We start from the principle that filiation with schools or masters is fundamental in artistic practice. We also consider that the most avant-garde filmmakers are often those who are most familiar with the masterpieces of the past, which become both possible sources of inspiration for them and fundamental references that can be surpassed in order to trace new creative paths. In this way, as the West African proverbs preach, it ultimately comes down to the premises that “It is at the end of the old rope that the new one is woven”, or “He who does what his father did not do, will see what his father did not see”.
This retrospective emerges precisely from these ideas. To celebrate 20 years of FCAT’s trajectory, we invite 10 filmmakers, critics or other professionals from the continent to propose two films that they consider essential – one from the past and one recent production. With these curatorial “carte blanches”, the retrospective It’s at the end of the old rope that the new is woven will bring together the cinematographic references of five young filmmakers selected in the 20th FCAT official competition with those of 5 film critics or professionals from the African continent. Rather than retrieving 20 titles from the festival’s archives, we thought it would be more interesting to celebrate this twentieth anniversary by highlighting African authors and professionals who have marked or will mark the festival’s history, thus creating a new way of (re)thinking about African cinemas after two decades of FCAT.
This retrospective – a new, subjective and non-exhaustive exploration of African cinematographic heritage that weaves invisible links with Africa’s contemporary cinema – is closely linked to the 11th edition of The Palaver Tree, the festival’s annual professional and networking forum. This year, this initiative focuses on fundamental aspects for the process of weaving new “strings”, such as the valorisation, preservation, conservation, restoration and dissemination of the cinematographic heritage in and of Africa. The work of researching, discovering and then restoring film copies is fundamental to bringing to light unknown or forgotten gems that can be added to the corpus of fundamental works in cinema history. At the same time, this process contributes to the reinvigoration of the history of African cinemas.