Representations of Africa tend to reproduce old stereotypes, adapted to recent trends but ultimately reproducing, even in postcolonial times, a largely negative and monolithic image of a diverse continent. The same can be said of cinema. A more or less consensual approach to “African cinema” associates it with exoticism, making it into a genre easily recognized by Western audiences. It is this idea of a backward, monolithic Africa that the curators of African Screens, Manthia Diawara and Lydie Diakhaté, intended to challenge. The provocative gesture can be found in the choice of the film screened at the inaugural session, Les saignantes, by Jean-Pierre Bekolo. The same applies to Juju Factory, by Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda. Both films question ideas of “authentic” representations of “Africanness,” introducing a complex cinematic language that shows how contemporary African film not only is diverse in its tendencies but also relates in diverse ways to different trans/national traditions and models.

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