F I L M S
Nha Fala - Tree of Blood - Blue Eyes of Yonta - Mortu Nega - Fishers of Dar -
Alex's Wedding - Afro@digital - Bedwin Hacker - Closed Doors - A Drink in the Passage -
Me and My White Pal - Petite lumière - Rapbizz - The River - Si-Gueriki - Wariko

RETROSPECTIVE : FLORA GOMES

Nha Fala / My Voice
Flora Gomes
Creole/French
Guinea Bissau 2002(90min)

A Musical Comedy by FLORA GOMES, with FATOU N'DIAYE and music by Manu Dibango.


Before leaving for Europe to pursue her studies, Vita, a young African woman promises her mother that she will never sing. A family legend has it that any woman in her family who sings is cursed and will die. In Paris, Vita meets Pierre, a young musician and falls in love. Full of joy, she lets herself go and sings. Vita is horrified by what she has done, but Pierre, overwhelmed by her talent, convinces her to make a record. The record is an overnight success. Fearing her mother will learn that she broke her promise, Vita decides to return home… To die! Aided by Pierre, Vita stages her own death and resurrection, showing family and friends that anything ispossible, if you have the courage to dare.

http://www.nhafala.com

Lanterna Magica, Venice Film Festival 2002
Arco Balleno Latino, Città di Roma
Official Competition, Carthage Film Festival
Official Competition, Festival International
du film d’Amiens

Po di Sangui / Tree of Blood
Flora Gomes
Portuguese/Creole
Guinea Bissau
1996(90min)

1996
Original screenplay: Flora Gomes, Anita Fernandez
Running time: 90'
35 mm colour
Director of Photography: Vincenzo Marano
Sound: Pierre Donnadieu
Music: Pablo Cueco
Editing: Christine Lack
Scenery: Joseph Kpobly, Etienne Mery
Cast: Ramiro Naka, Bia Gomes, Edna Evora, Adama Kouyate, Dadu Cisse, Djuco Bodjan, Dulcenia Bidjanque

In the village of Amanha Lundgu every time a child is born a tree is planted. These trees grow as the children grow up and outlive them thus becoming the souls of the village people. But day after day, out of necessity, the villagers cut the trees and wood becomes a rare commodity. One day drought and death will come. When Dou returns to the village, his twin brother Hami has just died. Tensions are running high but Dou doesn’t understand what is going on. What did Humi die of? What evil is eating away at Amanha Lundgu? In the eyes of the community Dou must take the place of his twin brother and become a husband to the dead man’s wife and a father to his daughter. Saly, to whom he is engaged, goes mad and falls in love with the sun. When the lumberjacks from the city arrive in the village to exploit the forest everything is precipitated. Calacalado, the old witch doctor, looks for a way of dealing with this new threat. He orders the villagers to go into exile, he entrusts Dou with the mission of leading them and asks Saly to guide them by the sun.

Review and synopsis : Cannes 1996

Os Olhos Azuis de Yonta /
The Blue Eyes of Yonta

Flora Gomes
Portuguese/Creole
Guinea Bissau
1992(90min)

In Criola with English subtitles. Romantic Melodrama. The "story of three people, each of whom is so much in love with their dreams that they miss the real opportunities which life offers." Vicente, a hero of the revolution, now a businessman, is so despondent over the failure of his political ideals that he fails to notice the flirtations of Yonta, the beautiful, young daughter of two former comrades. Yonta represents the younger generation who has grown up since independence and replaces revolutionary rhetoric with an unabashed enthusiasm for Western consumer culture. She, in turn, is oblivious to the attentions of Ze, a poor student from the country, who sends her absurdly romantic poems.

Review by Arnold Shepperson, African Media Project.

Review by California Newsreel.

"Flora Gomes' moody film offers a richly shaded vision of a post-colonial African society on
the verge of losing hope."

- New York Times

Mortu Nega / Death Denied
Flora Gomes
Portuguese/Creole
Guinea Bissau 1988(85min)

Produced in 1988... Mortu Nega... is a bittersweet eulogy to those veterans who gave so much yet often benefited so little from the struggle. The film poses a question facing much of Africa at the start of the 21st century: with the goal of independence achieved, what can serve as an equally unifying and compelling vision around which to construct a new society? Or as Chris Marker observed in his 1980 documentary San Soleil, coincidentally contemplating the decay of Guinea-Bissau's revolution: "What every revolutionary thinks the morning after victory: now the real problems begin."

Mortu Nega covers the period from January 1973 during the closing months of the war against the Portuguese until the consolidation of an independent Guinea-Bissau in 1974 and 1975. This tiny West African nation's valiant struggle and eventual triumph over 500 years of Portuguese domination attracted international support and heralded the final anti-colonial wave culminating in the defeat of apartheid in 1994. The revolution's charismatic leader, the Cape Verdean agronomist, Amilcar Cabral, was assassinated on the eve of victory in January 1973 by Portuguese assisted mainland nationalists.

-From California Newsreel.

"The true revelation of FESPACO.
It has a personal tone, full of freshness and emotion. Provides a non-heroic vision of history that shows the natural participation of women in the struggle."
- Le Monde


Samaki wa Dar es Salaam/
Fishers of Dar

Lina Fruzzetti, Brown
& Ákos Östör, Wesleyan

English, 38min, 16-mm
Released in 2001




Awards & featured screenings

  • Best Cinematography, 40th Ann Arbor Film Festival * 2002
  • Juror's Choice, Black Maria Film Festival * 2003
  • Golden Dhow, Director's Choice,
    Zanzibar International Film Festival 2002
  • Best Documentary, Athens Ohio Film
    Festival 2003
  • Rakumi Arts Film Festival, Seattle Museum
    of Art 2003
  • Northwest Folk Life Film Festival, Seattle 2003
  • Fine Arts Cinema, Berkeley, CA February 23-28, 2003
  • Seagull Media Center, Kolkata, India
    October 2002
  • Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London 2002
  • 5th World Congress of Anthropological Sciences, Florence, Italy 2003
  • Rhode Island International Film Festival, Providence 2003
  • Selected for the traveling film festival and shown at numerous venues throughout the USA

Samaki wa Dar es Salaam/Fishers of Dar is an ethnographic film about the fishermen and women of downtown Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It explores the continuity and integrity of traditional fishing practices in new, contemporary settings. Dar es Salaam is a metropolis of 3 million people yet the city's demand for fish is entirely met by equipment, methods and tools that have been used here for hundreds of years.

This 38-minute, 16-mm color film takes the viewer to the central fish market and pier in the city harbor, and to a small fishing community away from the market. It is structured between two sunrises and two sunsets: the story begins before dawn, with small lanteen sailed boats (ngawaalas) and bigger mashua boats (a diesel engine replacing the sail) leaving for fishing grounds close by or further out to sea, and continues with fishing at sea; coming back to unload and sell fish at the market; auctions and retail sales; fast food preparation and sale at the market; home-based work and leisure activities in the fishing community.

Eschewing commentary and voice-over explanation, the film shows the many hands the fish pass through before reaching customers. Hundreds of people make a living in the process. We see fishermen and women, boat builders, boat crews, auctioneers, laborers, vendors and market people of all kinds. Not the least are women who come with buckets, buy and clean small fish and then go back home by bus to sell fried fish in the hundreds of smaller markets of the city.

The film reveals how traditional methods articulate with modern demands. There are problems: a brief text at the end of the film points out that the market was recently demolished to make way for expansion of the harbor. The age old process continues but under difficult new conditions.

The making of the film stands as a successful collaboration between Tanzanians and Americans as well as local and foreign institutions and agencies. The idea first came up during a visit by Lina Fruzzetti (Professor of Anthropology, Brown University) and Ákos Östör (Professor Anthropology and Film Studies, Wesleyan University) to Dar es Salaam during 1995. Östör then spent the 1996-97 academic year at the University of Dar es Salaam as a Fulbright Professor helping the Department of Fine and Performing Arts set up a new program in Film Studies. Between October 1996 and April 1997, Östör carried out ethnographic research in cooperation with Professor Amandina Lihamba (Head of the Department) and Ms. Mona Mwakalinga (graduate student and teaching assistant). Lina Fruzzetti joined the research group in January 2001.

Alex's Wedding
Jean Marie Teno
French/Bamileke
Cameroon / France, 2003 (45 min)


A chronicle of a rather particular afternoon during which the lives of three people changes dramatically. Alex, the husband, goes to his in-laws’ to bring home his second wife. Elise, Alex’s childhood sweetheart and first wife, accompanies him — as she must, according to tradition. And Josephine, the young bride, leaves her parents to begin a new life... From the preparations to the minister’s blessing, the wedding party to the awkward end of the festivities, the director films a polygamous marriage ceremony.
Afro@digital
Bakupa-Kanyinda Balufu
French/English
Congo-Kinshasa 2003(52min)


Afro@Digital begins with a provocative question: “Why speak of new technologies on a continent which wakes up and goes to sleep to the terrorism of poverty?” In other words, how can Africa escape the logic of poverty and unequal development by making sure that digital technology doesn’t pass it by, become an agent of neo-colonialism or marginalize it still further? As Nigerian filmmaker Ola Balogun warns: “ We must ask what is the purpose of this technology and what type of technology is most appropriate to us?...Technology is not a value in itself.”

The documentary asserts that computing technology may in fact be indigenous to Africa. The new field of ethno-mathematics has discovered the oldest calculating tool in the world in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. Named the “Ishango bone” after its place of origin, it uses a base twelve system devised 15,000 years before the construction of the pyramids. Despite the relative scarcity of computers on the continent, the largest source of coltan, a product used in most microprocessors, is the Congo.

Bedwin Hacker
Nadia El Fani
Arabic/French
Morocco/Tunisia 2003(98min)



From an apartment jammed full of computer equipment, Kalt spends her days hijacking the frequencies of foreign television channels and using them to broadcast messages in Arabic, signed by a moving cartoon character, a camel named Bedwin Hacker. When Julia, alias Agent Marianne, from the Paris counter-hacking department recognizes the signature as that of Kalt, her old rival, she uses her friend, the reporter Chams, to collect more information. Chams begins working on the case unaware that he is the catalyst for a game of cat-and-mouse between the two women. Energetic and warmhearted, a modern portrayal of North African women and culture.

Al Abwab Al Moghlaka /
Closed Doors

Atef Hetata
Arabic
Egypt 1999(105min)

Cast: Sawsan Badr, Ahmed Azmi, Mahmoud Hemeida, Manal Afifi, Ahmed Fouad Selim
Writer: Atef Hetata
Cinematographer: Samir Bahzan
Music: Hisham Nazih
Producers: Gabriel Khoury, Marianne Khoury
Director: Atef Hetata


Set during the Gulf war, this engrossing feature debut by Atef Hetata centers on a teenage boy, Mohamad, caught in an ever-tightening vise between his incestuous longings for his mother and the authoritarian temptations of a local religious leader. Mohamad lives alone with his strong-minded and loving mother, after his father abandoned the two of them and Mohamad's older brother who is in the army, to start a new family. When Mohamad's high school teacher begins to court his mother, Mohamad's feelings of betrayal escalate and push him to embrace fundamentalist ideas as a way of dealing with the confusion of adolescence and sexual awakening. The Closed Doors touches on several taboos in contemporary Egyptian society, examining their social and political implications.

Notes by Michael Dembrow of Cornell.

A Drink in the Passage
Zola Maseko
English
South Africa, 1997 (28min)

Additional Information: Bio
Additional Information: Credits


In 1960, Edward Simelane won a prize for his remarkable sculpture. He did not know that the contest was strictly for whites. While the committee decided to give him the award, it created a nation-wide outcry. An Afrikaaner man who is moved by the Simelane’s work invites him to have a drink, but is suddenly afraid to take him inside his flat. The film shows how class differences and racial prejudice can prevent us reaching, touching and connecting with each other. Adapted for the screen from the Alan Paton story written in 1963 and winner of the special prize for short film at FESPACO. Also screened at Cannes, the 1st Commonwealth Film Festival, and Zanzibar.
Moi et mon blanc /
Me and My White Pal

Pierre Yameogo
French
Burkina Faso / France 2003(90min)

Additional Information

Mamadi is a living in France, and like many other African students, his country has not paid him his scholarship money for six months. To survive, finish his thesis, and renew his residence permit, he takes a job at a parking attendant, ajob that allows him to discover all kinds of secrets, including a stash of drugs. His friend convinces him that they can move the drugs and become rich. However, evading the dealers is tougher than they expect. Mamadi and his white pal escape to Burkina Faso, Mamadi’s home country, but find that their adventures don’t end there.

Winner of the RFI
Audience Award at FESPACO

Petite lumière
Alain Gomis
Senegal, 2002 (15min)

Additional Information

Fatima is a very curious eight-year-old girl in Senegal. This beautifully composed and thoughtful film follows her thoughts as she figures out life’s little mysteries, from whether the light shuts off inside the fridge when it’s closed to whether people exist when you can’t see them. A poignant exploration of childhood wonder and philosophical inquiry.

Rapbizz
Benny Malapa
French

France, 2002 (20min)

Additional Information: Bio
Additional Information: Credits

Tony, an African immigrant in Paris, dreams of becoming a rap star, but his buddies don’t believe he has what it takes. He decides to take destiny in his own hands, with his sample tape in hand he heads out to meet the decision-makers in the industry. Not getting any results, he decides to work with a producer from the Ghetto. Starring French rap stars Stomy Bugsy and Princess Erika..
Le Fleuve / The River
Mama Keita
French
Guinea / France
2003(96min)

Additional Information
After having avenged the death of his best friend, Alfa returns home to his country Guinea. He begins a journey of initiation which is not only to escape from the brother of the person he’s killed, but also to discover Africa and regain his equilibrium. He is accompanied on his journey by the affectionate but overbearing cousin, Marie whose sincere, yet adolescent love for him despite his aloofness. Starring French rap star, Bugsy Stomy and featured at the Tribeca Film Festival and Milan African Film Fest.
Si-Gueriki / The Queen Mother
Idrissou Mora Kpai
French
Benin 2001(62min)



The director, Idrissou Morai Kpai, 33 is a member of the Wassangari tribe of northern Benin. Once a tribe of fierce warriors ruled by rigid traditions, the Wassangari people have maintained their strict patriarchy to this day. Following the death of his father, the director returns to his village after a ten-year of absence. He is disheartened to see his sisters and nieces suffering from continuing female oppression. But he is surprised to find his mother liberated. When Mora Kpai was a child, his mother, a stranger to him, was simply one of his father’s wives, a mere shadow in the family compound…Today, she has received the title, Si-Gueriki, “the queen mother,” the female equivalent of a king. Si-Gueriki / The Queen Mother is the story of a young man’s confrontation with his culture and traditions. It’s an intimate, personal film…an insider’s view of this ancient culture. The film is also the belated meeting between a son and his two “mothers.” Winner of Best Documentary at Namur, accepted to Rotterdam and Milan African Film Festivals.
Wariko / The Jackpot
Fadika Kramo-Lanciné
French
Ivory Coast
1994(100min)

Additional Information
A traffic cop very unexpectedly wins the lottery. Only one problem: the winning ticket has disappeared. As Ali looks high and low through his society for help, his quest turns hillariously allegorical: it is pure satire on the African Dream of socio-economic success. If money makes the world turn, one can never be sure whether striking it rich is a miracle, answer to a prayer, or merely an accident.

Brown University // Providence, Rhode Island 02912 // 401.863.1000
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