via the unusual, thriving and yet, competing platforms, I have come to the conclusion that none of these platforms vehicle elements of screen media by chance. They are deliberately done. I stress here that African Film Festivals and studies in African film festivals have shown that the organization that comes with the practices of film festivals are deliberate, as much as they are relatively unique in framework, and agenda.
From IREP to Durban, FESPACO, LFF, EKO, AFRIFF, JOBURG, In-Short and SLUM to mention a (popular) few, these film festivals are imbued and essentially characterized by curatorial agendas that suitably marks them out as quite exceptional contingent practices. The social historical appearances and features of filmmaking in Africa (and their various apparatuses) have undergone changes, and these fluxes are still on, following the astronomical rise of new digital technologies which has been covered in various academic works by some of the most important African film scholars including, Kenneth Harrow, Moradewun Adejumobi, Jonathan Haynes, Carmela Garritano, Lindiwe Dovey, Alessandro Jedlowski and recently Boukary Sawadogo.
Of course,there is no doubt these emerging technologies have increased the quality of audio-visual productions of filmmakers who work across the continent, including the Diaspora. Far more than anything have also carved out fresh stages and arena,where the disenfranchised and marginalised sections of urban spaces can recapitulate their own peculiar stories in order to create a curatorial/mediated self representative discourse of their African hopes, impediments, anxieties and struggles.
My perspectives gesture towards the determined and altruistic tenacity of the organizers of the ‘Slum Film Festival’ in Nairobi the festival of the marginalised that, has emerged in an age that historicises oppositional practices in urban cities.
I am not sure for certain if he won an award that confirms the authentic goals and aims of this festival, but Femi Odugbemi’s ‘Makoko:A Future Afloat’ featured prominently at the festival in 2016.
This kind of engagement among others, only confirms how crucial studies in African film festivals have become important to African cinema scholarship, and indeed “African Studies “ as a whole.
I stress that it is important for scholars within the field to do away with clichés of studies that have overwhelmed the field of African cinema for decades, and turn to the “alternative” studies engendering these shifts within the field,and that are invariably taking the center stage of the debates, the intellection of cinema discourses and also centering themselves, through pedagogical tenets capable of creating debatable contours for delineation. This intellectual production is a suitable and direct process is what Adomako Ampofa, has directly referred to as a practice which encourages the “expansion of our scholarship and consider precisely those …issues that stretch the boundaries of African studies”. While one is not pushing for radical attempts to clamour for an abandonment of old approaches,it is yet significant for scholars within the field not only to challenge them and the various tenets that have sustained their reputation, but they also need to observe constantly, “ noticeable shifts” in popular African cinema practices of industries on the continent, as well as recent intellectual productions of scholarly writings already gathering momentum.
* Onikoyi, a film scholar, teaches African Cinema at the Department of Languages and Literary Studies, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State