In one of the first cultural acts to follow independence in 1975, Frelimo's new socialist government of Mozambique set up a National Institute of Cinema (the INC). In a country where many people had little previous experience of cinema, the INC was tasked to ‘deliver to the people an image of the people’. This book explores how this unique culture of revolutionary filmmaking began during the armed struggle against Portuguese colonialism.
Following independence, the INC began the task of decolonising the film industry, building on networks of solidarity with other socialist and non-aligned struggles. Mozambique became an epicentre for militant filmmakers from around the world and cinema played an essential role in building the new nation. Crucially, the book examines how filmmaking became a resource for resistance against Apartheid as the Cold War played out across Southern Africa during the late 1970s and 1980s.
Drawing on detailed film analysis, production histories and testimonies of key participants, Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution by Ros Gray provides a compelling account of this radical experiment in harnessing cinema to social change. The book offers a pre-history to current debates on decolonisation, the politics of the moving image, and artistic engagements with anti-colonial archives.
Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution: Anti-Colonialism, Independence and Internationalism in Filmmaking, 1968-1991 is published by Boydell & Brewer
Image: Sara Mabombo conforms 35mm film in the INC laboratory, 1981. Photo Ophera Hallis
Video: Ros Gray introduces Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution, and screens excerpts from Santiago Álvarez's Maputo: meridiano novo (Maputo: The Ninth Meridian), 1976
Ros Gray is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art (Critical Studies) in the Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research currently has two main trajectories. The first explores networks, aesthetics and impact of militant filmmaking, particularly in relation to liberation struggles and revolutionary movements in Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso. The second focuses on artistic interventions in the fields of soil care, cultivation and decolonial ecologies more broadly.
Ros is on the Editorial Board of Third Text and she is a member of the Critical Ecologies research stream. She is also the Coordinator of the Goldsmiths Allotment, which provides a space for plant cultivation for staff and students, is a platform for various seasonal cultural events, workshops on aspects of sustainable gardening and plant breeding, and is a space for meditation and developing thinking around forms of ecological ‘care’ in the context of an educational institution. Ros also occasionally lectures for the Extension Degree, the MA Artists’ Film and Moving Image and the MFA Curating programmes and contributes more widely to the department through PhD supervision.