Joseph Gaï Ramaka

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Mr. Ramaka is originally from Saint Louis, Senegal (West Africa), but resided for many years in Paris, France. Since January 2008, he has taken up residence in New Orleans, Louisiana.

He studied Visual Anthropology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and Film at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques, at l’Université de Paris VIII.
He set up his own production and distribution company, Les Ateliers de l’Arche, in France in 1990, and another in Senegal in 1997.
In 1998, the company opened Espace Bel’Arte in Senegal's capital city of Dakar, a space dedicated to the diffusion of independent films in their original versions and venue for activities aimed at school children and high school students.

Ramaka has written, produced, and directed several screenplays and films, including Ainsi soit-il (So Be It). This short film was part of the series Afrika Dreaming, which includes contemporary stories of love from several countries in Africa. The film received the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 1997. Karmen Geï is his first feature film, adapted from the French opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. This first African film version of the Carmen story, a musical tragedy, was shown at several international film festivals in 2001-2002, including Cannes (France) and Sundance (USA), as well as a dozen television stations around the world.
Ramaka's latest project, And What if Latif Were Right, focusing on the assassination of a public official and the sinking of a passenger ship off the coast of Senegal, examines the culture of autocracy under current Senegalese president, Abdoulaye Wade.

Ramaka was first invited to Indiana University Bloomington for a brief visit by the Department of Comparative Literature in 2006. In March 2007, he led a team of IU students in videotaping an international symposium on Senegalese literature and culture, organized on the Bloomington campus by the Project on African Expressive Traditions (POAET) and African Studies Program. As a Visiting Research Associate, he is making a documentary from that footage on the symposium. He was also interviewed recently by the Black Film Center/Archive at IU Bloomington for its publication Black Camera.

He currently lives in New Orleans, where he is co- President and director of the New Orléans Afrikan Film and Arts Festival (NOAFEST). NOAFEST's audio-visual workshop is currently producing a film, directed by local students under his supervision, on a collaborative performance between the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. NOAFEST's Cinéma Première screens international and American films in the presence of filmmakers and in different venues in New Orleans. Ramaka is in the process of establishing a production company, Colored People's Time.

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