Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: Steve Smith (SteveSmith@XC.Org)
About: African Political Films, a listing

Tue, 26 Jan 1999 09:07:47 -0500

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    At long last, I have tabulated the many thoughtful suggestions on the topic
    of African Political Films. Some were films were recommended more than
    once, others not. I want to extend my appreciation to the kind individuals
    who sent in good suggestions and descriptions. I have tried to be faithful
    to the contributions and the descriptions that accompanied them. If in the
    process of compiling I scrambled some names, numbers etc please let me know
    and I will send out corrections. If there are other films that were left
    off and need to be added I will be happy to post a supplemental list.
    Special commendations go to the following who not only
    provided numerous
    excellent suggestions but also excellent summations and
    descriptions as
    well: Christoph Marx, Carol Summers, Don Larsson
    The Editors
    AFRIQUE, JE TE PLUMERAI: A documentary about post-colonial memory and
    national identity.
    ALLAH TANTOU: a remarkable documentary about the director's father-singer,
    actor, diplomat, and victim of state torture and repression.
    BAB-EL-OUED CITY: In North Africa, Merzak Allouache portrays the rise of
    Islamic fundamentalism in Algeria, and other countries in North Africa.
    His film is available from Arab Film Distribution at 206-547-4687.
    CAMP DE THIAROYE: A film based on a historical incident. Directed by
    Sembene Ousmane. Distributed by New Yorker Films

    CEDDO: A quite complex film in its wide range of targets. Directed by
    Sembene Ousmane. Distributed by New Yorker Films

    DESTINY: Youssef Chahine looks at the sources and consequences of
    fundamentalism in his period piece, dramatizing the life of medieval
    philosopher and Aristotle interpreter, Averroes. The film is available
    through Leisure Time at 212-267-4501.
    FINYE: Was very critical of the Moussa Traore regime in Mali. Directed by
    Souleymane Cisse.
    FLAME: The story of a young woman who joins the guerillas in the 1970s. It
    shows all the horrors of the war, but also the situation of women among the
    guerilla fighters and how they were expected to retreat into their
    submissive role after the end of the war. There was a lot of discussion
    about it in Zimbabwe, especially because the director of the film is a white
    English woman. But as I learned from a former guerilla (female) it gives a
    rather realistic picture of the war.
    GARBAGE BOYS: Criticizes the hopelessness in the country due to
    mismanagement. Directed by Cheikh Omar Sissoko.
    GUELWAAR: Maybe the most concise example of Sembene's critique of
    contemporary African problems. Directed by Sembene Ousmane. Distributed
    by New Yorker Films 212-247-6110

    GUIMBA: Deals with political dictatorship. Directed by Cheikh Omar Sissoko.
    HYENAS: An allegory about debt and identity, Adapted from Durenmatt's THE
    VISIT by the Late Diop Djibril Mambety.
    I HAVE A PROBLEM, MADAM: A film about Ugandan women and
    law, and one of the best films I know for exploring both the problems women
    face, and the strategic mobilization that African women are leading to
    address the problems. I like this film because it highlights a variety
    of voices, demonstrates African Women's voices and ideas, and generally
    provokes extremely energetic discussion.
    LE DAMIER: Is a satire of absolute power in many countries
    in Africa by
    Congolese director Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda. Distributed by
    production at 212--749-6020

    LUMIERE BLANCHE: Directed by Med Hondo. Distributed by Haile Gerima.
    MAPANTSULA: A South African film, which was shot in
    Johannesburg under the very eyes of
    the South African security police in the 1980s. It is the story of a
    criminal who becomes incidentally involved in the political turmoil. This
    film, without being in a simplistic way politically pedagogic, shows how
    this man slowly develops an political awareness. In my opinion it is much
    better than "Cry freedom" or "A dry white season".
    MORTU GOMES: Directed by Flora Gomes.
    NASSER 56: Mohammed Fadel makes a biopic of president Gamal Abdel Nasser by
    looking at Nasser during the historic events that led to the nationalization
    of the Suez canal in 1956. The film is also available through Arab film
    NERIA: A film about a young widow in post-colonial Zimbabwe and the
    problems she has to face from relatives who literally rob her of her
    children and the means to survive. In the end she succeeds through the
    courts. It is a film made for a Zimbabwean audience in order to show
    Zimbabwean women that they have legal rights. All three films are not
    "political" in the strict sense of the term, but they give interesting
    insights in the problems of the societies of Southern Africa during the time
    of white minority rule and after.
    QUARTIER MOZART: an investigation of sexual politics in
    postcolonial Africa
    SARRAOUNIA: Directed by Med Hondo. Distributed by Haile Gerima.
    THE BLUE EYES OF YONTA: Looks at the disillusionment in
    Guinea-Bissau in
    the post-independence war era. Directed by Flora Gomes
    THOMAS SANKARA: Is about the slain Burkinabe revolutionary
    president. By
    Congolese director Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda. Distributed by
    production at 212--749-6020

    VALENTINA'S NIGHTMARE: (Frontline) This 50 minute documentary is the
    single best film I've seen on the Rwandan genocide. It's graphic. I use
    class time for it as I don't feel I can make students watch it by
    themselves. But it's a surprisingly successful blending of both a personal
    approach (focusing on one survivor and one massacre) and a more general
    analysis and discussion which provides context.
    VOICES OF REASON: It deals with the current border conflict between Ethiopia
    and Eritrea and consists of interviews with people living in the border
    towns being disputed. It also interviews Eritreans who have been deported
    from Ethiopia, and includes interviews with President Isaias Afwerki and
    other Eritrean officials. The video was made by Eritreans, so there may be a
    political slant. The Red Sea Press is probably either carrying it or knows
    where you can find it.
    WAATI: is the director examination of the apartheid system and an essay on
    the Pan African idea. Directed by Souleymane Cisse.
    WORLD BANK: THE GREAT EXPERIMENT (PART I & 2): This is a fascinating
    documentary on structural adjustment in Uganda. I'm impressed by the way it
    provides insight into not just the problems, but the processes of
    negotiation. It's not your best film for social analysis. But if you are
    interested in exploring the ways in which African governments and
    institutions negotiate with international organizations, it's excellent. I
    make students watch it outside of class time, though, as it's too long. The
    first part can stand alone if necessary. I also plan to use it in
    conjunction with recent news reports out of Uganda.
    XALA: A savage satire of a corrupt bureaucrat. Directed by Sembene Ousmane.
    Distributed by New Yorker Films 212-247-6110.
    YEELEN: An allegory about political dictatorship. Directed by Souleymane
    ZAN BOKO: the growth of the city, the use of media and their effects on
    village dwellers.

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