Africa's Lost Classics
New Histories of African Cinema

Edited by Lizelle Bisschoff and David Murphy

Moving Image 5

Legenda

1 November 2014  •  234pp

ISBN: 978-1-907975-51-6 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

Film


Until recently, the story of African film was marked by a series of truncated histories: many outstanding films from earlier decades were virtually inaccessible and thus often excluded from critical accounts. However, various conservation projects since the turn of the century have now begun to make many of these films available to critics and audiences in a way that was unimaginable just a decade ago. In this accessible and lively collection of essays, Lizelle Bisschoff and David Murphy draw together the best scholarship on the diverse and fragmented strands of African film history. Their volume recovers over 30 'lost' African classic films from 1920-2000 in order to provide a more complex genealogy and begin to trace new histories of African filmmaking: from 1920s Egyptian melodramas through lost gems from apartheid South Africa to neglected works by great Francophone directors, the full diversity of African cinema will be revealed.

Mark Cousins writes: The book is a winning product of the centrifugal imagination; it is edited and written by people who are determined to find out more, to challenge other and themselves, to uncover. Lizelle Bisschoff and David Murphy are pathfinders and explorers.

Lizelle Bisschoff is a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow. David Murphy is Professor of French and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Stirling.

Reviews:

  • ‘This is a well-written book that draws attention to those African films and filmmakers that have suffered most from a lack of distribution. Its mission, to renew scholarly and popular interest in African cinema, makes it an invaluable addition to the field of film studies.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 51.3, July 2015
  • ‘Much of the work of this volume is archaeological, seeking to surpass extant Anglophone knowledge of African film and its premises. Since the emergence of African film criticism in the late 1980s/early 1990s... ‘African cinema’ seemed to refer to sub-Saharan, Francophone film, leaving us the impression that it was born in 1962 with Ousmane Sembène’s Borom Sarret. These essays dispel that misprision.’ — Victoria S. Steinberg, French Review 89.3, 2016, 15

Contents:

xv-xvi
Foreword: If I’m Wrong, I’m Right
Mark Cousins
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1-22
Introduction: Revising the Classics: Opening Up the Archives of African Cinema
Lizelle Bisschoff, David Murphy
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Part I. Lost Histories 1924-69
24-34
The Birth of North African Cinema
Ouissal Mejri
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35-49
‘Lost Classics’ in Context: Film Production in South Africa, 1920–1960
Jacqueline Maingard
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50-62
Francophone West African Cinema, 1955–1969: False starts and new beginnings
David Murphy
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Part II. North Africa
64-71
Forgotten Women, Lost Histories: Selma Baccar’s Fatma 75 (1978) and Assia Djebar’s La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua (1978)
Stefanie Van de Peer
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72-77
Naked Nation: Youth, Masculinity, and the Coming Revolution in Man of Ashes (Nouri Bouzid, 1986)
Jamal Bahmad
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78-82
Postcolonialism at Sea: The Tragic Ends of History in Badis (Mohamed A. Tazi, 1989)
Jamal Bahmad
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83-88
Al Masir/Destiny (Youssef Chahine, 1997): ‘a luta continua’
Patrick Williams
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Part III. South Africa
90-95
Jannie Totsiens (Jans Rautenbach, 1970): Of Love, Loss, and Lunacy
Lesley Marx
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96-101
Boesman and Lena (Ross Devenish, 1973): The Politics of Place and Performance
Lesley Marx
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102-106
The Stick (Darrell Roodt, 1987): A Mental State
Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk
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107-112
Fools (Ramadan Suleman, 1997): or, the importance of being able to tell ‘messy’ stories at the ‘wrong’ time
Lindiwe Dovey
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Part IV. Francophone Africa
114-119
Toads and Cowboys: Tracing a Popular African Cinema in Moustapha Alassane’s Le Retour d’un aventurier (1966) and Bon Voyage Sim (1966)
Sada Niang
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120-125
Soleil O (Med Hondo, 1967): ‘They cannot represent themselves . . .’
Patrick Williams
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126-132
Badou Boy (Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1970): Intertextuality, Gangster Movies, and the Language of African Film
Sada Niang
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133-138
Cinema and Nation-Building: Muna Moto (Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa, 1975)
Alexie Tcheuyap
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139-144
Aristotle’s Plot (Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 1997): A refusal to ‘find’ African cinema?
Alexander Fisher
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Part V. Anglophone West Africa
146-151
Heritage Africa (Kwaw Ansah, 1983): A Cinema of Political Violence
Onookome Okome
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152-160
A Nollywood Classic: Living in Bondage (Kenneth Nnebue, 1992/1993)
Onookome Okome
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161-166
Lost in Music? Race, Culture, and Identity in Rage (Newton I. Aduaka, 2000)
David Murphy
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Part VI. Lusophone Africa
168-173
The Birth of Fiction: On Mueda, Memória e Massacre (Ruy Guerra, 1979)
Raquel Schefer
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174-180
Udju Azul di Yonta/The Blue Eyes of Yonta (Flora Gomes, 1992): Lost Dreams/Lost in Dreams?
Patrick Williams
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Part VII. East Africa
182-189
Harvest 3000 Years/Mïrt Sost Shi Amät (Haile Gerima, 1976): A Revolutionary Ethiopian Film
Michael W. Thomas
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190-194
Women’s Stories and Struggles in These Hands (Flora M’mbugu-Schelling, 1992)
Lizelle Bisschoff
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Bibliography entry:

Bisschoff, Lizelle, and David Murphy (eds), Africa's Lost Classics: New Histories of African Cinema, Moving Image, 5 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2014)

First footnote reference: 35 Africa's Lost Classics: New Histories of African Cinema, ed. by Lizelle Bisschoff and David Murphy, Moving Image, 5 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2014), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Bisschoff and Murphy, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Bisschoff, Lizelle, and David Murphy (eds). 2014. Africa's Lost Classics: New Histories of African Cinema, Moving Image, 5 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Bisschoff and Murphy 2014: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Bisschoff and Murphy 2014: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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