Updated: Feb 22, 2021
OxNet Global Film Discussion Group hosted by the North West Centre for Languages and Cultures launched its first screening and seminar discussions on Monday 11th January with a total of 100 participants registering interest from 26 schools and colleges across the North West, North East and London. Many thanks to Pembroke undergraduates Jean and Archie for helping run the seminars. Lucy Lahai from Westminster Academy writes about her experience of this weeks screening and seminar.
This week I attended OxNet's new Global Film Discussion Group, organised by the London Centre for Languages and Cultures. This is designed for students of Modern Foreign Languages and English, and anyone else with an interest in film, languages and culture. In the first week, we watched and discussed the French Senegalese film ‘La Noire De’. I enjoyed it very much as it was a new experience for me; having never discussed a film in an academic setting before.
‘La Noire De’, a 1966 film adapted from a short story written by Ousmane Sambéne about a Senegalese woman named Diouana who takes a job working as a nanny for a French family but is instead manipulated and enslaved by the couple.
Senegal once being a French colony, the film comments on post-colonialism, objectification, dehumanisation, neocolonialism, cultural identity and appropriation and more. Possession and power play big roles in the development of both the plot and the characters individually. One stand out motif in the film was the traditional African mask which at one point hung on a white wall. This can be interpreted as Diouana’s identity encapsulated by an oppressive force, whilst also representing the relationship between Senegal and France. The title itself translated to ‘Black girl of’ highlights Diouana’s lack of identity as she is portrayed as property from the very moment we come into contact with the film.
As a young, black woman it was interesting to connect present day racial discrimination, habits and stereotypes to their roots. This film discussion was also the perfect opportunity for me to get an insight into the way other people think, the interpretations that people were able to come up with were extremely intriguing. With the absence of distraction within the movie, viewers are able to truly attempt to understand its symbolism - I would highly recommend watching it!