History of Cinema in CHAD

Historical overview

Chad, part of France's African holdings until 1960, endured three decades of ethnic warfare as well as invasions by Libya before a semblance of peace was finally restored in 1990. The government eventually suppressed or came to terms with most political-military groups, settled a territorial dispute with Libya on terms favorable to Chad, drafted a democratic constitution, and held multiparty presidential and National Assembly elections in 1996 and 1997 respectively. In 1998 a new rebellion broke out in northern Chad, which continued to escalate throughout 2000. A peace agreement, signed in January 2002 between the government and the rebels, provides for the demobilization of the rebels and their reintegration into the political system. Despite movement toward democratic reform, power remains in the hands of a northern ethnic oligarchy.

History of cinema from 1896-2000

Chad cinematic history has only developed in the last few decades. The first renowned cineast is Edouard Sailly, who devoted himself to the production of filmed newspapers about Chad and also produced short films. His first feature is "Les Abattoirs de Forcha" (1966), a 15-minute documentary. "Largeau" (1966), one of his other early works , focussed archaeological richnesses of Tessaly, within the boundaries of Chad. He yet film another interesting short : "Le Troisieme Jour". In 1969 he directed "the child of Chad" and launches out in a new adventure in 1972 with "The discovery of Chad", another documentary film. While following a tourist route, he discovers the charms and beauties of his country.

Chad's first female filmmaker, Zara Mahamat Yacoub won international recognition in 1994 with her video Dilemme au Feminin. The film's subject matter brought her in conflict with the Chad regime. However, she managed to produce a further documentary in 1996 on the plight of street children, Les enfants de la Rue. In July 1999, Zara Majamat Yacoub completed her short film l'Enfance confisquée, the first film to be produced by a production company based in Chad, by Sud Cap Productions. Focused on the childhood slavery of Miriam, the short film appeals for clemency and affection to be shown towards children.

Other noteworthy productions are from Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, with his shorts "Maral Tanie" (1994), "Goï-Goï, le nain" (1995) and "Bord Africa" (1995) and Serge Issa Coelo, directed his debut short film "a taxi for Aouzou" (1994). Both Coelo and Haroun directed a full feature film. Bye Bye Africa is the first feature film from Chad. Director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun presents a "documentary fiction", a story about making a documentary. The film addresses the difficulties in making and distributing or even visit a film in Chad and , at the same time, shows the advantages and possibillities of video technology. Bye Bye Africa won several prizes (Venise 99, Zanzibar 2000, M-Net All African Awards 2000). "Dar es Salam" is the first African feature film to focus on the civil wars, director Issa Serge Coelo's first feature belongs together with Bye Bye Africa to the first features from Chad. The film was co-written by one of Chad's first filmmakers, Ismael Ben Shérif. In 2001 "Dar es Salam" became the first Chadian film to be nominated for best film at the FESPACO film festival in Burkino Faso.

The french filmmaker Caroline Chomienne produced "a letter to Ahmat" (2001),a documentary in the form of a letter addressed to Ahmat Yacoub, vice-president of the Coordination for Armed Movements and Political Opposition Parties of Chad. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, it is a small miracle some filmmakers manage to produce at all. The slow political process towards democracy might offer a glimmer of hope in the 21st century. All features from Chad are co-productions in collaboration with French funds or with filmmakers from surrounding countries. A recent example is the 85 minute long film Abouna by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (2003).

Cinema links from CHAD


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