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Houda Ben Ghacham

Tunisian film critic and director, was born in Tunis on 11 March 1944. His father, Taoufik Boughedir, was a journalist, novelist, playwright, and an influential figure in cultural life. Boughedir attended a French secondary school in Tunis and lived in the family home in Halfaouine, an area of old Tunis that was later to provide the name for the director’s first film. He went on to study French literature in Rouen and Paris and wrote two doctoral theses on African and Arabic cinema.

Boughedir first made a name for himself as a film critic, writing for, among others, the journal Jeune Afrique, which was published in Paris and distributed in francophone Africa. In his writing for this, he was an inexhaustible supporter of the cause of African cinema. He was involved in organizing the oldest pan-African film festival, Les Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, in Tunis which he ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Haile Gerima was born in Gondar, Ethiopia. As a child, he acted in his father’s troupe, performing across Ethiopia. In 1967 Gerima moved to the United States and two years later enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles drama school. There he became familiar with the ideas of black American leader Malcolm X and wrote plays about slavery and black militancy. After reading the revolutionary theory of Third Cinema, however, Gerima began to experiment with film. Gerima returned to Ethiopia in 1974 to film Harvest: 3,000 Years his first full length film and the only one of his works to be shot in Africa Although famine and the recent military overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I placed severe restrictions on the film crew the final result was a sophisticated examination through the story of a village that finally overthrows its feudal landlord of the centuries ...

Article

George Ogola

Kenyan novelist, actor, and newspaper humorist and cultural critic, was born in 24 October 1954 in Nyeri, Central Kenya, a place he immortalized in his newspaper column, “Whispers,” as “the slopes of Mount Kenya,” a literal reference to the region’s mountainous topography. He was Octavia Muthoni and Elijah Mutahi Wahome’s first child in a family of eight children (two girls and six boys). Mutahi attended Catholic schools, a life that graced his writings. Baptized Paul, a name he later dropped, Mutahi became an altar boy at his local church and later joined the seminary, in what should have led him to joining the Catholic priesthood. Despite being encouraged by his parents to train as a priest, Mutahi dropped out of the seminary in 1972 because he found the institution too strict for his liberal ideas Instead he joined Kirimara High School for his A level education the last two ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Samba Gadjigo

Beninese filmmaker and film critic, was born the oldest of eight children in Porto Novo, Benin (former Dahomey), on 30 January 1925. Vieyra’s great-grandfather, a Muslim Yoruba, was a member of a Bida royal family in Nigeria that was sent to Brazil as slaves. Following the 1835 Muslim slave rebellion in Bahia and emancipation in Brazil, Vieyra’s great-grandfather settled in the former Portuguese slave port of Porto Novo (New Port), which was said to be a tributary of the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo. He brought with him a mulatto wife, the daughter of his former Jewish Portuguese master and a black slave, and the Portuguese last name Vieyra.

Vieyra’s father was a Yoruba railroad administrator. His mother, originally from Sierra Leone, was a merchant. In 1935 they sent Paulin then ten to France to attend boarding school During the war his school was closed Moving from family to ...