This Is Africa - Afropessimism In Narrative Film

This Is Africa - Afropessimism In Narrative Film -...

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ૺ7,$૲7KLV LV $IULFDૻ± $IURSHVVLPLVP LQ 7ZHQW\²)LUVW²&HQWXU\ 1DUUDWLYH )LOP 0DUWKD (YDQV± ,DQ *OHQQ Black Camera, Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2010 (The New Series), pp. 14-35 (Article) 3XEOLVKHG E\ ,QGLDQD 8QLYHUVLW\ 3UHVV For additional information about this article Access provided by UCLA Library (14 Jan 2016 01:55 GMT) http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/blc/summary/v002/2.1.evans.html
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Martha Evans and Ian Glenn, “‘TIA—This is Africa’: Afropessimism in Twenty-First- Century Narrative Film,” Black Camera, An International Film Journal , Vol. 2 No. 1 (Winter 2010), 14–35. “TIA—This is Africa”: Afropessimism in Twenty-First-Century Narrative Film MARTHA EVANS AND IAN GLENN Abstract This paper considers new representations of postcolonial Africa via five big-budget narrative films, including Hotel Rwanda (2004), The Constant Gardener (2005), The Interpreter (2005), Blood Diamond (2006), and The Last King of Scotland (2006). Although these films appear to have transcended old colonial stereotypes, a new set of features and themes, all Afropessimist in nature, links them, suggesting the West’s negative influence on perceptions of the continent. Although the films show more commitment to realism and historical accuracy than previous cinematic treatments of Africa, they still struggle to represent the real challenges and com- plexities associated with the continent. The limitations of genre and the pressures of the industry result in several weaknesses, principally an inability to investigate the social and structural elements of African history, the overreliance on white focaliz- ers and narrators, and a tendency to generalize from particular cases to continental trends. N umerous critics have attacked post–World War II films about Africa for giving a second life to old colonial (and often racist) stereotypes. 1 Films as far apart in time as Trader Horn (1931) and Out of Africa (1985) draw on earlier images of “darkest” Africa to justify colonial adventure and romance, and the 1985 and 2004 remakes of King Solomon’s Mines (1950) testify to the lure of the exotic. Toward the end of the twentieth cen- tury, however, other trends developed. A strong current of antiapartheid films emerged and still continues ( A Dry White Season [1989] , Sarafina! [1992] , and Catch a Fire [2006]), and the most recent films set in other Afri- can countries show significant changes. The Africa in these films is much more brutal than in earlier representa- tions, but it is harder to attribute this to filmmakers’ ignorance or racism. The films have been better researched, especially in the attention paid to real- ist detail, resulting in a bleak, Afropessimist outlook. Simply put, Afropessi- mism is the consistently negative view that Africa is incapable of progressing,
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Martha Evans and Ian Glenn /TIA—This is Africa 15 economically, socially, or politically.
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