Jemima Kambou is an Ivorian filmmaker who works in documentary film. Her latest film, Aux pays des danses, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Jemima sat down with Right for Education to discuss her projects and her work.
R:Ed: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
Okay, I’m Jemima Kambou. I’m a student in audiovisual production, specialising in film directing at the Institute of Sciences and Techniques of Communication in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. I just finished my Masters and must now prepare my defense to validate it. I am passionate about directing and also about video editing. I like to do video editing. I do a bit of everything. Also, I made a documentary on the traditional Lobi dances with which I won two prizes during the Clap Ivoire competition, which is a competition for young directors from the UEMOA countries. I got a prize for the best documentary in 2020 and then at the International Fair I got the Grand Prix, hence the invitation to participate in the African Pavilion of the Cannes Film Festival 2021.
R:Ed: Your film Au pays des danses focuses on dance. Why are you interested in dance as a filmmaker?
It interests me first of all because it’s about culture. I like culture very much and I like Ivorian and African culture. I was born in our capital Abidjan so before shooting my documentary, I had never had the opportunity to go to the countryside. I knew that there were dances, but we were not told about these dances as a young generation who had grown up in the city. So I started to investigate and I saw that this dance is being lost. And so I said to myself I had to take advantage of the fact that I am in the audiovisual business to promote my culture, to put forward the African culture, because it is important to preserve this dance. And above all, it is necessary that the young people, the young generations know their dance because it is their identity. This is a short documentary of 13 minutes that talks about the dances of the Lobi people of Ivory Coast, a people who live in the northwest of Ivory Coast and also in Burkina Faso and Ghana.
R:Ed: What is the place of dance in the Lobi culture?
Dance has a special place in Lobi culture. It is linked to music. Music is very important because at any given time, we sing, we dance. You will see, for example, when they are doing field work, they will sing to give themselves courage, to encourage each other when there are occasions of rejoicing. They sing, they dance and even when there are deaths,. It is true that it is not a festive event and it is a death. But there are many dances. Dance is really very important in the Lobi culture.
R:Ed: Do you have any other subjects that you are drawn to as projects right now?
Yes, I like fiction, too. There are socio-cultural topics in my region that I am very interested in because I also like to be sensitive to all the topics that affect women and girls. One subject that interests me is the schooling of girls. There is a big problem with girls dropping out of school. This is something that affects me a lot. So I really want to understand the deep problem.
R:Ed: What inspire you in films?
There are documentaries and fiction.. There is a director I like, Apolline Traoré. I like the way she makes her films, like for example her fiction Borders that I liked very much.
R:Ed: What is for you the best part of creating a cinematic work?
The best part for me is going to research the technical information when I have already found the subject. Then I have to conduct investigations. In fact, the whole part of preparing the feasibility of shooting, going out into the field, scouting, finding people for example for interviews, and finding out about my subject. I like this part because I like being with people and talking with them. At that stage, I can formulate a subject in my mind. I can even do some research first on the internet. But when you switch to the filming, when you meet the people who are more closely affected by that topic, you can get a whole different set of information. So I like that.