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.
‘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