alban biaussat








cinés cassés



Long gone are the balmy evenings passed watching films in raucous open-air theatres filled with hundreds of other people in equal entertainment of the screen before them.

Following a rapid development after the country gained its independence from France in 1960 and until the end of the 1980s, the movie sector has endured unending crisis in Mali. Out of the fourteen district movie theatres visited in Bamako, only one cinema, the Babemba, still operates regularly on relatively stable grounds. It is the only one offering a varied and relatively contemporary program. The other cinemas can only offer basic viewing conditions in tired and worn buildings and play only an old stock of films, the most recent of which are thirty years old.

Established by private French companies during the colonial period, then nationalized in the 1970s, the management of most of these cinemas fell under the responsibility of a commercially-driven State organization, OCINAM; a profitable business that could have reinvested into the film industry, it is believed to have forced fed other dwindling government institutions instead. Over forty cinemas were privatised at the beginning of 2000 and, according to contracts, not always honoured, buyers were required to maintain cinematographic activities. However several popular theatres, such as ABC, the Rex, the Soudan cinema or the Rio have suffered closure instead in order to make way for commercial spaces and shops. Other theatres still maintain their old characteristics but, abandoned due to lack of funding and a dearth of clients, remain empty and unused and cry out for renovation.

The National Centre for Cinematography of Mali now intends to renovate the remaining public cinema theatres, for which it is now in charge, the El Hilal in Medina Coura, a disrict of Bamako being one of them. The intention now is to be able to solve the problem of a short supply of contemporary films.With most audience members having grown tired of the same old Kung Fu movies and American or Indian action films, pornographic productions appear to be the only way to guarantee a minimum audience to those theatres capable of showing DVDs, which are of course void of enforceable authors rights. But then, why not? For as some say, a more sustained watching reflects the sustained desire for cinema.