Yennenga Center: where Dakar wants to make its cinema

Rmaking a film from start to finish in Senegal, training young people in postproduction, editing, mixing, all in a cultural center in Grand Dakar, it will soon be possible. This project, initiated by director Alain Gomis, also at the head of the Yennenga center, is taking shape. Last October, an agreement was signed between the city of Dakar and the Yennenga center. Housed in the cultural center of Grand Dakar, its vocation is to become a cinema center and to train young people in film professions, in particular in postproduction and editing. “We are going to do training, production, a film club… We started two years ago with workshops with young people who asked to be supported. So this project was born, ”says Alain Gomis, scriptwriter and director twice awarded at Fespaco *, in a video shared on the Facebook of the Yennenga center.

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Train in post-production

From April, if the Covid allows it, 24 selected candidates will be able to follow a free two-year training course in post-production: editing, mixing and color grading. You should know that there is not yet a structure to edit films in Senegal and filmmakers are forced to leave with their rushes under their arms for the editing of their film elsewhere, most often in European studios. “This must change,” says Alain Gomis, who continues in an online webinar on the future of cinema in Africa broadcast on January 30 by the African Culture Agency (ACC-55) initiated by journalist Fatimata Wane and communicator Seynabou Dia: “It seems important to us to be able to control the production chain of a film from A to Z. (…) A director should not have to go and finish his film in France or Spain. The aim of the project is to make films in a shorter circuit. The center will be equipped with tools to achieve quality post-production. “This will also allow us to lower the cost of film production, which will allow us to shoot more films. It also gives us more freedom and independence. Cinema is a way of speaking again, of taking up the image, of telling your own stories, ”he enthuses. The issue of post-production on site is important. Symbolically, first. “This allows a director to finish his film where he conceived it, dream, manufacture”, insists Alain Gomis. By relocating the post-production part on site, we are opening up new opportunities with “greater editorial independence. (…) Local production is necessary so that stories can exist that are not of interest elsewhere. “

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Re-root cinema culture in the local population

Alongside this post-production training, the center will provide associative activities around cinema and audiovisual aimed at the local population, in particular by hosting workshops for children and broadcasting with an outdoor projection area of ​​400 places. “We want to work with the people of the neighborhood, the children, we want to make films with them, films that will be shown here. We believe in local cinema as a tool for interpellation and meetings so that the people of the neighborhood can tell, tell their story, with their own words and their own images ”, rejoices Alain Gomis, speaking from the roof of the center. Yennenga.

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Bringing Senegalese cinema back to life

This project, which aims to be collective, has been tracing its course since November 2018 with the mission of promoting the productions of the African continent, raising the local population’s awareness of the language of cinema and supporting the young generation of directors in their creative process. Since its inception, the center has had to co-produce The Night of the Kings, second feature film by Ivorian director Philippe Lacôte, which is starting to make its way into the biggest film festivals. The Ciné Xalé operation, a workshop for the creation and distribution of films reserved for children, enabled 25 children to participate in the making of 3 short films in the summer of 2019. At the same time, the center hosted the Women of Africa Film Festival.

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Complement the funding

Funding over three years is 90% completed thanks in particular to the intervention of the General Delegation for Entrepreneurship (DER) of Senegal and the French Development Agency (AFD). For the remaining 10%, a crowdfunding campaign was launched in order to finalize the layout of the premises, purchase the necessary equipment, finance artistic programming and help with housing for students. To recover the 50,000 euros targeted, the campaign is relayed on the Fiatope platform, which details the project.

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* Gold standard for “Félicité” in 2017 after “Tey” in 2013, Alain Gomis was awarded the Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival for “Félicité”.

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