Discovering a country through film

Number 3 in our series of short descriptions of ten new African films to watch out for.

Cidade Alta Luanda. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The new film by director Zézé Gamboa, ‘O Grande Kilapy‘ (“The Great Kilapy”),  portrays the last decade of Portuguese rule in Angola through the story of Joao Fraga (played by Lazaro Ramos.  ‘Kilapy’ is Kimbundu for “scheme” or “fraud.”

The film’s Facebook page has some clips. Also, check out this production video for the images and footage that helped the filmmakers recreate the Angolan ’70s atmosphere.

From the same director, there is also ‘El Cuaderno del Barro’, a documentary about the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló, which serves as a counterpart to – the making of – “‘The Double Steps”.

“‘Les Pirogues des Hautes Terres” (literally: “the small boats of the highlands”; the film’s official English title is ‘Sand’s Train’) by Olivier Langlois is a made-for-TV production but has been showing at some recent film festivals – and getting good reviews too. It tells the story of the 1947 Senegalese railroad workers strike which set in motion various anti-colonial movements:

For those interested in the making of the film, I came across these snippets.

Kenyan “gangster” movie ‘Nairobi Half Life‘ is making waves in Nairobi at the moment.

Jajouka, Quelque Chose de Bon Vient Vers Toi’ (“Jajouka, something good comes to you”), is a film by Eric and Marc Hurtado, set in the village of Jajouka (in the Rif Mountains of Morocco) featuring Bachir Attar and his “Master Musicians of Jajouka”. The inspiration for the film are the fertility rites led by Bou-Jeloud, a Pan-like “Father of Skins”:

And here are some documentaries.

‘Stitching Sudan’ is a film by Mia Bittar about four Northern Sudanese characters from Khartoum who set out on a road trip to discover their newly separated country.

‘Brussels-Kigali’ is the latest film by Marie-France Collard. In 2009, a Belgian Court tried in absentia Rwandan Ephrem Nkezabera, one of the leaders of the Interahamwe militias. Collard was able to film the case and the surrounding debates. With victims and persecutors continuously crossing each others’ paths (both in Rwanda but also abroad), questions are asked about the possibility of mourning, reparation and justice. No trailer as yet, but you’ll find a fragment here.

La Khaoufa Baada Al’Yaoum‘ (“No More Fear”) is a feature documentary by Mourad Ben Cheikh about the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia:

In ‘La Vièrge, les Coptes et Moi’ (“The Virgin, the Copts and Me”), French-Egyptian filmmaker Namir Abdel Messeeh goes to Cairo to investigate the phenomenon of miraculous Virgin Mary apparitions in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. A subtitled fragment, and the trailer (in French, but I’m hopeful it will be soon available in English as well):

And written by Réunion-born Jean-Luc Trulès, “Maraina” is said to be the first ‘Opera from the Indian Ocean’: it tells the story of ten Malagasy and two Frenchmen who left from Fort-Dauphin, Madagascar for Réunion Island in the 17th century to plant and farm tobacco and aloes. The film traces the opera cast’s journey back from Réunion to Madagascar, via France.

Bonus: the film, Maraina, the opera.

Further Reading

Between two evils

After losing its parliamentary majority for the first time, the African National Congress is scrambling to form a coalition government. The options are bleak.

Heeding the call

At the 31st New York African Film Festival, young filmmakers set the stage with adventurous and varied experiments in African cinema.