Audiovisual, a women’s world

The last edition of the Cannes Film Festival reminded women of their difficulties in finding their place in the audiovisual sector. In Africa, initiatives tend to open doors for them, but some are breaking the entry.

On June 5, 2018, the group Canal + created the surprise. Present on the continent for twenty years in twenty-five countries, through eleven subsidiaries, the leading satellite cable television operator in French-speaking Africa, with over three million subscribers, launches «Afrique Au féminin ». A program intended, according to the channel, to «train African talents in audiovisual production professions». An initiative, presented in Abidjan during the 4th edition of Discop Africa, which aims to offer Journalists Image Reporter (JRI), training seminars in scriptwriting, filming, video editing and use of digital tools.

« It was important for us to feminize our professions and especially that of director »

« Canal + is one of the leading content producers in French-speaking Africa. We train and we invest in the creation of original contents that can be exported internationally », says Grace Loubassou, head of the development of the Afrique Au féminin. « It was important for us to feminize our professions and especially that of director. Diversify regards to vary the stories and stories that we bring to the screen. We will continue to produce original, authentic and innovative content. David Mignot, Chief Executive Officer of Canal + Afrique, added: « this initiative is part of the Group’s desire to contribute to the development of audiovisual professions on the African continent through the training of film professionals and the showcasing original creations. »

Tell the fighters of everyday life

Journalist and anchor, Cathy Thiam, did not wait for Canal + to break the doors of the audiovisual world in Africa. Born in the 70s, in the Paris suburbs, she discovered her passion: listening to others. In 2009, she begun her career at the television «to tell the story». For five years, she hosted “Trendance A” on TV5Monde. A program during which she draws the portrait of the African culture actors.
But Cathy wanted to go further: she opted production after a training at the Training Center for Journalists (CFJ) and the National Institute of Audiovisual (INA). From there, was born heroes Tv she launches with Serge Kponton. « More than a concept, it is a life mission, » says Cathy. « An urgent need to tell all these women who face up the dangers, the trials, fight against the clichés to achieve their dreams. Like Jocelyne Béroard, icon of the Kassav group, exemplary humanitarian commitment, Kareen Guiock, the dancer and model Isa Welly Locoh-Donou, etc. «Super-heroines» that Cathy would have liked to meet when she was small while she was on the lookout role models.

Develop the film industry

An absence that will not have prevented Pamela Diop, child of the relevision, to be fascinated by the big screen since her childhood. But this Franco-Senegalese would only discover later her passion for the audiovisual. « I was born in 1981 from a French mother advertiser and a Senegalese father journalist. I knew Dakar at 19 and it was love at first sight. I settled for the first time in the Senegalese capital in 2002 for seven years. On her return to Paris, in 2009, she won a position of press relations officer for an associative event. At the same time, Rokhaya Diallo, columnist and TV host, proposed her to take charge of her public relations. « I then co-wrote and produced audiovisual content via my production company in Paris for the promotion of events, others for television channels like C8 and commercials too. She set a foot in the job. By learning on the job. Aware of her limits, but determined to grow in the sector, she returned to school for a master’s degree in management, production and distribution of audiovisual media. »
As part of the training, people trusted and I was able to participate in the launch in Gabon of social broadcast Airtel chez vous in partnership with the telecom operator Airtel and the Red Cross. This program moved the country for several months and decided to return to settle permanently in Africa. In Dakar, she joined the agency McCann as a customer manager for large groups while keeping a foot in broadcasting.
“Entrepreneur at heart, I founded the ACME firm with my partner Aurélien Buraud (editor’s note: now director of the firm), specialized in the production and distribution of African audiovisual content. The organization is currently developing a short musical program, a Pan-African cooking show with the Maghreb, three series for 2019 and distributes a series in Wolof that deals with financial education issues (Editor’s note: in partnership with the Government of Senegal).» His ambition now is in the development of a film industry in Africa. « I am optimistic because there are a lot of actors looking to penetrate the continent like Netflix or Amazon, and the arrival of DTT should boost production. There is no doubt that this competition between content buyers will boost the market and give producers more independence since everything will be played out on popular successes and audiences. »

Being a woman, an asset and a strength

And like Pamela, they are more and more to operate in the sector. « I regularly meet young directors in Senegal, I do not feel that being a woman is a brake for the funding or project management part because they are generally considered to be more serious and more rigorous, Pamela observes. A bit like in microfinance where we lend mostly to women. However, women’s place in the scenarios is still subject to many taboos … And then, like all women managers, to head a team of men can also be a sensitive issue, on this point it is not just obviously an African exception! »