It has been a week of heated discussions about why there isn’t a single non white nominee at the Academy Awards this year.  A lot of entertainment professionals  and the general viewing public are speaking out against this grave injustice, with an alarming majority saying the awards ceremony should be boycotted. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, an African American film marketing executive is the current president of the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences representing the 6,100 prestigious member academy.  The appointment made Isaacs the first ever African American female president of the prestigious committee and overall third woman, but inspite of this, there hasn’t really been any inroads this year for actors and filmmakers of colour. Read her official statement below;

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Film’s such as Creed‘s Michael B. Jordan, Concussion‘s Will Smith, The Hateful Eight‘s Samuel L. Jackson or Beasts of No Nation‘s Idris Elba should have been big contenders this year.

What if the judging panel came to Africa for instance?  Do we have any Oscar worthy filmmakers or directors? Especially now that some factions are canvassing for their own version of the Oscars, as if that isn’t why the Black Entertainment Network (BET) channel was founded?  Or magazine publications like Ebony , Essence etc are in existence,  to combat  racial discrimination in the entertainment industry, if at all. Do we really need to make more divisions or step up our game? I hardly see musicians fighting for nominations at the BET Awards over the Grammys for instance.

We have compiled a  definitive list of  African filmmakers , some of blessed memory,  who can showcase their cinematic projects on film or television anywhere in the world, some have been nominated for the prestigious Oscars, or the Emmys and have won.

Personally i think a lot more of African literary works should be adapted to the screen for cinematic viewing. See what happened with ”Beasts Of No Nation” for instance.

Read the list and we apologize  in advance if your favourite Nollywood or Ghollywood filmmakers  did not make the cut.

 Ousmane Sembène

Ousmane Sembène, the first film director from Africa to gain international recognition and rightly described as the father of African cinema, died at the age of 84.   Sembène’s first feature, La Noire de (Black Girl) in 1966, shot in black and white, is a searing account of the isolation of a young black domestic servant working in Antibes, and the first African feature produced and directed by an African.  Largely self-taught, Sembène was a prolific writer and director. He toured Senegal with his films and led audience debates after the screenings.

“For us, African film-makers, it was then necessary to become political, to become involved in a struggle against all the ills of man’s cupidity, envy, individualism, the nouveau-riche mentality, and all the things we have inherited from the colonial and neo-colonial systems,” Sembène stated.

This was followed, in 1968, by the international success Mandabi (The Money Order) based on his novel Le Mandat (1966) which looks at the effects of post-colonial Africa on the lives of ordinary people. Shot in two versions, French and Wolof, the majority language of Senegal – it won a special jury prize in Venice.

Sembène’s joint careers in film and literature were always aimed at the Senegalese public (“Africa is my audience, the west and the rest are markets”) and have consistently been informed by his politics and his understanding of the contradictions of a rapidly transforming continent.

Athol Fugard

Harold Athol Lanigan Fugard (born 11 June 1932) is a South African playwright, novelist, actor, and director who writes in English. He is best known for his political plays opposing the system of apartheid and for the 2005 Academy Award-winning film of his novel  Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood. Fugard has never won a Tony Award, but four of his works were nominated for best play: “Sizwe Banzi Is Dead and the Island” (1975), “A Lesson from Aloes” (1981), “Master Harold and the Boys” (1982) and “Blood Knot” (1986). He received a  lifetime achievement award  at the Tony Awards in 2011.  Fugard is an adjunct professor of playwriting, acting and directing in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego.For the academic year 2000–2001, he was the IU Class of 1963 Wells Scholar Professor at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana.  He is the recipient of many awards, honours, and honorary degrees, including the 2005 Order of Ikhamanga in Silver “for his excellent contribution and achievements in the theatre” from the government of South Africa. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Gavin Hood

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Gavin Hood (born 12 May 1963) is a South African filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and actor, best known for writing and directing Tsotsi (2005), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He also directed the films X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Ender’s Game.

 Coréon Dú

The youngest on this list, José Eduardo Paulino dos Santos (born September 28, 1984) better known by his stage name Coréon Dú, is the son of Angola’s sitting President, a multilingual Angolan artist, creative director, event producer, and talent agent. He discovered Angolan top model Maria Borges (she has since landed a lucrative Victoria’s Secret contract), new it model Alécia Morais .  He is known for his distinct musical style, bold fashion choices and his contributions to projects inspired by Angolan Pop culture in the realms of Television , Film music, dance, fashion, TV, Events.

Among his works are various acclaimed projects such as his recent full-length album titled “Binario”. He is on this list because of the writing and production of Seoul International Drama Award winning and International Emmy nominated series Jikulumessu ( currently showing on Mnet African magic 151 weekdays at 8p.m) , as well as the International Emmy-nominated telenovela, “Windeck”, all before the age of 30.

He has since taken his hugely successful independent entertainment company Da Banda bringing Angolan-inspired projects to wider audiences.

Biyi Bandele

Biyi Bandele (born Biyi Bandele-Thomas; 13 October 1967) is a Nigerian novelist, playwright, director and filmmaker. Bandele is regarded as one of the most versatile and prolific of the UK-based Nigerian writers, having turned his hand to theatre, journalism, television, film and radio, as well as the fiction with which he made his name. He lives in London, where he moved in 1990.

As a playwright, Bandele has worked for the stage with the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and elsewhere, as well as writing radio drama and screenplays for television. His plays include: Rain; Marching for Fausa (1993); Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought (1994); Two Horsemen (1994), selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival; Death Catches the Hunter and Me and the Boys (published in one volume, 1995); and Oroonoko, an adaptation of Aphra Behn’s 17th-century novel of the same name. In 1997 he did a successful dramatization of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

For TV, he directed MTV base’s Sugar and made his directorial debut film Half of a Yellow Sun  which was selected to be screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival,and received a “rapturous reception”. The film received a wide range of critical attention. His new film, entitled Fifty, produced by EbonyLife TV’sMo Abudu is included in the 2015 London Film Festival.

Tunde Kelani

Tunde Kelani (born 26 February 1948), popularly known as TK, is a Nigerian filmmaker, storyteller, director, photographer,cinematographer and producer.In a career spanning more than four decades, TK specialises in producing movies that promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and have a root in documentation, archiving, education, entertainment and promotion of the culture.

He is also known for his love of adaptation of literary material into movies as most of his works have followed that style of filmmaking including Ko se Gbe, Oleku, Thunder Bolt, The Narrow Path, White Handkerchief, Maami and Dazzling Mirage.

Abdellatif Kechiche

Born in Tunis, he moved with his parents to Nice at the age of six.

He directed Games of Love and Chance, known as L’esquive, which won a César Award for Best Film and Best Director. He presented The Secret of the Grain at the 64th Mostra del Cinema in Venice for which he was awarded the Special Jury Prize. The film also received the FIPRESCI Prize, the Louis Delluc Prize and the César Awards for Best Film and Best Director.

As an actor, his introduction to most English-speaking audiences was starring as Ashade the taxi driver in the 2005 psychological thriller Sorry, Haters, an “official selection” in both the Toronto and American Film Institute’s film festivals.

He was decorated by the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2005 and in 2008.

His 2013 film Blue Is the Warmest Colour won the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Several days later a controversy erupted about Kechiche’s work methods; technicians on the film accused him of harassment, unpaid overtime and violations of labour laws. The two main actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, also complained about Kechiche’s behaviour during the shooting but later in an extensive interview claimed that although he was difficult to work with, it had been worth it as he was a great filmmaker. The film also won Best International Independent Film at the British Independent Film Awards in 2013.

Tsitsi Dangarembga

Novelist, filmmaker and playwright, Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Nervous Conditions. Nervous Conditions is the first book published by an African woman in English. It was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her novels gave a voice to the black women of Zimbabwe. 

Neria, which she wrote and directed, became the highest grossing film in Zimbabwean history. Ms Dangarembga has continued to innovate and give a voice to Zimbabweans through her founding of the International Images Film Festival for women, and her continued work with the Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Women Writers.Dangarembga wrote the story for the film Neria (1993), which became the highest-grossing film in Zimbabwean history. The protagonist is a widowed woman, whose brother-in-law abuses traditional customs to control her assets for his own benefit. Neria loses her material possessions and her child, but gets then help from her female friend (played byKubi Indi) against her late husband’s family. The title song is by Oliver Mtukudzi, who also appears in the film.

In 1996, she directed the film Everyone’s Child. It was the first feature film directed by a black Zimbabwean woman. The story followed the tragic fates of four siblings, after their parents die of AIDS

In 2011, she orated a TEDx talk at Harare called “The question posed by my cat”

Watch Below:

 

Frances Bodomo

Polyglot Frances Bodomo is fluent in the following languages “English, Dagaare, Twi, Mandarin, German, French, and  Norwegian.” Born in Ghana to educator parents (dad teaches linguistics, mom English literature), Bodomo also lived in Norway and Hong Kong before undergraduate studies at Columbia University and then New York University Graduate Film School. “I feel like I got into film because I come from so many places,” Bodomo says. “Language barriers have always been an issue. But images, they are universal. They are clear, emotional and about the inarticulable, and that’s the level we live at experientially.”

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Bodomo’s first short, Boneshaker, made the festival rounds in 2013. It tells the tale of an Ghanaian family in the American South looking to a Louisiana church to “cure” their problem child. “In Ghana’s evangelical community, if something is wrong with you, they take you to church and pray to get rid of the evil spirit,” Bodomo explains. “I wanted to explore [in Boneshaker] what it is like to be a migrant — trying to hold onto this dream of Africa that has been lost.” Her following short, Afronauts — which she’s now turning into a feature — is an even bolder success, a hallucinatory fusion of history, science, political critique, and imaginative fantasy.

 

Inspired by a true story, it’s about the short-lived Zambia space program, that African country’s real attempt to beat the U.S. into outer space. On the eve of the Apollo 11 launch, a young albino girl — played by model Diandra Forrest — trains for her moon shot, aware that she may be sacrificing herself to sustain family pride and a national dream.

“I heard about the real Afronauts, and for me it was a wonderful story from this era of moon fever,  how imagination is boundless and doesn’t need to be tethered to possibility,” Bodomo says. Researching the story, she learned the would-be spacemen never launched. “They just dissipated into the blind spot of history. That made [the story] much more exciting for me because it’s only accessible through imagination, emotion, desire, and interior life.”

This list hasn’t scratched the surface of all the talented professionals in the African entertainment industry. Do you know any great film makers and directors that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section….xoUU

 

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