Jean-Pierre Bekolo studied physics at the University of Yaoundé, then trained in editing at the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel – INA in Paris where he discovered semiotics, which he studied with Christian Metz. His first film, Quartier Mozart (1992), which he directed at the age of 25, won awards at the Cannes Festival, Locarno, and Montreal.
Released in 1995, Aristotle’s Plot was commissioned by the British Film Institute to represent Africa in a series of films commemorating the centenary of cinema. It was also the first African film selected for the Sundance Film Festival. Subsequently, Les Saignantes (2005) considered to be the first African science fiction film, classified by the Museum of Modern Art to be among seventy science fiction classics. Naked Reality in 2016 is his second science fiction film. In 2013, he made The President, a mock documentary censored in Cameroon and the four-hour documentary The Things and Words of Mudimbe. In 2018, the Quai Branly Museum, where he had exhibited Une Africaine dans l’Espace in 2006, devoted a retrospective to him. In 2021 he will release Nous Les Noirs, a documentary with historical reenactment on the blacks of Colombia.
He has been a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Duke University. He created in 2020 QUARTIER MOZART a cultural third place in Yaoundé and developed since 2021 SCRIPTO SENSA, a program of adaptations of African literary works to the cinema. He has developed the concept of Healing Cinema and “therapeutic” intellectuals with the University of Bayreuth in Germany.