An African Filmmaker’s Manifesto

A public declaration of the purpose, principles, or plan of action of a group or individual.

We are all Africans. Every last one of us.

 

Africa birthed the entire world and humankind has been evolving and re-inventing itself ever since. Our ancestors were the Earth’s first witnesses – the first to walk it, see it, hold its soil in their hands, and tell stories about it.

 

If the films we watch were anything to go by, few would believe that our history did not begin with slavery, colonialism or plundered resources. And our own local narratives dominated by politicians, scandals and power do not do much to reflect a truer picture of whom we are.

When colonialists extracted and destroyed our artefacts, banned cultural practices and created a system of servitude and extraction, our sense of self was interrupted. And a continent that doesn’t know its history struggles to invent its future. For years, our stories have been told by others – and these stories have become a kind of truth. We must disrupt this by reflecting our own realities – or sit back and allow ourselves to be shaped by others.


Cinema has the power to give citizens a new vision of themselves and what they can be. Cinema is immersive –a film can literally alter one’s impression of the world, and change one’s own idea of their place and role within it.

Film therefore doesn’t not just reflect culture – it has the power to influence and change it.

We believe that Culture is not static – it is constantly evolving.


We, through great, diverse, well made films made by the most talented, committed and visionary of filmmakers will enable us, as Africans, to be finally see ourselves both as we are and as we might become.


We reject the notion that African films must appeal to the basest of African instincts to find the largest audiences and refute the notion that African cinema has to be quickly and crudely made to be successful. We believe African audiences are as discerning and demanding as any, but is in need of financial and policy support to be the best it can.

Instead , we must commit to telling better, more powerful stories.

And to tell our powerful stories well, we must tell them truthfully, owning our successes as well as our failures; our darkness as well as our light.

 

The best films are intimate observations of people: their worlds, their identities, their circumstances, their challenges, views, imaginings, hopes and victories.

 

In order to impact and uplift ourselves as human beings, we must support films that reflect multiple aspects of ourselves, including those that generate controversy by challenging societal norms.

 

Our storytellers must be allowed to conceive, gestate and birth new stories as much as they mirror and recount old ones. We invite honest reflections of all that we were are. In this way we will be challenging old assumptions, unearthing buried truths, and provoking new realities.

 

We are committed to supporting independent storytellers on the African continent who describe the world as they see it, from their own unique histories, experiences, imaginings and lenses and celebrate that no two perspectives, no two stories or approaches can ever be identical. We must resist with all our might the insistence on Africa having a single story: whether that story originates from western media or conservative African leadership.

We acknowledge the difficulty of the path walked by artists – because one does not choose to be an artist: art chooses you. Our community of committed storytellers are vulnerable and need support in order to tell our stories with courage, clarity and authenticity. We reject the notion that life for an African filmmaker life must be defined only by struggle and that our most gifted voices should have to live from hand to mouth and are commit to building a conducive environment able to support a community of celebrated, thriving filmmakers. We exist to nurture, galvanize and support this diverse community of creators and thinkers in a safe, enabling space where they can create, learn, debate, be inspired, network and flourish.

 

 

Each day we elect to renew our commitment to hunt, gather and share creative, educational and financial opportunities for the widest possible diversity of East African filmmakers. We do this not out of duty, but because we too are diverse artists and thinkers seeking a home within this home we are creating.

 

Ultimately, we firmly believe that true stories well told can change the world. And so we support all efforts to build committed audiences and create successful economic models around the exhibition of African films on the continent and in the world.

 

So, let us with haste, hope, and vigor make possible, great African films for ourselves, our continent the world and those to come.

An African Filmmaker’s Manifesto

manifesto
/manɪˈfɛstəʊ/ noun

 

a public declaration of the purpose, principles, or plan of action of a group or individual.

 

We are all Africans. Every last one of us.

 

Africa birthed the entire world and humankind has been evolving and re-inventing itself ever since. Our ancestors were the Earth’s first witnesses – the first to walk it, see it, hold its soil in their hands, and tell stories about it.

 

If the films we watch were anything to go by, few would believe that our history did not begin with slavery, colonialism or plundered resources. And our own local narratives dominated by politicians, scandals and power do not do much to reflect a truer picture of who we are.

 

When colonialists extracted and destroyed our artefacts, banned cultural practices and created a system of servitude and extraction, our sense of self was interrupted. And a continent that doesn’t know its history struggles to invent its future. For years, our stories have been told by others – and these stories have become a kind of truth. We must disrupt this by reflecting our own realities – or sit back and allow ourselves to be shaped by others. Cinema has the power to give citizens a new vision of themselves and what they can be. Cinema is immersive –a film can literally alter one’s impression of the world, and change one’s own idea of their place and role within it.

 

The film, therefore, doesn’t just reflect culture – it has the power to influence and change it.

We believe that Culture is not static – it is constantly evolving.


We, through great, diverse, well-made films made by the most talented, committed and visionary of filmmakers will enable us, as Africans, to finally see ourselves both as we are and as we might become.

 

We reject the notion that African films must appeal to the basest of African instincts to find the largest audiences and refute the notion that African cinema has to be quickly and crudely made to be successful. We believe African audiences are as discerning and demanding as any, but is in need of financial and policy support to be the best they can be.

 

Instead, we must commit to telling better, more powerful stories.
And to tell our powerful stories well, we must tell them truthfully, owning our successes as well as our failures; our darkness as well as our light.

 

The best films are intimate observations of people: their worlds, their identities, their circumstances, their challenges, views, imaginings, hopes and victories.

 

In order to impact and uplift ourselves as human beings, we must support films that reflect multiple aspects of ourselves, including those that generate controversy by challenging societal norms.
Our storytellers must be allowed to conceive, gestate and birth new stories as much as they mirror and recount old ones. We invite honest reflections of all that we were are. In this way we will be challenging old assumptions, unearthing buried truths, and provoking new realities.

 

We are committed to supporting independent storytellers on the African continent who describe the world as they see it, from their own unique histories, experiences, imaginings and lenses and celebrate that no two perspectives, no two stories or approaches can ever be identical. We must resist with all our might the insistence on Africa having a single story: whether that story originates from western media or conservative African leadership.

 

We acknowledge the difficulty of the path walked by artists – because one does not choose to be an artist: art chooses you. Our community of committed storytellers are vulnerable and need support in order to tell our stories with courage, clarity and authenticity. We reject the notion that life for an African filmmaker life must be defined only by struggle and that our most gifted voices should have to live from hand to mouth and are commit to building a conducive environment able to support a community of celebrated, thriving filmmakers. We exist to nurture, galvanize and support this diverse community of creators and thinkers in a safe, enabling space where they can create, learn, debate, be inspired, network and flourish.

 

Each day we elect to renew our commitment to hunt, gather and share creative, educational and financial opportunities for the widest possible diversity of East African filmmakers. We do this not out of duty, but because we too are diverse artists and thinkers seeking a home within this home we are creating.

 

Ultimately, we firmly believe that true stories well told can change the world. And so we support all efforts to build committed audiences and create successful economic models around the exhibition of African films on the continent and in the world.

 

So, let us with haste, hope, and vigor make possible, great African films for ourselves, our continent the world and those to come.