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Articulations of memory in cinemas

Posted by lamacs On February - 28 - 2012

Articulations of memory in cinemas

Friday 02 September – Saturday 03 September 2011
University of Ottawa, Canada

Download the Programme PDF or the timetable in French or English.

The subject of this interdisciplinary and bilingual (French and English) workshop is the articulations of memory in African, diasporic, national, and black cinemas. Representations of memory are linked with the questions of identity and identity structures, because they not only shed light on the past but also reflect on the actual constructions of the past. In our multicultural societies, audio-visual representations of memory seem to question individual identities (Histoires de Sable by Hyacinthe Combari 2004; Corps Plongés by Raoul Peck 1998; Ezra by Newton Aduaka 2006), as far as collectives ones (Camp Thiaroye by Sembene Ousmane 1988; Summer of ‘62 by Medhi Charef 2006; Africa United by Eric Kabera 2010). Through these examples, cinema can be a recording medium in which complex and trans-temporal structures of memory are “rebuilt” or “reinterpreted”.

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Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012


Mariette Monpierre
Mariette Monpierre is a filmmaker and a producer. She completed her Masters Degree in media and languages at the Sorbonne University and Smith College in Massachusetts. She lives in New York. She began her career as a producer at BBDO NY, then created documentaries (Sweet Mickey for President) and films (Rendez-Vous).

Motherland (2005; 5’00). A 10-year old girl from west Indian descent, claims to be at home at Paris, France during the 70’s. This film is part of Paris la Métisse, a feature length collection of 15 different stories.

Temporary disarticulations

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Ending keynote

George Lang
George Lang is Emeritus Professor in Comparative Literature at the University of Ottawa (Canada). From 2004 to 2009, he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. He published several articles on African literature and poesy.

Three questions arise immediately from the terms set forth for this workshop, and a fourth, the nature of translation, hovers alongside by virtue of the fact that our theme and proceedings are bilingual. What is, or what isn’t, memory? How is memory articulated or deployed in cinema? Are there special ways in and particular ends to which memory is depicted or manipulated in African cinema? This last question begs, however, yet another: is there even an autonomous theoretical object by the name of African cinema, or is this entity a critical construct which, to borrow a now well-worn phrase coined by our distinguished colleague V.Y. Mudimbe, has been invented?

Estamira, Gabriel, and Moacir

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Unreasoned memories of the Black African legacy in contemporary Brazilian cinema

Hudson Moura
Hudson Moura is instructor at Ryerson University (Canada). He has created several Experimental and documentary works in digital video.

Speech as a discourse of the subject “in action” is seen in relation to social context, marked by tensions. These tensions are present in three black voices that retell Brazilian history from a particular perspective. Through mythical discourses, prophecies, fantastic imagery, and artistic endeavours, these voices express their inner worlds in an attempt to reregister their own history and their vision of the world. These three distinct voices, in a “subversive” and marginal way, reinstate the African Black legacy within Brazil’s history, a legacy of which they are very conscious and always reminding their “audiences.” This presentation will analyze the presence and legitimacy of African Black diaspora discourse in recent Brazilian cinema.

Memories of the slaves, memories of the slavers

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Trauma of the Haitian debt

Cilas Kemedjio
Cilas Kemedjio is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Rochester (USA).

Through the conceptualization of the impossibility of speaking, listening and the remaining silence of trauma, this paper will analyze how the relationships between Haiti and France, haunted by the imposed repair of 1825’s trauma, block the emergence of any shared memory which may works as a site of conciliation between these two countries. To what extent, the French autism is symptomatic of what Glissant calls “the memory of the slavers” when the need to talk which characterized the Haitian may be a sign of a “memory of the slaves”. This analysis will keep in mind the Haitian’s difficulty, victims or butchers, to tell the memory of the recent traumas and more specifically the ravages caused by Duvalier.

How to use slave memory in the struggle for citizenship

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

The Pinheiral case

Pedro Simonard
Pedro Simonard is Associate Professor at Laval University (Canada). He made several documentaries and main publications on the artistic and cultural representations of Black history in Brazil and anthropological theories.

The Pinheiral jongueira community is known throughout Brazil. Its participants, mostly African-Brazilians, have developed projects and educational activities based on the “jongo”. This presentation will show how which elements and characteristics of the “jongo” were selected by the leaders of Pinheiral jongo community.

Historical Trauma

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Reading Slavery in the Cinematographic Archives

Michael Martin
Michael Martin a Professor at the Department of Communication and Culture and American Studies Program at Indiana University (USA). He is also Director of the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University.

This address engages with memory, its historicity and importance to cinematic accounts and readings of historical trauma. It is also about the relevance of memory to the project of world-making. This paper will focus on the filmic depiction of slavery in plantation societies. Two films serve this purpose: Queimada! (1969) by the deceased Italian Marxist, Gillo Pontecorvo and La Rue Cases-Nègres (1982) by the Martinique filmmaker, Euzhan Palcy.

Amnesia Movies?

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Crossing of “Léthé” Amnesia Movies?

Pierre Kadi Sossou
Pierre Kadi Sossou teaches at the Department of Languages and Modern Literatures at the University of Ottawa (Canada). He is also coordinator of the Canada Research Chair in Literary and Cultural Transfers. His research interests are on literature and cinemas of the African continent and Brazil.

This presentation will propose a philosophical analyze of the cinematographic art based on the study of commercial films, such as The Man Without a Past by Aki Kaurismäki, After Life by Hirokazu Koreeda and Atlântico negro by Renato Barbieri. The objective is to illuminate some specific issues of memory and on the reminiscence that comes when one is physically transported, either with the person’s agreement or by force, from one space to another, from a continent to another, and eschatologicaly from earth life to eternal life. This presentation will analyze these issues through the prism of platoon myth of the crossing of “Léthé”.

Epistemology of the process of memory

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Éric Méchoulan
Éric Méchoulan is Professor of French Literature at the University Montreal (Canada). His research interests are the relationships between literature and memory and the representations of time in cinema.

This presentation will focus on the epistemology of the process of memory in oral or written contexts. I will underline the historical cases and the conceptualizations of the potential conflicts.

From documentary to historical drama

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Raoul Peck’s film variations on sharing his memory of Lumumba

Blandine Stefanson
Blandine Stefanson is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide (Australia). Her current research interest is in African cinema from Francophone regions.

Marc Ferro and other scholars claim that films can convincingly record history, even though they overlook historical accuracy. What role would memory play in retrieving history for the screen if it does not need to check the facts evoked in the images and dialogues? This paper explores Raoul Peck’s use of his emotional and intellectual memory in his two films on the first elected Prime Minister of Congo: Lumumba la mort du prophète (documentary, 1991) and Lumumba (biopic, 2001).

A Time There Was

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

Stories from the Last Days of Kenya Colony, 2009

Donald McWilliams
English-born Donald McWilliams began filmmaking in 1971, after several years as an elementary school teacher. He made his first documentary in 1973 (Impressions of China). Over the years, McWilliams’ films became increasingly experimental. In 1999, McWilliams was nominated for an Oscar_ as producer and editor of Sunrise over Tiananmen Square.

A Time There Was: Stories from the Last Days of Kenya Colony is the last film of Donald McWilliams’ autobiographical trilogy. With historical rigour and visual lyricism, he combines his own photographic record of the times with original animation and archival imagery, crafting a film diary of singular beauty and a thoughtful account of the Mau Mau Rebellion‚ one of the most contentious episodes in Britain’s imperial history.

Black Soul

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012


Martine Chartrand
Martine Chartrand, who was born in Montreal, studied social sciences and graphic arts at Ahuntsic College, then fine arts at Concordia University. She joined the NFB officially as a colour artist. After obtaining a teaching certificate while continuing to work as a poster designer and illustrator, she directed her first film (T.V. Tango, 1992).

Black Soul (2000; 09’47) is a poetic film about memory. It is an exhilarating immersion into the heart of Black culture via a whirlwind voyage through the defining moments of Black History. As an old lady initiates her grandson into his past, a series of perpetually transforming images painted directly under the animation camera unfolds before our eyes.

Memory as Engagement

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

The importance of personal histories in Sub-Saharan African cinema

Sheila Petty
Sheila Petty is Professor of Media Studies and associate member of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Regina (Canada).

This paper will look briefly at how memory is evoked in six films from across the chronology of African cinema: Med Hondo‚ Soleil O (Mauritania/France, 1969), Ousmane Sembène, Xala (Senegal, 1975), Flora Gomes, The Blue Eyes of Yonta (Guinea-Bissau, 1992), Djibril Diop Mambéty‚ Hyènes (Senegal, 1992), Ousmane Sembène‚ Faat Kiné (Senegal 2000) and Fanta Regina Nacro‚ La Nuit de la Vérité (Burkina Faso, 2004).

Mehdi Charef

Posted by lamacs On February - 27 - 2012

A memory of the war of Algeria (all) against an inventory history

Djemaa Maazouzi
Djemaa Maazouzi is a PhD student at the University of Montreal (Canada) and scientific coordinator of the Research center on Intermediality.

Between a (personal) lived history and an inventory history (to teach), Cartouche gauloises (2006) stands out in sharp contrast to the other films made by Medhi Charef. This film is the site of the omission of the impossible indigenous past and those of an assertion of a postcolonial identity claiming for a recognition in France. It also finds an echo of a specific reading of the colonial history, in France and in Algeria, that build an idealized memory of the links between the different communities in the French Algeria.

In the film Histoire de Sable (2004) by Hyacinthe Combari

Karine Bertrand
Karine Bertrand is a PhD studentin Cinematographic Studies at the University of Montreal (Canada). Her research interests are on the native Canadian cinemas. She has also created several shorts documentaries during the World Social Forum in Dakar in 2011.

Through a thematic and esthetical analysis of the short film documentary Histoire de Sable (2004) by Hyacinthe Combari, this presentation will explain how the memory of a group can be saved by individuals; here a man from Burkina Faso who left his born country to live in the West. Then, how the speech is used as one of the essential way to narrate the story, through the progressive deployment of an intercultural dialog, which outlines a common memory. Finally, on a formal and technical question, how the editing creates a space — time which contributes to abolish the boundaries between these two country people?