Traveling to Audiences: The Decentralization of Festival Spaces at the Festival Films Femmes Afrique in Senegal

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As African countries gained independence, filmmakers saw cinema as a weapon for decolonization. With the increasing disappearance of cinema venues following the global economic crisis of the 1970s, however, films were rarely able to reach local audiences. In the twenty-first century, especially since 2010, new audience-centered curatorial and managerial approaches have turned film festivals into key platforms for introducing African cinema to local audiences. This article investigates one of these approaches, namely, the decentralization of festival spaces, using one Senegalese film festival as a case study. Instead of asking audiences to travel to a festival venue, the Festival Films Femmes Afrique—the first film festival in Senegal dedicated to films about women—travels to local audiences, offering a variety of free activities across a wide range of venues and spaces. This study relies on data visualization methods as well as practice-based ethnographic research. The focus on the decentralization of festival spaces seeks to encourage further research on creative curatorial and managerial strategies to build and engage with diverse audiences, by increasing the accessibility of programs and boosting the circulation of films that are often marginalized in global distribution platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-325
JournalJournal of Festive Studies
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2023


  • Audiences
  • Festival
  • Film
  • Women
  • Senegal
  • Africa
  • Circulation
  • Exhibition
  • Cinema


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