(Re)imagining African Independence

Film, Visual Arts and the Fall of the Portuguese Empire

by Maria do Carmo Piçarra (Volume editor) Teresa Castro (Volume editor)
©2017 Edited Collection XVI, 292 Pages


The fortieth anniversary of the independence of the African countries colonized by Portugal presents a valuable opportunity to reassess how colonialism has been «imagined» through the medium of the moving image. The essays collected in this volume investigate Portuguese colonialism and its filmic and audio-visual imaginaries both during and after the Estado Novo regime, examining political propaganda films shot during the liberation wars and exploring the questions and debates these generate. The book also highlights common aspects in the emergence of a national cinema in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. By reanimating (and decolonizing) the archive, it represents an important contribution to Portuguese colonial history, as well as to the history of cinema and the visual arts.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword (Lúcia Nagib)
  • Colonial Reflections, Post-Colonial Refractions: Film and the Moving Image in the Portuguese (Post-)Colonial Situation (Maria Do Carmo Piçarra and Teresa Castro)
  • Part I The Birth [through Images] of African Nations
  • 1 Ruy Duarte: A Cinema of the Word Aspiring to Imagine Angolanness (Maria Do Carmo Piçarra)
  • 2 Between the Visible and the Invisible: Mueda, Memória e Massacre (1982) by Ruy Guerra and the Cultural Forms of the Makonde Plateau (Raquel Schefer)
  • 3 Clear Lines on an Internationalist Map: Foreign Filmmakers in Angola at Independence (Ros Gray)
  • 4 The Many Returns to Wiriyamu: Audiovisual Testimony and the Negotiation of Colonial Violence (Robert Stock)
  • Part II The Fall of the Portuguese Empire: Foreign Gazes during the Cold War
  • 5 ‘Rarely penetrated by camera or film’: NBC’s Angola: Journey to a War (1961) (Afonso Ramos)
  • 6 The US and Portuguese Colonialism as Imagined through Television Drama (Rui Lopes)
  • 7 African Independence and the Socialist Republic of Romania’s Photographic Archive (Iolanda Vasile)
  • Part III Moving Images, Post-Colonial Representations and the Archive
  • 8 Colonial Collection of the Portuguese Film Archive: Shot, Reverse Shot, Off-Screen (José Manuel Costa)
  • 9 A Decolonizing Impulse: Artists in the Colonial and Post-Colonial Archive, Or the Boxes of Departing Settlers between Maputo, Luanda and Lisbon (Ana Balona de Oliveira)
  • 10 In-Between Memory and History: Artists’ Films and the Portuguese Colonial Archive (Teresa Castro)
  • Part IV Rethinking (Post-)Colonial Narratives: Artistic Takes
  • 11 Drawing and Undrawing my Genealogy (Daniel Barroca)
  • 12 A Grin without Marker (Filipa César)
  • 13 Hotel Globo (Mónica de Miranda)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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← xii | xiii →


This book assembles, among others, a number of essays presented at the international conference Liberation Struggles, the Portuguese ‘End of Empire’ and the Birth (through Images) of the African Nations, held on 27 and 28 January 2016 at the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures (CFAC), the University of Reading, and at King’s College, London, Camões Centre for Portuguese Language and Culture. We would like to thank Paulo de Medeiros and Cláudia Pazos Alonzo for their kind invitation to publish these contributions, as well as the CFAC’s director, Lúcia Nagib, and the Camões Centre for Portuguese Language and Culture’s director, João Paulo Silvestre, for their kind and active support.

Special thanks are due to Manuel Santos Maia, José da Costa Ramos, Catarina Laranjeiro, Nataša Petresin Bachelez and L’Internationale, Rute Magalhães, João Silva, Jorge António and the Instituto Angolano de Cinema, Audiovisual e Multimédia, Pedro Pimenta, Inês Cordeiro Dias, António Saraiva, Rodrigo Dias, Nuno Conde, Margaret Dickinson and Polly Gaster. ← xiii | xiv →

← xiv | xv →



It is my great pleasure and honour to be able to write the foreword for this stupendous collection. (Re)Imagining African Independence: Film, Visual Arts and the Fall of the Portuguese Empire breaks new ground for offering, for the first time, an overarching and in-depth analysis of how Portuguese colonialism in Africa has been and continues to be represented in images. More importantly, it reveals the crucial role of cinema and photography in the very process of colonization and independence. Film was a key medium for the Estado Novo regime in Portugal to spread its patriotic and racist ideology from the 1930s onwards. And film made the ideal, and much censored, means through which anticolonial activists from both Africa and Portugal raised their voice against the oppressor, in particular from the 1970s onwards. The contributors to this book left no stone unturned in their effort to piece together the kaleidoscope that reflects the role of film and photography in the Portuguese colonial and post-colonial times. The amount of information gathered is truly staggering, but displayed with reader-friendly organization by both the authors and the editors.

Portugal prides itself not only in its extremely original cinematic production but also in the excellent scholarship produced on it, both locally and internationally. This is because both are steeped in a well-established film culture that includes one of the best film archives in the world, the Cinemateca Portuguesa. Its director, José Manuel Costa, is one of the book’s contributors, alongside some of the very best researchers and creative minds in the world devoted to Portuguese film and photography, starting with the editors, Maria do Carmo Piçarra and Teresa Castro. I had the privilege of acting as Piçarra’s supervisor during her six-month stint as visiting researcher at the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures (CFAC), University of Reading, UK, supported by an award from FCT [the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation]. An indefatigable researcher of representations ← xv | xvi → of colonialism in Europe, Piçarra gave, despite the brevity of her period with us, abundant proof of the international relevance of her findings on the Portuguese case, not least by organizing a major international conference entitled Liberation Struggles, the Portuguese ‘End of Empire’ and the Birth (through Images) of the African Nations, held on 27 and 28 January 2016 at CFAC, the University of Reading, and King’s College, London, supported by the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Camões Centre for Portuguese Language and Culture. The present volume is a selection of proceedings from this extraordinary event, which allowed for paradigm-shifting ideas and artistic objects to circulate within and beyond the academic confines. Film buffs and scholars around the world are familiar with the outputs of cinematic giants from Portugal, such as Manoel de Oliveira, João César Monteiro, Pedro Costa, Miguel Gomes, Margarida Cardoso and Teresa Villaverde, several of whom have devoted themselves to the reworking of the Portuguese colonial past. Less known is, however, the tradition behind this unique and strongly political cinematic production, a gap that this volume has come to fill. Its purpose is not merely accusatory, but rather to face head-on the complexities entailed by the colonial process. Key to all contributors’ research is the careful scrutiny of their own subjectivities and historical and/or generational ties with previous colonizers and perpetrators. Indeed, some of the most poignant testimonies come from artists who examine an inherited guilt from parents who had engaged, willingly or not, in colonial wars.

This volume teaches us facts, but it also teaches us how and where to look for a more faithful and just reconstruction of history.


XVI, 292
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
(Post)Colonial Film Portuguese colonialism African Liberation Struggles and Independencies
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. XVI, 292 pp., 3 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Maria do Carmo Piçarra (Volume editor) Teresa Castro (Volume editor)

Maria do Carmo Piçarra is an FCT Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Communication and Society Research at the University of Minho and the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures at the University of Reading. Teresa Castro is Associate Professor in Film Studies and Image Theory at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3.


Title: (Re)imagining African Independence
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307 pages