Images Out of Africa

The Virginia Garner Diaries of the Africa Motion Picture Project

By (author) Virginia Garner

Publication date:

19 May 2011

Length of book:

250 pages

Publisher

UPA

ISBN-13: 9780761853800

Missionaries played a fundamental role in introducing cinema into the developing world in the early twentieth century. These representatives of the Christian community diligently produced films about far-flung cultures to bolster fundraising for mission efforts around the globe. By the interwar period, a few husband-and-wife teams in Africa were making an array of films about vanishing cultures and the struggle to bring Christianity to indigenous populations.
Images Out of Africa brings to light the remarkable expedition of one such team of filmmakers. In 1938, Virginia and Ray Garner, working for the Africa Motion Picture Project, ambitiously began making films in the Belgian Congo and French Cameroons, introducing film into villages for the first time. This book features Virginia Garner's recently rediscovered diaries, which highlight the challenges of making films in Africa in the 1930s and include rich descriptions of cross-cultural interactions and micro-negotiations with chiefs, headmen, and villagers.
Glenn Reynolds has done the academic community a great service by bringing these journals to light. But Garner's diaries should appeal to an audience beyond academia. Her narrative provides a snapshot of one American's world view at the cusp of the 'American century.' Garner's diaries are particularly valuable because they contribute a woman's voice into the dialogue about early colonial film-making.