Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Abderrahmane Sissako, Effie Brown and More Invited to the Academy as Diversity Push Continues David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Abderrahmane Sissako, Effie Brown and More Invited to the Academy as Diversity Push Continues Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film Fried Chicken & Drugs: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Writer Charla Lauriston Creates the Anti-­Strong Black Woman in 'Clench & Release' Fried Chicken & Drugs: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Writer Charla Lauriston Creates the Anti-­Strong Black Woman in 'Clench & Release' A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' Greetings From 'The Walking Dead: Season 6' Set as Daryl Plants an Unexpected Kiss on Michonne Greetings From 'The Walking Dead: Season 6' Set as Daryl Plants an Unexpected Kiss on Michonne Taraji P. Henson Books Lead in 'Hunger Games' Producer's Directorial Debut, ‘The Best Of Enemies’ Taraji P. Henson Books Lead in 'Hunger Games' Producer's Directorial Debut, ‘The Best Of Enemies’ PBS Yanks Ben Affleck 'Finding Your Roots' Episode + Puts Off 3rd & 4th Seasons Until Editorial Standards Improve PBS Yanks Ben Affleck 'Finding Your Roots' Episode + Puts Off 3rd & 4th Seasons Until Editorial Standards Improve Casting News - Teyonah Parris Is Spike Lee's Lysistrata + NWA Biopic Casts its Tupac, Jussie Smollett Heads 'Underground' Casting News - Teyonah Parris Is Spike Lee's Lysistrata + NWA Biopic Casts its Tupac, Jussie Smollett Heads 'Underground' Here's Your First Look At Taye Diggs in the Title Role in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' Here's Your First Look At Taye Diggs in the Title Role in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' Teaser: Marques Houston, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Draya Michele Star in TV One Original Movie, 'Will to Love' Teaser: Marques Houston, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Draya Michele Star in TV One Original Movie, 'Will to Love' Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Preeminent African Film Festival (FESPACO) & Stateside Black Film Festivals - Critical Parallels

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 12, 2011 at 12:41PM

Reading the below recent lament from internationally celebrated Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Un Homme Qui Crie) on FESPACO, the largest, and most significant African film festival, held biennially in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I was immediately reminded that, over the years, black film festivals here in the USA have also often been heavily criticized by filmmakers and audiences alike, unfairly some may say. We've touched on the matter on this site in previous posts; I also recall a thread on my old website - The Obenson Report - that unexpectedly attracted a stream of comments, most of them quite impassioned, expressing all sides, and even drew the ire of black film festival directors.
0

Reading the below recent lament from internationally celebrated Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Un Homme Qui Crie) on FESPACO, the largest, and most significant African film festival, held biennially in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I was immediately reminded that, over the years, black film festivals here in the USA have also often been heavily criticized by filmmakers and audiences alike, unfairly some may say. We've touched on the matter on this site in previous posts; I also recall a thread on my old website - The Obenson Report - that unexpectedly attracted a stream of comments, most of them quite impassioned, expressing all sides, and even drew the ire of black film festival directors.

"In September 1997, we set up the Guild because we faced the same problems. We had no rooms and spent the night around the Hotel Indépendance poolside talking till six in the morning. Today, the same things are happening again! These small, incidental [hiccups] take[...] on huge proportions when the problems cumulate. In his opening speech at the stadium, the Minister of Culture didn't seem to think fit to talk about film; he spoke about Burkina's culinary specialties, such as "bicycle" and rabilé chicken. I know the Minister of Culture is also the Minister of Tourism, but the Fespaco is first and foremost a film event. Does this festival truly respect cinema, or is it simply a popular festivity people come to for the sun and millions distributed in special awards? Must we continue to accept this due to an essentialism that is specific to us? It's a typically African social comedy, rooted in our traditions, in which there is no solidarity between the filmmakers. And we sustain this farce by our presence. I get the impression that there is no longer any reflection on film here, and if we don't reflect on film, it's difficult to take it elsewhere and to escape the ghetto we are shut in. We become just image-makers. In Burkina, since Idrissa Ouedraogo stopped shooting, there's no cinema anymore.. "

All very similar criticisms that have been launched against black film festivals here in the USA.

It's worth adding that, as Bombastic Element notes, earlier this year, after the 2011 installment of FESPACO, Haroun proclaimed that he would no longer attend the film festival.

Also, I recall a series of tweets from Cameron Bailey (director of the Toronto International Film Festival, and a long-time FESPACO regular) during the latter half of this year's festival, expressing a simultaneous regret and hope, stating, for example, "getting harder to swallow disappointment here, and it's not the choking dust. So much goodwill in Ouaga, but..."

Criticism of black film festivals, however unfairly, both those here in the states and at FESPACO, seem to center mostly around matters of organization, focus/emphasis, and opportunity. Are we starting to hear less of those cries from filmmakers and audiences? I'll point to the success of AFFRM as a gauge.

What to make of all this? The issues are larger than the festivals themselves, as I see it.

I just thought that the continental (and diasporic) parallels were interesting and worth noting.

Bombastic Element has a more thorough writeup about this, and you can read it HERE.

This article is related to: Film Festival


Shadow & ActNewsletter