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African Filmmaking

North and South of the Sahara

Roy Armes

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African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara is the first comprehensive study in English linking filmmaking in the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) with that in francophone West Africa and examining the factors (including Islam and the involvement of African and French governments) which have shaped post-independence production. The main focus is the development over forty years of two main traditions of African filmmaking: a social realist strand examining the nature of postcolonial society and a more experimental approach where emphasis is placed on new stylistic patterns able to embrace history, myth and magic. The work of younger filmmakers born since independence is examined in the light of these two traditions.

Key Features:

  • An overview of the socio-political context shaped by Islam and French colonialism.
  • A look at filmmaking in Africa before the mid-1960s.
  • An examination of the inputs of African and French governments into post-independence developments North and South of the Sahara.
  • A historical survey of the two major tendencies in African film production over the past 40 years.
  • A detailed analysis of the work of five talented young filmmakers, representative of those born since independence.


1. The African Experience
2. Beginnings
3. African Initiatives
4. The French Connection
5. Liberation and the Postcolonial Society
6. Individual Struggle
7. Experimental Narratives
8. Exemplary Tales
9. The Post-Independence Generation
10. Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Chad)
11. Dani Kouyaté (Burkina Faso)
12. Raja Amari (Tunisia)
13. Faouzi Bensaidi (Morocco)
14. Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritania)

About the Author

Roy Armes is Emeritus Professor of Film at Middlesex University and author of numerous books on cinema including Arab and African Film Making (with Lizbeth Malkmus), Dictionary of North African Film Makers, and Postcolonial Images: Studies in North African Film. His work has been translated into 13 languages, including Japanese, Chinese and Arabic.


African Filmmaking is very much a film studies narrative, with only casual references to production structures or audience reception. For classes that cover this terrain, it is supremely useful for students. Not only does Armes canvass enormous territory, succinctly and in elegant prose, but he has also made a judicious selection of directors and films. Most important, he takes an approach that brings together North Africa and Francophone West and Central Africa to draw out insights that might otherwise be blurred...
- H-Net
An important reference work for films from the African continent.
- Anne Serafin, Newtonville, Mass, African Historical Studies
This throughly researched study charts the beginnings of film-making in north and francophone west Africa, and it stretches from the post-colonial period to the post-independence generation … Armes' book covers a broad range of film-making, from the experienced work of Jean Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon) to the fiction of Nabil Ayouch (Morocco), and is essential reading for anyone with an interest in African film.
- Keith Shiri , Sight and Sound
Roy Armes’s African Filmmaking North and South of the Sahara is an important reference work for films from the African continent. He is well grounded in film theory but frequently offers original and even provocative insights regarding developments in the field.
- Anne Serafin, Newtonville, Mass., International Journal of African Historical Studies
In the final section, 'The new millennium,' he provides a pivotal update to discussions on African filmmakers with an analysis of 'post-independence' filmmaking... Overall, African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara presents a historical analysis of the social, economic, and political factors that have an impact on post-colonial African filmmaking.
- M. M. Oyedeji, SOAS, African Affairs

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