As in most other public spheres, black female filmmakers are still underrepresented relative to their male counterparts. For example, only 4 per cent of all directors, between 2007 and 2016, out of the 1,000 highest-grossing films worldwide were black and female. However, there has been a progressive rise in female film directors from the African continent in recent years.
The preceding provides a welcome opportunity for platforms such as the IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival West and Central Africa Edition to compete for more exposure and recognition for these films. This year’s festival has 35 films, with women directing or co-directing more than half of them.
Fatimah Dadzie, a Ghanaian director who recently released ‘Fati’s Choice’ (2021), is one of them. The film follows Fati, a mother of three, returning to her hometown after a long absence. “I couldn’t have made the same movie if the main character had been a man for several reasons,” Fatimah explains. Fatimah also collaborated with a female crew to provide a secure environment for Fati to tell her story.
The legitimacy of women utilising film to highlight socio-political or gender-cultural concerns is confirmed by Marie Camara Ndiaye, the Senegalese director of the animation film ‘The Quest’ (2018). However, she does point out that this legitimacy will not be enough to dispel pre-existing beliefs. “Women, particularly female directors, have a strong desire to understand the ins and outs of topics that are dear to them. Therefore, they should educate themselves, promote themselves as references, and exude professionalism. For example, a migrant who has returned home understands everything there is to know about migration, but it does not make them a professional filmmaker.”
The IOM Global Migration Film Festival, West and Central Africa edition, takes place in 12 countries from November 20 to December 18. Visitors can choose from 20 films (shorts, features, and documentaries) that deal with migration. The festival also features films that address gender-based violence, which coincides with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.