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Meet Director Jean-Pierre Bekolo in a classroom setting. Attend his talk and discussion on The Future is Now: Cinema as a Transformative Tool

Jean-Pierre Bekolo is an award-winning Cameroonian filmmaker with an international career that spans more than three decades.  After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon, Bekolo pursued a Master of Communication at the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA), in Bry-surMarne in France and continued his studies on Semiology of Cinema with Christian Metz at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France.

 

Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s directorial debut with his film Quartier Mozart (1992) gained him immediate international recognition. Quartier Mozart was awarded in Cannes with the Prix Afrique en Création in 1993 and received multiple accolades for its vibrant, critical point of view. The same year, Jean-Pierre Bekolo was nominated for the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival for Quartier Mozart and established himself as a trailblazing director in the new generation of African filmmakers, breaking away from didactic and prescriptive narratives that dominated African Cinema. Bekolo continued to develop an original aesthetic approach of eclectic visual explorations that creatively challenged stereotypical representations of artistic and cinematic productions in Africa. Commissioned by the British Film Institute to celebrate the Centenary of Cinema, his second film Aristotle’s Plot (1995) fused a rhetorical appeal with a parody of action films and Western formulaic narratives to produce a film-essay on the condition of African film production and distribution.

 

An ardent proponent of the promotion of cinema as a powerful medium for the decolonization of the image in the African continent and the world, Jean-Pierre Bekolo has created a profoundly reflexive cinema and transformed film genres in a powerful combination of political overtones, comic elements, and social commentary. His film Les Saignantes (2005) is considered the first sci-fi film in Africa and was later classified by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York among the 70 classics of Science Fiction. Le Président (2013), a satirical comedy that was banned in Cameroon for challenging the political status quo in the country, was followed by a four-hour long documentary Les Choses et les Mots de Mudimbe (2015) on Congolese philosopher V. Y. Mudimbe. Bekolo directed Naked Reality (2016), an experimental Afrofuturistic/sci-fi film, Miraculous Weapons (2019), a drama during apartheid in Free State in South Africa, Nous les Noirs (We, Black People, 2021), a fictional ethnological documentary, and he most recently produced the film Walaande, l’art de partager un mari (2023), an adaptation of the novel by Djaili Amadou Amal.

 

Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s participation in the Guilde of African Filmmakers and Producers since the mid-1990s for the promotion of a global African cinema continues with his involvement as a Founding Member and President of World Cinema Alliance in 2016, and as a Founding Member of FILMAC regional filmmakers’ association of Central Africa in 2022.  Bekolo’s profound commitment to the art of filmmaking and a globalized African cinema meets his ever inquisitive and critical spirit in two published works: Africa for the Future, Sortir un nouveau monde du cinema in Paris, France, in 2009, and Cinema as a transformation Tool for the Therapeutic Intellectual in Berlin, Germany, in 2023.  Bekolo gave numerous keynote addresses and lectures on the concepts of Afrofuturism, Healing Cinema, The Therapeutic Intellectual, Black Aesthetics. He taught at Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University in the United States, at University of Yaoundé 1 in Cameroon, and Hochschule Darmstadt in Germany.

 

This year, Jean-Pierre Bekolo has been named the 2024 MacMillan-Stewart Fellow at Harvard University.

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