Challenging perspectives: documentary practices in films by women from Francophone Africa

Pugsley, Bronwen E. (2012) Challenging perspectives: documentary practices in films by women from Francophone Africa. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis is located at the intersection of three dynamic fields: African screen media, documentary studies, and women’s filmmaking. It analyses a corpus of fifteen films by Francophone sub-Saharan African women filmmakers, ranging from 1975 to 2009, within the framework of documentary theory. This study departs from the contextual approach to African women’s documentary, which has been predominant among scholarship and criticism thus far, in favour of a focus on the films as texts. The popular models developed for the study of documentary film by Western scholars are applied to African women’s documentaries in order to explore their innovative and stimulating practices; to determine the degree to which such models are fully adequate or, instead, are challenged, subverted, or exceeded by this new context of application; and to address the films’ wider implications regarding the documentary medium.

Chapter One outlines the theoretical framework underpinning the thesis and engages with existing methodologies and conventions in documentary theory. Chapter Two considers women-centred committed documentary, analyses the ways in which these films uncover overlooked spaces and individuals, provide and promote new spaces for the enunciation of women’s subjectivity and ‘herstories’, and counter hegemonic stereotypical perceptions of African women. Chapter Three addresses recent works of autobiography, considers the filmmaking impulses and practices involved in filming the self, and points to the emergence of a filmmaking form situated on the boundary between ethnography and autobiography. Chapter Four explores the filmmakers’ ethnographic practices, considering their specificities in the light of pre-existing conventions within ethnographic filmmaking to emphasise the films’ formal and political reflexivity. The fifth and final chapter analyses a selection of works of docufiction, demonstrating their striking singularities and arguing for the significance of films that blur the boundaries between fiction and fact and thus push the borders of the real. The overall aim of the thesis is, therefore, to show the overlooked diversity of documentary voices and to demonstrate that the practice of documentary by women from Francophone sub-Saharan Africa is both formally innovative and reflexive, and politically challenging.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Hitchcott, N.
Russell-Watts, L.
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
ID Code:2658
Deposited By:Dr Bronwen Ellen Pugsley
Deposited On:17 Sep 2012 11:49
Last Modified:17 Sep 2012 11:49

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