The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman 2016

Rosine Mbakam / Cameroon / 76 mins / French, Bamileke / Rating 15

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Rosine Mbakam left Cameroon at 27 to live in Belgium. Seven years later—having studied film and married a European—she returns, accompanied by her son. Motivated by a desire to better understand her past and the place she grew up, Rosine is nonetheless surprised by the revelations her mother and other women make in startlingly intimate conversations. 

The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman opens with Rosine making what she calls a journey into darkness—to the village of her birth, and later to the capital city of Yaoundé, where her mother now lives most of the year. In the village of Tonga, her mother, Mâ Brêh, shares memories of the horrors of the war against French colonizers, and of daily life for a Cameroonian woman in an arranged marriage—a fate Rosine herself barely escaped, leaving the family of an angry ex-fiance behind.

Rosine accompanies her mother, aunts, and other women while they go about daily tasks. Like many immigrants, she finds herself distant from her home country, yet drawn to its rituals and memories. As she spends more time with her mother and the women around her, Rosine reveals the strength of their solidarity and their ability to face adversity—whether hiding for their lives from French soldiers or being committed to a man for marriage at age eight. The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman is a sharply observed, nuanced and powerful feature documentary debut that captures the relationship between a woman and her mother—and subtly expresses the dislocation of emigration.

About the Director

Rosine Mbakam grew up in Cameroon, and her passion for cinema started early in life. She trained in Yaoundé with the Centro Orientamento Educativo (COE) where she learned cinematography, editing and production. She collaborated and directed several films with COE before joining STV (Spectrum Television) in 2003.

In 2007, she left Cameroon to study at the Institut Supérieur des Arts (INSAS) in Brussels, Belgium. She directed and co-directed several short films, including You Will Be My Ally and a portrait of the Congolese artist Freddy Tsimba "Mavambu." In 2014, she and Geoffroy Cernaix founded Tândor Productions, which produced her first feature film, The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman (2016), which won prizes including the prestigious Discovery Award from the Society of Media Authors and Creators (SCAM). Her second feature film, Chez Jolie Coiffure (2019) is highly acclaimed. Like Chez Jolie Coiffure, her third feature, Delphine's Prayers (2021), is also a 'chamber piece', shot in a single room, following the story of Delphine, who left the oppression of a patriarchal society in Cameroon looking for a new life in Europe — only to find herself enmeshed in sexual exploitation of a different kind.

Past Showings

Friday 15th October 2021 / 7:30pm for 17 days / Online

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Director Masterclass

Join us for a director masterclass with Rosine Mbakam in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute (SDI) on Wednesday 27th October at 14:00.

To join in the conversation on Zoom, please register here. 

*This masterclass will be recorded and uploaded to our Vimeo shortly after the event.