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Products for grant FEL-267414-20

Reclaiming Realism: From Documentary Film in Africa to African Documentary Film
Rachel Gabara, University of Georgia

Grant details:

“Documentary Dialogues: The Interview in Contemporary African Nonfiction Film” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Documentary Dialogues: The Interview in Contemporary African Nonfiction Film”
Author: Rachel Gabara
Abstract: The interview has long been a documentary staple, used by filmmakers to convey a range of information, from factual details to the emotional state of the person questioned. This paper examines how contemporary sub-Saharan African documentarists have used interviews to shape their films, producing critical visual analyses of African pasts and present-day realities.
Date: 3/17/2021
Conference Name: 2021 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference

“Giving Back Colonial Films” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Giving Back Colonial Films”
Author: Rachel Gabara
Abstract: Between 1906 and 1960, colonial French filmmakers represented Africa and Africans in a seemingly endless flood of uninformed and racist travelogues, expedition narratives, and ethnographic films, images that were captured and extracted for consumption in the metropole. Moreover, given the barriers imposed by the cost of equipment and training and, after 1934, the notorious Laval Decree, Africans were prohibited from filming on their own continent. If only colonial images remain, what should we do with them? A model of restitution based on physical objects does not work for moving images, yet, drawing on my research on both colonial European and postcolonial African cinemas, I will argue that it is just as crucial to return them. Giving them back, differently from objects, does not mean giving them up, since the technology exists to produce high-quality digital copies. It does mean, however, foregoing both income from licensing fees and control over how the images are used. Despite the call for “digital sharing” of colonial photographs and films in Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy’s 2018 report on restitution to French President Emmanuel Macron, no such project is underway with respect to collections either at the public Centre National du cinéma et de l’image animée or the private Gaumont Pathé Archives. Without formal restitution, France prevents Africans from owning moving images of their history, thus retaining control of our filmic understanding of the colonial period and its consequences.
Date: 1/8/2022
Conference Name: Modern Language Association Convention

"Hunting images: sub-Saharan Africa in early French cinema" (Article) [show prizes]
Title: "Hunting images: sub-Saharan Africa in early French cinema"
Author: Rachel Gabara
Abstract: Scholars of French cinema have paid little attention to early non-fiction films, particularly those shot in colonised spaces. Yet cameramen sponsored by major French cinema companies appeared in North Africa in the last years of the nineteenth century and south of the Sahara as early as 1906, eager to record images of newly conquered lands. This essay examines the first French films shot in West and Central Africa, from panoramas and views to travel to hunting narratives, with a particular focus on the career of self-proclaimed chasseur d’images [‘image-hunter’] Alfred Machin. Early cinema advertised France’s colonies to the metropole as, within a decade, sensationalised ethnography became tightly bound to propaganda for empire.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: French Screen Studies
Publisher: Taylor & Francis