- Privileging Other Writings:Interview with Alain Gomis at the Carthage Film Festival 2019, Tunis
Franco-Senegali film director Alain Gomis (b. 1972) is president of the jury at the Carthage Film Festival. The festival took place between October 26 and November 2, 2019 in Tunis, and provided an opportunity to discuss Gomis's projects, as well as North-South relations in Africa.
You helped create the Yennenga Center in Dakar. What are its principal objectives?
We organize workshops. For our first one, we invited Swiss students to study alongside Senegalese students. The idea was to accompany young people, some of whom already have some training in their fields, instead of starting a school. You must understand, training is a business; it facilitates moments of progress, but it lacks continuity.
These trainings are relatively well funded?
Yes, they are. But with so many different trainings, people tend to drift a bit. In film, it's difficult to integrate oneself, to make contacts and so on. The goal is thus to accompany young people in the field and, when necessary, to supplement their knowledge in order to help them become professionals.
Isn't that similar to the steps that Gaston Kaboré's Imagine Center in Ouagadougou has taken?
I've never been there, so I'm not familiar with the steps that Imagine has taken. The idea is to be as concrete as possible. For example, we are coproducing Philippe Lacôte's film with the idea that—with our support—the young people who want to be producers will learn by doing rather than by focusing on the theoretical. We are also actively looking for funding. Because [End Page 216] we need audiovisual facilities, we have been gradually buying equipment to create a post-production studio.
Why is this the priority?
It's difficult to exist within the scope of just a few films, as they can end up painting a misleading picture of Senegalese cinema. These films may represent a moment in time, but that can be dangerous. It can cause us to content ourselves with past successes without seeing how things really are, which can cause stagnation or even regression. Young people who have never left Senegal are faced with the most obstacles to making films. Those who make it in the industry are most often those who have already had international experiences.
Moly Kane offers training with Dakar Courts / Cinébanlieue as well. There are already multiple initiatives in existence …
The intention is not to create a standout initiative with the hopes of being the best. We plan to work together, in a joint effort. Some of the people we support are already members of Cinébanlieue.1 Training should not be detached from the actual creation of films. The two must be linked. Without this, when you have only learned theory, practical applications can be difficult. If you learn the distribution process in a French context—where there is funding and a plethora of movie theaters—how do you apply this to Senegal? There is a lot that must be created from the ground up. It's a fascinating process, but you can't learn these things in a classroom setting. We must have points of reference in order to be able to create locally.
When was Yennenga created?
It has been in existence for a year, but the Grand Dakar Cultural Center has housed us for just over six months. We are working on the creation of post-production workshops, which will begin in January of 2020. What do we do if we want to have a local film industry? We have to face reality head on. We have to lower the price of film production so that films can make profits. Post-production is one of the most expensive parts of the process. Given that it is outsourced, there are foreign exchange issues that make it so that producers end up playing a minor part in the creation of their own films, among other issues. The problems are overwhelming, which means that it's...