As the democratic process in Africa grows momentum and the people express their will, news from the Continent continues to dominate the headlines. The people are increasingly challenging the status quo, their efforts recalling the works and philosophy of the late author and director Ousmane Sembene, known as the "Father of African Cinema."
Sembene's life work was designed to get Africans to reject deeply embedded colonial views of themselves and to recognize their collective power to solve Africa's problems. Now his films, and those of other award-winning directors, will be available for rental through digital download as South African-based M-Net launches the largest-ever collection of award-winning African cinema content, the African Film Library.
The Library's premiere will be marked by the online release of 14 films by or about Sembene. A native of the West African nation of Senegal, Sembene was first a celebrated novelist; the Los Angeles Times called him one of Africa's greatest authors. At 40, yearning to inspire social change and to reach a wider audience in Africa, he directed the first film by a sub-Saharan African, the 1963 short Borom Sarret (The Wagoner). The auteur went on to direct many feature films, cinematic works meant to help Africans liberate themselves from mental yolks that lingered long after independence from colonial rule and to urge collective action in overcoming societal ills. "Africa must get beyond deriving everything from the European view. Africa must consider itself, recognize its problems, and attempt to resolve them," said Sembene.
One of the oldest film industries in the world, African cinema—which began with Ain el Ghezel (The Girl of Carthage), the 1924 Tunisian film by Chemama Chikly—has long been overlooked by those outside the continent as being limited to educational, documentary-style productions. The programming available through the African Film Library, however, dispels this myth with a melange of short and feature films spanning the genres of comedy, drama, musical and sci-fi, both narrative and documentary.
M-Net has negotiated the rights to around 700 works. The launch is the culmination of a project which began more than three years ago and has seen the digitization and restoration of the continent's finest cinematic titles.
Film rentals are $5.00 per movie and can be accessed by registering and purchasing credits at www.africanfilmlibrary.com. Users are then able to watch the film multiple times within a 36-hour period.
Image Courtesy: Flickr