Festival Forum features CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition 2022

Festival Forum features CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition 2022


Clip from Madubuko Diakité, For Personal Reasons, 1973.

April 4, 2022
Festival Forum features CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition 2022
April 4–18, 2022

e-flux Video & Film is very pleased to feature this year’s CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition, which wrapped this past March in various venues in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Since its inception in 1998, CinemAfrica has been the most important Nordic festival to screen films from the African continent and diaspora. The regular festival took place this fall October 10–16, 2021, in conjunction and collaboration with the Afro-Swedish History Week. From March 17–20, 2022  CinemAfrica held a special retrospective edition at Zita in Stockholm, during which, for the first time, a filmmaker was invited to curate the program. Together with Mali-born director and film scholar Manthia Diawara who visted Sweden as Guest Artistic Director, CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition 2022 focused on films that rediscover or “remix” history. During this curated and shorter edition of the festival, classics from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were screened side-by-side with films from the new millennium. The older films included highlights from previous CinemAfrica festivals, while the new films were concerned with film history by radically reimagining it. In parallel with the program at Zita, CinemAfrica organized a seminar on Édouard Glissant at Stockholm University and a series of Safi Faye and Sarah Maldoror screenings together with the cinematheque at the Swedish Film Institute. The edition was programmed by Manthia Diawara, CinemAfrica programmer Christian Rossipal, and the CinemAfrica Program Group.

For this special feature in e-flux Video & Film’s ongoing online series Festival Forum, CinemAfrica presents For Personal Reasons (1973) and The Invisible People (1972), two short films by Madubuko Diakité curated for e-flux audiences by CinemAfrica Program Group member Mmabatho Thobejane under the title “To Dig Where You Stand.” Thobejane and CinemAfrica programmer Christian Rossipal join e-flux’s Lukas Brasiskis​ for a recorded conversation to discuss this year’s CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition, as well as the films selected for e-flux.

To Dig Where You Stand*
Seen on their own, For Personal Reasons (1973) and The Invisible People (1972) remind us of the axiom, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While colored by different contexts, Black liberation and abolition today like then remain of high concern and importance. Anti-blackness and exclusion along racial lines today, like then, inform constructs of the nation.

Seen side by side the films highlight several motifs, of stark note are the ways in which Madubuko Diakité explores and immerses himself in the local in which he finds himself at the time. In both For Personal Reasons and The Invisible People we are introduced to the respective locals, New York and Lund, Sweden, through the lenses and experiences of two different Black men. In For Personal Reasons in the early 1970s a young Black man stumbles upon a Black Panthers protest in Brooklyn. He says, “…[t]hey were saying a lot of the things I had been thinking, about how freedom fighters and people from all over the world are fighting the same thing, imperialism, oppression.” While in The Invisible People we encounter John and the plight of international students in Lund in the early seventies, who today, like then, face similar bureaucracy, exclusion and discrimination along racial lines. When one of the interviewees describes practices of institutionalized discrimination, noting how admissions to some fields of study are conducted along racial and national lines, recent events come to mind.

Watching the films in light of recent world events, including the discrimination Black people faced at the Ukrainian and Polish borders, one is reminded that anti-blackness is deliberate and continually structures the world, then and now. Immersed in the then, we are reminded now that while the struggle against imperialism and oppression starts and sprawls out from our respective locals, it is importantly, also an international one.

*Title inspired by the upcoming conference Dig where you stand: methods and perspectives on investigating the local, organized by Malmö Konstmuseum and Ystad Art Museum, both located in Sweden.

Streaming April 4–18, 2022, watch here.

Madubuko Diakité, For Personal Reasons, 1973
27 minutes 
US, English

Focusing on the Civil Rights Movement and a 1970 protest in New York, For Personal Reasons was inspired by the Black Panthers and Malcolm X. An innovative mix of fact and fiction—a kind of critical fabulation—it juxtaposes militant speech with avant-garde jazz. The film won an Honorable Mention at the Grenoble Film Festival in 1973.

Madubuko DiakitéThe Invisible People, 1972
30 minutes 
Sweden, Swedish with English subtitles

Diakité’s unique historical document, made together with Gary Engman and Nordal Åkerman, records the precarious living conditions of foreign students, immigrants, and in particular the African diaspora in southern Sweden in the ‘70s.

This new 2021 scan and subtitling of The Invisible people (Det osynliga folket) was made possible by CinemAfrica, Story AB, Simon Klose, Rafaela Stålbalk Klose, and the Afro-Swedish History Week (The Museum of Ethnography).

Mmabatho Thobejane and Christian Rossipal in conversation with Lukas Brasiskis
Recorded video discussion, 36 minutes

In this recorded conversation, curator and CinemAfrica Program Group member Mmabatho Thobejane and CinemAfrica programmer Christian Rossipal join e-flux’s Lukas Brasiskis​ to discuss this year’s CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition, as well as the films selected for e-flux audiences.

Watch the films here.

Madubuko Diakité
 is a human rights lawyer, researcher, writer, and documentary filmmaker born in Harlem in 1940. Diakité studied at the New York Institute of Photography but moved from the US to Sweden in 1968 to study filmmaking and pursue a PhD in Cinema Studies. At this time he traveled frequently between Sweden, US, and Nigeria, where he had partly grown up and would later found a film school. In 1992, he also earned a Licentiate in Law at Lund University, Sweden. Since then, Diakité has practiced law and researched Human Rights at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Lund and has been active in anti-discrimination organizations in Sweden. He has published several books, among them Film, Culture, and the Black Filmmaker and the autobiographical Not Even in Your Dreams. He continues to practice law and to research migration as a senior researcher emeritus in Sweden.

Mmabatho Thobejane (she/her) is a curator, producer, and writer currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BCom (Finance and Economics) in 2016 and a BA(Hons) in Curatorship in 2017. She received a Masters in Curating from Stockholm University in 2021. She currently splits her time between being the process leader and curator at Grafikens Hus, for the project Samlande Tankar/Collecting Thoughts, and as a producer at MDT, located at Skeppsholmen, Stockholm. Her curatorial practice focuses on centering Black creative practices and her writing practices centers and excavates Black Indigenous knowing, sense, and unfolding. She is a member of the CinemAfrica Program Group.

Christian Rossipal is a Ph.D. candidate in Cinema Studies at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Christian’s research and teaching interests include, among other things, migrating minor cinemas and the media infrastructures of violence and coloniality. His work has been published in Film Quarterly, The Global South, and Routledge Key Issues in Cultural Heritage, and he has forthcoming articles in the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies and the anthology Entangled Legacies of Empire: Race, Finance & Inequality. Rossipal is a member of the artist-activist collective Noncitizen and a programmer at CinemAfrica.

Founded in 1998, CinemAfrica is a non-profit organization devoted to celebrating African and dispora cutures through a yearly film festival, film club, industry events, and pedagogical experiences. CinemAfrica aims to offer a nuanced and current image of Africa to Swedish and Nordic audiences with the hopes of entertaining and activating. 

e-flux Video & Film’s Festival Forum presents collaborations with established and emerging moving-image festivals from around the world. The series aims to promote a closer dialogue between the artistically entangled but often institutionally disconnected fields of film and contemporary art, and explore field-specific approaches to programming and/or curating the moving image. Over time it hopes to accumulate a record of, and insight into, the formal, topical, geographical, political, and institutional considerations at stake in the presentation and dissemination of moving-image works today. Previous collaborations include International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2020, Images Festival 2021, New York Kurdish Film and Cultural Festival 2021, and  Experimental Film and Video Festival in Seoul – EXiS 2021.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

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April 4, 2022

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