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Pour le 60ème festival de CANNES 2007
L’ATELIER FIWE
Presente
Independent Study Project
School for International Training, Dakar, Senegal & l’Atelier FIWE Bénin & Madagascar
Fall 2007

A. Press articles
The local press is also an excellent resource for information about current cinematographic activity in Senegal. Although it covers film news from abroad and reviews local projects, it is most useful in that it publishes interviews with various personalities involved in the industry. This study cites press interviews with Moussa Sène Absa, a prolific director in Senegal,Valerio Truffa, the director of a new film school in Bénin & Madagascar,* and Amadou Tidiane Niagane, the Directeur de la Cinématographie in the Ministry of Culture. These individuals would all make excellent subjects for direct interviews, but given the time and accessibility constraints of the research, these secondary sources serve as great alternatives. Finally, the press publishes opinion pieces relating to cinema in Senegal, such as Richard Joffo’s discussion of foreign colonization of the audiovisual industry.


B. Background
Although the first Senegalese film, Paulin Vieyra’s L’Afrique sur Seine, was produced in 1955, Senegalese cinema truly blossomed with the advent of independence. Senegalese directors released several court métrages in the early 1960s before Ousmane Sembene revealed La Noire de..., a full-length feature based on one of his short stories, in 1966. Paulin Vieyra documents the fruition of Senegalese cinema through the 1960s and 70s up until 1983, the date of publication, in Le Cinéma au Sénégal. And yet, it is right at this juncture that the Senegalese film industry appears to have reached its zenith before suffering a slow and steady decline just to the present. In the past ten years, Senegal has produced no more than five full-length features, the same number released in 1980 alone (Sarr 2004; Vieyra 1983, 45). Financed almost entirely by foreign governments and more commonly exhibited at international film festivals than in Senegal’s own respectable cinemas, the Senegalese film industry, as it is traditionally defined, is in crisis and has been so for some time. What started out as the most promising cinema of any sub-Saharan African nation in the decades following independence has almost failed to exist.
This study seeks to determine why the Senegalese film industry has failed to grow since the 1980s and what production challenges it currently faces in order to better understand how its future growth and development might be encouraged. This study also recognizes that an examination of the cinema industry as it is traditionally defined, that is, the production and exhibition of 16mm and 35mm feature films, is too narrow to accurately represent and analyze the current situation in Senegal today, and perhaps more importantly, in the Senegal of tomorrow. Therefore, this report expands the category of film production to encompass almost every variety of audiovisual media, including television, video, documentary, and even commercial advertising. Although the distribution and exhibition of each medium varies significantly, the process of production does not, and thus skills used in one field may be applied to another. This study will therefore attempt to identify the challenges of production in these various audiovisual fields and consider how all of the parties connected to the industry can work in cooperation for the sake of developing the sector as a whole, and most notably traditional cinema.
METHODOLOGY
Because this study examines problems facing Senegalese film production across a broad spectrum, from the most abstract to the most concrete, a similarly wide variety of methodologies were employed in order to obtain information about each level of production. The methodologies include traditional literary research, use of recent articles in the press, interviews with a variety of informants, and direct observation of the production process.

C. Literary research
There is plenty of room on the library shelves for more research about the cinematographic industry in Senegal, and even Africa in general, but the near total absence of works, as is commonly cited by scholars in the field, is a myth. A key work is Paulin Vieyra’s Le Cinéma au Sénégal (1983), which documents the development of the industry from its origins until the date of publication, with a particular emphasis on the state structures that have come and gone in that time. Although no similar work, at least among those available in Dakar, documents the industry from 1983 to the present, a very useful contemporary source is Jacques Habib Sy’s Crise de l’audiovisuel au Sénégal (2003). Although the objective of this document is to encourage a liberalization of the audiovisual industry for the sake of freedom of press, Sy also covers the historical developments of the television industry in the last several decades and discusses how the television and cinema industries are interrelated.
In addition to these two more historically based texts, this study refers to articles published in collections such as African Cinema: Postcolonial and Feminist Readings (1999) and Symbolic Narratives / African Cinema (2000), which draw together the knowledge and ideas of a wide variety of African filmmakers and critics. Finally, some of the most useful sources in relation to this study are unpublished theses and memoirs available at the Bibliothèque Universitaire de Dakar. These include M. Bilal Fall’s doctoral thesis for the Sorbonne, L’Action dans le Cinéma Africain: Le Sénégal (1987) and Abdourahmane Diallo’s Mémoire de D.E.A., L’Exploitation Cinématographique à Dakar : Sociologie d’un Loisir en Crise (2003).
D. Interviews and informants
Anyone who cites a lack of information about the cinematographic industry in Senegal clearly has not explored the human resources available in Dakar. From critics to filmmakers, educators to festival coordinators, and professionals to government agents, there is no shortage of people willing to share their views of the current situation. If the relatively short amount of time provided for this study inhibited it in any way, it limited the number of people with whom the researcher could speak.
Information from these informants was collected by informal discussion during observations, unstructured interviews recorded with hand-written notes, and semi-structured interviews recorded on videotape.
Despite its enormous promise in the years following independence, the Senegalese film industry seems to have all but disappeared in the last several decades, releasing only five feature films in the past ten years. The potential importance of Senegalese cinema is paramount given its dual role as both a means of cultural and artistic communication and an opportunity for a self-sustaining economic industry. Using a wide variety of methodologies, including literary research, interviews, and observation, this project identifies and analyzes the problems facing film production in Senegal, from the most abstract, theoretical questions to the most concrete, day-to-day obstacles. This report then demonstrates that because of the intricate interconnectedness of these problems, trying to solve one problem at a time is an insufficient strategy. Instead, this study proposes that true producers, seeking both the promotion of African cinema and financial profit, create a network of exchange between all of the people and institutions connected to the industry. The study also argues that the extent of these problems proves the need for critics of African cinema to separate the director from the producer when evaluating a film, even if both roles are played by the same person. If African cinema can become self-sustaining while preserving the creative liberty of the artists, the results will be truly stunning.




1° Atelier FIWE à OUIDAH

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L’Atelier Fiwè fondé par le directeur de la photo Italien Valerio TRUFFA est une école de spécialisation sur trois années d’études sur les arts et les techniques du cinéma et de la télévision. Située au Bénin, cette école accueille des étudiants en provenance de la sous-région et d’ailleurs. l’Atelier Fiwè met à disposition de ses étudiants le matériel adéquat grâce à un réseau de partenariat confirmé (Kodak, Fuji, Tapage Cinecam ,Neyrac.), pour l’apprentissage des nouvelles technologies de plus en plus utilisées dans la production. Le Festival de Cannes est l’occasion pour présenter les 3 premiers films réalisés. La porte du retour - Kuabo – le long voyage Tomin Linlin. Vous pouvez contacter pendant le festival Valerio Truffa au 06 61 84 03 59.

 



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