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João Viana’s ‘Battle of Tabatô’ Explores ‘Music, Magic & Post-Colonial Angst’ In Guinea-Bissau

João Viana's 'Battle of Tabatô' Explores 'Music, Magic & Post-Colonial Angst' In Guinea-Bissau

In The Battle of Tabatô, first-time feature director João Viana explores “music, magic and post-colonial angst” in Guinea-Bissau

The story centers on Fatu, who teaches at the local university, who is about to get married to a well-known musician in Tabatô, a village where everyone makes music. Her father has returned home to Guinea-Bissau from Portugal to attend her wedding but on the way there, it becomes apparent that his return has unearthed the buried trauma of his experiences as a soldier in the colonial war decades earlier. 

A former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau (not to be confused with its neighboring Guinea) won its independence from the European country in 1973. 

There isn’t much of what I’d call a thriving filmmaking community/industry in Guinea-Bissau, with Flora Gomes (who’s made some 7 films) likely being the country’s most prominent filmmaker. 

Director Viana’s low-budget contribution (also the filmmaker’s feature film debut), The Battle of Tabatô, is said to have been a labor of love – further described as a raw, luminescent gem of a film that helps shift the discourse of filmmaking in Africa.

The film is currently traveling the international film festival circuit, with a playdate set for the Toronto International Film Festival next month. 

Check out the visually-intriguing trailer below, which, unfortunately, isn’t subtitled in English:

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