This African City Is Considered One Of The Most Filmed Locations In The Continent

Dakar, Senegal is known for its sandy beaches and vibrant colors, found everywhere from the bustling markets where you can find people selling fabrics, spices, shoes, and more, to the fishing boats lining the coast. Its variety makes Senegal a must-visit country for those looking to visit Africa. The capital city of Dakar, with just under 3.5 million inhabitants, is one of the most popular places to visit in West Africa. With its numerous cultures, delicious food, and rich history, it's no wonder why it holds that title, but you might find it especially interesting if you're a fan of film.

Dakar claims the title of one of the most filmed locations in Africa. "The light makes all the difference," film director Leila Sy told Africa News. "Everything is beautiful — the color, the people, the energy." While countries like South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda are popular shooting locations, Senegal too has a seat at the table when it comes to the film industry. Senegal was once the top production sector in Africa, meaning it played an important role in cinematic history on the African continent.

A quick history of film in Senegal

In the 1970s and 1980s, 80 movie theaters across the country were at their peak popularity, bringing in crowds regularly. Making movies was almost just as popular as going to the movies during this time. Films produced by local filmmakers became more and more abundant, replacing those by the French colonizers that had filled the theaters in the decades prior. A large contributor to this trend was Senegal's political independence in the 1960s. Before this, only the French could film in Senegal; those native to the land were not allowed to produce films, and were limited in what they could watch as well.

In 2016, only four movie theaters were operating throughout the country. The once booming industry shrank dramatically over time. This, however, didn't stop people from filming in Dakar and other parts of Senegal. The city and its surrounding area provide a beautiful backdrop for films like "Atlantique (2019),"  "Soloum (2021)," and "Banel and Adama," just as it had for older ones like "Touki Bouki (1973)."

Where to visit

If you find yourself intrigued by Senegalese film history or the country in general, you should plan a trip to Dakar and fill your itinerary with popular film sites throughout the city. The IFAN Museum of African Art, Dakar Grand Mosque, Museum of Black Civilizations, and House of Slaves Museum are all well-known filming locations. Since you'll be touring rather than filming, you can take your time and explore each museum to learn about the country's unique history. If you want to leave the city and venture further out, the beaches and forests along the coast are also popular spots for films.

Next time you're planning a trip to West Africa, consider Senegal, home of one of the most filmed cities on the continent and a budget-friendly destination. You'll learn plenty about its history, culture, and bustling film industry while also taking in the country's overall vibrance and beauty.