CAMEROON: Jean-Marie Teno Launches “House of Documentary Cinema” to Stimulate Young Filmmakers

After spending 40 years making documentaries, Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno is looking to pass on his knowledge to the next generation. He has announced the launch of La’a Lom, a cinema in his hometown of Banjun that will serve as a space for art residencies, seminars, and training workshops.

Lom means “the forge” in the Bandjoun language, a concept evoking fulfillment. The forge is the place where, from raw metal, diverse objects, such as tools and day-to-day or artistic objects are created. Talom (Tà’a Lom) means “the father of the forge.”

Teno says that the center will be a place for training young filmmakers, preserving African film heritage, and promoting public education about African culture. “African cultures are rich and diverse, but they are also under threat from globalization and modernization,” he says. “The center will help to preserve African culture by training young filmmakers to document and share it with the world.”

Teno’s Bandjoun Film Studio has already trained 17 young documentary filmmakers and produced 17 films, 7 of which have been selected for international festivals. The studio’s vision for La’a Lom is to serve as a documentation center, a conservation and archive center for Teno’s films and those made during the Patrimoines-Heritage workshops, and a permanent heritage resource center.

The La’a Lom project is still under construction, and there is still a need for funding to finish the building. The completion will consist of finishing its roof, carpentry, plastering, interiors, fittings, and installation of ecological electricity, running water, and waste disposal systems. Teno is urging donations to the project and helping in making the La’a Lom cultural center a reality.

“This center will be a unique resource for the people of Cameroon and for the world,” he says. “It will be a place where young filmmakers can learn their craft, where African film heritage can be preserved, and where the public can learn about African culture.”

Teno has been active since the 1980s. His films often explore colonialism, post-colonialism, corruption, and violence. Teno is known for his use of documentary-style filmmaking and his commitment to portraying the realities of life in Cameroon. His work is often framed as a form of decolonial cinematic resistance, and he is considered to be one of the leading African filmmakers of his generation.

To learn more about the La’a Lom project and to make a donation, please visit www.laalom.org.