Tales of Africa, by Djilali Beskri
How can the essence of traditional African tales be conveyed in the contemporary era? Gathered in a single film, six animated shorts showcase traditional stories from six African countries through which the protagonist Papa Nzenu travels. With Tales of Africa, producer and director Djilali Beskri wants to promote a new generation of African cartoonists.
First sketches in Algiers
Born in 1953, Algerian cartoonist Djilali Beskri first became known for his comic strips in the Alger Républicain, before making his name as an animator. Having become a filmmaker and producer, he founded his studio Dynamic Art Vision with the aim of developing African animated cinema. Promoting the practice of drawing in all its forms, he also produced a documentary on the press illustrator and cartoonist Slim.
A modern griot
Organised by Djilali Beskri in 2016, Tales of Africa brings together six 13-minute-long shorts, produced by young African filmmakers and illustrators. From the DRC to Cameroon by way of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, the protagonist, elderly Papa Nzenu, walks through many African cities with his cane and white robe. In the griot tradition, Papa Nzenu sings his stories to passers-by, and shares his values: maintaining hope, keeping your word, rewarding virtue, etc. Tales of Africa is the first part of what its creator hopes will be a pan-African series.
A collective cinema
“Animation is a team effort, there are thinkers, creators, those who apply the ideas, and those who ensure that everything runs smoothly. Successful animation can only ever be collective", explains Djilali Beskri, who co-directed this collaborative film with Jérémie Nsingi, Wakili Adehane, Louisa Beskri, Nabaloum Boureima, Narcisse Youmbi, Ismael Diallo and Abib Cissé. Trained in the Dynamic Art Vision workshops, in collaboration with the Algerian Agency for Cultural Outreach (AARC), the young directors of Tales of Africa sought to build connections and engage in a dialogue between the heritages and traditions of their respective countries.
For an animated Africa
Djilali Beskri's work promotes and introduces viewers to ancient cultures. An educational and appealing tool, Tales of Africa helps audiences better understand the African world, its perspective on the universe, its religious concepts, its understanding of humans, beings and things. Its oral traditions can now be expressed through images.