THE WAR ON RACE Hollywood cinema has brought conflicts in Africa to the attention of audiences but how fairly have African ethnic groups been represented?
Emily Conner •
he 2015 Academy Awards once again suggested a lack of diversity within the film industry. In a January 2015 Telegraph article “And the Oscar winner is…a white, middle-aged man”, Alice Vincent discussed the absence of nominations for non-white actors in all four categories as well as in the categories for Best Adapted and Original Screenplay, Cinematography and Best Director. Ava DuVernay’s Selma (2014), a film about the Civil Rights Movement, was the only nonwhite film to be nominated for Best Picture. Inequality within the film industry has been a constant issue and the representation of ethnic minorities, or lack thereof, is a topic that continues to be examined in critical approaches to race on screen. Multiple movies have focused on the horrors of genocide, civil war conflict and apartheid in Africa. The most successful and widely
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recognised have been produced by white western directors, such as Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond (2006) about the Sierra Leone Civil War and subsequent illegal diamond trade, and Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda (2004) about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. As a nonAfrican spectator watching a film about Africa, it is easy to believe the representations that are being presented to us, without ever visiting the nation and only receiving a select amount of information from the news. Films that portray historical events, such as the South African apartheid, the Rwandan Genocide or the Sierra Leone Civil War, are taken as accurate depictions, yet their representations of African societies are very two-dimensional. In a chapter titled “What is cinema for us?” in African Experiences of Cinema (1996), Med Hondo sums up how the ideologies of EuroAmerican cinema do not reflect African culture,
Diegesis CUT TO [conflict] issue 9 2015. New voices in screen criticism.