STREAM: African Cinema Audiences

STREAM: African Cinema Audiences

Current trends suggest that African films are increasingly making their way into international film festivals before theatrical releases in the home countries and elsewhere. In African countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya, there has been a growth in film production and cinecomplexes, as well as a surge in box office takings that suggest a rise in cinema attendance. Nollywood, for instance, has seen the increase of films with much bigger budget than previous years, and featured like never before in TIFF, Cannes and a host of festivals around the world. Distribution networks are also opening up more viewing opportunities for national and international audiences as part of the revival of cinema-going cultures and viewership. Yet, this growth has largely been unaccounted for in ways that are commensurate with scholarly interest in film and other creative industries. In this regard, it seems evident that African film scholarship is lagging behind in audience and reception studies in the growing field of African screen media research. Among the many questions arising from this gap, the following can be immediately asked: i) Who is viewing/consuming? ii) In which parts of Africa and the world do the audiences reside and from what platforms do they gain or are they denied access to African films? iii) What demographic indices would best describe the audience of African films who go to the cinemas as well as those who view from their homes and on mobile devices? iv) What frames of reference do the audiences of African film evoke in the meaning-making that accompanies the viewing experience? v) How do audiences determine the content and success of African film? These and more critical questions need to be addressed continually if the dynamic film industries all over the continent are to be fully comprehended. Therefore, this thematic stream aims at constituting three to six panels to debate African cinema audiences’ experiences. The panels would comprise strong theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to unpacking the viewing locations, demographic nature, backgrounds, preferences, disappointments and interpretive strategies of African cinema audiences within the continent and those who consume the films in other parts of the world. They would also examine the historical and contemporary realities that shape viewership. We invite abstracts of 250 words which deeply reflect on but are not limited to:

  • Historical and contemporary dimensions of African cinema spectatorship
  • African cinema viewing spaces and audiences
  • Audiences, cinema ownership and exhibition
  • Politics and economics of viewership
  • Film premiere audiences
  • Festival audiences and reception
  • The audience of online viewing platforms
  • Social media and other technological influences in African cinema spectatorship
  • Audiences in alternative viewing spaces
  • Genre and audience preferences
  • The audience factor in African film censorship, regulation and social change
  • Negotiating the filmmaker-audience relationships
  • African cinema audiences and fan cultures

Suggested panels: the stream would comprise three to six panels which have been constituted tentatively from the broad themes outlined above. The actual number and panel titles are to be determined by the number and nature of paper submissions as well as the spaces and time made available by the ASAUK conference organizers. Tentative panel titles are:

  • Political economy of viewing spaces, exhibition platforms and regulation
  • Historical and contemporary aspects of African cinema audiences
  • Genre, audience experiences and interpretive strategies
  • Filmmaker-audience relationships and fan cultures
  • Social media and technologically-empowered cinema audiences
  • Audiences of film premieres, festivals and meaning-making experiences

If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Añulika Agina (aagina@pau.edu.ng), Winston Mano (w.mano@westminster.ac.uk) and Imruh Bakari (imruh.bakari@winchester.ac.uk). For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website  http://www.asauk.net/call-for-papers-and-panels-asauk-2018-now-open/ 

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