Les États généraux du film documentaire 2012 Africa


All those interested in documentary, and more generally in cinematic or audiovisual creation, have noticed the impact of digital tools – simple and light, financially accessible – on the development of creativity. We can only note that a generational movement carrying a demand for true artistic rigour, is on the point of burgeoning worldwide, provided that support and encouragement are available. As proof of this statement, we have chosen to present nine films made in 2012, some of which were developed within the Africadoc* programme whose tenth anniversary we are celebrating this year.
What characteristics guided our choice beyond the fact that all these films document a reality that is unfamiliar to many of us, that of contemporary Africans? What traits link the authors? What differences of narrative, point of view, form or rhythm distinguish the films?
If it is henceforth beyond doubt that a new generation of African film artists has emerged – the number and quality of the films bear witness – we have to try to understand how the poetics of these films documents the Real they confront, allowing access to a comprehension of the world.

La vie n'est pas immobile
Following up on his first film, Les Larmes de l’immigration, in which Alassane Diago recounted the life of his mother in the self-sacrificing wait for the father, the filmmaker describes here not life without men but rather life “despite men”. The cinema of Alassane Diago is situated always within his village community: he becomes one with his subject, the words of women.
Mbëkk Mi, le souffle de l'océan
Sophie Bachelier's black and white photography, sober and precise, works magnificently. Positioned at the right distance, the filmmaker
listens as Senegalese women speak. What we believe we know about clandestine emigration disappears, reduced to the status of cliché, as these sequences of words, edited one after the other, sketch a kind of fresco, a memory of the world sublimated by the documentary gesture.
Hamou-Béya, pêcheurs de sable and Le Goût du sel
Films by Andrey Diarra and Souna Dieye have a family resemblance. Their similarity resides in the fact that these two filmmakers are stimulated by a curiosity that pushes them to film other people at work. This involves of course filming techniques and gestures but it also means transcending the reality of these workers' communities by shedding light on a certain epic dimension.
Atlantic Produce Togo s.a.
Penda Houzangbe and Jean-Gabriel Tregoat filmed over four months in Togo a project of a company supposed to foster citizenship that ended in failure. By deliberately becoming deeply interested in the young people behind the project, the filmmakers show that here as elsewhere it is not easy to resist the implacable mechanisms of an unequal market and skewed rules of play (especially between North and South). The reality of class struggle is implacably revealed and exacerbated. How can this reality generally ignored by, or closed to, filmmakers be documented, without falling into facile simplification? How can we establish a dialogue between politics and cinema? How is it possible to create a sufficiently
critical distance to see beyond erroneous appearances? This documentary is important precisely because it raises essential questions on filming the Real.
Avec Bachir
How do young African students perceive the political reality of the country where they are studying? This film directed in March 2012 by the nine students in the Master's programme of Creative Documentary Direction at Saint-Louis du Sénégal is in its way symptomatic of the critical curiosity of an entire generation. Using fluid narrative, the film exudes a point of view, carried from within and by several people, on the spasms of recent history. These documentary filmmakers of the African continent allow us to see and hear, here and now, their visions of the world.
Espoir voyage
The cineast as walker is more interested here in the ground covered than in the trip's goal to the extent that his original objective — finding his elder brother – is often abandoned for the incidents of the journey. Thus Michel K. Zongo takes us on an encounter with living beings encountered here and there, placing us for example inside a bus where the drifting of faces and bodies is magnificently captured.
Tea or Electricity
Made by a Belgian film director, this portrait of a Moroccan mountain village avoids the obvious pitfall of exoticism. This is genuine cinema of the real, as having enough time for the shooting phase, the filmmaker has been able to immerse and get to know the filmed subjects, thus developing the appropriate distance to them. Over a long period of time, the filmmaker is accompanying the process of electricity being installed in a small remote village. What is at stake then, beyond the magic aspect of light and of all «premières»? A bulb lights up, a TV set is switched on, while the village community is re-forming... We are attending a disruption of time.
Le Rite, la Folle et Moi
Gentille Menguisani Assih shows us her second film after Itchombi in which she follows with determination an initiation ritual that she tries to modify to avoid Aids contamination in the village community. The filmmaker continues her work on rites; the camera being once more her way of acting on the Real. But this time the initiation ritual is quite different as it concerns the filmmaker's younger sister... Her work questions the intimate register of filming: a film of immersion but also and above all the self-portrait of the cineast who is directing. Gentille Menguizani Assih tries to re-establish a truth, to settle a family secret but also to give a new dimension to ritual by the means of cinema.

This film is screened outdoor, August, 22 at 9:30 pm.

Jean-Marie Barbe

*Africadoc 2002-2012: a training programme and laboratory for the development of equitable North-South coproductions of creative documentary. Ardèche Images directs this programme in collaboration with African partners, principally in Western and Central Africa, permitting the production of twenty new films per year made in sixteen sub-Saharan African countries.

Debates in the presence of Sophie Bachelier, Penda Houzangbe, Jérôme Le Maire, Jean-Gabriel Tregoat, and under reserve Gentille Menguisani Assih and Michel K. Zongo.