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Peer-Review Record

Mobile Film Festival Africa and Postcolonial Activism

Humanities 2023, 12(6), 140;
by Rebecca Weaver-Hightower
Reviewer 1:
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Humanities 2023, 12(6), 140;
Submission received: 4 April 2023 / Revised: 10 October 2023 / Accepted: 18 October 2023 / Published: 28 November 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Media and Colonialism: New Colonial Media?)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

One of the best articles on this subject, and expertly examines the dilemma when modernity encounters tradition as well as the dialectic of technological progress. 

The article flows logically and smoothly, without glossing over the social and economic conditions in Africa. It is structurally sound and the theoretical framework that guides the study is appropriate.

I did not see any flaws or mechanical issues in the article regarding grammar, etc. This article is a great contribution to the study of film, colonialism and post-colonialism.

In my opinion it is ready for publication.

Author Response

I thank this reviewer for his/her time and comments.  

Reviewer 2 Report

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. The central case study, I thought, made for an engaging and nuanced reading of the Mobile Film Festival Africa. The questioning of social media/digital media activism through neocolonial technologies was insightful and made a compelling argument for how we might read works enabled and distributed through exploitative global capitalism in the context of post-colonial expression. The films chosen from the award-winning categories were sampled appropriately and the analysis of the two main case studies in the article made for convincing conclusions.

The article is generally well written and structured, and is engagingly jargon free. Aside from some final proofing (YouTube can sometimes be written inconsistently, there is a single 'google' [sic] and it should be AIDS rather 'aids'), I can think of few ways to recommend that I think would improve the article - you might perhaps have footnoted some literature on mobile phone filmmaking that benchmarked comments on the quality of the films in the festival, but this would be a minor addition.

Thank you.

Comments on the Quality of English Language

This article is very well written. It's thoroughly readable and clear throughout. It has a few typos, but nothing that shouldn't be picked up on a final sweep.

Author Response

I thank this reviewer for his/her time.  I have made the editing changes he/she suggested and have done more work to fold in existing scholarship that provides a context for this paper. 

Reviewer 3 Report

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

This is a valuable contribution to the work on film festivals, extending the scholarship on contemporary online festivals, especially in the context of Africa - these are deserving of more exploration in film studies scholarship. Moreover, the author does a terrific job balancing the bigger issues of digital festivals in the postcolonial (or neocolonial) context with an examination of the films themselves. Given the marginalization of short films, amateur films, and non-festival film African films in general, that attention was welcome. The essay made me want to watch these films and take a closer look at the work of the online festival.

Moreover, the essay is well written and clear in its argument.

However, the one major problem here is a missing literature review and a  weak engagement with existing scholarship. The references overwhelming cite news articles and online studies aimed at a popular readership. Missing is any attention to the academic work on activist film festivals, online film festivals, mobile moviemaking, African cinema, etc. Some suggestions (not exhaustive):

Max Schleser, Smartphone Filmmaking : Theory and Practice.

Lindiwe Dovey, Curating Africa in the Age of Film Festivals

Baschiera/ Fisher, eds, World Cinema On Demand

Tascon/Wils, eds., Activist Film Festivals

Gino Canella, Activist Media: Documenting Movements and Networked Solidarity

Even if the author lays out the stakes in the introduction (does social media liberate or reinforce dominant power structures?), these stakes could be sharpened by taking on existing debates specific to film festivals.

To expand on this: a film festival, even an online festival with largely amateur-made shorts, is not a social media phenomenon in the way the examples of the introduction suggest. The essay argues, implicitly and explicitly, that YouTube itself imposes some of the social media problems onto the festival, but that tension itself (between festival logic and YouTube logic) is worth analyzing. The fact the festival selected more of the politically direct work is itself worth noting.

As a reader I could also use a little more clarity about what the idea of activism provides for the analysis. The films chosen have political themes and allegories, and one comments on technology and activism. But how and in what way are the films activist? There is a specificity about activist movements that seems missing here, or else could be highlighted more.

Ultimately, it would not hurt to have the larger argument about the films (that they navigate and critique the contradictions of the use of mobile phone technology as a tool of activism in the postcolonial context) up front in the introduction.

Author Response

I very much appreciate this reviewer's comments and perspective.  After reading this comment I could see that I did not include relevant scholarship about film festivals and other examinations of new media, partially because I was casting this essay in other directions. I have done my best to include and contextualize discussions of global film and film festivals, though my approach is still to think of these short films in terms of social media more than film.  I address this choice in note 3.  

The question about activism is an interesting one I had also not considered.  I have defined how I am using the term and threaded through my analysis what I think activism would look like and what it is not.  

Unusual for me, I had this essay written with a sort of delayed thesis, but I went back and tried to more clearly suggest in its beginning that the essay would ultimately read two complicated short films for their take on new media activism. 

Again, I appreciate this reviewer's comments, which I have used in revision and which have made this draft stronger. 

Round 2

Reviewer 3 Report

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

Again, the essay shows a lot of strengths - it is well written and concisely examines its object of study. Moreover, it adds a valuable study of films and festivals that are overlooked in the scholarship.

However, I do feel the revision is a perfunctory response to the literature review problem. The author has placed my bibliographic suggestions in a footnote with a brief description to suggest why they're tangential to the paper. I am not the author of any of these and have no strong investment in these suggestions, nor does the essay have to be primarily a film studies essay, though I do think a paper on online film festivals would benefit from the insights and debates in film festival scholarship. I'm more concerned that there's not a lot of conceptual engagement with other scholarship in general - whether work in media studies, film studies, or political theory.  A shorter journal essay cannot do everything of course, but it can orient itself to ongoing work in the field. 

Author Response

Thank you for your feedback.  This piece was meant to be oriented in new media studies and not film studies, though I can see why I need to at least note that body of scholarship.  I'm sorry the revision seemed perfunctory.  

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