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About: FW: African Film Festival for High School Students

Thu, 16 Jul 1998 08:09:13 -0700 (PDT)

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    Originally dated: Thu, 16 Jul 1998 08:09:13 -0700 (PDT)

    Subject: Re: African Film Festival for High School Students
    From: Don Larsson, Mankato State University

    In addition to the other films mentioned so far, I'd include the following:
    I'd highly recommend this one for your age group, especially if you use it
    in conjunction with a print or other version of the Malian oral epic
    SUNDIATA. The film is about the urbanized descendents of the legendary hero
    and how the family's griot takes up with them in order to instruct their son
    in his legacy. Not only does the film depict aspects of the epic, but it
    shows (often in comic fashion) the sharp contrast between an urbanized,
    Westernized elite and the rural, native legacy that they are in danger of
    2) WEND KUUNI and ZAN BOKO by Gaston Kabore of Burkina Faso. The
    former, set in a pre-colonial past, is a fable about an abandoned child who
    is adopted but remains silent until the events of his past life are allowed
    to unfold. It gives additional nuance to the saying "It takes a village to
    raise a child." The latter film demonstrates how a village can literally be
    absorbed by a growing metropolis and the impact of corruption on a single
    family, along with questions of free speech and television as a medium for
    political exchange (not nearly as dull as I've made it sound!).
    3) The films of Idrissa Ouedraogo, also of Burkina Faso, ought to be
    accessible to this age group. YAABA is about two children who become
    friends with an outcast old woman thought to be a witch. TILAI is about a
    man whose fiancee has become his own father's wife and the tragic
    consequences that unfold (reminiscent of ANTIGONE or other Greek tragedies
    in some ways). SAMBA TRAORE is about a man who returns to his village newly
    rich because of a robbery he committed and the guilt that overcomes the
    generosity and prosperity of an otherwise decent person. One caveat about
    YAABA for this age group: the old woman does not conform to mainstream ideas
    about beauty and appears half-naked in much of the film-teen boys (if I know
    them at all) should be prepared for that, and some school officials might
    have trouble with the nakedness.
    4) Finally, YEELEN (BRIGHTNESS) is an epic story also set in a
    pre-colonial past. The setting, performances and use of magic ought to be
    attractive although Souleymane Cisse's method of telling the story could be
    either offputting or enthralling, depending on how conditioned to linear
    plots your students are. The film also contains some nudity.
    Good luck with your class!
    Don Larsson
    All of these films, except BRIGHTNESS, are available from California
    Newsreel's Library of African Cinema. Purchase costs for the videotapes are
    almost the same as rentals, so it would probably make more sense to buy if
    you have that option.
    Don Larsson

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