Festival Forum

CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition 2022

e-flux Video & Film Festival Forum features CinemAfrica Retrospective Edition 2022
To Dig Where You Stand*

Streaming on e-flux Video & Film for two weeks from Monday, April 4 through Monday, April 18, 2022

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 ‘60s, ‘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.

For more information, visit www.cinemafrica.se, or contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

Experimental Film, Africa
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