Guinea-Bissau's Cinema Archive

12 May 2016 at The Cera Project in London

Filipa César, filmstill “The Embassy”, 2011,. Image courtesy of the artist
Filipa César, filmstill “The Embassy”, 2011,. Image courtesy of the artist

"What made sense as an object of our propaganda in one particular context, can become a sturdy 'friend' difficult to appease in quite another. It can become an obsession for us to want to control the image that one day we produced accidentally, saying 'that's for history'. [...] Yet the image gives itself a new life, a new destiny, with or without us. It frees itself of our guardianship".
(Sana na N'Hada, Our image and ourselves, 2015)

Performing Guinea-Bissau's Cinema Archive: an evening with Filipa César films is the launch event of the Performance program of the Cera Project that is being developed in collaboration with the curator Frances Zuma Cooper.

The Cera Project (TCP) is an independent art platform that departs from the premise that 'if the world is flat, as the prophets of globalization proclaim, then what happens on the underside?". TPC is envisaged as an itinerant art ‘space’ that aims to promote dialogues with the Global South.

The inaugural performance program has been curated with a conscious curatorial intent, to support and share not one but the entire series of performance events, to advance the work of women performance based artists and thinkers of and in dialogue with TPC’s proposition.

The first event focuses on a selection of five films that make part of the on-going collective project “Luta ca caba inda”, started in 2008, by the Portuguese artist and filmmaker Filipa César. An artist that is interested in the porous boundaries between the moving image and its reception, the fictional dimensions of the documentary and the economies, politics and poetics inherent to cinema praxis. Most of her films have been dedicated on the specters of resistance in Portugal’s geo-political past, questioning mechanisms of history production and proposing spaces for performing subjective knowledge.

Filipa César in her first trips to Guinea-Bissau became aware of the existence of a cinematic archive that was in an extreme derelict state, due to preservation conditions that it was kept. Worried about a possibility of the Guinea-Bissau cinema archive be gone in a country that is still facing political instability and sadly shared a common reality with many other territories, that still neglect the preservation of their archival cultural materials, she questioned herself on how and what she could do to keep this archive alive. She even got in touch with the Head of archives at the Portuguese Cinematheque yet they considered "the archive irrelevant", mainly because of its fragmented and ruined condition - a statement that continuously echoed in her thoughts. Later and in collaboration with two filmmakers also involved in this project - Flora Gomes and Sana na NHada – she was able to ensure the preservation and digitalization of the archival materials.

Her starting research point for this project departed from the influence of Amílcar Cabral on the cinematic culture of Guinea-Bissau, a revolutionary liberation leader that considered that the cinema could be vital for the struggle for independence from Portuguese colonial rule. He considered cinema to be such an important educational tool that he decided to send four young guineanses, in 1967, to the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) in Havana, to learn how to make films; through the cinema he not only allowed to empower people’s voice by rewriting their own national identity but also made people aware of the struggle for freedom.

The project “Luta ca caba inda” (The Struggle is Not Over Yet) takes its title from an unfinished Guinean film from the 1970’s, included in the Guinea-Bissau cinema archive. This project initially was about a personal discovery within National Film Institute in Guinea-Bissau (INCA – Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual) and making accessible a short phase of the militant cinema from this territory, developed to become a poetical visual essay about the struggle implied in the act of accessing this images from another time. Furthermore, as César added in an interview in 2012, for the Jeu de Paume, that is not about giving another meaning [to the archival] but is about understanding what is accessing elements of the past can actually bring us instruments to reflect on the present.

The evening of Filipa César's film works will be held at the The Cera Project on the 12th of May 2016 from 8 till 10pm. The entrance is free RSVP theceraproject@gmail.com by May 12th until 4pm. Film Program:

Transmission from the Liberated Zones / 2015 / 30'
Mined Soil / 2012-2014 / 32'
Conakry / 2013 / 10’
Cuba / 2012 / 10'
The Embassy / 2011 / 27'