Ernest Genval

Ernest Genval
Film director, Song writer/composer, Screenwriter
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv

Ernest Genval, whose real name was Ernest Thiers, was born in Liege or in Dison (Belgium). During the twenties, he was a cabaret singer in Belgian Congo before becoming a director for colonial enterprises and, later on, for the Belgian Army. In 1930, he was appointed the first official filmmaker of Congo. He died at Dachau in 1945.

Ernest Genval (1884-1945) was a Belgian poet, singer and filmmaker best known for films shot in the Belgian Congo between 1924-1938. During the first World War, Genval became a singer in the Belgian army, and after the conflict he went on a successful cabaret tour of the Belgian Congo. Upon his return to Belgium in 1924, he tried to earn a living by producing advertising films. He also shot a (lost) feature film about the life in rural Belgium, The Becasse Farm, on which he collaborated with Victor Morin, an experienced cameraman who had previously worked together with Jacques Feyder. In the meantime he discovered that Belgians were as avid for information about the Belgian Congo and the mandated territories in Central Africa as they were ignorant about the real situation. He therefore decided to make good use of his experience and contacts and return to the colony with his cameraman and equipment. Touring the country by car, Genval succeeded in making a dozen short films commissioned by, or dealing with, colonial enterprises. In 1927 he made the long documentary'The Congo Awakens', which premièred in Brussels before being officially released by Gaumont-Metro-Goldwyn. The film was a pean to Belgium's civilization, techno-industrial and medical achievements in the colony. After this financial success, Genval returned to Africa several times to make films and ethnographic documentaries. In Belgium he continued to direct a number of advertising films. In 1945, he was arrested by the Gestapo on the charge of collaboration with the underground press and deported to Dachau, where he eventually succumbed to typhoid fever.


Ernest Genval, cuyo verdadero nombre era Ernest Thiers, nació en 1884 en Lieja o en Dison (Bélgica). En los años veinte fue cantante de cabaret en el Congo Belga antes de convertirse en realizador para empresas coloniales y, posteriormente, para el ejército belga. En 1930 fue nombrado primer cineasta oficial del Congo. Murió en Dachau en 1945.

1924 La Ferme Bécasse (doc)
1925 La Belgika (doc)
1926 De Boma à Tshela (doc) - Fonctionnement d'une bourse de travail "La B.T.K." (doc) - Le grand Élevage au Congo belge (doc)
1927 Le Congo qui s'éveille (doc)
1928 De Stanleyville à Bukama par la voie des grands lacs (doc) - Nzambi Mpungo (doc) - La Mission et le jardin botanique de Kisantu (doc)
1929-30 L'Action civilisatrice de la Belgique au Congo (doc)
1930 Congo, coeur de l'Afrique (doc)
1931-32 Cheval de trait (doc)
1933 Agriculture au Katanga (doc) - Images de Liège (doc)
1937-38 Le Diamant (doc)
1938 Avec les Hommes de l'eau (doc)

Filmografía disponible en cinenómada
1928 - Nzambi Mpungu
1926 - De Boma à Tshela
1938 - Avec les Hommes de l'eau

Source: Tarifa FilmFest 2011


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  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

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