A flashback treat this afternoon, on a slow news day… 

You may recall this collaborative effort that took place in 1995 titled Lumière and Company; 40 internationally-recognized filmmakers selected to celebrate the first 100 years of cinema by contributing to a project while abiding by a strict list of rules:

First, they had to use the original Cinématographe camera first used by the Lumière Brothers (Louis and Auguste) in the 1895, 100 years before this collab effort.

Second, each flm couldn’t be longer than 52 seconds.

Third, no synch sound.

And fourth, no more than 3 takes. 

With 40 filmmakers from all over the world contributing inidividual films to the project, it’s only natural that the collection would be varied in terms of style and content; and they most certainly were.

Spike Lee, Burkinabe directors Idrissa Ouedraogo and Gaston Kaboré, Egyptian Youssef Chahine, and Algerian Merzak Allouache, were 5 of those 40 filmmakers, and, I believe, the only directors of African descent who were selected.

Luckily I found all 5 of their films on YouTube and embedded below for those who’ve never seen them.

And I should note that the films were made in the spirit and style of those made by the Lumière Brothers – so-called actualités, or actuality films, which were, in a nutshell, non-fiction films, precursors to documentaries, we could say, but without the arguments that usually accompany docs. The brothers documented real-life events, people, places, things etc with seemingly no real cohesion or objective other than just to do so; what you saw was what you got; slice of life footage we could call it. 

I mention all that because, as I recall when the collection of films was released, some people panned them for their lack of *imagination,* or called them boring, completely forgetting, or were just not aware of who and what the films were paying tribute to, as I just described. Although, some filmmakers chose to get a little creative with their contributions.

So, without further ado, here are the 5 Diaspora contributions to 1995’s Lumière and Company

Spike Lee:

Idrissa Ouedraogo:

Gaston Kaboré:

Yusuf Shahin:

Merzak Allouache: