Medien|Denken – Ros Gray – Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution

08.06.21 | ROS GRAY (Goldsmiths University London / GB)

Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution.
Anti-Colonialism, Independence and Internationalism in Filmmaking, 1968-1991


In one of the first cultural acts to follow independence in 1975, Frelimo’s new socialist government of Mozambique set up a National Institute of Cinema (the INC). In a country where many people had little previous experience of cinema, the INC was tasked to “deliver to the people an image of the people”. This book explores how this unique culture of revolutionary filmmaking began during the armed struggle against Portuguese colonialism. Following independence, the INC began the task of decolonising the film industry, building on networks of solidarity with other socialist and non-aligned struggles. Mozambique became an epicentre for militant filmmakers from around the world and cinema played an essential role in building the new nation. Crucially, the book examines how filmmaking became a resource for resistance against Apartheid as the Cold War played out across Southern Africa during the late 1970s and 1980s. Drawing on detailed film analysis, production histories and testimonies of key participants, Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution provides a compelling account of this radical experiment in harnessing cinema to social change.

Biographical Note

Ros Gray is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Critical Studies in the Art Department at Goldsmiths where she has led the development of the MA Art & Ecology programme.  Her research has investigated militant filmmaking, particularly in relation to liberation struggles and revolutionary movements in Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso. This research informs her monograph Cinemas of the Mozambican Revolution: Anti-Colonialism, Independence and Internationalism in Filmmaking, 1968–1991 (James Currey, 2020), among many other publications in journals and books. In recent years, her research has increasingly focused on artistic interventions in the fields of soil care, cultivation and decolonial ecologies more broadly. In 2018 Ros co-edited with Shela Sheikh a special issue of Third Text entitled ‘The Wretched Earth: Botanical Conflicts and Artistic Interventions’, and in 2020 they produced ‘The Coloniality of Planting’ for the Camden Art Centre’s podcast series The Botanical Mind, which was also published as an article in Architectural Review in 2021.

Natascha Frankenberg