Returning The Colonial Gaze- How Francophone African Film Directors Turned the Lense on the Influence of Colonisation Through Film

A 5 part season of films from Francophone African directors in the 1950s and 70s  is being showcased at the Barbican. Part of ‘The Art of Change’ season, the listings which include works from Moroccan, Mauritanian, Senegalese and Nigerien directors focuses on Francophone African and French cinema, presenting work by bold filmmakers which reverses the ‘colonial gaze’ and interrogates the former occupying nation from new perspectives.

After years of simply being represented or ‘spoken for’ by Western directors, these African filmmakers asserted the right to represent themselves and reclaimed control of their own images. Their ‘coming to voice’ was a disruption, and an act of liberation.

Returning the Colonial Gaze is part of The Art of Change season, which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Popcorns at the ready. Book tickets at The Barbican

Barbican Centre
Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS


Si Moh, The Unlucky Man (18*)

France 1971 Dir Moumen Smihi 17 min Video presentation

 + The East Wind (18*)

Morocco 1975 Dir Moumen Smihi 80 min 35mm presentation

Wed 23 May 6.30pm

The Barbican presents two attempts by Moroccan director Moumen Smihi to make films in a new way, closer to the local culture, and more distant from the Western tradition. Si Moh, The Unlucky Man depicts the lives of migrant workers in France, as Si Moh lives in the industrialised suburbs of Paris while longing for Maghreb and sharing experiences of alienation with his fellow migrants.

Following Si Moh, The Unlucky Man is The East Wind. Set in Tangier in the mid-50s, when the city was still an International Zone, the film portrays a place at the eve of its independence, as Aïcha resorts to magic to try to prevent her husband from taking a second spouse. Around her, a society of women creates its own form of active resistance as the larger independence movement grows around it.

Screening materials courtesy of the director, subtitles with thanks to Peter Limbrick of University of California Santa Cruz


An Adventurer’s Homecoming (18*)

Niger 1966 Dir Moustapha Alassane 34 min Video presentation

+ Touki Bouki (18*)

Senegal 1973 Dir Djibril Diop Mambety 85 min Digital presentation

Restored in 2008 by The World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with the family of Djibril Diop Mambéty. Restoration funding provided by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority.

Wed 30 May 8.45pm

This double bill includes works from directors from Senegal and Niger focusing on alienated young protagonists in thrall to Western pop culture. In An Adventurer’s Homecoming, a young man returns from a trip to the US with a suitcase full of cowboy outfits for himself and his friends. In their new get-up, they transform into a gang of swaggering bandits: barroom brawls and shoot-em-ups ensue.  In Touki-Bouki, two young lovers, Mory and Anta, wander the streets of Dakar hatching wild schemes to raise money for their escape to Paris, the city of their dreams.

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