Screening and debating with Alain Gomis: masterclass “How to Film Urban Africa Today” and screening of “Félicité”
8th of June 2017, University of Ibadan
On the 8th of June 2017, Apkass, the Institut Francais of Nigeria and IFRA Nigeria were extremely pleased to organise two special events in presence of the prominent filmmaker Alain Gomis, two-time winner of the Golden Stallion for the best African film at the FESPACO Festival of Ouagadougou and recipient of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.
Along with Ibadan, Mr. Gomis has presented his work in Jos and the Jazzhole and the New Afrikan Shrine in Lagos. At the University of Ibadan, the event included a MasterClass at the Institute of African Studies and the screening of Alain Gomis’ latest film Félicité, at the Arts Theater. It was moderated by Apkass/Alain Kassanda, film programmer and director, who accompanied Alain Gomis in his journey across Nigeria.
The day started with the MasterClass entitled “How to Film Urban Africa Today” from 10am to 12pm in Draper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. Mr. Gomis drew on his experience to analyse technical and artistic aspects of film-making in African and European cities. The format was very dynamic: the discussion was punctuated by scenes of his short and long films presented chronologically and that Mr. Gomis commented following series of questions raised by Mr. Kassanda and the audience.
The first film shown was Mr. Gomis’ earliest work, Tourbillon in 1999, which deals with the themes of immigration through the life of French-African and their descendants in France in the context of the late 1990s. It triggered a discussion about the idea of roots, its relevance in the 1990s and the changes that have occurred in the meantime. Members of the audience were keen on relating the film to the case of Nigerian returnees.
The discussion then moved to another short film, Petite Lumière released in 2003 and which centres around the life of a young girl in Dakar, Sénégal. It was notably a chance for Mr. Gomis to evoke challenges and difficulties of cast direction, especially with children.
Mr. Kassanda then screened scenes of Aujourd’hui, released in 2013 and starring Saul Williams, a famous Afro-American actor and spoken word artist. The film tells the story of the last day in the life of a man in the streets of Dakar. Mr. Gomis took the opportunity to disclose some of his filmmaking technics to make the onscreen cityscape more genuine in Dakar, a city that brings out an intense aura that can be felt in the film.
Finally, making-off scenes filmed by Mr. Kassanda on the set of Félicité in Kinshasa were shown. They displayed the learning process of a cast member in getting familiar with a difficult part implying being disabled. The images served as a good introduction to the screening of Félicité, which took place in the afternoon in the Arts Theater. It attracted a large audience of about 200 students and academic, who reacted wildly enthusiastically at the movie, hence concluding perfectly a day of reflection, discovery and obviously movie screening!