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Transnational African filmmakers as global ambassadors: A peek into Kouyate’s ‘Medan Vi Lever’, and Atuma’s ‘Clash’

‘Transnational African filmmakers are global ambassadors who travel across the world on the strength of their works; creating images that define their existence and the conditions that either affect or influence their identities. They constitute the “intersecting winds that sweep in and change the direction of currents in the international arenas of cinemas”

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Transnational African filmmakers as global ambassadors: A peek into Kouyate's 'Medan Vi Lever', and Atuma’s 'Clash' 4

ON Monday, June 5, I had the opportunity to deliver a talk to the graduate students (MFA) students of the Faculty of Media Art and Performance, University of Regina. The event was anchored by no other person than the preeminent scholar of film, Professor Sheila Petty. I spoke on the topic “Transnational Cultural Heritage: African Screen Media”, and I considered a double exploration and explication of Dani Kouyate’s Medan Vi Lever — and Pascal Atuma’s Clash. Many of the students were seeing the films for the first time despite their popularity in Sweden and Canada, respectively.

The works of these two filmmakers are extremely interesting because both films offer an understanding of how these filmmakers create transnational film stories in which characters must negotiate African cultural traditions from their birth countries while integrating into host communities in new countries and continents. When they straddle two countries, cultures, and languages, they strive to prove their self-worth and humanity in the face of systemic prejudices. Their films demonstrate that a new template for successful identity construction is possible in the host country when characters determine to safeguard African cultural heritage, values of community, and respect, and transform these values and virtues into new contexts.

I was amazed that the audience loved both films and could relate to the challenges and hopes of immigrants, who are also determined to employ innovative ways to help others understand coexistence and mutual relations in a global context through the safeguarding of one’s cultural heritage and community values. Issues around transnational flows of people inspire diaspora filmmakers- who are currently constructing and reconstructing their narratives in ways that help us to understand migration, as a physical dislocation, can become a metaphorical, perceptive, and ontological movement, as well as a change in position that allows a new view, a shift in one’s identity that transforms vision and shapes narratives.

Both Pascal Atuma and Dani Kouyate, contribute meaningfully to fostering the safeguarding of African cultural heritage. They have shown through images in their films the idea of communal relationship which is steeped in the African cultural traditions while inspiring the concept of ‘aesthetics of contiguity’. In both films, the construction of the “aesthetics of contiguity” is derived from functional cultural expressions that are located in the African worldviews. These cosmological features promote mutual relations, respect for, and coexistence among the people of Africa.

The “aesthetics of contiguity” in transnational African cinema is one that orchestrates the process of exhortation – that (can) encourage mutual relationship, coexistence – to exist between immigrants and their host communities in diaspora context.

Transnational African filmmakers are global ambassadors who travel across the world on the strength of their works; creating images that define their existence and the conditions that either affect or influence their identities. They constitute the “intersecting winds that sweep in and change the direction of currents in the international arenas of cinemas”.

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Transnational African filmmakers as global ambassadors: A peek into Kouyate's 'Medan Vi Lever', and Atuma’s 'Clash' 5
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Transnational African filmmakers as global ambassadors: A peek into Kouyate's 'Medan Vi Lever', and Atuma’s 'Clash' 6

photo credits (c) Isaac Onikoyi

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