2014 Edition's Flora Gomes

Flora Gomes

Flora Gomes

  • A Bissau-Guinean film director, he was born in Cadique, Guinea-Bissau on 31 December, 1949 and after high school in Cuba, he decided to study film at the Instituto Cubano del Arte y la Industria Cinematogr?ficos in Havana.

    Shot fourteen years after independence, Gomes's Mortu Nega (Death Denied) (1988) was the first fiction film and the second feature film ever made in Guinea-Bissau. (The first feature film was N’tturudu by director Umban u’Kest in 1987) At FESPACO 1989, the film won the prestigious Oumarou Ganda Prize. In 1992, Gomes directed Udju Azul di Yonta, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.

    Son of illiterate parents, as a child Gomes struggled against the limitations of his social status and the oppression of the Portuguese colonial system under Ant?nio Salazar's rule. He supported Bissau-Guinean resistance against colonialism and greatly admired Am?lcar Cabral. He left Guinea-Bissau to study cinema in Cuba (1972) at the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematography, under the guidance of Santiago ?lvarez. He continued his studies in Senegal, at the Senegalese Journal for Motion Picture News, under the direction of Paulin Soumanou Vieyra. He also co-directed two films with Sergio Pina and worked as an assistant with Chris Marker and Anita Fernandez.

    Upon returning to liberated Guinea-Bissau, Gomes filmed his country's independence ceremony (24 September 1974), fulfilling the desire of Am?lcar Cabral that it should be Bissau-Guineans themselves capturing this historical moment on film. After freeing itself from colonial rule, Guinea-Bissau was visited by many reporters and progressive filmmakers and Gomes, given his knowledge of cinema, was in great demand to assist them, which allowed him to expand his skills. At the end of 1970s, he worked as a photographer and cameraman for the Ministry of Information.

    Having first directed historical documentaries, Gomes filmed his first feature film, Mortu Nega, in 1987. Mortu Nega depicts the struggle for independence and the challenges of the first post-independence years in Guinea-Bissau. The film was screened at several international film festivals and Gomes caught the attention of commentators and critics. He was particularly well received in France, which in later years enabled him to attract funding for the production of new films. In 2000, he was distinguished in France with the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

    Filmography

    1976 - O Regresso de Cabral (short documentary)

    1977 - A Reconstruç?o, co-directed with Sergio Pina (medium-length documentary)

    1978 - Anos no Oça Luta, co-directed with Sergio Pina (short documentary)

    1987 - Mortu Nega

    1992 - Udju Azul di Yonta

    1994 - A m?scara (short documentary)

    1996 - Po di Sangui

    2002 - Nha Fala

    2007 - As duas faces da guerra, co-directed with Diana Andringa (feature-length documentary)

    2013- The Children’s Republic

    Awards and Accomplishments

    1988

    Mortu Nega won:

    Bronze Tanit at Carthage Film Festival

    Prize for best actress at Carthage Film Festival

    Prize for best film and actress at FESPACO

    1992

    Udju Azul di Yonta won:

    Bronze Tanit at Carthage Film Festival

    OAU (Organization of African Unity) prize at Carthage Film Festival

    Prize for best actress at FESPACO

    Special Jury Prize at Salonika Film Festival (Greece)

    1994

    Distinguished with the Order of Merit for Culture by the Tunisian Government.

    Jury Member at the Carthage Film Festival.

    1996

    Awarded Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

    Po di Sangui won Silver Tanit award at Carthage Film Festival

    2002

    Nha fala won the international prize given by the French Bourse for the best film from the South.

    Nha fala also won the best Latin film award at the unofficial Venice Film Festival.

    Nha fala won the city prize at the Amiens International Film Festival (France).

    Flora Gomes was recognized in Portugal by the Bissau-Guinean community for his services in making the Bissau-Guinean culture known worldwide.

    2003

    Nha fala won the Grand Prize at the Vue d’Afrique Festival in Montreal.

    Nha fala won the Grand Prize for a feature film at FESPACO from the ECOWAS parallel jury.

    2004

    Flora Gomes was a member of the jury at the Amiens International Film Festival.

    2005

    Was chosen as president of the ECOWAS jury at FESPACO.

    Was recognized by the University of Lisbon, receiving a medal celebrating the universality of his work.

    Was a panelist at the second Brown University Africana Film Festival.

    2006

    Was a visiting artist/professor at the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University.

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