In Memorium


Between 2009 and 2010 more than 12 prominent African filmmakers passed away, inflicting a heavy blow to an industry in great need of expertise and development.

Tahar Cheriaa
(Tunisia, died 2010)
Referred to as the “Father of Tunisian and African cinema’, Cheriaa was appointed director of cinema at the Ministry of Information from 1962 to 1970, after entering the film industry in 1952 and joining the Louis Lumiere Film Club of Sfax. In 1966, he founded the first Pan-African and Arabic festival – The Cinematographic Days of Carthage – and occupied the position of Secretary General untill 1974. Cheriaa worked as an expert on Arabic culture, cinema and television at UNESCO from 1963 to 1974, and became film critic in 1956. He was honorary chair of the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI).

Mahama Jonhson Traore
(Senegal, 1942–2010).
His interest in cinema led him to the Paris-based Conservatoire Libre du Cinema Français, where he graduated in 1965. In 1968, he made his debut film Diankha-bi. During his time Traore had extensive film credits for about 20 well-acclaimed works in all genres. He was one of the initiators in 1969, in Burkina Faso, of the African Film Week, the forerunner of today’s FESPACO. Traore left behind an unfinished film project, aka Nder.

Samba Felix N’Diaye
(Senegal, 1945–2009).
Known as “the father of the documentary film’, N’Diaye studied Law and Economic Sciences and then took film classes in Paris (University of Paris VIII and École Louis-Lumiere). His last documentary film Questions a la Terre Natale (2007) brought a number of well-known African intellectuals to explore the plight of Africa. N’Diaye left a legacy of 25 documentary films.

Adama Drabo
(Mali, 1948–2009).
Born in Bamako Drabo joined the National Film Production Centre in 1979 to work as assistant director with filmmaker Cheick Oumar Sissoko on the film Nyamanton (1986). He made the short film Nieba, la Journee d’une Paysanne (1988) before collaborating again with Cheick Oumar Sissoko on a feature film Finzan (1989). Drabo made his debut feature film Ta Dona (Au Feu!) (1991), which screened at the Locarno International Film Festival and was awarded at FESPACO 1992. Five years later he made Taafe Fanga which won several prizes at festivals including Cannes, Tokyo and Ouagadougou. He died after completing his last feature film Fantan Fanga, co-directed by fellow Malian filmmaker Ladji Diakite.

Desire Niamkey Écare
(Cote d’Ivoire, 1938–2009).
Actor and scriptwriter Ecare’s films include Visages de Femmes (1985), deemed “scandalous’ in Africa but acclaimed in France where it was awarded the Fipresci Prize at that Cannes Film Festival. He went to France in 1961 where he took theatre courses and joined the dramatic art centre. Soon he embarked on film directing while continuing with his stage career. Écare wrote many books and periodicals on African cinema.

Tierno Fati Sow
Fati Sow collaborated with Ousmane Sembene on the film Camp de Thiaroye (1987) by writing the dialogue. They jointly won the Jury Grand Prize at the Venice Festival (Italy) in 1988. He had plans for a feature film which was to start shooting in early 2010, as well as a testimonial book on Sembene Ousmane, who was his companion for more than 30 years. Born in Thies, Senegal, he is among the pioneers of Senegalese filmmakers of the 1960s.

Andre Come Ottong
(Gabon, 1964–2009)
A self-taught filmmaker, he was a director and producer who self-funded all of his works. Ottong was a winner at the 21st edition of FESPACO of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Prize, with his feature film Confession Finale. At FESPACO 2001 he presented an outstanding series La Chambre des Filles which won a prize. In 1980 he joined a dramatic art group where his passion for cinema developed and led to the initiation of the Ligne Equatoriale film school in the 1990s.

Amadou Bourou
(Burkina Faso, 1951-2010)
Born in Mali, Bourou received a BA at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, before leaving for France. There he made his stage debut in 1972 and then cinema in 1991. He acted in many blockbuster films such as Silmande by Pierre Yameogo, Le Monde est un Ballet by Issa Traore de Brahima and Quand les Elephants se Battent by Abdoulaye Dao.

James Campbell-Badiane
(The Gambia, 1932–2010)
Campbell-Badiane shared the stage with well-known actors like Yves Montand, Eddie Constantine and Jack Nicholson. He later played veteran Leopold Abdou Diallo in La Dette, a television film scripted by French academic Eric Orsena. He appeared in the films Le Prix du Pardon (2002) by Senegalese Mansour Sora Wade and Le Sifflet (2005) by As Thiam. Campbell acted in about 30 films and 10 plays.

Sotigui Kouyate
(Mali, 1936-2010)
Born on 19 July 1936 in Bamako, Mali, Kouyate’s career in cinema started in 1968 when he acted in several films in France. Kouyate won the Tanite d’Or for lifetime achievement in 2008 in Tunis, the Silver Bear for best actor in 2009 in Berlin, and Best Actor for Namur, among others. He also created music for seven films and played different roles in more than 40 films.

Mustapha Dao
(Burkina Faso, 1955-2010)
Born in 1955, Dao studied Humanities at the University of Ouagadougou before attending the African Institute for Film Education (INAFEC). He worked at the national television station and at the Burkinabe Film Office. Dao was among the few filmmakers in Africa devoted to films for children. His debut short film A Nous la Rue on street children in Ouagadougou, received critical acclaim. He made other films including Le Neveu du Peintre, L’Enfant et le Caiman and L’oeuf.

Dominique Zeida
(Burkina Faso, died 2010)
Zeida received training in direction at the State Film Institute in Russia. In 1991 he returned home with the documentary film Une Chanson a Deux Voix, about the tragedy of African mixed-race children prevented from leaving the Gulag. He acted in the film Moolade by Sembene Ousmane and produced about 10 documentary films and several series.


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