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Decolonisation in Motion report

Group of people at academic conference539 minutes of documentary and fiction. 480 individual entries. 99 people who attended two or more screenings. Eight speakers from across cinema and cultural studies, history and politics engaging in 240 minutes of discussion with each other and the audience.

These are just a few statistics from the Decolonisation in Motion film season, organised by University College in collaboration with the Bodleian Library this term. In the course of six screenings of eight films, ranging from propaganda shorts to documentary to fiction, we explored how African decolonisation in the period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s has been represented on screen by filmmakers from the continent and beyond.

As organisers, we have been delighted by the enthusiastic response to the “Decolonisation in Motion” film series, which sold out almost straightaway. Amongst the attendees, we have welcomed staff and undergraduate and postgraduate students from more than thirty Oxford colleges, across departments ranging from Earth Sciences to International Development and everything in between. Many colleagues who work at the Bodleian also joined us, as well as members of the public. For Univ history students, the series has been woven into teaching about art history on our first year paper “Approaches to History” and teaching on visual and material culture on our second year paper “Disciplines of History”, providing a new angle and body of material to enable students to engage with and rethink well established topics in our curriculum.

We have had a number of queries about whether the series will continue, and some students have already suggested ideas about how they might take it forward – so watch this space! A big thank you goes to Baroness Valerie Amos and University College for funding this series and ensuring that we were able to make it free and open to all, and to all the staff in the Bodleian Events and Comms Teams, and the Univ Comms Team, who provided such excellent support.

Natalya Vince, Sanderson Tutorial Fellow in Modern History, Univ and Associate Professor of the History of Modern France and the Francophone World, Faculty of History
Walid Benkhaled, documentary maker, specialist in post-colonial cinema and AV manager at the Bodleian Libraries

Decolonisation in Motion: Shooting our Way to Independence (film shorts)

The Battle of Algiers

Black Girl


The Silences of the Palace

Season finale - Algiers Pan-African Festival

Published: 4 December 2023

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