CFP - Plurality, Social Change, and Innovation in Contemporary Senegalese Cinema

Devin Bryson's picture
Call for Publications
December 1, 2016
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, French History / Studies

The journal Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up focusing on Senegalese cinema. Following its independence from France in 1960, Senegal became a leader in African cinema, represented most visibly by Ousmane Sembène who became known as “the father of African cinema.” As new filmmakers rose to prominence during the 1970s, most notably Djibril Diop Mambéty, Senegalese cinema was flourishing and it appeared that the foundation, with its cinematic forefathers, national financial support, and global attention, was set for continued growth and recognition. Unfortunately, a nationwide economic crisis in the early 1980s, exacerbated by strict economic regulations enforced by the World Bank, quickly put the brakes on the nation’s cinematic progression as the state withdrew funding for cinematic projects, and theaters across the nation began to close. As a result, many of the acclaimed Senegalese directors that followed Sembène and Diop Mambéty undertook their cinematic formation in Paris and primarily rely on European financing in order to produce their films that are typically distributed through international film festivals rather than in Senegal. Reports from the last five years have lamented the slow death of Senegalese cinema, noting the futility of recent efforts by the government and filmmakers to stem the tide. In spite of these struggles faced by the film industry in Senegal, contemporary filmmakers have discovered creative ways to produce works that depict the life, society, and culture of their country.

A focus on the rise and fall of Senegal’s national cinema, and the filmmakers who are innovatively persisting after the fall, reveals a number of issues relevant to African Cinema’s production, distribution, and reception. We propose to consider contemporary Senegalese filmmakers within the dual context of the country’s deep filmic heritage and its current cinematic impoverishment, as well as to reconsider classic Senegalese filmmakers and films in light of the present disastrous state of the national cinema. This Close-Up will survey innovative contemporary filmmakers and their work, emphasizing the original production, technical, and thematic contributions they are making to Senegal’s rich cinematic tradition and the manner in which those innovations are pointing a way out of the present tenuous cinematic conditions. In addition, the collection of essays will consider the social and cultural function of the rising generation of Senegalese and African cineastes.

We welcome submissions exploring Senegalese cinema from a variety of disciplinary and analytical perspectives.  Essays, film reviews, and commentaries will be considered for publication.  Essays should be 4,000-6,000 words, commentaries 1,000-2,000, and film reviews 500-1,500 words.   

Suggested topics include an analysis of contemporary Senegalese filmmakers within the dual context of the country’s deep filmic heritage and its current cinematic impoverishment, as well as a reconsideration of classic Senegalese filmmakers in light of the present state of the national cinema, both foregrounded within the larger context of African cinema. Other topics might include but are not limited to:

  • social and cultural function of the rising generation of Senegalese cineastes
  • emerging filmmakers who promote change through their works and oppose a monolithic view of African cinema
  • role of “engaged cinema” in revealing social, political, and cultural issues
  • technical, topical, and cultural innovations in Senegalese cinema
  • challenges regarding funding and distribution of Senegalese and African films
  • cross-cultural comparisons of cinemas across West Africa and their respective challenges and innovations
  • current filmmakers’ navigation of filmic heritage and tradition

Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract, and a 50-100 word biography by December 1, 2016.  Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.  See Black Camera submission policy guidelines for more details.

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editors Devin Bryson ( and Molly Krueger Enz (

Contact Info: 

Devin Bryson, associate professor of Francophone Studies

Illinois College


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