African Film Studies : An Introduction book cover
1st Edition

African Film Studies
An Introduction

ISBN 9781138579385
Published October 9, 2018 by Routledge
154 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

African Film Studies: An Introduction is an accessible and authoritative textbook on African cinema as a field of study. The book provides a succinct and comprehensive study of the history, aesthetics, and theory of sub-Saharan African cinematic productions that is grounded in the field of film studies instead of textual interpretations from other disciplines.

Bringing African cinema out of the margins into the discipline of mainstream film studies and showcasing the diverse cinematic expressions of the continent, the book covers:

  • Overview of African cinema(s):  Questions our assumptions about the continent’s cinematic productions and defines the characteristics of African cinema across linguistic, geographic, and filmic divides.

  • History of African and African-American cinema: Spans the history of film in Africa from colonial import and ‘appropriation of the gaze’ to the quest for individuality. It also establishes parallels in the historical development of black African cinema and African-American cinema.

  • Aesthetics: Introduces new research on previously unexplored aesthetic dimensions such as cinematography, animation, and film music.

  • Theoretical Approaches: Addresses a number of theoretical approaches and critical frameworks developed by scholars in the study of African cinema

All chapters include case studies, suggestions for further reading, and screening lists to deepen the reader’s knowledge with no prior knowledge of African cinema required. Students, teachers, and general film enthusiasts would all benefit from this accessible and engaging book.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. What Is African Cinema? Case Study: Aristotle’s Plot (Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 1996)

Part I: History of African Cinema. 2. History of the film medium in Africa: From colonial import and appropriation of the gaze to the quest for individuality Case study: Sanders of the River: Celebration of the British Empire(Zoltan Korda, 1935) 3. Parallel Movement: African Cinema and African American Cinema Case Study: Yeelen vs. Daughters of the Dust Souleymane Cissé , 1987) vs. Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)

Part II: Aesthetics in African Cinema. 4. Cinematography: Space, Time, and Rhythm Case Study: Yaaba (Idrissa Ouédraogo, 1989) 5. The African Animated Film Case study: Prince Loseno (Jean-Michel Kibushi Ndajte Wooto, 2004) 6. Introductory Study of African Film Scores African Film Scores Case study Non-diegetic music: Space and time dimensions of film music in Sembè ne Ousmane’s La Noire de… (Black Girl)

Part III: African Film Criticism 7. Critical Reading Lenses in the Study of African Cinema Case Study: Les Saignantes/The Bloodettes (Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 2005)


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Boukary Sawadogo is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at the City University of New York –City College. His teaching and research interests concern aesthetics, distribution, popular film genres, culture, and gender in African film. He has published extensively on African cinema.


"African Film Studies: An Introduction is the first textbook of its kind devoted exclusively to undergraduate teaching. An invaluable and expansive introduction, Sawadogo builds on the critical legacies devoted to the study of African cinemas while also providing new and innovative approaches. With attention to history, underexamined areas of interest (film music, cinematography, and animation), and criticism; this volume promises to be the new standard for the teaching of African cinemas as a crucial resource that stunningly remodels the work of film studies." — Michael Boyce Gillespie, Associate Professor of Film, City College—City University of New York, Author of Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film.

"Boukary Sawadogo covers the whole continent, by bringing to light historical, economic, thematic and stylistic dimension of little known as well as major African films. This book will be useful for undergraduate and graduate students, it will appeal not only to the African specialist, but also to anyone who wishes to include African films from fiction to documentary, from animation to experimental in an up-to-date film studies curriculum that dialogues with a media-sphere in a constant state of transformation." — Angela Dalle Vacche, Professor of Film Studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Author of Film, Art, New Media: Museum without Walls.

"Boukary Sawadogo, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media Arts at The City College of New York, brings his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for African cinema to this highly informative and accessible textbook, African Film Studies: An Introduction. Sawadogo has published on many aspects of African cinema in both French and English, including his first book, Les cinémas francophones ouest africains, 1900–2005 (2013). This present work, in English, expands on the scope of his previous book geographically, with its inclusion of contemporary cinemas from other regions of Africa (though little of North Africa) and the diaspora, and temporally, with its coverage of the four distinct periods of African filmmaking: the colonial years, postcolo-nial pioneer years (1960s–70s), second wave (1980s–90s), and postnational contemporary times. [...] Sawadogo’s compact, palm-sized 142-page textbook is an entry point for those new to Film Studies, and more specifically, to African Film Studies. The text succinctly covers the history, movements, aesthetics, and criticism of Afri-can cinema for those with a general interest in African film." — Tama Hamilton-Wray Michigan State University, USA, for African Studies Review