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Ecrans Noirs Film Festival: Women defying odds in the African film industry

Cameroon

At the ongoing Ecrans Noirs Film Festival in Cameroon, the role of women in film production has been greatly lauded.

Their films surround topics that break down barriers that not only affect the African continent, but also far beyond the continent.

An example is a Gabonese series production of Matamba Kombila, which mainly addresses the challenges disabled people go through in the society. In this case, the deaf.

“We conduct film workshops at the national school for hearing impaired children in Libreville, Gabon. The aim was to teach children the techniques of basic cinema so that we could achieve together a unifying project and so we ventured on a short film that we had to do with the students by speaking with them and getting to know them by discovering the deaf world that I did not know at all and by them sharing their experiences,” she said.

However, women working in the African film industry also face different challenges. For example, the MeToo campaign that hit the United States in September 2017 is a scenario far too many of them are familiar with. According to them, this has in a way had a negative impact in their work.

Liesbeth Mabiala from the Republic of Congo says her experience is a tale she would not want to relive again. She’s not only a film director, but also a script writer and an actress.

“Yes I have experienced this so much that I am going to say, it will be redundant it is my experience actually in reality and I am also it in the cinematographic media. I took time to resign because I was sexually harassed in the professional environment and it affected me,” Mabiala recalled.

Gender equality is what these film directors and producers are aiming to achieve with their work to create a more level playing field that will break down damaging gender stereotypes in the industry and to foster a strong female film making community in Africa.

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