Bringing cinema experiences back: A conversation with Armand Fall, manager of the Complexe Cinématographique Ousmane Sembène in Dakar, Senegal

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Abstract

On 3 March 2022, while cinema viewers were watching the latest film by Aïssa Maïga, Marcher sur l’eau , Armand Fall, manager of the Complexe Cinématographique Ousmane Sembène, joined Estrella Sendra to discuss his passion for film, his vision for the theatre and his approach to engaging local audiences and reviving film culture in Dakar. The Complexe Cinématographique is located in the seaside area, near the popular neighbourhood of Soumbedioune. It was named after the renowned Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène (1923-2007), and launched on 31 March 2018, with three screens equipped to showcase films in 3D and 5D, one of which has a capacity of 400 seats. This cinema theatre, valued at over 3 billion West African francs (FCFA) (or over £3 million) is part of a larger project, the theme park Magic Land now offering a range of entertainment options.

The opening of Complexe Cinématographique followed, first, the disappearance of multiple cinema venues in the 1970s, when the country faced an economic crisis, and then, the increasing number of film festivals and initiatives, trying to recover local interest in cinema, particularly in the last decade. While the programming catalogue of the Complexe Cinématographique tends to feature non-African films, like other cinema venues in the country, Senegalese film festivals have been crucial to bringing not just cinema experiences back, but also, African cinema to Senegalese audiences. In fact, the screening of Marcher sur l’eau in the Complexe Cinématographique Ousmane Sembène is brought for free to local audiences thanks to the Festival Films Femmes Afrique, hosted across multiple spaces in Dakar from 25 February to 5 March 2022 and in several regions from 6 to 12 March. African film has been largely marginalised and inaccessible beyond international film festivals, another question which, inevitably, shapes the direction of this interview and raises larger concerns about distribution and exhibition on the continent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages7
JournalParticipations: International Journal of Audience Research
Volume19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023

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