AFRIQUE-SUR-SEINE is widely regarded as the first film made by an African outh of the Sahara. Labelled an “ethnological documentary in reverse,” it shows 1950s Paris from the cinematic perspective of a group of African immigrants. The Senegalese director Paulin Soumanou Vieyra made a huge contribution to the emergent field of African filmmaking and African film theory. He made over a dozen films, and wrote a number of books, including the seminal work Le Cinema et L'Afrique.
Made by the 'Father of Cinéma Verité,' this film follows on from the themes of Jean Rouch’s earlier ethnographic films (immigration to African coast towns; relationships between colonizers and colonizeds) by charting a day-in-the-life of three young Nigerien men who are working in Abidjan as casual laborers. It was hailed as "the best French film since the liberation" by Jean-Luc Godard, but has been challenged by the 'Father of African Cinema,' Ousmane Sembene, for regarding Africans like "ants."
In Cape Town in the 1980s, the security police used water cannon to break up crowds protesting against apartheid. Demonstrators were sprayed with indelible ink. When the rallies dispersed, anyone stained purple could be rounded up and detained. Soon after, a new slogan appeared in giant graffiti on the motorway flyover outside the city: The Purple Shall Govern.
Mark Ashurst has reported from Africa for the BBC, Newsweek, The Financial Times, The Economist and The Guardian. As a journalist, he has been motivated by the difficulty of conveying in the mainstream media the epochal scope of Africa’s transition over the past decade. His remarkable multi-media performance piece with spoken narrative, The Purple Shall Govern, is a personal retrospective and draws on his own unique archive of audio and video, and the work of writers and artists spanning three centuries. Inspired by Frank Kermode’s seminal book on the apocalyptic mode in fiction, The Sense of an Ending, it argues that the overarching narrative of renaissance and decline that defines Africa has become an obstacle to progress. Primarily, The Purple Shall Govern is a cultural piece exploring certain convictions which shape representations of Africa, with references to Chinua Achebe, Bessie Head, Hip-Hop, Kwaito, Economic Structural Adjustment, information technology, Shakespeare and Yeats. More broadly, The Purple Shall Govern is a plea for tolerance. It illustrates why the apocalyptic mode in so many reports from Africa is mythical, and weighs so heavily on its prospects.
The Purple Shall Govern has been well received at festivals in Harare, Zanzibar and during Black History Month in Manchester.
In this short documentary, Folly sets out to examine the practice of female excision, which affects two million girls in the world every year. The filmmaker trains her lens on Senegal, where 20 years of protesting by Senegalese women has finally resulted in a law against the practice.
8.10pm Films by Ethiopian Children
8.30pm Films by Dominique Chadwick
DIRECTOR IN PERSON