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104 min. French.

In October 2016, Senegalese economist, musician and poet Felwine Sarr founded the “Ateliers de la Pensée”, the so-called workshops for thought, together his friend political scientist Achille Mbembe. Over four days in Dakar, they gathered together leading Senegalese intellectuals including Lydie Moudileno, Romuald Fonkoua and Nadia Yala Kisukidi for a long overdue theoretical exchange on the current issues that affect Africa – and thus also the future of planet Earth.
If “Western philosophy” is a pleonasm, how can common epistemes of contemporary thought be decolonised? If black people’s self-hatred in the aftermath of slavery has such a destructive effect, how can this force be weakened? What is the attraction of dystopias, and how does this attraction function in terms of the African continent’s potential? These are just some of the questions so clearly and brilliantly formulated in the workshop that it’s not possible to give simple answers to them. Bekolo documents and assembles scenes from this intellectual summit meeting to create a cinematic manifesto that aims to provoke a response far beyond the cinema auditorium. (Dorothee Wenner)

Jean-Pierre Bekolo was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1966. Between 1984 and 1987, he studied Physics at the University of Yaoundé. He then moved to Paris in order to study Television Production (Editing) at the Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA) in Paris, where he also studied Semiotics under Christian Metz. He made his first film, Quartier Mozart, in 1992. Alongside his work as a film director, Bekolo writes and publishes. He has also worked as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Recently, Bekolo has been dividing his time among the USA, France, and Cameroon. In the summer of 2015, he was a fellow of the Berlin Artists-in-Residence Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Putting ‘thought’ into motion

Emerging from a meeting of African intellectuals at the Ateliers de la Pensée in Dakar aimed at thinking about the world from the African continent, the film AFRIQUE, LA PENSÉE EN MOUVEMENT confronts these ideas and these reflections between the participants by using the cinematographic tool that is ‘montage’, and more precisely, parallel editing and a timeline.
AFRIQUE, LA PENSÉE EN MOUVEMENT – thought-motion, or motion-thinking, from the term motion picture, another term for cinema – uses not the moving image as a guideline, but rather ‘thought’ (‘la pensée’ in French). It is therefore a question here of putting ‘thought’ into motion through editing. In the same way that we would put a succession of shots one after another to tell a story, here we made a montage of the ideas drawn from the interventions of each speaker and put them in dialogue with one another through editing. To achieve this, we reduced the elements of the different videos captured during the talks into rather short modules so that they become the smallest unit of ‘thought’ – similar to a shot that we can then align one after another on the timeline. For this, we first classified these small units of ‘thought’ according to their similarities when they expressed almost the same thing and then placed them in opposition to each other during editing, in order to create through the editing the shock of ideas that the Atelier produced.
Cinema comes here not to report what happened in Dakar in a ‘tele-visual’ way (seeing what is far away) but rather to redefine it; cinema imposes itself here as a necessity because it prolongs the very first intention of the Ateliers.
AFRIQUE, LA PENSÉE EN MOUVEMENT aims to impose on the cinematographic art an intellectual content. Why not make it a form of the expression of knowledge? (Jean-Pierre Bekolo)

Production Felwine Sarr. Production company Jimsaan (Dakar, Senegal). Director Jean-Pierre Bekolo. Director of photography Gora Seck. Editing Laurette Betolo Bengono. Music Wasis Diop. Sound design Galin Fotchou.


1992: Quartier Mozart (80 min.). 1996: Le Complot d’Aristotle (72 min.). 2005: Les Saignantes (92 min.). 2013: Le Président (72 min.). 2015: Les Choses et les mots de Mudimbe (243 min.). 2016: Naked Reality (62 min.). 2017: Miraculous Weapons, Afrique, La pensée en mouvement Part 1.

Photo: © Jean-Pierre Bekolo sarl

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur