Guest post by Audrey Hood, BFCA Archival Assistant

The BFC/A recently hosted a two-day workshop on Paulin S. Vieyra, the renowned pioneer of post-colonial African film. Paulin’s son and president of PSVFilms, Stéphane Vieyra, spent the week at IU touring repositories, visiting classes, and participating in the workshop.

During the preparation for the workshop, my task was to help create a small pop-up exhibit on Vieyra based on a few materials that Stéphane selected from his father’s extensive archive. The tricky part about this exhibit was that I had to wait until Stéphane arrived to create it, which meant that I was left with just a few hours to select items, arrange them, then write a main text and captions. Consequently, the BFC/A’s archivist, Ronda Sewald, ended up actually planning the layout and placing the materials in the exhibit case for me when I ran out of time. 

Audrey Hood next to the BFC/A’s Vieyra Pop-Up Exhibit. Photo by Ronda Sewald.

My favorite part of the project was selecting materials with Stéphane, who met me during my Tuesday morning shift along with several photographs, manuscripts, DVDs, and books. We spent most of the time choosing photographs – we couldn’t use all of them as the exhibit case was small. We ultimately decided to include ones with Paulin, his wife, the Guadeloupean-born writer and librarian Myriam Warner-Vieyra, and Stéphane. In one photo, a young Stephane is playing with a film camera. There were a few photos with Paulin and a large group of people, but as Stéphane wasn’t able to identify any of them, we chose to take the more personal route with that aspect of the exhibit. 

I was the most nervous about writing the main text for the case – the part I had the least amount of time to do. I wanted the text to be accurate and to pay homage to Vieyra. There were professors from around the world invited to the workshop who specialize in African film. As this is also a subject that I’m interested in outside of my work at the BFC/A, I didn’t want to unknowingly write something problematic, especially in the presence of experts. However, after stumbling upon a promising quote in Vieyra’s book, Le Cinema Africain, I was able to let him speak for himself and simply add some supporting information and words to celebrate his legacy. 

Closer view of the Paulin Vieyra Pop-up Exhibit. Photo by Ronda Sewald.

Nearly all of the materials that Stéphane brought were used in the exhibit,  but two manuscripts and his DVDs were left out due to space limitations. I was initially nervous that this would disappoint Stéphane, but he took it in stride and instead asked to have the materials at the workshop roundtable so that he could show them to participants. I was happy to observe that several of them were particularly eager to flip through the manuscripts, which they would not have been able to do had they been placed in a locked case. 

Overall, helping with this exhibit gave me a taste of what it might be like to create more in-depth displays from larger collections. Stay tuned for the next one, whenever it might come along! 

___________________________________________________________

Paulin Vieyra movies and books are available at the BFC/A.

Movies:

  • Afrique Sur Seine (1955)
  • La Bicyclette (1967)
  • Birago Diop: Conteur (1981)
  • C’Etait il ya Quatre Ans (1954)
  • L’Envers du Décor: Making of Ceddo, Film de Ousmane Sembène (1981)
  • La Gateau (undated)
  • Lamb (1963)
  • Une Nation est Née: Le Cheminement du Sénégal, de la Colonisation a la souveraineté nationale (1961)
  • Le Rendez Vous (1967)
  • Temoignages (Film homage á Paulin Soumanou Vieyra) (2017)

Books:

  • Le cinéma africain
  • Sembène Ousmane cinéaste : Première période, 1962-1971

BFC/A Events This Past Semester

Black Film Center/Archive, 1320 E. 10th Street Wells 044, Bloomington, IN, 47405 || bfca@indiana.edu

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