For our readers in Dublin, Ireland (and I know there are a few, because I’ve received emails from some, and also seen the site’s stats).
This is a rare treat, even for those of us here in the USA; it’s not often that there’s this kind of concerted effort to gather and highlight all these titles to screen in a theatrical setting.
The details, from the Irish Film Insitute, presenting a season of African cinema – specifically West African cinema – curated by critic and filmmaker Mark Cousins.
African cinema isn’t an also ran in film history, a marginal thing, something to be patronised or accommodated. It’s splendidly central to the movies: luminous, inventive, revealing and unpredictable; there was a movie studio in Egypt from the 1930s. Despite Hollywood’s Tarzan fantasies about the continent, real black African films came to the fore in the ‘50s. The first were about the decolonising moment, and were made by path-finding auteurs like Senegal’s Ousmane Sembène, a former novelist who trained in Moscow. The ‘70s were a golden age of genres and styles, led by master filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty, a punky, drunky Orson Welles. In the ‘80s, African cinema went mythic. Filmmakers like Souleymane Cissé and Gaston Kaboré turned the clock back to the days before the white man and Islamo-Christianity. Cissé’s work encompassed sci-fi and sexuality, Kaboré charted the life of a foundling boy in a distant village. In the ‘90s, funding stalled, but video brought new ways of making and showing African films. The story of African cinema is too vast to cover in one season, so we focus on one vivid chapter of it, West Africa: a place where low literacy levels gave movies extra relevance in society and where, as you’ll see, movie styles and storytelling were stretched by imaginative directors into splendid, world class guises.
The series is co-sponsored by the the French Embassy in Ireland and Institut Français, and runs thoughout October, starting on October 6 with Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Hyènes (Hyenas) – an adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s famous Swiss play, The Visit, which tells the story of an aging, wealthy woman who revisits her home village of Colobane (in Dakar, Senegal). She offers a disturbing proposition to the people of Colobane and lavishes luxuries upon them, in exchange for the murder of a local shopkeeper who abandoned her and her pregnancy, after a love affair, when she was 16.
It’s a story of love and revenge, as well as a critique of neocolonialism and post-colonial consumerism.
For our readers in Dublin interested in seeing any of the films in the season’s lineup, as well as other information about the series, click HERE.
A clip from Hyènes (Hyenas) follows below: