This year we have the special pleasure of having the award-winning film-maker Alain Gomis with us for the Annual Meeting. Gomis is the producer of the film Tey (Today), which will be showing during the conference at the Reginald Lewis Museum, on Friday November 22nd at 6:00PM. 

Tey won the Best Film award at the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), and the movie tells the story of a man who leaves America to return to the land of his birth. At first Satché’s fellow-Senegalese accompany him lovingly and treat him almost as if he were a saint, but as the day continues Satché discovers how malicious and greedy they can be. Amidst all this, Satché has one day to live.

Continue reading to learn more about Gomis and his work, and don’t miss the opportunity of meeting him in person at the conference!

Why did you start making films, and in particular Africa-focused films? 

I still continue asking myself this question… Maybe making films is a way to re-concile myself with the world. It is sharing with the audiences, moments of our commune weakness, what makes us beautiful and possibly loved. Trying to be deeply together for 90 minutes, besides our differences, and feel what can’t be said by words.

And Africa is the very place of what this world represents, love, fear, fight for or against, hope and resignation… beauty and ugliness, mystery and reason, philosophy and murder… It exemplifies US, from every angle, pushed to the limit.

Whose work (film maker, producer or writer) would you say you are most influenced by?

The twins brothers : Djibril Diop Mambety, F.W. Murnau, Jean Vigo and Andrei Tarkovsky

Tey speaks to issues of migration and identity, and frames those issues around death. What motivated you to make this film? 

My own body is a stranger to me. We have learned to live together. Identity is a much deeper question than migration. We are all lost migrated spirits trying to find a very place… death?

I understand that you are involved in some capacity-building initiatives, specifically that you have started a film school in Dakar. Can you tell us more about that?

Through “Up court-métrage”, with Oumar Sall (Cinekap), we are trying to help young filmakers to have their first experience in directing. We bring directors and technicians to Dakar, to perform workshops. We already have ten young men and women, and the program is free to them. We are hoping they will be able to begin shooting their own movies in January. 

However the idea is to build a lab, a place of exchange with filmmakers, technicians, writers, critics, from everywhere. It is about making films together, sharing our experiences, and helping to bring about a new generation. African cinema needs films, independent cinema needs crossing experiences. It is also about trying to reopen a cinema in Dakar, as a cinema center with a cinematheque. You can’t learn doing movies, but you need to be able to see films, and for sure you need cinemas to show your films. We have started without any money, and we are looking for partnerships.

How can an organization like the African Studies Association support other film makers like yourself, who are using this medium to address critical issues that impact Africa as a continent?

Spread the word, show the films in your universities, buy them, make the link beetween those who want to act, send students, build exchange programs, workshops, fellowships, cross the experiences… you can be helped too.