Please Note: All price and distributor information is subject to change.  Please contact distributors for most up-to-date prices.

-All prices are for purchase of video cassettes unless otherwise noted. 



AFRICA: A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY (with Basil Davidson), 1984

Duration:              57 minutes in English

Director:            John Percival, Christopher Ralling, Andrew Harries and Mick Csaky

Distributor:             Library Video Company

Price:            $79.00(purchase 8-part series)

Discussion guide: none


Synopsis:  Africa: A Voyage of Discovery with Basil Davidson, an eight‑part series, hosted by Basil Davidson, is about the people and events that shaped African history and which continue to influence it today.  The programs visit Africa to show life there today and show archival footage and dramatizations of the history of Africa.

This series can also be found under the name, Africa: The Story of a Continent Series.


Individual titles include:

Different But Equal (Program 1, Vol. 1)

Mastering a Continent (Program 2, Vol. 1)

Caravans of Gold (Program 3, Vol. 2)                        

Kings and Cities (Program 4, Vol. 2)

The Bible and the Gun (Program 5, Vol. 3)

This Magnificent African Cake (Program 6, Vol. 3)

The Rise of Nationalism (Program 7, Vol. 4)

The Legacy (Program 8, Vol. 4)


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology



AFRICA: TUNISIA, LIBYA, EGYPT (Our Developing Worlds series), 1994

Duration:              31 minutes, English voice over

Producer:              Gilles Seveni

Distributor:              Films for the Humanities and Sciences

Price:              $89.00


Synopsis:  Women issues, health, and population growth are featured in this program. Tunisia, a diverse nation of open‑minded people, is also predominantly Muslim. Women, however, share equal rights with men and hold jobs from police officers to airline pilots. In Libya, the UN is attempting to stamp out the killer screwworm fly before it spreads throughout Africa, southern Europe, and Asia. A third segment documents Egypt’s ongoing struggle to balance its growing population with limited resources and land mass.

Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology



THE AFRICANS: A TRIPLE HERITAGE  (10- part series), 1986

Duration:        60 minutes

Distributor:    Annenberg/CPB Project

Price:              $169.00 (purchase for the 10 part series)


Synopsis:  Ali Mazrui's broad look at the peoples of Africa, their history, and culture, from an African perspective.


Individual titles include:

The Nature of a Continent

A Legacy of Lifestyles

New Gods

Tools of Exploitation

New Conflicts

In Search of Stability

A Garden of Eden in Decay?

A Clash of Cultures

Global Africa


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audiences:  Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology




Duration:  88 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:  Jean-Marie Teno

Distributor:  California Newsreel

Price:  $99.00

Synopsis:  Afrique, Je Te Plumerai is documentary film that describes the historical and cultural roots of the problems faced by Cameroon.


Critique: In many ways, ‘Afrique' may be considered a voyage of discovery; Teno is himself progressing through stages of understanding.  Once he is convinced that open political dissent is futile, he turns his attention to Cameroonian history and culture, hoping therein to find the spark that will unite the underclass.  Again he is rebuffed.  Colonialism is deeply entrenched in the cultural institutions of Cameroon.  The French language is omnipresent.  We are introduced to several bookstore owners, who uneasily explain or evade questions about the heavy predominance of French novels of every description.  In shop after shop, the section for African literature is literally crammed into a corner to make space for glitzy, thoroughly Eurocentric, bestsellers (their status as such determinate to an extent on overseas sales).  The owners of the bookstores emphasize that the French dominate the market, that due to economies of scale and a generalized contempt among the book-buying populace for indigenous works they have no choice but to favor the West in their selections.  They appear prosperous enough.  At the same time, and regardless of censorship, newspapers are snatched up in ever-increasing numbers by the poor, belying their indifference.


What is starkly portrayed, then, is a strata of African elite who control the government, the economy, and the industries of culture.  Teno tells the story of the hunters and the Lark, a parable that depicts the transformation of certain of the `hunters' into a strange new breed without ties to land or brotherhood.  To the `new' hunter, his brethren are the Larks.  He sings the same song the children sing in Paris, Lark, I'm going to fleece you.  He is the Westernized petty bourgeoisie, acting as mediator between the world and the populace.  He cannot be accepted into the First World, and he has no longer any kinship.  He is perched upon a colonial structure, afraid to move in any direction because of the inevitability of his fall from grace.  The piecemeal character of the city of Yaounde reflects the dualism of his nature, a steady and debilitating vacillation between France and Cameroon.  Ousmane Sembene once stated, "For the struggle against neo-colonialism it is possible to reactualize all these scattered and little-known battles" in the history of African resistance" (Goldfarb 1996:77).  Teno finds his goal in this statement, to make available to the public a history of Cameroon, written by a Cameroonian rather than a colonial.  An elite armed with this knowledge can bring change.  Ultimately, as Marie wistfully explains, writing is a symbol of hope for change.  Afrique, Je Te Plumerai is the first step in such a history.

(Written by Micheal Dye, MSU, 1998



Goldfarb, B. "A Pedagogical Cinema:  Development Theory, Colonialism, and Post-Liberation Film", IRIS, 7-24.

Ukadike, F. "The Other Voices of the Documentary: Allah Tantau and Afrique, je te plumerai, IRIS, 18, 81-94.


Recommended Audience: Political Science



ALGERIA: WOMEN AT WAR, 1992, Algeria

Duration:              52 minutes in Arabic with English subtitles

Producer:         Parminder Vir

Distributor:              Women Make Movies

Price:              $295.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rent)


Synopsis: Algeria: Women at War explores the impact of revolution, nationalism, democratization and the rise of Islamic “fundamentalism” on women’s lives in late colonial and post-colonial Algeria.  The documentary tells this story through narration, archival footage, and interviews with Algerian women who have lived through this era.  


Critique: Algeria: Women at War is a powerful film, particularly because it gives voice to a variety of Algerian women providing them with the opportunity to celebrate their strengths and central contributions to the Algerian revolution.  These women also express their frustrations, concerns and fears, relative to the failures of nationalism, democratization and the threats of “fundamentalism.”

Though a variety of women are interviewed there appears to be a class and religious bias.  Only two practicing Moslem women are interviewed and most of the women are highly educated, conducting their interviews in French as opposed to Arabic.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science



ALLAH TANTOU, 1991, Guinea

Duration:              62 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:             David Achkar

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:              $195.00 (purchase)

 $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Allah Tantou is a film about the cost of human rights in post‑independent Africa.  The film focuses on the filmmaker David Achkar's father, Marof Achkar.   In 1968, Marof, a Guinean diplomat, became a political prisoner under Sekou Toure in Guinea was executed in 1971.


Critique:  Allah Tantou is the first African film to confront the immense personal and political costs of the widespread human rights abuses on the continent.  It follows filmmaker David Achkar_s search for his father, his father_s search for himself inside a Guinean prison and Africa_s search for a new beginning amid the disillusionment of the post-independence era.  One of the most courageous and controversial films of recent years, Allah Tantou speaks in an unabashed personal voice not often heard in African cinema.

(Critique quoted from California Newsreel_s Library of African Cinema, 1995-96 catalog)


Recommended Audience: Political Science



ARISTOTLE_S PLOT, 1996, South Africa

Duration:        71 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:              Jean-Pierre Bekolo

Distributor:               JPB Productions

Price:              $295.00


Synopsis: This feature film examines the trials of African movie-making in a humorous, and critical, manner by following a group of wanna-be gangsters who consume all of the latest action films at the Cinema Africa.  They are encountered by an earnest film lover who is attempting to replace the irrelevant Hollywood films with meaningful films by African filmmakers. 


Critique:  Filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekelo spells out his intentions in an early line in Aristotle’s Plot:  “If African films are shit then Africa is shit.”  By highlighting the connection between a culture and its medium, Bekolo is pointing out the need for films that are both socially responsible and in touch with their audience.  This film positions itself somewhere between the viewer and the screen.  The spectator observes not just the people in the film and not just the medium but the actual experience of the actors in the film interacting with and being affected by the medium.   This film is an excellent catalyst for looking at how the West is influencing culture and identity in Africa. 


Recommended Audiences:  Sociology



BATTLE OF ALGIERS, 1966, Algeria

Duration:             125 minutes in Arabic and French with English subtitles

Director:             Gillo Pontecorvo

Distributor:            Facets Multimedia                                                                                               

Price:             $59.95 

Note:              This film can be rented from some commercial video stores.


Synopsis:  A dramatic reconstruction in documentary style of the Algerian resistance to the French between 1954 and 1957.


Critique:  The documentary-style of Battle of Algiers makes it an extremely powerful film.  Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo successfully creates the mood and urgency of the Algerian rebellion against the French between 1954 and 1957.  Through the flashbacks of a young man who risks all and becomes a part of the resistance movement, the film effectively documents the FLN (National Liberation Front) guerrilla underground and French government’s tactics to annihilate the FLN.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science




Duration:            27 minutes in Ijo with English voice-over

Producers:            Judith Gleason & Elisa Mereghetti

Distributors:             Filmmakers Library

Price:              $295.00 (purchase)

                        $55.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This film documents the Irio ceremony of the Ijo in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.  Five adolescent girls go through this rites of passage ceremony which prepares them for womanhood and marriage.  The film questions the value and continuation of the Irio ceremony in modern society. 


Critique:  Becoming a Woman in Okrika offers a visually aesthetic presentation of the Iria rite of passage.  It presents an intriguing introduction to a particular practice in the Rivers State.  The film lacks, however, a full description/ interpretation of the significance of the event depicted.  By neglecting to interview any of the girls participating in the ritual, the film leaves viewers questioning the girls' feelings about the rite.  The emphasis on aesthetics leaves too many questions unanswered and exoticizes the event.


Recommended audience: Anthropology, Gender Studies



BEYOND THE PLAINS, 1982, Tanzania

Duration:            53 minutes

Director:             Michael Raeburn

Distributor:             DSR, Inc.

Price:              $59.00


Synopsis:  This film documents the life of a man who left his rural life in Tanzanian Maasailand at age 8 to be formally educated.  He returns many years later as a teacher determined to integrate the knowledge he has learned with the nomadic life of his people.  



Critique: This is a unique film in providing a vignette in the person of one Tanzanian of the changes encountered by the individual and the society in one generation. Beginning in rural Maasailand, proceeding through the mission school, then the government secondary boarding school, the University of Dar es Salaam, and finally to work in the government dispensary in veterinary medicine, Sayallel gives the viewer some picture of the perceptions of change and the experience of change. The periods of his life are important major types of experience in Africa for many professionals.


The weaknesses of the film are implicit in being shown in the West. First, the rural origins in Maasailand of Sayallel are unusual in that it is a herding society, which is the most resistant to cultural incorporation by Tanzanians and Westerners. Indeed, in utilizing the Maasai, there is danger that viewers become entranced with these 'tribal warriors' who are so famous in the Western television and movies for their 'primitive ways,' their drinking the blood of cattle, their 'strange' jumping dancing, and their alienness. Second the family's resistance to education in this case confirms another Western stereotype of Africa-resisting modernization, 'modem' education and health care. In fact, most of the Africa demands access to the new school rather than resisting it. Third, there is an implicit 'tribalism' in the presentation when it is emphasized that Sayallel on completing his education and serving at the university 'returns to his own people,' which is what so many allege should occur. But 'his own people' are the pastoral Maasai, which unquestionably justifies the return to use his veterinary skills, but the return to the area of 'one's tribe' is not the most common mode of placement of African professionals.


Nevertheless, the film's strength is in introducing us to the real person, his thoughts and struggles, the ambiguities of the decisions he makes, and his strength of character. As in other films, we evaluate it so highly because it provides a channel for Africans to speak for themselves.


Recommended Audience: Sociology


BLOOD AND SAND, 1982, Western Sahara

Duration:        57 minutes

Distributor:             DSR, Inc

Price:              $69.00


Synopsis: A documentary concerning the Western Sahara and the involvement there of Morocco, Algeria, and the United States.  Journalist Sharon Sopher report on this liberation war led to the United States’ public questioning of their government’s involvement in the conflict.  


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Political Science




Duration:             56 minutes with English voice-over

Director:              Stig Holmqvist

Distributor:    Filmakers Library

Price:              $350.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  This documentary follows the changes in a Masai family over a 10 year span, beginning with the marriage of Nayiani and Lekumok.  Lekumok marries a second wife six years later and a third wife a few years later.  The film also looks at the impact of the encroachment of Nairobi on the life of this pastoral community.


Critique: The strength of the film Chronicle Of A Savanna Marriage is that it follows one woman_s life experiences across a ten year span.  Holmqvist captures pivotal events in the life of Nayiani: her circumcision, her marriage to Lekumok and subsequent departure from her home and entrance into her husband_s family, and the introduction of two other wives into her household.  The film describes Nayiani_s life in the context of Masai culture, a culture, according to the logic of the film, threatened by urban encroachment.  A poignant scene in the film features an elder from the settlement, Sharrar, standing next to the fences erected by government officials who mark the land in order to sell it.  His despair is evident as he explains that what is happening to the Masai is heartfelt.


At points in the film, the interviewers questions are leading, reductive, and betray a Western perspective.  For example, the interviewer asks Nayiana, upon the arrival of her co-wife, if she feels jealous.  This question is asked even though Nayiana has explained that she welcomes the companionship and assistance her co-wife will provide.  The filmmaker seems to be in search of an appropriate response instead of allowing Nayiana to speak for herself.



Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Gender Studies



DAKAN, 1987, Guinea

Duration:        87 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:             Mohamed Camara

Distributor:             California Newsreel

Price:              $195.00 (purchase)/$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  This narrative feature is a tale of gay life in Guinea: the love affair between two African men and the efforts of the people around them to split them up and give them women to marry.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Sociology



DELUGE, 1995, Ethiopia

Duration:            60 minutes in English and Amharic with English subtitles

Director:             Salem Mekuria

Distributor:            Third World Newsreel

Price:              $295.00 (purchase)

$85.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  Filmmaker Salem Mekuria documents the Ethiopian revolution of 1974 through the story of her brother, Solomon Mekuria, and others close to her.  Letters, photographs, archival footage, paintings and Ethiopian music help to create this personal and national history.


Critique:  This film shows the failure of Ethiopian revolutionary groups to settle their differences in a peaceful and democratic fashion.  It also shows how a revolution which began on a high note of optimism catapulted Ethiopia out of its supposed backwardness through a bloodless coup but came to be enmeshed in a fratricidal civil war.


The weakness of Deluge is that it condemns Lt. Col. Megistu Hayle Mariam as a principal culprit whereas it should have shown he represents a variant of a militant revolutionary political philosophy of the left that brooked of no opposition.


Recommended Audience: Political Science




Duration:            28 minutes

Director:             Ngozi Onwurah

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:              $295.00


Synopsis:  The Desired Number addresses the issue of family planning and the role of children in Ibo society in Nigeria by focusing on the lives of a polygamous family (husband, two wives, an  16 children) at the time of an Eze ceremony which celebrates a mother who has given birth to nine children. 


Critique:  This film is successful in addressing some important issues related to gender relations, family planning, and the role of “tradition” and religion (particularly the Roman Catholic Church) in the context of Igbo society.   The  variety of people and perspectives presented help to give voice to this community.  One major drawback of the film is its poor production value. 


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology



FINZAN, 1989,  Mali

Duration:            107 minutes in Bambara and French with English subtitles

Director:             Cheik Oumar Sissoko

Distributor:             California Newsreel

Price:              $295.00 (purchase)

 $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  Finzan dramatizes the stories of two women who rebel against the traditions of Bambara culture.  Nanyuma is a young widow who refuses to be "inherited" by her brother-in-law as tradition dictates, while Fili is a young urban woman who refuses to be circumcised as tradition dictates.


Critique: 'In Bambara, Finzan means 'rebellion', a most fitting title for this story of two women steadfastly resisting tradition.


After the death of her husband, Nanyuma refuses to bow to ancestral protocol by marrying her brother-in-law.  The younger Fili tries to escape the ritual of female circumcision.  Sissoko deftly balances widely divergent points of view: the determined struggle of some women, the obedient tolerance of others, and the bewilderment of men lost in these times of transition.  The film subtly illustrates relations and conflicts between men and women, women amongst themselves, and finally the small community and the powerful state.


As in Sissoko's earlier work, Garbage Boys, children are omnipresent and represent the hope of changes to come.  Tempering a serious subject with compassion and human, 'Finzan is dedicated to the African women.'

(from California Newsreel's distributor information)


Recommended Audience:  Family Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology


FIRE EYES, 1994, Somalia

Duration:            60 minutes

Director:             Soraya Mire

Distributor:    Filmmakers Library

Price:              445.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Fire Eyes looks at the African practice of female genital mutilation. The film looks at the socio-economic, psychological, and medical consequences of this custom. Testimonies from doctors on both sides are shown.


Critique:  Fire Eyes is a documentary that discusses the practice of female circumcision from the perspectives of Somali women who have experienced and participated in the practice, of Somali men, and doctors.


Soraya Mire, an Ethiopian living in the United States who herself was circumcised, tells her story in the film's opening sequences, and her severely critical opinion of the practice informs the remainder of the film.  Consequently, the film presents a fairly one-sided discussion of female genital mutilation  (FGM).  For example, the film includes a graphic scene of a young woman being circumcised, and although the camera does not film the mid-wife performing the procedure on the young woman, the audience hears the screams of the young woman and sees her fingers curling in pain during the circumcision.


The film, perhaps, attempts to cover too much ground, both geographically and intellectually.  It compares female circumcision in Somalia with similar practices in Japan and genital surgery in the United States.  In order to address these issues, an instructor should preface viewing with information about both sides of the debate about female genital mutilation.  A detailed discussion of the cultural specifics of the practice would enhance student's understanding of the complexities involved in attempts to end this practice.


Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Gender Studies



FLAME, 1996, Zimbabwe

Duration:             90 minutes

Director:             Ingrid Sinclair

Distributor:            DSR, Inc

Price:              $70.00


Synopsis: This feature film tells the stories of Florence (Flame) and Nyasha (Liberty), two young women who join there Zimbabwean liberation struggle.  The film describes their lives as soldiers and the challenges each confronts in the decade after the war.


Critique: 'Flame' opens with a brief historical overview that spans Zimbabwe's colonization until the country achieved independence in 1980. In this way, the film suggests that the story it sets out to tell is based in reality, and for the most part, the film does accurately represent the harsh realities women soldiers confronted in the military camps in Mozambique and the lives of women ex-combatants in post-colonial Zimbabwe.


Although presented in the realist mode, the film departs from the linear chronology usually associated with realism and tells the story of Flame and Liberty through flashback and in the voice of Liberty.  The film opens in post-independence Zimbabwe in Flame's village as she sets out toward the city to solicit help form her old friend Liberty, who did not return to the village after the war.  A picture of Flame and Liberty in combat fatigues, which Flame attaches to the door of Liberty's apartment after Liberty fails to show up there, serves as a window into the past.  The photograph transports Liberty, and the film audience, back to the time of the Second Chimarenga when the young women leave their homes and become freedom fighters. In this way, ‘Flame' limits its scope and effectively captures the experiences of Flame and Liberty, describing their changing friendship and their changing perspectives on life, love and their independence as Zimbabweans and women.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science




Duration:        90 minutes in Arabic and French with English subtitles

Director:             Tahani Rached

Distributor:    Women Make Movies

Price:             $295.00 (purchase)

$90.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  The life histories and friendships of  activist and revolutionaries Amina Rachid, Shahenda Maklad, , Wedad Mitry,  and Safynaz Kazem,  are documented in this film  Through extensive interviews and conversations their views on religion, society and politics are brought to life.


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Political Science, Gender Studies




Duration:        26 minutes in Portuguese with English subtitles

Director:             Joao Ribeiro

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:              $195.00 (purchase of Africa Dreaming video of four short films)                

$95.00            (rental)


Synopsis: A young war orphan, Betinho, lives with his sour Uncle Salomao who owns a bar in Maputo.  Curious about his uncle’s former love, Julia, who he lost to his neighbor, Saide. Betinho sets off a chain of events that lead to a startling discovery about Saide and Julia_s relationship and a community’s silent endorsement of domestic abuse.

Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies



GUELWAAR, 1993, Senegal

Duration:            115 minutes in Wolof and French with English subtitles

Director:              Ousmane Sembene

Distributor:              New Yorker Films

Price:              $295.00


Synopsis: Guelwaar is a trenchant comic portrait of contemporary Africa.   The story revolves around the mysterious death and disappearance after death of Pierre Henri Thioune-Guelwaar, a political activist, philandering patriarch, and pillar of the local Christian community.


Critique: To the horror of his fellow Christians, it is discovered that the body of Pierre Henri Thioune, called Guelwaar, the Noble One, was misidentified and mistakenly buried in a Muslim cemetery.  This sets off a tempest of bureaucratic red tape, family conflicts, and religious factionalism, culminating in a tense standoff at the disputed gravesite.  Sembene is a master storyteller.  This film demonstrates his mastery of free-flowing, digressive, richly variegated structures.  It is many films in one: comedy, political allegory, social satire, family drama, and, at the end, thunderous indictment of the twin evils of homegrown African corruption and neocolonial Western aid.


Recommended Audience:  Family Studies, Gender Studies, Political Science, Sociology



GUIMBA, THE TYRANT, 1995, Mali, Burkina Faso


Duration:      93 minutes in Bambara, Peul, and French with English subtitles

Director:       Cheik Oumar Sissoko

Distributor:       California Newsreel

Price:              $195.00 (purchase)

 $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  The allegorical tale Guimba: The Tyrant comments on the political situation of present-day Africa.  In the epic drama based in 19th century pre-colonial Mali, corrupt ruler of the town of Sitakili, Guimba Dunbuya, abuses his powers and eventually leads his subjects to revolt against him.


Critique:  The story, Guimba, has obvious parallels with the 1991 overthrow of Malian dictator Moussa Traore in which Sissoko was active.  Guimba tells the timeless tale of a tyrant's hubris and his downfall at the hands of his people, reminiscent of Macbeth or Richard III. The film's narrative embodies the process of revealing the truth from behind the facade of despotic power. For Guimba, the prince of a once prosperous trading city, the key to power is spectacle: humiliating court rituals, arbitrary displays of wrath, occult powers, even the terrifying mask which always covers his face.

_Guimba is thus a story of the restoration of truth and legitimate authority to Djenné, the legendary city where the film was shot, and, allegorically, of democratic, _transparent_ government to present‑day Africa.  In its opulence and epic scale, Guimba recalls and calls for the return of the continent's own former greatness and prosperity. Even, the film's striking costumes (themselves simultaneously veilings and statements) occasioned the revival of several traditional Malian textile crafts.  _Sissoko notes that in Guimba he adapted to film two traditional Malian types of discourse used to _speak truth to power’, kotéba, a popular form of satiric street theater, and baro, a virtuoso kind of public oratory.  Thus Sissoko creates through his film not just an allegory of present‑day African politics but a community of viewers prepared to mock illicit power whatever its trappings. _

(Critique adapted from California Newsreel_s On-line Catalogue)


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science, Sociology




Duration:      52 minutes with English subtitles and voice-over

Prod. Co.:      BBC Television with Anthropologist Jean Lydall

Distributor:      Filmakers Library

Price:        $445.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  This film is part two of a 3-part series documenting the life of Duka, a Hamar woman, from a young girl to a married woman with children.  This film follows Duka and her young friend Gardi as they prepare for marriage.  The young women, their parents and their prospective spouses are interviewed about their feelings on marriage.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Family Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology




Duration:      52 minutes with English subtitles

Prod. Co.:       BBC Television with Anthropologist Jean Lydall

Distributors:   Filmakers Library

Price:        $445.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  This film is part one of a 3-part series documenting the life of Duka, a Hamar woman, from a young girl to a married woman with children.  This film provides an introduction of the issues facing Hamar women at various stages of life as adolescents, married women, and seniors.


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Family Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology




Prod. Co.:       BBC Television with Anthropologist Jean Lydall

Duration:      52 minutes, Ethiopia

Distributor:      Filmakers Library

Price:        $445.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


 Synopsis: This film is part 3 of a 3-part series documenting the life of Duka, a Hamar woman, from a young girl to a married woman with children.   In this film, Duka is a mother of two children, a two-year old girl and an infant boy.  She discusses her adjustment to her new home and married life.  She and Sago, her husband, are interviewed about wife beating and the institution of marriage.


Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Family Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology       



HARVEST: 3000 YEARS, 1975, Ethiopia

Duration:      150 minutes

Director:       Haile Gerima

Distributor:    Mypheduh Films

Price:        $300.00 (purchase, institutional use)/$34.99 (purchase, individual use)

$150.00 (rental for 16mm film, classroom use)


Synopsis:  Harvest: 3000 Years is a dramatization of a peasant family's struggle for survival on the farm of a wealthy landowner in Ethiopia.


Critique: In its depiction of Ethiopian peasant life and the struggle to survive, Harvest: 3000 Years is unique and quite excellent. The use of a fictionalized, ethnographic style allows the audience to become involved with the family portrayed and to understand their needs and aspirations. Though the filmmaker espouses a specific political view- point, this viewpoint does not affect the accuracy of the lifestyle presented. The photography combines with a slowly paced editing style to reflect the centuries of long struggle expressed by the title. As mentioned above, some background information may be necessary for certain audiences, but viewed strictly as cinema, the film is complete and powerful.


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Political Science, Sociology,



Duration:        11 minutes

Director:       Maureen Blackwood

Distributor:    Women Make Movies

Price:        $175.00 (purchase)

$65.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Inspired by a true story, Home Away From Home depicts the attempt of an African woman to establish a sense of home in urban Britain.  The main character builds a mud hut in her backyard that is eventually destroyed by unwelcoming strangers.


Critique: Despite the short length of Home Away From Home, director Maureen Blackwood beautifully expresses the tensions and difficulties faced by immigrant families.  With no dialogue, Blackwood’s characters communicate themes such as intergenerational conflict, missing home, cultural dissonance with neighbors, racial tension, and the struggles of a woman trying to preserve her culture and identity in a new context.  As the mother begins building a mud hut in her yard, she begins to heal her sense of longing, repair her strained relationship with her teenaged daughter, and teach/ remind her children about their homeland.   Her actions do not, however, aid in her relations with her white neighbors and ultimately her hut is destroyed.


The film would be an excellent choice for instructors dealing with issues such as immigration, cultural preservation, cultural plurality, identity, ‘otherness’ and alienation.


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology




Duration:        88 minutes in English and Amharic with English subtitles

Director:       Haile Gerima

Distributor:    First Run/Icarus Films

Price:        $490.00 (purchase)

$100.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Imperfect Journey shares stories of oppression as told by the mothers of political victims and individuals afraid to reveal their identities.


Recommended Audience: Political Science


Duration:       30 minutes

Director:       Gary Beitel

Distributor:    Filmakers Library

Price:       $295.00



Synopsis: In Danku the Soup is Sweeter chronicles the impact of a project of the Canadian International Development Agency on the lives of two women in Danku in northern Ghana.  The project gave the women access to credit that enabled them to open small businesses of their own.


Critique: In Danku the Soup is Sweeter, unlike many of the films on women in Africa, offers a positive look at how Ghanaian women are working successfully to improve their own lives. The film beautifully captures the daily activities of the women "entrepreneurs" as they pound vegetables, mix shea butter, and cultivate the land.  It also demonstrates that African women, who, according to the film, are responsible for 60-80% of subsistence work responsibilities, can organize into labor groups to qualify for low interest loans and to provide financial and psychological support for each other.


One problem with the film is that it eclipses the voices and therefore the perspectives of the women themselves. The film fails to include a significant amount of dialogue with the women of Danku.  Instead, a narrative voice over tells the audience what the women are doing and why they are doing it.  In addition, the film clearly sets out to promote the low interest loan program developed by the Canadian International Development Agency and does not describe any of the problems or limitation of the program.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies




Duration:      29 minutes

Prod. Co.:       Cadmos Film for SVT

Distributor:      Filmakers Library

Price:        $295.00



Synopsis: In the Name of God describes the pain and mutilation suffered by circumcised women in Ethiopia.  The film takes the viewer inside the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, where recovered patients are trained to assist doctors in repairing the damages to other women.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology


Duration:              94 minutes in Jula and French with English subtitles

Director:               Dani Kouyati

Distributor:     California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

              $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Keita creates a unique world where the West Africa of the 13th Century Sundjata Epic and the West Africa of today co-exist and interpenetrate.


Critique: _Director Dani Kouyati frames his dramatization of the epic within a contemporary boy from Burkina Faso, learning the history of his family. During the film, Mabo and his distant ancestor, Sundjata, engage in parallel quests to understand their destinies, to ‘know the meaning of their names’.  In so doing, Keota makes the case for an "Afrocentric" education, where African tradition, not an imported Western curricula is the necessary starting point for African development.

             (Critique quoted from California Newsreel’s Online Catalogue.)


Recommended Audience:  Political Science, Sociology                   




Duration:              20 minutes

Director:               Don Rook

Distributor:              Films for the Humanities and Sciences

Price:                    $149.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This program shows the enormous contrast between the lives of two children in Nigeria_s bustling metropolis, thereby illustrating how the city works and its people survive.


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience:  Family Studies, Sociology       




Duration:              52 minutes in English

Director:               Zola Maseko

Distributor:            First Run-Icarus Films

Price:                    $390.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis: A new documentary film about the fascinating story of this Khoi Khoi woman who was taken from South Africa to France , in 1814.  She became the object of scientific and medical research that formed the bedrock of European ideas about black female sexuality She was then exhibited as a freak across Britain. The image and idea of "The Hottentot Venus" swept through British popular culture. A court battle waged by abolitionists to free her from her exhibitors failed. The Life and Times of Sara Bartman ‑ "The Hottentot Venus" deconstructs the social, political, scientific and philosophical assumptions which transformed one young African woman into a representation of savage sexuality and racial inferiority.


Critique:  No critique available


Recommended Audience:  Anthropology, Gender Studies, Sociology



LUMUMBA: LA MORT DU PROPHETE (Lumumba: Death  of a Prophet ), 1992, DRC

Duration:              69 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:               Raoul Peck

Distributor:              California Newsreel

Price:                     $195.00 (purchase)

              $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This film reviews the life of Patrice Lumumba, first president of  the Democratic Republic of The Congo.


Critique:  Lumumba: la mort du Prophete offers a unique opportunity to reconsider the life and legacy of one of the legendary figures of modern African history. Like Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba is remembered less for his lasting achievements than as an enduring symbol of the struggle for self-determination.  This deeply personal reflection on the events of Lumumba's brief twelve month rise and fall is a moving memorial to a man described as a giant, a prophet, a devil, "a mystic of freedom," and "the Elvis Presley of African politics." If Lumumba is a film about remembering, it is even more a film about forgetting. It is not so much a conventional biography as a study of how Lumumba's legacy has been manipulated by politicians, the media and time itself. Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck meditates on his own memories as the privileged son of an agricultural expert working for the regime which displaced Lumumba. He examines home movies, photographs, old newsreels and contemporary interviews with Belgian journalists and Lumumba's own daughter to try to piece together the tragic events and betrayals of 1960.

Recommended Audience:  Political Science



MAIDS AND MADAMS, 1985, South Africa

Duration:              52 minutes in English

Director:               Mira Hamermesh  

Distributor:            Filmakers Library

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This film is an expose of relationships between black maids and their white employers in South Africa.


Critique: Maids and Madams, apparently based on Jackie Cock's book of the same name, explores the relationship between white employers and black domestic servants in South Africa.  The film and the book, however, fundamentally differ in terms of methodology, sample and explanation.  Cock conducted her research in the Eastern Cape, the most economically depressed area in South Africa.  Hamermesh's film is located in the very wealthy northern suburbs of Johannesburg.  Unlike the book, the film makes no mention of the historical dimensions of domestic work, nor does it situate domestic work into the wider matrix of apartheid social relations.


The film treats domestic work as an act of oppression in itself.  On one level, this is true.  However, it obscures the fact that domestic work is both a symptom and example of the larger oppression of apartheid.  It is easy to see how this confusion can arise ‑‑ domestic work accounts for the second largest category of employed black women after agriculture. The film sees this exploitation as a moral one, manifested in poor conditions of service, and not as an inevitable by‑product of black life under apartheid.  To understand the oppression of black women in domestic service, it is necessary first to understand the position of black women under apartheid generally.


      The director's assumptions are never explicitly articulated.  Viewers are unaware of how certain incidents were filmed (reconstructed, observational, etc.) or informed how the crew persuaded the white 'madams' to expose their vulnerabilities to the camera.  When ordinary people perform for cameras, they often tend to overplay their quirks and foibles, being on their 'best' behavior. It is doubtful that any of the madams portrayed would have agreed to participating if they thought their behavior would be portrayed as hypocritical or that the very intimate relationships that develop between maids and madams would be portrayed as morally wrong.  The way the camera and crew distort everyday relationships and behavior has always been an epistemological problem for ethnographic filmmakers.  But more than this, ethical questions are of concern, too.

(Adapted from critique by Keyan Tomaselli, Professor and Director, Centre for Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban)


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies


MAMA BENZ, 1992, Togo

Duration:              48 minutes in French with English subtitles

Prod. Co.:             SFINX FILM/TV

Distributor:            Filmakers Library

Price:                    $350.00 (purchase)

$65.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This film is about successful market women in Togo who have gained the name Mama Benz because of their Mercedes Benz automobiles.  There is particular focus on one woman who oversees the textile trade in Lome. 


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies



MAPANTSULA, 1988, South Africa

Duration:              104 minutes in English, Sesotho, IsisZulu and Afrikaans

Director:               Oliver Schmitz

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: The film depicts life in Soweto, South Africa’s largest township during the mid-‘80’s.  The central character in the movie is Panic, a township “clever” who turns into a political activist while in jail.


Critique: The word ‘mapantsula’, from which the title of this film, ‘Mapantsula,' is taken, has been translated by American reviewers as `thief,' `hoodlum,' a street-wise, small-time crook.  In South Africa it refers to an exaggerated way of talking and dressing originally derived from American gangster movies of the 1940s.  The mapantsula or tsotsi subculture was a way disempowered, alienated young ghetto men could maintain a facade of pride and possibility in their lives during a period of limited political options.


Not just the mapantsula, Panic, but most of the characters are caught between strategies of survival and strategies of resistance between working within an oppressive social system.  The story is told through a series of flashbacks the central character, Panic, has while in prison.  Through these, Panic, comes to understand how he and each of the other characters come to abandon their individual compromises in favor of collective struggle. Panic, whose given name is Themba,  has adopted a variety of identities for survival. As a police informer, he is known by his Afrikaner name, Johannes.  He is comfortable in none of these identities; now he must adopt a new one.

(Written by Keyan Tomaselli, 1990)


Further Reading:

Tomaselli, K.G. (1993). "'Colouring it In':  Films in `Black' or `White' - Reassessing Authorship", Critical Arts, 7(½), 61-77.

Schmitz, O. and Mogatlane, T. (1991). Mapantsula:  Screenplay and Interview.  COSAW, Johannesburg.

Tomaselli, K.G. (1991). "Popular Communication in South Africa:  Mapantsula and its Context of Struggle", South African Theatre Journal, 5(1) 46-60.


Recommended Audience: Political Science



MONDAY’S GIRLS, 1993, Nigeria

Duration:              50 minutes in Waikiriki and English with English subtitles

Director:               Ngozi Onworah

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$95.00 (rental)

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $295.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This film explores the changing attitudes toward a female rite of passage custom in the Niger delta region.  Two young women, one a willing participant from the rural area and the other a reluctant participant from the city, are contrasted as they undergo the iria ceremony.


Critique: Monday's Girls explores the conflict between modern individualism and traditional communities in today's Africa through the eyes of two young Waikiriki women from the Niger delta. Although both come from leading families in the same large island town, Florence looks at the iria women's initiation ceremony as an honor, while Azikiwe, who has lived in the city for ten years, sees it as an indignity. Ngozi Onwurah, director of such feminist classics as Coffee Coloured Children and Body Beautiful, herself an Anglo-Nigerian, turns a wry but sympathetic eye on the cross-cultural confusions.  Monday's Girls calls into question the idea of a single, "ethnographically correct" representation of tradition. Rituals are revealed as fluid, polysemous texts, social contracts continuously renegotiated between individuals and communities. For millions of Africans like Azikiwe, tradition is increasingly seen as a matter of individual choice not social coercion._

(Adapted  from California Newsreel_s Online Catalogue.)


Recommended Audience: Anthropology, Gender Studies, Sociology

MORTU NEGA (Those Whom Death Refused), 1988, Guinea Bissau

Duration:       93 minutes in Criolo with English subtitles

Director:         Flora Gomes

Distributor:       California Newsreel

Price:              $195.00



Synopsis: Mortu Nega tells the story of post-revolution Guinea Bissau as the Portuguese are driven out of the country through the story of Diminga and her husband, Sako.  This film highlights the horrific battle they fought to drive the Portuguese from their country and the struggle that followed in building their nation. 


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science



MY HEART IS MY WITNESS, 1996, Algeria, Mali, Morocco.

Duration:             56minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:               Louise Carre

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $295.00 (purchase)

$90.00 (rental)


Synopsis: My Heart Is My Witness is a beautifully filmed documentary that explores the status of women in the North African countries of Mali, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. 


Critique: Long shots of the snowy Canadian landscape and the voice of an Algerian woman who reads from a letter she has written to a friend in the North frame the film, My Heart Is My Witness.   The letter describes the violence inflicted on Algerian women juxtaposed with images of Canada (a country far removed from the violence).  The film’s voice-over recounts a view of North Africa with which many in the North are familiar.  The film, however, does not allow this presentation of North Africa to remain unchallenged.  Interviews from men and women from a range of economic backgrounds, professions and locations describe problems confronting women in Islamic cultures with a great deal of complexity and insight.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology




Duration:              135 minutes in English voice-over

Distributor:             Trinh T. Minh-ha

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $495.00 (purchase)

$295.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  Using a nonlinear structure, Naked Spaces focuses on living in six West African countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Togo, Benin and Senegal).  This film challenges the traditions of ethnographic filmmaking


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience:  Anthropology, Family Studies, Sociology



NERIA, 1992, Zimbabwe

Duration:  102 minutes in English

Director:      Godwin Mawuru

Distributor:      DSR, Inc.

Price:              $79.95


Synopsis: 'Neria,' a film based on a story by Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga, is about a Shona woman named Neria who challenges the greed of Phineas, her brother-in-law, for her inheritance rights, after the death of her husband.


Critique: This film focuses on Neria's struggle to triumph over patriarchy and care for her

children.  Neria harbors respect for traditional practices, but she refuses to allow Phineas to

dominate her.  She fights to remain in Harare rather than return to the village.  The film

demonstrates that traditions can indeed bend to the changing times.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Family Studies




Duration:              115 minutes

Director:               Assia Djebar

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $295.00 (purchase)

$90.00 (rent)


Synopsis: The title and structure of this film come from 'Nouba', a traditional song of five movements.  Set 15 years after the end of the Algerian war for independence from the French, this film mixes both narrative and documentary styles of filmmaking to construct the personal and cultural histories of Algerian women and their involvement in the anti-colonial struggle.


Critique: Finally available in the United States, this classic film from acclaimed novelist/ filmmaker Assia Djebar is essential viewing for an understanding of women in Algeria. Taking its title and structure from the _Nouba_, a traditional song of five movements, this haunting film mingles narrative and documentary styles to document the creation of women’s personal and cultural histories.


Returning to her native region 15 years after the end of the Algerian war, Lila is obsessed by memories of the war for independence that defined her childhood. In dialogue with other Algerian women, she reflects on the differences between her life and theirs. In lyrical footage she contemplates the power of grandmothers who pass down traditions of anti‑colonial resistance to their heirs. Reading the history of her country as written in the stories of women’s lives, Assia Djebar_s La Nouba des Femmes du Mont‑Chenoua is an engrossing portrait of speech and silence, memory and creation, and a tradition where the past and present coexist.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science




Duration:              50 minutes

Director:               Jamie Hartzew

Distributor:             DSR, Inc.

Price:                    $79.00


Synopsis: The Orphan Generation documents the struggle of one Ugandan village trying to to cope grave orphan crisis as a result of AIDS.  The video includes a 10 minute program called "These Are Our Children", an appeal to political leaders, planners and aid donors to support local communities in meeting the basic needs of AIDS orphans.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Sociology




Duration:              90 minutes

Director:               Peter Chappell

Distributor:            First/Run Icarus

Price:                    $245.00 (purchase)

$100.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Peter Chappell followed the negotiations between the World Bank and Uganda in

this documentary that looks at politics of donor – recipient relationships.


Critique:            Critique not available.       


Recommended Audience: Political Science


OUT IN SOUTH AFRICA, 1995, South Africa

Duration:             51 minutes

Director:               Barbara Hammer

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$90.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Filmmaker  Barbara Hammer trained  several groups of people how to use

video, and to record each other in interviews about life as a lesbian or gay man living in the

townships. Out In South Africa is a portrait of lesbian and gay life in a country juggling its

spirit of optimism with the legacy of apartheid - both sexual and racial.


Critique: Critique not available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies



PAIN, PASSION AND PROFIT, 1992, Kenya, Senegal

Duration:              49 minutes

Director:               Gurinder Chadha

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $275.00 (purchase)

$75.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop visits female entrepreneurs in

several African countries and looks at the status and connection of women globally.


Critique: Critique not available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology




Duration:              52 minutes with English subtitles

Producer:              Maarten Schmidt, Thomas Doebele

Distributor:            First/Run Icarus

Price:                    $390.00



Synopsis: Politics Do Not a Banquet Make explores the theme stated by a former soldier,

"You can't eat politics like you can eat bread."  The film uses interviews with a wide variety

of individuals from Tigray, Ethiopia to investigate the relationships among war, politics and




Politics Do Not a Banquet Make provides audiences with a wide array of perspectives on

issues of politics and survival in post‑revolutionary Ethiopia, including men and women,

peasant farmers, urban, un‑employed workers, former soldiers, business elites, government

officials, Meles Zenawi, the current prime minister, and a leading newspaper editor.  The

film accurately portrays rural life in Tigray and illustrates that rural people are setting their

own priorities.  The video celebrates the tremendous strength of Ethiopians without

romanticizing them.


One small criticism of the film is that it is too long and might be difficult to use in an

undergraduate classroom.  The focus of the film is limited;  it is centered on Tigray, the

home of the current Ethiopian leadership, and although many critiques of the current

government are included, the film adopts a position supportive of the Zenawi regime.  An

instructor might want to supplement the film with background material on the transition of

power in Ethiopia.


Recommended Audience: Political Science.



REASSEMBLAGE, 1982, Senegal

Duration:              40 minutes with English voice-over

Director:               Trinh T. Minh-ha

Distributor:            Women Make Movies

Price:                    $395.00 (purchase)

$140.00 (rental, video or 16mm film)


Synopsis: Women are the focus but not the object of Trinh T. Minh‑ha_s influential first film,

a complex visual study of the women of rural Senegal. Through a complicity of interaction

between film and spectator, Reassemblage reflects on documentary filmmaking and the

ethnographic representation of cultures.


Critique: Reassemblage is a nicely conceived and well produced film which addresses the important issue of how African peoples (particularly “traditional” cultures) are represented in ethnographic discourse.  Minh-ha relies primarily on filmic techniques to express her concern over the representations of Africans in ethnographic filmmaking.  Shots of people are cropped, images silenced, and voices untranslated in her tour of Senegal.  Minh-Ha focuses on stereotyped images of Africa - bare-breasted women, children, dancing - to expose the partiality of our knowledge.  Although at times the film appears to slip into the style of filmmaking it critiques, overall Reassemblage presents an excellent challenge to the standard western production of knowledge on the “other.”


Recommended Audience:  Anthropology, Gender Studies, Sociology


SABRIYA, Tunisia

Duration:              26 minutes

Director:               Abderrahmane Sissako

Distributor:      California Newsreel

Price:              $195.00 (purchase of Africa Dreaming video of four short films)

                        $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: This film explores the impact of the modern world on the traditional male society

of the Maghreb. Best friends, Said and Youssef, are content to have fulfilled a life‑time

dream by opening  a "chess bar" in the middle of the desert, but all this changes with the

arrival of Sarah, a free‑spirited woman.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology



SAIKATI, 1991, Kenya

Duration:              90 minutes in Swahili with English subtitles

Director:               Anne Mungai

Distributor:            DSR, Inc.

Price:                    $79.00 (purchase, only available in PAL version)


Synopsis: A young Maasai girl is promised to the chief's son for marriage and forbidden to

continue her education.  She escapes to Nairobi to pursue her dreams, only to find broken

promises and lost innocence in the big city.  She returns home and attempts to cope with her

family's decisions for her future.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology


LES SILENCES DU PALAIS (The Silences of the Palace), 1994, Tunisia

Duration:       127 minutes in Arabic with English subtitles

Director:         Moufida Tlatli

Distributor:   Arab Film Distribution





Synopsis: This narrative feature tells the story of a young Tunisian woman, Alia, who grows up in the household of the royal family, where her mother is a servant.  The film explores the issues of class, gender, sexuality, colonialism and post-colonialism.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Family Studies, Sociology




Duration:              26 minutes in Nama with English subtitles

Director:               Richard Pakleppa

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase of Africa Dreaming video of four short films)

$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: On Sophia_s returns home after working as a domestic for a white family in Windhoek for twelve years, she discovers that her sister has replaced her as partner to her husband and mother to her children.  Through the advice of Ou Sus (Big Sister), Sophia forgives her sister and leaves for Windhoek with her three children.


Critique: The film depicts the effects of migrant labor on rural African families.  The brief

film also shows the role that extended families play in minimizing conflict within families.


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Gender Studies


TAAFE FANGA, 1997, Mali.

Duration:              95 minutes in Bambara and French with English subtitles

Director:               Amama Drabo

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:                    $295.00 (purchase)

$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: A domestic comedy in which women's and men's roles are reversed.   It is a story

about women's right to resist patriarchy, 'to fight for the right to be different and equal.' 


Critique: No critque available.


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Gender Studies




Duration:              85 minutes in Wolof and French with English subtitles

Director:               Moussa Sene Absa

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  The story of a young politician Daam and his two wives Gagnesiri, a woman from

the village, and Kine, a Westernized urban woman, presents a contrast of two possible

development paths for Africa


Critique: No critique available


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science




Duration:              40 minutes in Amharic with English subtitles

Producer:             SVT, Cadmos Films

Distributor:      Filmakers Library

Price:                    $295.00 (purchase)

$55.00 (rental)


Synopsis: In this documentary, we meet the young girls who are compelled to turn to prostitution to survive.


Critique: The film succeeds in bringing out several levels of prostitution--street kids, brothels, luxury prostitutes.  The connection between prostitution and AIDS, and particularly the role of poverty, ignorance and hopelessness in the spread of the latter are well established. 

One weakness of the film is that it does not show the response or lack of it from the government, social and civic organizations and society at large.  Another is that it does not offer a solution as to how the problem could be alleviated if not entirely eliminated.


The film contends firstly that AIDS is spreading at pandemic proportions in Ethiopia.  Secondly, it argues that poverty and lack of education contribute the most to its spread.  The material is up-to-date as the situation has not changed drastically since the film was made.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies



UDJU AZUL DI YONTA (the Blue Eyes of Yonta), 1991, Guinea Bissau

Duration:             90 minutes in Criolo with English subtitles

Director:               Flora Gomes

Distributor:            California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Udju Azul di Yonta is the story of a love triangle told against the backdrop of the harsh realities of post-independent Guinea Bissau.  Set the capital city of Bissau, the film features a beautiful young woman, Yonta, who falls in love with a war hero, Vincente.  Vincente, disillusioned by the situation of his newly independent country, finds Yonta’s fascination with Western fashion and pop culture frivolous.  Ze, a young man from the village, admires Yonta from afar but Yonta is oblivious to his passion for her.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Political Science, Sociology




Duration:              27 minutes

Producer:             Ranche House College

Distributor:         DSR, Inc.

Price:                    $39.95


Synopsis:The short documentary 'Vukani Mukai: Awakening' is aimed at encouraging

Zimbabwean women to organize small‑scale income generating projects and seek training to

run these cooperative (coop) groups more effectively. Made in Zimbabwe, this film examines

several self‑help projects such as vegetable growing, bread baking, sewing and basket



Critique: A film made in Zimbabwe for African women to encourage them to get training to

help organize small‑scale income generating projects more effectively. Vukani Mukai  is

produced by Ranche House College in Harare, a center that provides the

type of training outlined in this film.  Coop leaders are filmed during training sessions which

involve teaching, role‑playing and discussion. Vukani Mukai is an educational and

motivational tool that highlights the benefits of cooperative organization and practical

training for rural Zimbabwean women.


Interestingly, although this film is aimed at a Zimbabwean audience, the narration and voice

overs are in English. When speakers use Shona or Ndebele, they are drowned out by a voice

over in English.  Perhaps English was used to reach a wider audience and act as a bridge

between Shona and Ndebele speakers, but it seems that similar films in Shona and Ndebele

would certainly appeal to rural Zimbabwean women.  Furthermore, at times, voice overs are

without dialogue, so viewer wonder who made the comments.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies



WARRIOR MARKS, 1993, Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso

Duration:             54 minutes

Director:               Pratibha Parmar

Distributor:              Women Make Movies

Price:                    $295.00 (purchase, video)

$85.00 (rental, video)/$175.00 (rental, 16mm film)


Synopsis: Warrior Marks is Alice Walker’s look at female genital mutilation.  Using

interviews with women from Senegal, Gambia, Burkino Faso, the United States and England

who are concerned with and affected by genital mutilation,  Walker comments on the subject

from a very personal perspective. 


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audiences: Gender Studies, Sociology



WITNESS TO APARTHEID, 1987, South Africa

Duration:             58 minutes

Director:               Sharon Sopher

Distributor:             DSR, Inc.

Price:                    $79.95


Synopsis:  Witness to Apartheid bears witness to the youngest victims of apartheid during the state of emergency in South Africa in the mid‑ 1980_s. Focusing on the children who were tortured and detained during this era, the documentary tells their stories, fears and hopes for a free democratic South Africa.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience:  Political Science


Duration:             30 minutes

Producer:              Episcopal Church Center

Distributor:             DSR, Inc.

Price:                    $39.95

Synopsis: This video documents a Kenyan women's training program, showing a trainer conducting a workshop and several grassroots projects that have developed as a result of the training.  The video features interviews of  women who have undergone the training.


Critique:  No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies




52 minutes French with English subtitles

Director:               Anne-Laure Folly

Distributor:             California Newsreel

Price:             $195.00 (Purchase)


$95.00 (Rental)


Synopsis: This film profiles contemporary African women in four West African countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Benin.  We meet a woman active in the movement against female genital mutilation, a health care worker educating women about sexually transmitted diseases, and business women who describe how they have set up an association to share expertise and provide mutual assistance.


Critique:  Femmes Aux Yeux Ouverts is visually quite stunning and makes economical use of its 52 minutes to cover many aspects of the roles of African women.  Although it begins with a poem by a Burkinaabe woman and in Burkina Faso, by the end of the film the viewer has also seen footage from Mali, Senegal, and Benin.  It is organized thematically by titles flashed on the screen.  Most of the women speak French, with English subtitles provided.  The subjects covered include female genital mutilation (Burkina Faso), forced marriage and lack of property rights (Burkina Faso), AIDS, the struggle against poverty (Senegal, Mali, Benin), and political participation for women (Benin, Burkina Faso).  The narration is multi-vocal, often from activists involved in amelioration of various aspects of women’s situations.  Although most of these activities come from the elite, a non-condescending view of the situation of poor women is presented in many contexts; men are heard from occasionally; and the point is made firmly by a market woman that by discriminating against women ‘man is destroying himself.’  The tone varies from anger to dispassionate observation, depending on the speaker.  Many of the women are eminently quotable, and there is significant footage from the 1991 revolution in Burkina Faso, along with an interview with a participant whose daughter was killed in the women’s demonstration that was a key event.  Also included is an extended interview with Mali’s first female governor (of Bamako), who does some of the narration.  The film therefore has historical ramifications in several aspects, but it is an unintentional historical document, not a historical documentary.

(Review by Claire Robertson. American Historical Review 101.4 (Oct 1996): 1142-1143.)


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Family Studies, Sociology



WOMEN OF NIGER, 1993, Niger

Duration:              26 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:               Anne Laure Folly

Distributor:             Women Make Movies

Price:                    $250.00 (purchase)

$60.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Niger is a traditionally Islamic country where authorized polygamy and Muslim fundamentalism clash with the country_s struggle for democracy. In elections in 1993, men voted by proxy for their different wives and daughters. Women who speak out about their rights have been physically attacked and ex‑communicated by the ayatollahs. Working together, women are the most ardent defenders of democracy, which offers the best hope of winning the equal rights which are still denied them. Critical viewing for those interested in women_s human rights and the impact of fundamentalism.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Political Science



WOUBI CHERI, 1998, Ivory Coast

Duration:             62 minutes in French with English subtitles

Director:               Phillip Brooks & Laurent Bocahut            Distributor:             California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

$95.00 (rental)


Synopsis: Woubi Chéri is the first film to give African homosexuals a chance to describe their world in their own words. Often funny, sometimes ribald, but always real, this documentary introduces us to gender pioneers demanding their right to construct a distinct African homosexuality.


Critique: No critique available.


Recommended Audience: Gender Studies, Sociology


ZAN BOKO (Homeland), 1988, Mali

Duration:              94 minutes in More with English subtitles

Director:               Gaston Kabore

Distributor:             California Newsreel

Price:                    $195.00 (purchase)

                              $95.00 (rental)


Synopsis:  Zan Boko explores the conflict between tradition and modernity. It tells the poignant story of a village family swept up in the current tide of urbanization.


Critique: Zan Boko expertly reveals the transformation of an agrarian subsistence society into an Industrialized  commodity economy. Zan Boko is also one of the first African  films to explore the impact of the mass media in changing an oral society into one where information is  packaged and sold. The film provides viewers with a unique opportunity to see our own televised civilization through the eyes of the traditional societies it is replacing.


Recommended Audience: Family Studies, Sociology