AfricinĂ©, the Fespaco film bulletin published by the African Federation of Film Critics (AFFC), is back. First published during the 2003 Fespaco, the workshop has been made possible this year thanks to support from both the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Africalia, which has organized a workshop on television series, foreshadowing an Internet-based course on the subject. You will find several articles produced during this workshop in this daily bulletin.
United since 2004 in a Federation of national associations that has its headquarters in Dakar, the AFFC Journalists of 28 countries are organizing themselves in discussion groups across the continent bringing together over 250 French-speaking and about 50 English-speaking Journalists.
They publish their articles on the africine.org site, which, with Africultures, constitutes the SudplanĂ¨te database, the worldwide largest existing database on African arts and notably African and Caribbean film.
Criticism is more necessary than ever! For the multiplication of moving images in Africa again poses the question of aesthetics and content. Cinema is emotion. But what does this emotion mobilize in the spectator? Is it manipulative sentimentalism? Is it, to better sell, images that pander to the basest sentiments? Is it a reductive or discriminating discourse on women, those on the fringes of society, foreigners?
Or is this an emotional appeal to the spectator to construct his or her own place in society? Does it challenge so as constantly to pose the questions of respect for others and of dialogue to channel love and hate, both in couples and in society?
In a word, cinema composes the music, but does it leave the spectator the possibility to interpret it? And thus, in constructing his or her place in the film, to do the same thing in the world? We believe that this choice on the part of the filmmaker and the team that produces a film implies aesthetic choices which open or close this possibility for the spectator. And that criticism finds its necessity in the saying and writing of it; not to position oneself as a specialist, but to open the debate and thereby construct a viewpoint, and thus culture.
Criticism isn't a verdict that enounces a truth. It doesn't claim to know what is good, beautiful or right. But it is speaking out, a voicing of an opinion that states its reasons. And which, to do so, draws on its own culture, its own knowledge and understanding.
A critic has nothing to sell. Critics seek to give voice rather than to suppress it. And defend the films that do the same. In so doing, they defend the critical spirit. They have the right to make mistakes, but must also be open to self-criticism!
May the debate begin!
Published Sunday 27 february 2011, Bulletin AfricinĂ© nÂ°12 - Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), FESPACO 2011 - nÂ°1, pp. 1 et 8.