- Elizabeth Heath
One of the founding figures in African filmmaking, Paulin Vieyra was responsible for dismantling barriers blocking the birth of film in Africa. Not only famous for these achievements, Vieyra was also influential as a film critic and film historian and did much to promote African cinema abroad.
Vieyra was born in Porto Novo, Benin, where he spent his early childhood. His father, a high-ranking civil servant in the French colonial administration, sent him to school in France at the age of ten. An excellent student, Vieyra was admitted to the University of Paris. When a bout of tuberculosis sent him into the hospital, Vieyra met film school students there who encouraged him to enroll in film school. He was admitted to l’Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques in Paris and in 1955 became the first African to graduate from the school.
After graduation Vieyra organized the film group Le Groupe Africain ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.