Film
From left to right: Mati Diop, Ladj Ly, Mounia Meddour and Maryam Touzani.

4 African Directors Have Been Selected to Present Films at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival

Senegalese-French filmmaker Mati Diop and Mali's Ladj Ly are the only Africans featuring their work in the Competition program.

The 72nd Festival de Cannes returns in May to continue its mission to draw attention to and raise the profile of films on an international level. The festival announced the official lineup Thursday, where we found only four African filmmakers set to present their work at the festival's various programs.

Mati Diop, Senegalese-French filmmaker and the niece of Touki Bouki's Djibril Diop Mambéty, as well as Malian filmmaker Ladj Ly are the only Africans set to enter their films in the Competition program.


Diop will be presenting her feature film directorial debut Atlantiques at Cannes. According to Indie Wire, this makes her the first black woman in the festival's 72-year history to be selected in the program. All eyes will be on her at Cannes this year—learn more about her career here.

Ly will be presenting Les Misérables, a film based on 2005 police violence in his French neighborhood of Cité des Bosquets in Clichy Montfermeil. Ly is also an actor and the director of the Kourtrajmé collective.

Two directors with roots in North Africa will be presenting films in the Un Certain Regard program—Algeria's Mounia Meddour with Papicha and Morocco's Maryam Touzani with Adam.

Meddour moved to France at 18 after her formative years in Algeria due to threats her family received during the Algerian Civil War. With a background in journalism and film, she landed her first award-winning short in 2011 with Edwidge.

Touzani was born and raised in Tangier, Morocco and is also a screenwriter and an actor. Working alongside her filmmaker husband, Nabil Ayouch, Touzani takes on sexuality, women's rights and even questions the makings of a conservative society through her work.

Stay tuned for more Cannes updates—and visit their website for more information about this year's festival.

Op-Ed
Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

Black Women Are the Future of French Cinema—When Will Cannes Catch Up?

In this op-ed, OkayAfrica contributor Aude Konan reflects on the progression of diversity in French cinema a year after the Noire N'est Pas Mon Métier demonstration at Cannes Film Festival.

A year ago, 16 French actresses of African descent walked the red carpet at Cannes to talk about a new project they authored, Noire N'est Pas Mon Métier (Being Black Is Not My Job), where they shared their experiences with racism and sexism in the film industry.

In an era where the movements #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite gained global momentum and led to some change in the Academy Awards, it was a first considering that outside of Aissa Maïga, French actresses seldom get any visibility and speaking out against racism put them at risk of being blacklisted, like the actor Luc Saint Eloi's unfortunate experience 20 years ago.

The red carpet moment was generally well received in France and in the rest of the world, with the main actresses getting large media coverage with features in Le Monde, Le Figaro and even Vogue U.S. The presidents of the Cannes Film Festival welcomed the actresses. No promises were made by any of the gatekeepers in French cinema, but the actresses were hopeful.

Since the book's release, the actresses have been busy working, some of them lucky enough to be able to portray fully fledged characters, others being reduced to play the "black woman" stereotype over and over again. Recently, one of them, Karidja Touré, well known for being in the film Girlhood, mentioned that she was pretty good at mimicking an "African accent." Semantics aside—and the fact that there is no such a thing as an African accent, as Africa is still not a country—it is pretty revealing: despite the wonderful coverage these actresses had, has the movement contributed to any change?

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Akwaeke Emezi's 'Freshwater' Is Being Developed Into a Series for FX

The adaptation is in early development as the Nigerian author teams up with screenwriter and director Tamara P. Carter to bring 'Freshwater' to life.

Akwaeke Emezi's debut, Freshwater, took the literary world by storm when it was released just last year.

We can now anticipate seeing the book be brought to live for TV. Their autobiographical novel is now in the early stages of being developed into a series for FX, Variety reports.

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