SOAS University of London

School of Arts

African Filmmaking: From the 1960s to the Present

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

Students who take this half-unit course will come away with a thorough introduction to the history, politics, and theory of African filmmaking and video-making. Over the past sixty years, filmmakers from across the African continent have produced a large body of films and videos that, in the quality of their expression and the complexity of their themes, are on a par with the most important films produced in the rest of the world. African film has, however, been dubbed the “last cinema” due to its having been largely ignored by film financiers, distributors, and exhibitors, as well as by most Western film critics. The course charts the development of African filmmaking and video-making in multiple contexts, from West to East to Southern Africa, from the the emergence of African filmmaking in the 1960s in the wake of decolonization struggles and political independence to the present day, when there has been a rise in online African-made television programmes. Equal attention is paid to the specific socio-cultural and politico-historical contexts that have given rise to certain ethics and aesthetics within African film and video, and to the analysis of particular films as works of art and/or cultural artifacts that have the potential to challenge contemporary theory in novel and exciting ways. An array of theoretical and methodological frameworks and modes of analysis are considered in relation to the films and videos, including: history, (visual) anthropology, anti- and post-colonial studies, film studies, gender, sexuality, and race studies, theology, political theory and development studies, and area studies.



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • successfully analyse and interpret African films from an array of different African contexts
  • discuss the institutional aspects of film in Africa (in terms of production, distribution, and exhibition)
  • undertake independent research and complete it successfully
  • show confidence in expressing his/her views both orally and in written form
  • show an awareness and understanding of the process of making a film


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar per week.

Scope and syllabus

  1. Ousmane Sembene, Father of African Cinema
  2. Focus on Fathers, Founders, Festivals and Funders in the 1960s
  3. Decolonisation, Third Cinema and New Forms of Resistance Cinema in Africa
  4. Early Experimental African Cinema and Cinephilia/filia: Focus on Djibril Diop Mambety
  5. Pioneering African Women Filmmakers and Womanist Discourses in African Cinema
  6. The Return to Source genre, and Africa at Cannes
  7. Early 'Popular' Filmmaking in Africa
  8. From Nollywood to Nollyworld
  9. The Rise of African Women Filmmakers: Focus on Contemporary Kenya
  10. Contemporary African Filmmakers, 'World Cinema', and the Televisual Turn

Method of assessment

  • A short analysis paper of 500-1,000 words (10%)
  • A short analysis paper of 500-1,000 words (10%)
  • An essay of 4,000 words (70%)
  • Class participation/oral mark (10%)

Suggested reading

  • Saul, Mahir and Ralph Austen, eds (2010). Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century:
  • Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution. Ohio UP.
  • Tcheuyap, Alexie (2011). Postnationalist African Cinemas. Manchester: Manchester UP.
  • Krings, Matthias and Onookome Okome, eds (2013). Global Nollywood. Indiana UP.
  • Harrow, Kenneth and Frieda Ekotto, eds (2015). Rethinking African Cultural Production.
  • Indiana UP.
  • Barlet, Olivier (2000). African Cinemas: Decolonizing the Gaze. London: Zed Books.
  • Adesokan, Akinwumi (2011). Postcolonial artists and global aesthetics. Bloomington: Indiana
  • Diawara, Manthia (1992). African Cinema. Indianapolis: Indiana UP.
  • Diawara, Manthia (2010). African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics.
  • Munich, London, New York: Prestel.
  • Garritano, Carmela (2013). African Video Movies and Global Desires. Ohio UP.
  • Mistry, Jyoti and Antje Schuhmann, eds (2015). Gaze Regimes. Joburg: Wits UP.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules