A film that premiered during FESPACO 2013 (not in Official Selection, but at the Goethe Institut of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), and which has effectively been banned in the filmmaker’s country (Cameroon) due to content that’s critical of the government, here’s a trailer for Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s latest film, Le President (The President).
In short, Cameroonian authorities didn’t approve of the film’s seemingly daring plot, which sees the film’s fictional president disappear a few days before elections (although it’s clearly meant to be the country’s real-life president, Paul Biya, who has been in power for more than 30 years).
In the film, a mockumentary, which I have seen and will review shortly, Bekolo essentially challenges the status quo, asking critical questions of government, highlighting stories of succession, independence and transformation, to make his point.
And in response, Cameroonian authorities increases pressure to stop the film from being screening to the public in Cameroonian, seemingly so as not to inspire any insurrection amongst the people.
The film’s official synopsis reads:
The night before an important summit in the near-future, the head of state vanishes into ostensibly thin air. Potential heirs and overthrowers converge around the capitol, while bloggers, hangers-on and talking heads tussle with the president’s problematic legacy. Never snarling, Bekolo gestures both unmistakably towards Cameroon’s own 31-year president Paul Biya as well as the varied bigshots across the continent who have consolidated post-colonial power in the vacuum of leadership.
Bekolo’s filmography is made up of bold, unconventional, challenging material like the last film he made – the genre-busting, sci-fi, vampire political satire, Les Saignantes, or The Bleeders, which is set in the year 2025, and follows 2 high-class prostitutes, who use their sexuality to gain access to some of the highest ranking political officials in Cameroon, supposedly with the intent to rid the country of those corrupt men who have run Cameroon for decades, creating this dystopian society as presented in the film.
Another knock against the Cameroonian government.
It’s a heavily stylized flick, and while Le President isn’t quit as stylish, it’s just as challenging and critical – maybe more directly so.
But, as I said, I’ll be reviewing it in a later post. In the meantime, check out the trailer and poster below: