The board of South Africa's Film and Publication Board recently ruled that Ousmane Sembène’s seminal 1966 film Black Girl contained hate speech and was not fit for screening during the Joburg Film Festival. A similar incident took place during the fifteen edition of Documenta when an Expert Panel determined that an installation featuring militant films of the Palestinian revolution (1960-80s) was antisemitic because Israel was portrayed in a one-sided negative way. These acts of censorship raise fundamental questions about the politics surrounding film archives. Indeed, what is it about film archives that is so confronting and threatening in the aftermath of formal colonialism and liberation? How do film archives as memory fragments and traces of history contribute to reproduce or unsettle pasts but also to reimagine alternative futures? And what are the challenges of working with film archives in the current political moment, particularly concerning access, indexing, copy rights, circulation, visibility, infrastructure, and so on? These and other questions will be central to our next seminar on the ‘Politics of archives and struggles for emancipation: Reflecting on experiences from Middle East and Southern Africa’.
The seminar series ‘Politics of archives and struggles for emancipation: Reflecting on experiences from Middle East and Southern Africa’ engages Middle Eastern and Southern Africa experiences in archival building, oral histories and public histories in relation to emancipatory politics. Through five conversations that engage two speakers from each region, we will address critical questions such as what is the role of archive production and public history in the face off between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic narratives? Which uses of archive and public history helped empowering local communities and giving voice to dispossessed populations? How do we conceive archiving practices that fit with emancipatory goals? And what are the archival afterlives of emancipatory politics?
These and other questions will be central to our next seminar on the ‘Politics of archives and struggles for emancipation: Reflecting on experiences from Middle East and Southern Africa’, an initiative by the Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), Wits History Workshop, Birzeit University, Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS), Observatory of the Arab and Muslim Worlds (OMAM) and IFAS Research.
Jihan El-Tahri is a multi-award-winning film director, writer, visual artist, and producer. She currently serves as the General Director of the Berlin-based documentary support institution DOX BOX. El Tahri has been a member of The Academy (Oscars) since 2017 and is currently on the selection committee of the Locarno International Film Festival. She has directed more than 15 films and her visual art exhibitions have traveled to renowned museums and several Biennales around the world. Her writings include Les Sept Vies de Yasser Arafat (Grasset) and Israel and the Arabs, The 50 Years War (Penguin). She continues to mentor and direct various documentary and filmmaking labs. El Tahri has served on the boards of several African film organizations including the Federation of Pan African Cinema and The Guild of African Filmmakers in the Diaspora.
Sifiso Khanyile is a Johannesburg based multi award winning filmmaker and archive researcher. He's also a member of the International Emmys. Khanyile has produced 9 films, writing and directing 4 of those including 3 award winning documentaries ‘Uprize’, ‘A New Country’, and 'The Reclaimers'. With 13 years experience in film, television and news production. His work is concerned with memory and history and how they continue to shape contemporary imaginations of South Africa. His recently completed short-film adaptation of Njabulo Ndebele's 'The Prophetess' expands his vocabulary into the South African literary archive, having worked with audio and video archives in the past. His ongoing project, 'Black Joy Under Apartheid', foregrounds black leisure and pleasure under apartheid to offer counter-hegemonic narratives to black victimhood. Khanyile has also made music videos for Impande Core, Tumi (Stogie T) as well as Thabang Tabane. As an archive researcher, Khanyile has presented at archive symposiums such as the Visionary Archives Festival at the Arsenal in Berlin (2015). He is currently writing his debut narrative feature 'Problematik', which was developed as part of Venice Biennale Cinema College 2021 -2022, and Venice Gap Financing Market.