Whatever Happened To … The Filmmaker Focusing On A New Face For African Women?

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Rosine Mbakam, left, says she chose to shoot all images and sound herself to maintain an equal relationship with the subjects of her films.

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«I discovered that the real virus in our society is social inequality and racism,» says Mbakam. «And it’s the biggest virus that we usually don’t take care of.»

The two-minute film for Cinetracts ’20 will premiere virtually on October 8. But given the amount of stories she encountered, the filmmaker says she plans to expand her footage into a larger project down the road.

In the meantime, she is also turning her attention back to the first documentary she worked on after completing film school in Belgium. Filmed in late 2014 and early 2015, Les prières de Delphine, follows a young Cameroonian sex worker named Delphine who marries a man three times her age in order to migrate to Belgium.

«In the film, I’m talking about sexual colonization and how Delphine is trying to be free from that by questioning the two systems and two societies,» says Mbakam. «The society in Cameroon that puts young women in that position to be exposed to that kind of relationship, and also how Europe continues to dominate and hold power over Africa.»


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Mbakam hopes to finish post-production on Delphine’s story in the coming months. She says the documentary is her third project — following The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman and Chez Jolie Coiffure — in which she consciously examines her own lens as a Cameroonian director.

«When I first came to film school here in Belgium, I was dominated by Western cinema. And in that school they were telling me that all the things I did [as a filmmaker] in Cameroon had no place there, no importance,» she recalls. «But I still film people in Cameroon, and now in that film I question my gaze as a filmmaker.»


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One of those people she filmed, for Two Faces, was her mother — who fell ill during the course of the pandemic, but not from COVID-19. She suffered a case of malaria, much to Mbakam’s concern, but recovered over the summer.

And thankfully, Mbakam says life is somewhat returning to normal in Brussels now. The stricter phases of lockdown have ended, and her children are off to school during the day, giving her time to refocus on filmmaking.

«People were saying that after the pandemic, there would be a new world and everything will not be like it was before,» she notes. «It will not be a new world when we do not attack social inequality and racism. It’s not a virus that can change the world and our ways to see each other, our mentality. It’s bigger than a virus, and we have to question that.»

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Rosine Mbakam (left) and her mother on the set of ‘The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman,’ which represents their intergenerational differences.

Icarus Films


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Icarus Films

Rosine Mbakam (left) and her mother on the set of ‘The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman,’ which represents their intergenerational differences.

Icarus Films

  • Rosine Mbakam
  • documentary film
  • pandemic
  • Cameroon

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