The Bronze Men of Cameroon is a documentary film about cultural heritage and the threats to traditional practices. The film presents rare insights into the tacit knowledge and art of bronze casting in the Western Region of Cameroon. It also examines the challenges of sustaining this valued cultural heritage that has defined the social memory and identity of the Bamum People. In recent years, this cherished traditional practice has been in rapid decline, causing concerns for the craftsmen who are desperate to safeguard their heritage. The once flourishing tradition is now endangered as global trends impact on a way of life that has sustained livelihoods over several generations. The craftsmen are uncertain “if in the future, Bamum’s bronze art could disappear.” Is the Art of traditional Bronze Casting actually disappearing or merely changing with the demands of modern times? Are the processes of globalisation incompatible with the preservation of indigenous cultures?

Synopsis
‘The Bronze Men of Cameroon’ is an intimate portrait of a community of bronze artisans in Foumban, the ‘City of Arts’. Bronze casting is a valued cultural heritage of the Bamum People in the Western Region of Cameroon. This film presents bronze craftsmen at work. It presents rare insights into their expertise in producing unique bronze sculptures that are inscribed with symbolic images and narratives of collective memory, identity and the Bamum character.

The Bronze Men of Cameroon’ is also about threats to cultural continuity as global trends negatively impact on indigenous practices. Bamum bronze casting is endangered! The bronze craftsmen are facing challenges in sustaining and safeguarding their unique cultural heritage that has formed their collective social memory. The raw materials for their cherished traditional art practice are scare. The artists are facing competition from Chinese migrants who are buying the materials in large quantities and exporting to their country. Bronze casting activities are slowly declining. The foundries are closing down! Some bronze Artists are turning to farming and other trades. The artisans are fearful and uncertain “whether in the future Bamum’s bronze art could disappear” and, with it, a tradition and their sense of belonging that has defined their identity, culture, and history for several generations. Are these the last generation of bronze craftsmen in the Bamum Kingdom?

This practice as research project is underpinned by broad discourses and debates of globalisation; used here as a framework to explore how we might understand the contested impact of transnational connections interactions on indigenous cultures. Concepts related to postcolonialism, new imperialisms, cultural continuity and resistance are considered. The discourse of local-global interactions and the impact of China’s dominant economic activities on local culture are examined as part of the global trends that generate unequal relations between the centre and the margin.
Original languageOther
Place of PublicationSelected film festivals; Twin City Black Film Festival (TCBFF), Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Mosaic Film Festival of Arts and Culture – Bedford, Nova Scotia – Canada; Kwanzaa Film Festival - New York, USA; West African Film Festival, Houston, Texas, USA; Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) Los Angeles, USA - February 14-28, 2021; Festival International du Cinéma Indépendant de Bafoussam (FICIB), Cameroun; RapidLion - The South African International Film Festival; Master of Art Film Festival, Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, Bulgaria; Cameroon International Film Festival (CAMIFF); International Black and Diversity Film Festival (IBDFF), Toronto, Canada; The African Film Festival (TAFF), Dallas, Texas, USA; Fine Arts Film Festival, Vernice, California, USA.
Media of outputFilm
Size55 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2020

    Research areas

  • Documentary Realism, African Cinema, Representation, Ethnographic film, Transnational Cinema, Cultural Studies, Spectatorship and Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Heritage & Identity, Globalisation

ID: 3876362