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A pairing of two profiles of African leaders who defied colonialism. Using rare archival footage, director Ana Lucia Ramos Lisboa accurately chronicles both the personal and public sides of an African icon in
(Cape Verde/Portugal, 52 mins.). The founder of the African Party for Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), Amilcar Cabral led the Liberation Movement against Portugal for those countries. Then for the documentary
Frantz Fanon: His Life, His Struggle, His Work
(Algeria/France, 52 mins.), director Cheikh Djemai uncovered and interviewed scores of former associates of Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist, philosopher and political leader. He became a spokesman for the Algerian revolution against French colonialism, and as the author of
Black Skin, White Masks
, Fanon documented the effects of colonialism and racism on the people of colonized countries. In Portuguese and French with English subtitles.
Ana Lucia Ramos Lisboa/Cheikh Djemai---Cape Verde/Protugal/Algeria/France---2001---104 mins.
BAB EL-OUED CITY
In a working class district of Algiers, shortly after the riots of 1988, a young bakery worker rips out a loudspeaker broadcasting the propaganda of an Islamic fundamentalist group. This act of frustration is taken as a provocation by the local extremist organization, which happens to be led by the brother of the bakery worker's lover. "The most lucid depiction on film of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Algeria" (Deborah Young,
). Winner of the FIPRESCI international film critics' prize at Cannes.
Merzak Allouache---Algeria/France/Germany/Switzerland---1994---93 mins.
In this Algerian-French co-production set during the Algerian civil war in the 1990s, we meet two women, a progressive whose husband has gone missing, and an older woman who has experienced decades of strife in her country. Together, they search for the missing man in a landscape of lawlessness and uncertainty. "A testament to female camaraderie, resourcefulness and courage in the face of daunting odds" (
All Movie Guide
). In Arabic with English subtitles.
Djamila Sahraoui---France/Algeria---2006---94 mins.
GREAT AFRICAN FILMS VOL 1
The first in a series of award-winning films from Africa, which includes Drissa Toure's
(Burkina Faso/France, 1995, 87 mins., French and Bambara with English subtitles), a lively dramatic feature about cultural and economic disparities in the capital city of Burkina Faso. These social conflicts are revealed through the trials of a Muslim family caught between the traps of modernity and the sway of tradition. "
is an urban chronicle, a gallery of portraits in situations which create a colorful mosaic" (Cannes Film Festival). In Abbdoulaye Ascofare's
Faraw! Mother of the Dunes
(Mali, 1997, 90 mins., Songhoi with English subtitles), a mother of three tries desperately to keep her family alive upon the return of her mentally and physically destroyed husband, a political prisoner. Determined to have her children survive without prostituting her beautiful daughter, her struggle symbolizes the plight of all African women trapped in a cycle of extreme poverty.
Drissa Toure/Abbdoulaye Ascofare---Burkina Faso/France/Mali---1995/1997---177 mins.
GREAT AFRICAN FILMS VOL 2
The second installment in this series of award-winning films from Africa includes Kollo Sanou's
(2003, 90 mins., French and Jula with English subtitles), a comic look at the impact of Western colonialism on Africa. Retired from the French army, West African native Sogo waits patiently for his pension, which he plans to use to build a grain mill for the women of his village. When the money does't arrive, he and the villagers take matters into their own hands. "
camouflages its razor-sharp indignation with warmth and disarming grace" (
). Next is Dani Kouyate's
Sia, the Dream of the Python
(2001, 96 mins., Bambara with English subtitles), a modern adaptation of a seventh-century African legend. A poor village decides it must make a human sacrifice to a mystical snake god to guarantee a better future. Sia, the most beautiful woman in the village, is chosen for the ritual, but she runs away in revolt.
Kollo Daniel Sanou/Dani Kouyate---Burkina Faso/France---2003/2001---186 mins.
GREAT AFRICAN FILMS VOL 3
The third entry in a series of award-winning films from Africa. This volume includes
, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad, 2006, 95 mins.), "an unassumingly political work that unfolds with the gravity of a Bible story," according to Manohla Dargis of
The New York Times
. Set in Chad after a general amnesty has set war criminals free, this heart-wrenching revenge story tells of a grandfather who sends his grandson to kill the man who murdered the boy's father. Winner of five awards at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. This is followed by
The Desert Ark
L'Arche du Desert
, Mohamed Chouikh, Algeria, 1997, 90 mins.), a variation on
Romeo and Juliet
set in the Algerian desert. A young couple must face inevitable conflict when their rival families disc over their secret love. Taking refuge in a cave, they listen to the sounds of a senseless campaign of violence and murder, which is the culmination of the extremism that has long divided their two communities. Nominated for the Golden Leopard at the 1997 Locarno Film Festival. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun/Mohamed Chouikh---Chad/Algeria---2006/1997---185 mins.
MASAI: THE RAIN WARRIORS
This beautiful adventure shot on the savannahs of Kenya depicts a community's quest to bring rain to their land, ensuring their survival. A band of young Masai warriors sets out to kill a mystical lion, which they are told will end the drought plaguing their village. Barely teenagers, they are untested, unskilled, and unsure whether the lion actually exists. This debut fiction film from Pascal Plisson, a devoted nature documentarian, is the first picture to be solely populated by real-life Masai and spoken entirely in their native tongue. "A lush blend of the exotic and the deeply human" (Michael Wilmington,
). In Maa with English subtitles.
Pascal Plisson---Kenya/France---2004---94 mins.
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