Sarah Maldoror, a pioneer of Pan-African cinema and activist, died in Paris on Monday, due to complications from coronavirus.
She was 91.
Sunu Journal, a platform of African Affairs, shared the news of her death on Twitter describing her as an “evolutionary cinéaste”.
“We are very saddened by the news of the great Sarah Maldoror’s passing. She was a revolutionary cinéaste and her films helped shape and solidify the Pan-African cinematic canon. Rest in peace Sarah Maldoror. Our thoughts are with her family,” the tweet read.
Born Sarah Durados by immigrant parents from Guadeloupe, the renowned filmmaker was most popular for her themes of political liberation and activism.
She was famous for her anticolonialist work and was one of the prominent 1970’s/1980s black francophone directors who really started questioning post-colonial black French condition.
Maldoror became prominent following the release of ‘Sambizanga’, her movie which chronicled the 1961–1974 war in Angola.
She had a fulfilling movie career and bagged several awards including a ‘Tanit d’or’ at the 1972 Carthage Film Festival.
He awarded her with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite – for services to culture in 2012.
“She had contributed to fill the deficit of images of African women in front of and behind the camera,” he said.
In an interview with American media, the late filmmaker agreed with the need to put women in the spotlight.
“African women must be everywhere. They must be in the images, behind the camera, in the editing room and involved in every stage of the making of a film. They must be the ones to talk about their problems.”
In one of her famous interviews, the late filmmaker described her approach to film making, saying, “To make a film means to take a position, and when I take a position, I am educating people. I make films so that people-no matter what race or colour they are- can understand them.”
Tributes have been emerging in praise of Maldoror’s illustrious career in which she made some 40 films including a number of important documentaries that shone a light on black artists such as the poet Aimé Cesaire.
France’s former culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, referred to her considerable contribution not only to the cinema but to history.
Sarah Maldoror, who made Sambizanga, one of the best films ever, has died. I've been carrying a picture of her with me for years, as a reminder of what to aim for. pic.twitter.com/E395Lj99WY
— mark cousins (@markcousinsfilm) April 13, 2020
See some of her Twitter tributes below
When you speak about range in cinema don’t forget to mention our Antillean queen Sarah Maldoror ! Stills from A Bissau, Le Carnaval (1990) pic.twitter.com/1cNAwRpFAS
— Amy Sall (@amy_sall) April 13, 2020
Deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Sarah Maldoror, immense figure of African cinema, shortly after hearing that of Osange Silou Kieffer, these are terrible times. Sharing a few stills of her first feature, Sambizanga, available here: https://t.co/O7PbLzDLdo pic.twitter.com/AaDkcnAj9s
— Is that Jazz? (@JazzholeMC) April 13, 2020
Sarah Maldoror died yesterday in Paris. I had no idea when I posted this. An absolute giant of African film. First Black woman to direct a feature film. Assistant director for THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. Made films for the FLN and PAIGC. A Revolutionary.
Descansa em paz. https://t.co/vCmWpVDzfu
— Erykah Badiu (@CachupaPapi) April 13, 2020
Sarah Maldoror married Mário Pinto de Andrade.
He was an Angolan anticolonial poet & political figure who founded the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) & part of establishing the Angolan Communist Party
a black communist love story!!!! pic.twitter.com/6ItCedNo2h
— yasmina (@jasminprix) April 13, 2020