Returning the Colonial Gaze

A scene from Jean Rouch's Petit à petit

With a focus on French and Francophone African cinema, we present work by bold filmmakers that reverses the ‘colonial gaze’ and interrogates the former occupying nation from their own perspectives.

By reinforcing the motives and outcomes of colonisation, cinema has been used to justify a colonial power’s presence on foreign soil. Equally, in newly-independent nations film has proved a a powerful tool for nation building, showcasing a national identity that matches up to a people’s expectations and ideas of itself.

To help explore this dynamic, we screen Jean Rouch’s celebrated 1970 film Little by Little, about two successful Niger businessmen travelling to France and performing some reverse-ethnography on the French citizens they meet. 

We also screen the seminal Afrique sur Seine (1955), by Senegalese filmmakers Mamadou Sarr and Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, which takes us on a disconcerting tour of the capital of colonial power. Here, Africans are the protagonists, and France and her citizens the observed subjects.

This season is part of our 2018 season The Art of Change, which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

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