Africa Media Centre


Documenting Africa: Creating Fact or Fiction through the Lens

Date: 8 November 2014
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Regent Street building

Call for papers - extended deadline

Conference organised by the Africa Media Centre, University of Westminster

Keynote speaker: Pedro Pimenta

Pedro has become one of the major players in film co-production in Southern Africa. He started his film career with the National Film Institute of Mozambique in 1977, and co-founded EBANO Multimedia, the first independent production company in Mozambique, which established itself as a significant entity in audio-visual production in the region.

Since then, he has produced, co-produced and line produced numerous short fiction, documentaries and feature films in Mozambique as well as in Angola, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and South Africa. Amongst them are Marracuene, two banks of a river, The tree of our forefathers, Fools, Africa Dreaming, A Tempestade da Terra, Zulu Love Letter, Teza, Memories of Dreams, Island of the Spirits and Virgin Margarida.

Between 1997 and 2003, Pedro was the Chief Technical Adviser of the UNESCO - Zimbabwe Film & Video Training Project for Southern Africa in Harare, where he conceived and managed various training programs in countries of the sub-region.

Pedro Pimenta consulted with FIAF on the program dealing with African Film Archives and served as a jury member on various international film festivals. He is the founder and director of Dockanema, a documentary film festival in Mozambique.

This is the first call for papers for a two day conference on ‘Documenting Africa’. The 6th African Film Conference organised by the Africa Media Centre provides opportunities to bring together academic scholars and practitioners from around the world to discuss contemporary issues around how Africans portray themselves and how they are portrayed by others.

Topics may include present day production, distribution, audiences, contested African histories, or post-colonial archives. With an explosion of new media and a further diversification of television landscapes over the last ten years, alongside a revival of documentaries for cinemas and radio documentary productions, this conference will critically engage with the realities of documentary in and about Africa. How has a form that is often criticized as a ‘Western version’ of re-creating reality evolved across the African continent? What are the problems and concerns of practitioners? Is the documentary form a useful and adequate format for educating the public? What are the specific themes and subject matters of African documentary? What roles have the digitisation of film and television archives played in the self-understanding of the African countries whose memories and visual histories have been frequently stored abroad? How does an up and coming generation deal with new possibilities in film and video making?

Papers may focus on, among other topics, the following:

  • Documentary, docu-drama and narratives based on fact. Which is more honest?
  • The role of funders in telling the story ie NGOs, Governments or Religious organisations.
  • Community group ‘ground up’ Documentary making.
  • Experimental/Art documentaries from Africa
  • Heritage and the Arts in documentaries (Music, Art and Performance)
  • The role of memory and personal histories in Documentary
  • Aestheticising or manipulating suffering. Can the Filmmaker ever be a neutral presence when filming images of violence and suffering.
  • Censorship and restrictions.
  • Exhibition and Distribution. Film Festivals, the Internet, Education, Television and DVD
  • Audiences
  • Transnational productions and global media corporations.
  • Ethnographic films and Colonial legacies
  • Film and television archives

Deadline for abstracts

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 12 September, 2014. Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 20 September, 2014. Abstracts should not be more than 300 words long. They must include the title of the conference, presenter's name, affiliation, email and postal address, together with the title of the paper. Please ensure when saving your abstract that your name is part of the file name and it is a word document. Please email your abstract to Helen Cohen, Events Administrator, at

Programme and registration

This two day conference will take place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 November, 2014.

The fee for registration (which applies to all participants, including presenters) will be £150, with a concessionary rate of £75 for students, to cover all conference documentation, refreshments lunches and administration costs.

Registration will open in September 2014.