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

Confirmed Panels

Panel 1: Political economy of viewing spaces, exhibition platforms and regulation

Chair: Winston Mano

  • Zimbabwe: Cinema viewership in a shadow economy, Ureke, Oswelled (Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe | University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • The Contemporary Nigerian Cinema House: the Social Dynamics of a Second Coming, Ajibade, Babson, Babatunde, (Department of Visual Arts and Technology, Cross River University of Technology, Calabar, Nigeria) and Nsor, Mary, Ndifon, (Department of Visual Arts and Technology, Cross River University of Technology, Calabar, Nigeria)
  • A Critical Survey of Exhibition Spaces of African Film Audiences in Kenya, Diang’a, Rachael (United States International University -Africa, Nairobi, Kenya)

Panel 2: Genre, audience experiences and interpretive strategies I

Chair: Winston Mano

  • Voicing cinema-going audience experiences in Lagos and Accra, Agina, Anulika (Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria)
  • Gender and/in film reading: A comparative analysis of male and female readings of Leila Djansi’s Ties that Bind, Osei Owusu, Joyce (University of Ghana, Croydon, Australia) and Kwansah-Aidoo, Kwamena (Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Women’s Use of Transnational Soap Operas to Combat Financial Constraints, Ngehndab, Delphine Gwanvalla (Independent Researcher, Dartford, United Kingdom)
  • The Rwandan Film Movement and the Works of Women Filmmakers, Dantzler, Camille (Howard University, Washington, United States)

Panel 3: Genre, audience experiences and interpretive strategies II

Chair: Imruh Bakari

  • “To God be the Glory”: The Beginning and the End of Yoruba Video Film Ogunfolabi, Kayode Omoniyi (Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria)
  • Film of Enabling Theatre’s visit to Senegal: comparative analysis of social impact of “disability” in Africa and Europe, Quick, Susan (Enabling Theatre British Council, Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom)
  • Exploring the Role of the Playback Singer in Dagbani Films, 1985-Present, Young, Katie (Royal Holloway, University of London, London, United Kingdom)
  • Nollywood, Soccer Fandom and the Crowning of Thierry Henry as Igwe: From Fantasy to Peacebuilding in Nigeria, Olaoluwa, Samuel Senayon (University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria)

Panel 4: Historical and contemporary dimensions of representations and cinema audiences

Chair: Añulika Agina

  • Slavery and Servant Interface: A Critical Look at some Selected Epic Films in Nigeria, Njoku, Chidiebere Mariagoretti (Institute of Chinua Achebe Studies, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Thinkers Corner, Enugu, Nigeria)
  • Representation of oral tradition as mode of resistance in October 1, Things Fall Apart and Battle of Musanga I & II, Chibogu, Kenechukwu Kingsley (Centre for Film and Media Studies (CFMS) University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)
  • A Radical Cinema For The People By A Man Of The People: But Do The People Get The Message? Ni Chreachain, Firinne (Ahmadu Bello University (retired), Middlesex, United Kingdom)

Panel 5: Genre, audience experiences and interpretive strategies III

Chair: Añulika Agina

  • Interpreting the Genre System of Amharic Cinema and Questioning Norms through Audience Interviews in Queues outside Addis Ababa’s Big Screens, Thomas, Michael William (SOAS, University of London, London, United Kingdom)
  • The film of the spirit and its lovers, Olayiwola, Elizabeth (Department of Theatre Arts, University of Abuja, Nigeria., Ilorin, Nigeria)
  • Souleymane Cissé’s Yeelen and Its Uneven Audiences, Gagliardi, Susan Elizabeth (Emory University, Atlanta, United States)




If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Añulika Agina (, Winston Mano ( and Imruh Bakari ( For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

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