[skip to content]

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Curating Africa: African Film and Video in the Age of Festivals

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Term 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • a sound knowledge of the key texts in contemporary African film and video, and of how these audiovisual products circulate, both on the continent and globally (i.e. through both ‘elite’ and ‘informal’ channels, such as film festivals, television broadcast, art galleries, video halls) and how they are and may be received by spectators in a variety of contexts
  • a sound understanding of what curating/programming African film and video involves, and the ability to curate a programme of African film for a film festival
  • knowledge of the theories circulating in contemporary African Cultural Studies, African Screen Media Studies, Film Festival Studies and Reception Studies
  • critical and analytical abilities in relation to screen media, and particularly African screen media


This course is taught in term 1 over 11 weeks with four contact hours a week, two of which are spent in film screenings, the other two being lectures.

Scope and syllabus

The course will enhance the options available within the MA African Studies, and within all film-related MA programmes, and could also be made available to students doing courses in other disciplines that have a focus on Africa. It complements courses such as Aspects of African Film and Video 1 and 2, which have a more historical, text-based focus, by putting the focus firmly on contemporary African film and video production but also – and especially – on context ahead of text.  Most importantly, it combines the teaching of both scholarly and practical skills, encouraging students to think of themselves not just as potential future academics but as potential future curators/programmers of film or art.  In a higher education context calling for the acquisition of skills that will equip graduates for future employment, this is also an attempt to give the study of African film and video various uses and applications, beyond simply scholarly analysis.

A full syllabus will be given to students at the beginning of the course.

Method of assessment

This course is examined by one 5,000 word essay to be submitted on day 1, week 1, after the term the course is taught (60%). two (1,000 word) analyses or podcasts to be submitted during the term of teaching (dates to be given by the course convenor) (10%); an individual presentation (duration 10 mins approx) of film festival ideas (30%).

Suggested reading

Along with the Africa librarians at the SOAS library, the course convenor has been building the African film collection at SOAS and there are now hundreds of African films. The library is also well resourced with material about film festivals due to our archive.  Work is also in progress to acquire recent material from the field of Film Festival Studies for the SOAS library.

Because the focus is on the most contemporary films and videos made by African artists, and because the course is designed to train students in curating film, students will be encouraged to do their own research (for their film programme) on new African film releases.