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Call for Contributions: Cinema for Sustainable Development in Africa

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Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs) highlights the need to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainable development, including through education for global citizenship, the promotion of cultural diversity, and the contribution to a culture of sustainable development. While the cinema is asserting itself as one of the paths through which this is possible, its potentialities, resources, mechanisms and policies remain very little discussed and harmonized in Africa. Data on the issue is scattered and there is very little collaboration between the multiple actors concerned and involved in this sector. This reality limits the production of relevant and effective public policies for the sustainable emancipation of this social and economic domain in the 21st century. Thus, the aim of this symposium is to place cinema at the heart of sustainable development, both as an asset and as an instrument of cooperation and intercultural dialogue, peace and development in Africa.

The film industry is a powerful vector for creativity, quality of life and innovation. It creates jobs and can contribute to sustainable economic growth if it is placed at the heart of political, social and cultural agendas. As a tool that proceeds through images, cinema allows access to knowledge, social integration and the promotion of solidarity. It contributes to the dissemination of shared social values and conveys a spirit of tolerance. It is a tool of appeasement that influences, in the most subtle way, the orientations and preferences of peoples and is useful for the diffusion and disclosure of eco-responsible gestures, the development of eco-design, eco-consumption in view of the 2030 agenda.


Cinema is a field made up of various systems of collective representation in which films assert themselves as references of popular culture. It has established itself at decisive periods in the history of the contemporary world and is also understood as an ideological, social and cultural instrument of human civilizations. The various experiences in Asia and the West are very revealing in this respect. It is enough to look at the narratives from these parts of the world to grasp the preponderant role of the image and the cinema in the processes of their social, political and cultural edification.

As a tool for communication, solidarity and leisure, cinema has very often been seen as a means of human solidarity, strengthening social cohesion and economic transformation in both spheres of power and decision-making, although this is not really reflected in Africa. Moreover, cinema is a strategic issue which, without a doubt, can become one of the essential paths for the take-off of African economies. The attentive observer of these issues could ask himself by what ways and means, while the researcher, the expert and the actors in the field can call for more coherent actions and collaboration in the elaboration of sustainable projects for the development of this sector on the continent. Indeed, since 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs) have been considered worldwide as the social and political compass for a better and sustainable future for all human societies and the year 2018 has been declared the year of cinema. According to the United Nations (UN), SDOs should guide all societal projects, particularly those aimed at combating poverty and inequality, protecting the climate and the environment, and promoting prosperity while preserving peace and justice. At the heart of the interactions between technology and societies, the cinema is an instrument of public policy and action, indeed one of the relevant and appropriate software for the sustainable cultural and economic development of societies. Indeed, it can transform social habits through image education and the occupation of the stage by different social categories.

While the challenges are great and the world is a decade away from taking stock, the sector, at the African level, does not seem to have really taken ownership of the SDOs yet. Some actors are reluctant and others are dragging their feet in integrating it as an important pillar of action for economic and sustainable development. A world of tribulations and complaints, film production and its industry remain very weak and underdeveloped in Africa. And the informal economy it faces strongly affects the profitability of the sector. State investment is relative and the difficult portability of models make it an internationally dumb sector that is still slow to unleash its potential.

The Yaounde Reviv’ Art Association (YARA) wishes, on the occasion of the 7th edition of the International 1st Film Festival which it is organizing from 15th to 22nd November 2020 at the Yaounde City Hall, Cameroon, to put on the agenda the issue of cinema and sustainable development, on 19th and 20th November of the said week. Cinema, as a visual and emotional instrument, is also an economic tool for leisure, social cohesion and development which deserves greater attention in the face of the challenges imposed by sustainable development, particularly in a context of multiple crises (social, economic, health and cultural). The issue is urgent and crucial.

The photography of this sector in Africa, retraced since the beginning of the postcolonial period, does not lend itself to happy transformations as denoted by the deterioration and unfortunate reduction in the number of cinemas, themselves accompanied by the transformation of places into inappropriate settings for cults, workshops and meeting rooms.

Moreover, the production crisis, fuelled by the lack of funding and material and intellectual resources, is limiting the channels of dissemination and distribution of African film products throughout the world. And the anomie thus created is almost general. It cannot leave inactive any promoter of the values of this art. The 96.8 billion revenues recorded in this sector worldwide in 2018 are the exclusive effort of Western companies, with Africa playing the role of extra even if countries such as South Africa and Nigeria stand out. The different forms of a circular economy also characterize the resilience of this sector, which has been almost abandoned by the state despite Africa’s estimated potential of more than $3 billion a year and the increasing active participation of young people, the middle classes, and the high penetration of mobile and internet.


Beyond its considerable impact on the social elaboration of cultures and their lives, the development of individual and collective freedoms, the safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage, the protection and promotion of various social expressions, which are essential components of human and sustainable development, cinema can also produce positive effects in the realization of SDOs in various ways. Cinema can help to raise awareness and build networks among the various actors in the film industry, while stimulating debate, reflection and the production of solutions in a collective approach. Addressing this through this symposium is then an opportunity to identify and evaluate the achievements for a more productive and sustainable sector. To trace the paths of a green cultural economy with cinema as its main entry point, to mobilize the actors of the sector for synergetic action; to show the impact of cinema for sustainable development through its education-information aspect – awareness raising and empowerment; to situate cinema as a niche for decent jobs in the future and therefore also as a source of funding for development projects and initiatives; to highlight the inclusive and mixed nature of cinema; to show the democratic validity of cinema in guaranteeing the public expression of diversities.


Questioning and evaluating the economic and cultural weight of cinema in the face of the demands of the concept of sustainable development also means recognizing its capacity to produce sustainable cultural public services. These can be capitalized on in several respects. Indeed, in addition to being an instrument of social innovation, cinema reinforces a nation’s sense of pride. It raises awareness and can in this sense raise awareness on environmental issues, the modalities of a viable and sustainable future. The stakes are multifaceted and it is important that the public authorities address them in view of their social, economic and strategic impacts.

 Cinema can be a catalyst for the sustainable development of territories, their competitiveness and their marketing. It also increases consumption, particularly during international events.

The YARHA festival is a great opportunity for host territories such as Yaoundé. Cities are not only places of production. They are also, opportunely, places of consumption. In this respect, a relevant instrument for the circulation of films, the YARHA festival is also a real network for the distribution, marketing and promotion of culture through media coverage and glamour.


  • Researchers and students in Film Arts and Production ;
  • Amateurs and professionals of the film industry;
  • Investors;
  • Authorities and officials of the CTDs;
  • Public and private cultural organizations;
  • International cultural organizations;
  • Consultants in Cinematographic Art, etc.


Participants can draw on historical experiences and how they distinguish societies, cinema in relation to SDOs, the 2030 and 2063 agendas of the African Union (AU), regulation of the sector, international cooperation and training, the impact on local economies, territorial development and issues of its financing, image education and early awareness raising in schools and universities, not forgetting questions on skills development, social inclusion, human rights and the fight against social inequalities. The following themes, which are not exhaustive, may be the subject of specific panels or papers.

  • Culture, Cinema, Peace and Sustainable Development: State of Play in Africa
  • Gender, Film and Women’s Rights in Africa
  • Film financing in Africa
  • The tools of cinema regulation in Africa: law, public policies and sustainable management of cinema support funds
  • Film sectors in Africa and international cooperation
  • Training, categorization, dissemination and exploitation of cinematographic works in Africa
  • Film Walk in Africa
  • Private initiatives and the informal economy
  • Experimentation and perspectives: financing model, exploitation systems and socio-economic impact of a film in an industrial situation.

Interested persons should send an abstract of no more than 300 words to the organizing committee no later than 31 August 2020 to the following addresses:   


  • 15 June – 31 August 2020: calls for papers
  • 05 September – 10 September: selection of papers, letters to participants and selected papers
  • 10 September – 12 September: preparation of the panels and programme of the symposium
  • 30 September: deadline for sending full papers

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