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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Photo still via Cannes Film Festival.

Watch These New Clips from Mati Diop's Cannes 2019 Contender, 'Atlantique'

Mati Diop is the first black woman in the festival's 72-year history to be selected in the Competition program.

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival commenced this week, where the premier gathering continues to draw attention to and raise the profile of films on an international level.

Mati Diop, the Senegalese-French filmmaker and the first black woman to be selected in the Competition program, has revealed the clips of her film premiering at Cannes, Atlantique, Variety reports.

The film "tells the story of a young woman from Dakar whose lover has mysteriously disappeared. Believed to be dead, he returns to the Senegalese village."

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African Film At Cannes 2013

Check out the African film offerings at the 66th Cannes Film Festival including 'Grigris' by Chadian director Mahamat Saleh Haroun and Tunisia's Abdellatif Kechiche

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