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Lending Library » Documentary Films

A Great Tree Has Fallen Duminea
Penn State , VHS,1973, 23 minutes

Shows thousands of tribesmen arriving in Kumasi in order to pay their respects to Prempeh II, King of Ashanti in Ghana, during his eight-day funeral.

The Africans
Ten part miniseries
Annenberg/ CPB Collection 1986

  1. The Nature of a Continent
    Geography’s Influence on history is examined
  2. A Legacy of Lifestyles
    This segment explores matrilineal, patrilineal and polygamous traditions along with current trends.
  3. New Gods
    Looks at the roles of Christian missionaries, patrilineal and polygamous traditions along with current trends
  4. Tools of Exploitation
    Traces the colonial economic legacy, the development of slavery and European control of Africa’s natural resources.
  5. New Conflicts
    Urbanization, warrior traditions, European-created national boundaries, the Islamic jihad traditions and nationalist movements are examined.
  6. In Search of Stability
    Compares African military regimes, one-party states, Marxism in Mozambique and the styles of the presidents of Tanzania and Zaire
  7. A Garden of Eden in Decay?
    Economic and agricultural failures and successes are examined in Algeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
  8. A Clash of Cultures
    Africans struggle to evolve new, effective and essentially African ways of doing things.
  9. Global Africa
    The series concludes with Africa’s role in international politics and economics.
  10. Concluding Interview
    Discussion and interview based upon the series “The Africans.”

Eight part miniseries
National Geographic 2001, 120 minutes

  1. Savannah Homecoming
    (A) Kikuyu woman in Nairobi goes home to have her baby near M. Kenya. (B) Dorobo woman, college-educated woman (speaks 4 languages) leaves Arusha (Tanzania) to live in bush.
  2. Desert Odyssey
    Follows Tuareg boy on his first mercantile trip across the Sahara to buy and sell salt – Islamic wedding, Quoranic school, city life of Cairo.
  3. Voices of the Forest
    (A) Baaka pygmies of Congo rainforest in Cameroon. Hunters (now settled) try to preserve some of their forest from loggers. (B) The tale of the Fantasy coffin makers of Accra, Ghana. Includes a funeral of a priestess.
  4. Mountains of Faith
    (A) Amharic (Ethiopia); Young postulant in Lalibela studying to become priest - Festival of Timkat (epiphany) – Ark of Covenant (good scenes of Addis). (B) Young Gurage boy living in Ethiopia returns home to participate in Mascal ceremony.
  5. Love in the Sahel
    (A) Fulani Herding ‘Rite of Passage’ in the outback, (B) Dogon: Gardingin and the Rite of Passage (feeding the crocks), (3) Tuareg: Gardening & fighting with the elephants.
  6. Restless Waters
    (A) Nkole Lake Victoria fishing – a marriage with bridewealth of cattle – modern day scenes of Kampala, (B) Kilomboero Valley in NE Tanzania. Some big game hunting Rice Farming. Excellent Scenery.
  7. Leopards of Zanzibar
    (A) Zanzibar Swahilis fishermen earn money for soccer games; Women form sea weed. (B) Building of a dhow. Dhow races. Swahili Muslim culture.
  8. Southern Treasures
    (A) A male and female Sutu miner work in gold mines; AIDS segment, (B) Nat’l park segment. Komene – San Bushmen forced off the land to make room for parks, (C) Game reserve segment – esp. for tourism, (D) Women chop down weed trees to conserve water

Eight part miniseries
Basil Davidson 1984, 57 minutes each

  1. Different But Equal
    For over four centuries, Africa was ravished by the slave trade. This has permanently distorted our view of the continent and its people. The film goes back to Africa's origins to show that, far from having no great art or technology, Africa gave rise t o some of the world's greatest early civilizations. Includes segments on Nubia and the role of Africans in the Crusades.
  2. Mastering a Continent
    Looking closely at three different communities, the film examines the ways African peoples carve out an existence in an often hostile environment. A group of Pokot cattle herders in Kenya tell how they use the natural environment to their advantage. Two very different farming villages show how, in Africa, spiritual development goes hand in hand with technological advances.
  3. Caravans of Gold
    Traces the routes of the medieval gold trade, which reached from Africa to India and China in the east, and westward to the city-states of Italy. African rulers grew rich and powerful, and the ruler of Ancient Ghana was described by an Arab traveler in A D 951 as the wealthiest of all kings on earth. The coming of the Portuguese sea-trade in 1498 heralded the end of the golden years of trans-Saharan caravan trade.
  4. Kings and Cities
    To explore the ways in which African kingdoms functioned, this film visits the ancient Nigerian city of Kano, where the king holds court in a 15th century palace, presiding with his council over traditional rituals that continue to command the respect of his people.
  5. The Bible and the Gun
    The slave trade in Africa decimated the population and rent apart the fabric of society. After the slave traders came new kinds of interlopers: first, the explorers, among them Stanley and Livingstone, and then, the missionaries. Next, came those interested not in souls, but in wealth, such as gold and diamonds-men like Cecil Rhodes, who envisioned an empire stretching from "Cape to Cairo."
  6. This Magnificent African Cake
    The 1880s saw the beginning of a thirty-year 'scramble for Africa' that dramatically changed the face of the continent. All of Africa, except for Liberia and Ethiopia, became subject to colonial rule - a condition which remained unchanged until the outbreak of the Second World War.
  7. The Rise of Nationalism
    Charts the struggles for African independence in Ghana, Kenya, Algeria, and the Belgian Congo, with a close look at Guinea Bissau and an interview with the military leader of Mozambique. Examines the final collapse of white minority rule in Zimbabwe, and concludes with the question of how long the apartheid system of South Africa can survive.
  8. The Legacy
    Looks at Africa in the aftermath of colonial rule, as the continent seeks ways to come to terms with its diverse inheritance. Interviews with statesmen - including Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Shagari in Nigeria, and Senghor in Senegal - illuminate the problems and successes of Africa today.

Africa: Continent of Contrasts
Educational Video Network, VHS, 35 minutes

Overview of African physical and cultural characteristics.

African Art
BBC Associates/ R M Arts 1995, 47 minutes

A video about African carvings, sculptures, masquerade, paintings, etc looked at within African cultural context. It also shows how African art influenced such famous artists as Picasso.

African Wildlife
National Geographic Video 1980, 60 minutes

Witness the realities of birth, death, and survival in this vivid encounter with the animal world. African Wildlife was filmed in Namibia’s Etosha National Park over the course of two years, capturing extraordinary close-ups of animal behavior; a wildebeest giving birth, a zebra mother successfully defending her foal from the swift attach ofa cheetah, and a young springbuck alerting his herd to the presence of a predator with stiff-legged leaps.

L’Afrique en Francais
African Studies Center, U of Illinois, VHS, 38 minutes

Teaches French language through the study of African counties.

Asante Queenmothers: the Performance of Art and Ritual
Beverly Stoeltje and Rory Turner

An introduction to the rituals and performance of queenmothers in Ghana.

Assignment Africa
VHS, 60 min,1986

The story of how Africa is represented in the U.S. media. The filmmakers address important discrepancies between the realities of Africa and what is portrayed in the media, and explore why these discrepancies exist. They examine the difficulties that Am erican journalists have in covering Africa, as well as the reasons why Africans feel they are treated unfairly by the international press.

The Death Throes of Apartheid
Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, VHS, 1990

Discusses the positions of the different parties involved in the political life of South Africa as the sets out to dismantle apartheid and establish majority rule. Views on what the future of the country should look like vary greatly, and cause bitter fights between the different fractions.

Les dessins Bamoun
VHS, 26 min.

The staff of the museum of Foumban, Cameroon, collaborated with the staff of Marseilles museum in France to look for Bamoun drawings at Foubam for an exhibition. Through encounters with the heirs and the artists, they evoke the magnificent history of sultan I. N’joya (1873-1903), inventor of Shumom, (the Bamoun system of writing), and initiator of the drawings.

Destination: Cameroon
WorldWise Schools 1993, 20 minutes

Because of its great physical and cultural diversity, Cameroon is sometimes referred to as "Africa in Miniature." Viewers visit Peace Corps Volunteers living in three different communities: Andek, situated in the western highlands; Ambam, in the rain-forest region; and Bogo, located in the grassy lowlands. The film demonstrates how homes, agricultural crops, and lifestyles differ in each of these areas

Destination: Lesotho
WorldWise Schools 1994, 22 minutes

The video takes viewers to Lesotho, a mountainous nation located in southern Africa. The video visits the lowland village of Ha Rapholo and the highland village of St. Rodrigue to meet two Peace Corps volunteers and the communities they serve. Viewers gain a sense of the rugged terrain and learn how people are coping with the effects of drought. They see girls doing their household chores, boys tending their animals, and children at school.

Destination: Sénégal
WorldWise Schools 1991, 15 minutes

This video gives a brief overview of the geography and history of Senegal. Viewers visit the capital city of Dakar and learn about life in two villages. The video includes interviews with Peace Corps volunteers, who discuss their perceptions of Senegalese culture and how they have adapted to life in Senegal.

Destination: Worldwise Schools
WorldWise Schools 1993,6 minutes

This video introduces teachers to Worldwise Schools. This Peace Corps sponsored program links American teachers and students in grades 3-12 with Peace Corps Volunteers serving in countries throughout the world, as well as returned PCVs.

Destination: To Touch the World: The Peace Corps Experience
WorldWise Schools 1995, 10 minutes

This video provides a brief introduction to the Peace Corps program, through a discussion between a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and two teenaged friends. Viewers gain insights into the uniqueness of the Peace Corps as a development organization and as a tool to promote cross-cultural understanding.

Eyes on the Prize
Six part PBS miniseries

  1. Awakenings 1954-1956
    PBS, VHS, 1/21/87

    The beginnings of the U.S. Civil rights struggle is profiled, including the Emmett Till murder trial and the Rosa Parks arrest/Montgomery bus boycott.
  2. Fighting Back 1957-1962
    PBS, VHS, 1/28/87

    Following the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown Vs the Board of Education decision, the civil rights movement presses the issue of desegregation in schools. From Little Rock High School and Eisenhower's utilization of the 101st Airborne to Ole Miss and Kennedy's lobbying efforts
  3. Ain’t Scared of Your Jails
    PBS, VHS, 2/7/87
  4. No Easy Walk 1961-1963
    PBS, VHS, 2/11/87
  5. Mississippi: Is This America? 1963-64
    PBS, VHS, 2/18/87

    1964 sees the advent of Freedom Summer. Volunteers from across the country travel to the south to register Negro voters. Despite the disappearance of three volunteers in Mississippi who are later found dead, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party is formed after blacks are banned from the regular state Democratic. The summer ends with both democratic parties struggling to be recognized at the national convention in Atlantic City.
  6. Bridge to Freedom: 1965
    PBS, VHS, 2/25/87

The Flame
Heifer Project International, VHS, 1995, 14 minutes

From the coast of Kenya to the mountains of Bolivia, Heifer Project International’s Women in Livestock Development program is helping impoverished women worldwide care for themselves and their families. “The Flame” shows how WILD assists women by providing them with food and income-producing animals and training in environmentally sound farming, leadership and community development.

Forum on South Africa
(Volumes 1-4), VHS, 9/20/1985

Francophone Africa
Emmanuel Yankey, VHS,1996

IU Linguistics graduate student presentation to two high schools

Frontline : Apartheid Part I: 1652-1948
PBS, VHS, 60 minutes, 1987

Many white South Africans claim that the entire country is theirs by right. No black man, they say, occupied South Africa before the first tiny Dutch settlement in 1652. Part 1 refutes this claim and traces the country's colonial history, the emergence early in the 20th century of the African National Congress, the rise to power of Afrikaner nationalists, and the formal policy of apartheid.

Global Voices in Song Volume 1: Four Swazi Songs
Mary Goetze and Jay Fern, VHS,1999

Global Voices Interactive: Four South African Songs
Mary Goetze and Jay Fern, DVD, 2007

Songs include: “Amabhaysikili,” “Gona Joale,” “Ngihumbuli,” “NoDolly”

Global Voices Interactive: Sotho and Zulu Songs
Mary Goetze and Jay Fern, DVD, 2007

Songs featured include: “Amavolovolo,” “Chuchumakhala,” “Skeleme Hey!” “Thula Sizwe”

Hear Our Voices- The Poor on Poverty
World Bank, VHS, 2001, 60 minutes

Explores the complexity of poverty from the point of view of the poor. Demonstrates that poor people share many similarities: a sense of being powerless & voiceless, precarious livelihoods, isolation, humiliation, and gender inequality.

South Africa in Transition
Helen Suzman, VHS, 11/2/1993

Women in South Africa
Helen Suzman, VHS, 10/20/1993

Hello! From Around the World-Africa Series, Ghana
Ernst Interactive Media, VHS, 37 minutes

Part of a series of videos of children from around the world. Illustrates childhood in Ghana.

I Can Hear Zimbabwe Calling
Hallis Media, VHS, 35 minutes

This documentary was filmed in Matenje refugee camp as refugees students were preparing to return to Zimbabwe, from Mozambique, just after independence. It documents daily life in the camp and interviews with students and teacher tell of the achievements, hardships and dangers of life in exile during the war for independence

Kente Cloth Weaving
Independent film maker, VHS, 24 minutes

Master Weaver Gilbert Bobbo Ahiagbe of the Volta region of Ghana, West Africa, accompanied by a story of how children learn to wave in West Africa, read by author Louise Meyer.

The Language You Cry In
California Newsreel, VHS, 1998, 52 minutes

This film traces the history of a song, a burial hymn of the Mende people brought as slaves, preserved among the Gullah people of Georgia.

Long Night’s Journey into Day
Reid-Hoffmann Productions, VHS, 2000

This documentary tells four stories of Apartheid in South Africa, as seen through the eyes of the Truth and Reconciliation commission. White soldiers who have killed ANC activists, black activists who have killed whites in political attacks: can there be forgiveness when the full truth comes out?

Maa Cultural Festival: A Celebration of Massai Culture
Kim Video Productions, VHS, 2001

At the Grand Regency Hotel and Bomas of Kenya. For hundreds of years the Massai culture has remained relatively intact. Today, its greatest threat is globalization – on e world culture and its biggest challenge is to remain relevant to modern needs. As it constantly evolves, Reto Women Group holds annual celebrations of Maasai culture. This is the story as at the beginning of the third millennium.

Mau Mau
NBC, hosted by Chet Huntley, VHS

Chet Huntley narrates this documentary showing the rise of the African resistance movement known as the "Mau-Mau" against British rule in East Africa in the early 1950s.

Monday’s Girls
BBC Production/ California Newsreel, VHS, 1993, 50 minutes

Provides a current look at tradition in today’s changing Africa. It examines the Iria, a woman’s initiation ceremony of the Niger River delta, through the contrasting viewpoints of two young women – Florence, who has lived all her life in the delta, and Azikiwe, who has studied in the city for ten years.

PBS, VHS, 9/7/1987

South African Elections

PBS, VHS, 12/4/1991

Interview with Nelson Mandela

Director: Stewart Copeland, VHS, 1985, 58 min

Integration of British rock drummer’s experiences of African music.

Search for the Great Apes
National Geographic Video, VHS, 1975, 60 minutes

High in the mountains of central Africa and deep within a rain forest of Indonesian Borneo, two dedicated scientists have sought and found the mountain gorilla and the elusive orangutan.

South Africa Now #101
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 08/03/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #102
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 08/10/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #103
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 08/17/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #105
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 8/31/90, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #106
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 9/7/90, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #108
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 09/21/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #109
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 09/28/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #110
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 10/05/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Now #111
IU Instructional Television, VHS, 10/12/1990, 30 minutes

South Africa Unedited
American Friends Service Committee, VHS, 1986, 30 minutes

South Africa: Under the Gun
PBS, VHS, 10/2/1985, 120 minutes

Southwest Zimbabwe Wood Sculptors: Z. Tshuma and others
Judith Greavu, VHS, 1994

An introduction to the art of Zimbabwean wood sculpture.

White Man’s Country
Anthony David Productions, Inc., VHS, 1987, 50 minutes

In the late 19th century, Britain, France, Germany and other European states agreed on the division of Africa into a patchwork of colonies, and set about exploring and exploiting their new possessions. Violence was endemic to the process, for how else could the Africans already living there be persuaded to cede their land, labor, property and freedom to foreigners? Colonialism’s brutal dialectic of repression and resistance was set in motion, as Africans fought to defend their lives and, eventually, organized national political movements and underground military ones to win their rights and freedom. White Man's Country combines period photographs and contemporary location footage with the testimony of African and European witnesses, to examine both sides of Europe's "civilizing mission" in Africa