SOAS University of London

Africa Section, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Aspects of African film and video 2

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Taught in:
Term 2

Students who take this half-unit course will be able to study in greater depth the history, politics, ethics and aesthetics of African filmmaking and video-making, developing the understanding acquired through the prerequisite course Aspects of African Film and Video 1. Due to the heterogeneous nature of film and video production in Africa, one half-unit course cannot cover the entirety of the continent’s cinematic profile. Thus, whereas Aspects of African Film and Video 1 is designed to introduce students primarily to the history of African film and theory and is taught in a chronological manner, Aspects of African Film and Video 2 offers students the chance to dwell on particularly important films (e.g. Souleymane Cissé's Yeelen), specific contexts of production (e.g. Ghana and Cameroon), the intertextuality of African film (e.g. in relation to architecture, dance, music, and photography in Africa), the problem of the function of African filmmaking (e.g. as development, education, entertainment or art), the relationship of African film to contemporary social issues in Africa (e.g. migration and exile), and the place of the audience in the development of African film and video. Guest filmmakers will address the class to help to contextualise the study of the films within an institutional framework. As with Aspects of African Film and Video 1, 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.

This course has been created in tandem with the half-unit course Aspects of African Film and Video 1, which is a prerequisite for this course (unless a candidate can prove that s/he already has an advanced knowledge of African film and video). These two courses are the only MA-level courses offered at SOAS that provide a thorough introduction to film and video production in Africa. As such, they provide a complement to the courses on ‘World Cinema’ provided in the Centre for Media and Film Studies (the MA Critical Media and Cultural Studies, the MA Global Cinemas and the transcultural, and the MA Global Media and Post-National Communication). They also complement the courses offered through the Africa Department’s three MA Degrees, which focus on literature and culture but not on film culture (MA African Literature, MA African Studies, and the MA Comparative Literature).


15PAFH006:  Aspects of African Film and Video 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

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

  • show an advanced level of understanding of African film and video, and their contexts of production, distribution, and exhibition
  • undertake independent research and complete it successfully
  • show advanced level of expression of his/her views both orally and in written form


Total of 11 weeks teaching with 2 hours per week film screening and 2 hour lecture.

Method of assessment

One essay of 5,000 words to be submitted on the day the course is taught, in first week of term 3 (70%); students will be required to submit weekly analyses of each film they view for class (app. 500-1,000 words). The best five of these analyses will each be worth 6% of their final grade (30%).

Suggested reading

  • Bakari, Imruh and Mbye Cham, eds (1996). African Experiences of Cinema. London: BFI.
  • Balseiro, Isabel and Ntongela Masilela, eds (2003). To Change Reels: Film and Film Culture in South Africa. Detroit: Wayne State UP.
  • Barlet, Olivier (2000). African Cinemas: Decolonizing the Gaze. London: Zed Books.
  • Bickford-Smith, Vivian and Richard Mendelsohn (2007). Black and White in Colour: African
    History on Screen. Oxford: James Currey.
  • Diawara, Manthia (1992). African Cinema. Indianapolis: Indiana UP.
  • Givanni, June, ed. (2000). Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema: Audiences, Theory and the
    Moving Image. London: BFI.
  • Gugler, Josef (2003). African Film: Re-imagining a Continent. Oxford: James Currey.
  • Harrow, Kenneth, ed. (1999). African Cinema: Post-Colonial and Feminist Readings.
    Trenton/Asmara: Africa World Press.
  • Haynes, Jonathan, ed. (2000). Nigerian Video Films. Athens: Ohio University Center for
    International Studies.
  • Iliffe, John (1995). Africans: History of a Continent. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Pfaff, Françoise (2004). Focus on African Films. Bloomington: Indiana UP.
  • Thackway, Melissa (2003). Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan
    Francophone African Film. Oxford: James Currey.
  • Ukadike, Nwachukwu Frank (2002). Questioning African Cinema: Conversations with
    Filmmakers. Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P.
  • Ukadike, Nwachukwu Frank (1994). Black African Cinema. London/Berkeley: U of
    California P.


Please note: Since October 2007, over 50 new films have been bought to make provision for the development of African film courses in general.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules