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Influential African Filmmakers Honored in ASA Film Prize Rebranding

The prestigious African Studies Association film prize gets a new name to recognize the impact of Ousmane Sembène and Tunde Kelani on African cinema.
April 30, 2024
5:56 am

The African Studies Association (ASA) at Rutgers University has rebranded its film prize, now named the “Sembène-Kelani Film Prize,” in honor of Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène and Nigerian filmmaker Tunde Kelani.


The announcement, made a fortnight ago, signals a renewed commitment to celebrating the rich and diverse narratives of African cinema.


The Sembène-Kelani Film Prize, formerly known as the ASA Film Prize, is awarded to outstanding films made by African filmmakers that provoke thought on social, political, economic, and cultural dynamics.


Additionally, the films should resonate with both specialists and general audiences and reflect the ASA’s dedication to enhancing the exchange of ideas about Africa.


Tunde Kelani

Sembène, often referred to as the “father of African cinema,” played a pivotal role in shaping Senegal’s film industry, which, although experiencing a decline from the 1960s to the early 1980s, remains a strong force for African cinema. On the other hand, Kelani has been an important figure in Nigeria’s booming Nollywood industry, which has risen to become the second-largest film industry in the world.


By honoring Sembène and Kelani through this rebranding, the ASA acknowledges the unique contributions of Senegal and Nigeria to global storytelling and their ongoing efforts to create content that is not only locally relevant but also internationally acclaimed. The renaming encourages more African filmmakers to continue telling their stories to audiences around the world, recognizing the power of African cinema on a global scale.


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