Jean-Pierre Bekolo is the most daring contemporary African director. His filmmaking is idiosyncratic; it exhibits biting humour through a reliance on satire, avoids didacticism, and advocates for artistic freedom. The director favours expression over “education” (in his words, “there is no recipe to filmmaking”, over the formalities and classical conventions of cinema. His formal training was originally in editing, and he studied in Paris at the Institut National Audiovisuel as part of the last graduating class of structuralist Christian Metz. His narrative construction does pay homage to the structuralism of the seventies, and it often comes across as purposely opaque, which critics of African film have construed as an attempt to create a new kind of African cinematic language. But Bekolo transgresses geographical and aesthetic borders. His cinema is not just “African,” or postcolonial, or experimental, or narrative. It is also a cinema that constantly searches for itself, for what it is and what it can accomplish.
Jean-Pierre Bekolo was awarded the Prince Claus Prize in 2015 in Amsterdam for his creative resistance, irreverence and eclectic, for reworking on dominant cinema conventions; for creating a unique body of innovative work that both entertains and transmits profound socio-political messages; for his highly original aesthetics; for challenging misrepresentations of African cultures; and for re-affirming the power of film.