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Critical Interventions Number 8: Special Issue on African Cinemas

Guest edited by Victoria Pasley, CI#8 focuses on African Cinemas through analysis of different contexts of film practices in Africa. The cinematic arts can be defined as the apex of a culture of visuality and it is not by chance that the moving image has become a key technology of narrative in the era of globalization. In this regard, African cinemas of different historical origins, discursive focus and aesthetic orientation are increasingly notable as key aspects of African visual and cultural experiences. The debate over what constitutes African cinemas occupies an important place in these developments, especially in light of the divide between auteur and populist traditions of African filmmaking that seem to divide neatly along colonial lines into Francophone, Anglophone and Lusophone cultures of African cinema. However, these categories do not adequately describe the divergent modes of practice evident in how such cinemas are located in the global economy, where transnational engagements defeat the essentialist idea of a homogenous “Africa”. In this context, the classical definition of African cinema as a mode of practice that adheres to the auteur tradition of French filmmaking confronts the emergent example of Nollywood and related modes of film production that hew to Hollywood’s powerful business-oriented model with its global preeminence. These two contexts present two visions of African cinema that can sometimes seem totally divergent. However, as Kenneth Harrow concludes in his essay in this volume, the lines between the two modes of African cinema are collapsing.

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