FRANCE and ALGERIA / 1997 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
In a housing project located on the outskirts of Paris renamed "100% Arabica" by its inhabitants, African immigrants live side by side. The residents are united by their struggle for recognition in a society where immigrants are often regarded as second class citizens. In a world of exiles, poverty is the common denominator. Against this backdrop, director Zemmouri has brought together two of the biggest and most charismatic stars of the cross-cultural musical form known as Rai, Cheb Mami and Khaled, who play the leaders of a band called Rap Oriental. As the band of musicians starts to gain in popularity, the Imam of the local mosque (Mouss) tries to destroy them by stirring up racial and cultural tensions. However, no one can stop the infectious popularity of the songs in this story of music triumphing over bigotry and violence.
EGYPT / 2002 / ARABIC WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 14 MIN
Sami and his wife Sarah are packing to move to the USA where they intend to open a restaurant. Rania, Sarah's sister, goes to their house to take them to the airport, but some unexpected and unforeseeable events take place in the apartment: games of seduction, murder and dead bodies to be disposed of. A surrealist comedy by Ahmed Hassouna who belongs to a new group of young promising Egyptian filmmakers.
Sometimes distasteful practices are most effectively criticized with a good sense of humor. Meet Modou, a young, courageous and determined talibé - a pupil in a Koranic school - who manages to escape from his corrupt and abusive teacher to find a better life in contemporary Dakar, Senegal.
BURKINA FASO / 2009 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 101 MIN
Mina is tired of her husband's infidelity and decides to take a drastic decision: She takes a second husband. Based on his conversations with women involved in polygamist relationships, he illustrates - to very funny effects - the daily life of two persons - in this case two men - who share a spouse. On a comedic tone, Abdoulaye Dao tells us a story of jealousy, infidelity, romance and revenge.
BURKINA-FASO, TOGO, SWITZERLAND, AND FRANCE / 1991 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
Set in Togo, West Africa, Ashakara is a modern African tale. An African doctor finds a cure to a deadly virus and decides to mass produce the drug at low cost in Africa. However, a pharmaceutical multinational does not want the doctor to succeed and sends an agent to Africa first to buy the drug then to destroy it...Mixing action, suspense, good humor, and a lucid depiction of the contemporary African continent, Ashakara entertains and educates all at once.
Official Selection, Cognac International Festival of the Thriller, 1992
From the sea and sun of the Cape Verde Island, it's a very big step to rainy, gloomy, land-locked Luxembourg, but that's the journey 20-year-old Dju Dele Dibonga must take to track down his dad, whose yearly visits and monthly guest worker checks have stopped. But it's not just the weather that's not welcoming, Dju also has to face overzealous immigration cops intent on filling deportation quotas and the noisy outrage of a hard-boozing police lieutenant (veteran actor Philippe Léotard). Dad's trail looks cold, until lieutenant decides to join in the hunt and to become Dju's partner in this tale of love and friendship. With the exceptional participation of Cape Verdian singer Cesaria Evora as Dju's mother and Manu Dibango as himself.
BELGIUM / 1999 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 54 MIN
The extraordinary and tragic saga of 267 Congolese, brought to Brussels for the 1897 World's Fair. After some four months of travel towards Belgium, they are exhibited before a million visitors. Subjected to the crushing gaze of the "Whites" and the cold climate, many fell prey to disease and even some lost their lives. The dead were hastily dispatched in a common grave, sparking a fierce debate in Belgian society. The project was overblown, but necessary in the eyes of the first colonizers, who presumed to have tamed the far-flung savages. One hundred years later, Congolese compatriots return to the scene of these events and question the "Whites" of today on the incredible story of that "human zoo". They carry out the ritual of "a return to the earth" by way of reparation for too great a hurt… A film that revisits a century of stereotyped conceptions about the Africans. And running through it, the almost aching question: "How is today different?"
FRANCE and ALGERIA / 2002 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 102 MIN
Six men and a woman set out on the hazardous journey from Senegal to Morocco in a bid to slip illegally into Europe to escape from the poverty and internecine warfare of Africa. All are lured by the promise of a better life, but the challenges are numerous. Passing through the hands of various smugglers, they cross the desert of Mauritania and Algeria, first in a pick up, then in the back of refrigerated fish trucks, and are finally dumped and forced to walk to the Moroccan border. Though each is lured by a different reason, they unite to overcome obstacles and finally reach the coast of Morocco, where they stand looking at Spain across the narrow Straits of Gibraltar. On reaching Tangiers, the invisible travelers go their separate ways and prepare to attempt the fateful crossing to Spain.
Mostefa Djadjam's beautiful debut feature confronts the global controversy of refugees while examining the complexities of human nature. Djadjam, originally trained as an actor, gives a restrained, compassionate account of what is at stake for illegal immigrants, fashioning a stunning film for its subtleties about identity. He presents consistent moral questions, demanding judgment on the decisions and actions of his characters when even the most sympathetic become ruthless and callous in their quest for a better life. The trip in Borders is not easy for either the travelers or the viewer who must watch these sad all–too human beings endure physical and psychological hardships before attaining “freedom.” Not all the travelers succeed. Some find love – some manage to laugh. The viewer, meanwhile, gains a new understanding of the problems which confront Africa-and more importantly, Africans-today.
BURKINA FASO / 2015 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 99 MIN
Honorine, a married woman from a modest background with two young children and a loving husband is involved in a car accident that causes the death of a 17-year-old boy. The young man was the son of a rich and vindictive business man who makes every effort to ensure Honorine gets the worst treatment possible when she is sent to prison.
Through the life experiences of Honorine in prison, the film shows the harsh laws and vices of prison life: sexual harassment, physical and emotional violence, promiscuity and obligation to suffer without complaint or murmur. All these evils are the fruit of the imagination of officials and prison guards, and of prisoners themselves as they seek to meet their needs and their libido. Justice, only recourse of the weak, is mired in a system of corruption, influence peddling, where the reason of the strongest and the richest prevails.
Cell 512 received the prestigious Catholic Church-sponsored SIGNIS award during FESPACO 2015. SIGNIS, as an international association, promotes media for a culture of peace. The SIGNIS prize is always awarded to a film that promotes gospel, human or Christian values. Cell 512 received the award for “addressing matters that promote the integrity of family values in the face of severe challenges, presenting the relationship between men and women as complementary, and for its attention for the poor.”
CHAD / 2006 / FRENCH AND ARABIC WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 95 MIN
Chad, 2006. The government has granted amnesty to all war criminals. Atim, 16 years old, is given a revolver by his grandfather so that he may kill the man who killed his father... Atim leaves his village for N’djamena, seeking a man he does not know. He quickly locates him: former war criminal Nassara is now married and settled down as the owner of a small bakery... With the firm intention of killing him, Atim gets closer to Nassara under the guise of looking for work, and is hired as an apprentice baker… Intrigued by Atim's attitude toward him, Nassara takes him under his wing and teaches him the secrets of making bread... Over the weeks, a strange relationship evolves between the two. Despite his disgust, Atim seems to recognise in Nassara the father figure he has always needed, while Nassara sees the teenager as a potential son. One day, he suggests adoption...
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Starring: Ali Barkai
Starring: Youssouf Djaoro
Starring: Aziza Hisseine
Now available in DVD set: Great African Films Vol 3 with The Desert Ark
Fevers, winner of FESPACO - Africa's largest film festival - 2015 grand prize, the Golden Stallion of Yennenga, is a French version of We Need to Talk About Kevin about a disturbed young man raised on foster care who enters his father's Muslim household in the suburbs of Paris and becomes a major source of disruption in the family.
At only thirteen, Benjamin is a little soldier at war with life, adults and with himself. Since the age of five, the troubled kid goes back and forth into foster homes. But when his mother goes to jail and reveals to Benjamin the existence of his father, the young boy is determined to get out of foster care. So when the social worker gives him the choice, he decides to go live at his unknown father's place.
Director's creative statement
Fevers could have been, filmed in any city, but I chose to shoot this story in a working class neighborhood. In terms of writing and directing the movie breaks stereotypes, it has a more modern and contrasted vision of that world.
In the suburbs, everything is intense, extreme and violence prevails as well, however there's also poetry and a great joy for life and as a storyteller that's what inspired me about it. The people living in this neighborhood are funny, easy to become attached to and especially human. That humanity is a beautiful cinematographic tool, because it holds emotions and, as a director, I only strive towards emotions.
The work on the picture has been carried out in the same poetical approach, I gave the image a soft grain noise in order for it to work in contrast with the story's toughness; I built a rather polished image with very well arranged shots so as to transport the audience to another dimension. Graphically. I worked a lot on the buildings architecture and on the lines in order to enhance their geometry. The idea was to make the tall buildings seem like living beings following the rhythm of the characters pulses.
The story is naturalistic, but I decided to go with very firm viewpoints in terms of light with a lot of contrasts and vivid colors. Work on the set decoration was carried out in that same optic, some walls were painted in green, blue or red, this way every character had a color that attunes to him. Lastly, the work on sound and music was also based on that same need for contrast, with the aim, here again, to transport the viewer to another universe.
TUNISIA AND FRANCE / 2016 / ARABIC AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 92 MIN
Seeking refuge from her Islamist radical brother whom she informed on, a young woman arrives in France illegally following Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution and discovers a new world of both hope and danger, in the fourth feature from writer-director Raja Amari (Satin Rouge, Buried Secrets).
In the turbulent aftermath of the Tunisian revolution, young Samia (Sarra Hannachi) flees her homeland. She braves hostile seas in the crossing to France, but once there she finds that her struggles have only just begun. With no friends, no family, and - most crucially - no immigration papers, Samia has to figure out how to make a life and a living in a foreign land.
She meets a young man, Imed (Salim Kechiouche, Blue is the Warmest Color), and soon finds work in the employ of the elegant Leila (the inimitable Hiam Abbass, subject of an In Conversation With event at the Festival this year). But her presence in Leila's middle-class household triggers a shift in its dynamics, and soon Samia is enmeshed in a web of sexual tension.
Timely as it is, Foreign Body seems to typify a media narrative of forced mass migration: desperate, distressing, impossible. The film transcends this sweeping, reductive thinking due to the way director Raja Amari immerses her camera in Samia's new reality. She shoots with a close, handheld aesthetic that makes abstraction and generalization all but impossible, bringing us the story of a unique young woman.
Hannachi portrays her character's inner turmoil brilliantly. Samia is sometimes ragged and sometimes refined, ranging from stoic to sensual, but this is not because she's unstable. Rather, it's because of her ability to change in response to different situations and environments - an ability born of necessity. This is a woman determined to survive at all costs.
FRANTZ FANON: HIS LIFE, HIS STRUGGLE, AND HIS WORK
FRANTZ FANON: HIS LIFE, HIS STRUGGLE, AND HIS WORK
DIRECTED BY CHEIKH DJEMAI
MARTINIQUE/FRANCE/ALGERIA/TUNISIA / 2001 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 MIN
Frantz Fanon, was a psychiatrist, originally from Martinique, who had become a spokesman for the Algerian revolution against French colonialism. Embittered by his experience with racism in the French Army, he gravitated to radical politics, Sartrean existentialism and the philosophy of black consciousness known as negritude. His 1952 book, ''Black Skin, White Masks,'' offers a penetrating analysis of racism and of the ways in which it is internalized by its victims. While secretly aiding the rebels of the Algerian anti-colonial war as a doctor in Algeria, Fanon cared for victims and perpetrators alike, producing case notes that shed invaluable light on the psychic traumas of colonial war. Expelled from Algeria in 1956, Fanon moved to Tunis where wrote for El Moudjahid, the rebel newspaper, founded Africa's first psychiatric clinic, and wrote several influential books on decolonization. Frantz Fanon, His Life, His Struggle, His Work traces the short and intense life of one of the great thinkers of the 20th century.
CANADA AND HAITI / 2004 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITILES / 96 MIN
Newly arrived in Montréal, and determined to conquer North America by charming blond-haired women, Gégé, a Haitian in his thirties, lands up at Fanfan's - his nostalgic uncle who has given up poetry for a good old taxicab and dreams of returning to his homeland. Over the course of one night filled with humor and friendship -- highlighted by a party attended by twins Andrée and Denise, two Quebecers with contrasting charms -- the two fun-loving guys take stock of their lives, memories and fantasies. Meanwhile, on television, various celebrities draw up a comic portrait of North American society.
"A shrewd, funny, humane and very well-written and acted comedy from Haitian-born Montreal writer Dany Laferriere (author of "How To Make Love To a Negro Without Getting Tired" and "On the Verge of a Fever"), who makes a lively directorial debut with this comic-dramatic tale." ~ Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
HAITI / 2008 / CREOLE AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 111 MIN
This exploration of Haitian society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries focuses on the tormented life of one of Haiti’s most important authors and prominent political figures, Jacques Roumain. In his perceptive writings, Roumain raised questions about the issues facing Haiti that remain relevant today.
Some of Jacques Roumain’s best writings were translated by the legendary African-American poet Langston Hughes. The question is raised: what legacy has Jacques Roumain left for the future of Haitian youth.
For more information about Jacques Roumainclick here.
SENEGAL AND FRANCE / 1998 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES OR DUBBED WITH ENGLISH / 70 MIN
This animated film exquisitely recounts the tale of tiny Kirikou born in an African village in which Karaba the Sorceress has placed a terrible curse. Kirikou sets out on a quest to free his village of the curse and find out the secret of why Karaba is so wicked.
Lisa Nesselson of Variety (11/1/99) notes: "KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS employs snappy visuals to tell a catchy story for all ages. A blend of African folktales "Kirikou" has both humor and flair." KIRIKOU depicts a precocious newborn infant who battles ignorance, and so-called evil, with endearing perseverance. This film speaks to the child within us all who yearns to express and defend the best in others and ourselves. KIRIKOU's stunning visuals are accented by a traditional music soundtrack by African music giant Youssou N'Dour of Senegal.
"A blend of African folktalesKirikouhas both humor and flair.Kirikou and the Sorceressemploys snappy visuals to tell a catchy story for all ages." -Lisa Nesselson of Variety
“Kids will love Kirikou and the Sorceress, an offbeat carton feature about an alarmingly brainy tot. The lesson taught by Kirikou, that an evildoer actually is someone in pain, is a good one for kids to learn early” - The Record
“In its 16-year history, the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival’s two juries – one comprising children, the other adults – had never given their top prized to the same film, until last year, when both juries honored Kirikou and the Sorceress, a beautifully animated first feature by French filmmaker Michel Ocelot about an African boy’s battle with an evil witch for the soul of his people. Filled with lessons about morality, bravery, selflessness and compassion, Kirikou and the Sorceress is top-shelf family entertainment.” - Chicago Tribune.
“Kirikou and the Sorceress is magic from a clear sky. Dazzlingly painted images limn forth this folklore based animated feature by French-born, Guinea-raised Michel Ocelot. A newborn toddler whose simple powers are speed, mischief and ingenuity outwits an evil sorceress who comes on like a bead-bedecked Gloria Swanson. In the best tradition of National Geographic ethnography, everyone is naked, beads apart, and the scenery is gorgeous. Kirikou and the Sorceress is funny, charming, wise, beautiful, and exciting…” Arts section - Financial Times
"Should appeal to younger children and to adults who can appreciate its quiet pleasures." -- Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle
LE DAMIER, PAPA NATIONAL OYÉ! THE DRAUGHTSMEN CLASH
LE DAMIER, PAPA NATIONAL OYÉ! THE DRAUGHTSMEN CLASH
DIRECTED BY BAKUPA KANYINDA BALUFU
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (FORMER ZAIRE) AND GABON / 1996 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 40 MIN
A wicked political satire about African dictators, this film tells the story of the president of a fictitious African nation who spends a sleepless night playing checkers with a pot-smoking vagabond who is claimed to be the "all-around champion". However the rules of the game entail opponents howling vulgar and foul obscenities at one another. The Champion proceeds to insult, and trounce the President. His reward - and fate - are not exactly unexpected in this hilarious send-up of living under tyranny.
Director:Dominique Loreau From:Belgium Year:1994Minutes:76 Language:French with English subtitles Genre:docu-drama
In this film whose title is a Senegalese proverb, a griot (story teller) traveling from Dakar to Brussels weaves a tale about African expatriates and offers a candid look at the life of African immigrants in Belgium. With Sotigui Kouyate - a real life griot - as the story teller.
ALGERIA AND FRANCE / 1997 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 96 MIN
Sixty five years old Abdelkader Silimani, an Algerian Muslin living in France, after inadvertently witnessing a murder, closely escapes from the murderers by hiding out into a mosque. The black leather dressed masked murderers, with their firearms in hand, do not hesitate to enter the mosque full of praying men looking for the eyewitness. They leave empty handed but determined not to give up their search.
Detective Leclerc is assigned to the case. As he searches for the eyewitness who stays mute with fear, the detective slowly discovers the Northern Paris Muslim community and its traditions. For the first time, the French detective is exposed to the contradictions and challenges minority communities face as they struggle to live in a new culture with a different set of values and religious beliefs.
BURKINA FASO / 2003 / DJULA AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
A comedy set in contemporary Burkina Faso, Tasuma tells the story of a World War II veteran who has been trying for more than 50 years to obtain his well-deserved military pension. Convinced that he will be paid shortly, Sogo buys a mill on credit for the village. But the money does not arrive. When Sogo is put in prison because he cannot reimburse his loan, the women of the village rally to set him free.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Daniel Kollo Sanou
Starring: Ali Keita
Starring: Mamadou Zerbo
Starring: Noufou Ouédraogo
DVD entitled GREAT AFRICAN FILMS - VOL 2- also includes feature film Sia, the Dream of the Python
FRANCE and MOROCCO / 2018 / FRENCH, ARABIC WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 95 MIN
Growing up in the Moroccan village of Tazzeka, Elias learned the secrets of traditional Moroccan cuisine from his grandmother who raised him. Years later, meeting a top Paris chef and a young woman named Salma inspires him to leave home.
CAMEROON / 2011 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 85 MIN
Banned in Cameroon, The Big Banana illustrates the poor working conditions in banana plantations and exposes the adverse impact on the people of a corporatocracy government that affords super profits for corporations at the expense of the local population.
The Big Banana outlines land grabbing tactics by company Plantation du Haut Penja (PHP) and the ensuing devastation for communities: poverty, pollution, and sickness from pesticides.
Bieleu, who spent two years filming residents in the remote countryside of Cameroon also features local cooperatives resisting the devastation through business alliances with fair trade organizations. As a result, The Big Banana not only exposes multinational corporations culpability in the land grab of Africa but also makes us reconsider where we get our fruit from.
CONGO AND BELGIUM / 2015 / FRENCH, ENGLISH, SWAHILI AND MASHI WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 113 MIN
Portrait of the impressive life and work of internationally renowned gynecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He received the 2014 prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, for his struggle against sexual violence. Mukwege medically assisted over 40,000 sexually abused women in sixteen years of professional practice.
Sexual violence against women has been used as a weapon of war for years in the violence-ridden and poverty-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo. In order to provide medical, psychological and emotional aid to the victims, Dr. Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital in Bukavu in 1999. Besides his work as a physician Dr. Mukwege also defends human rights and seeks to raise global awareness on the issue of sexual violence in his country. He condemns the political reluctance to tackle the problem and is not afraid to hit the nail on the head.
His work is not without danger, as Dr. Mukwege experienced in 2012, when armed men entered his home and started shooting. Mukwege and his family survived the attack, but his guard was killed. The doctor now lives cloistered in his hospital in Bukavu under the protection of the United Nation peacekeepers. The women, whose physical and emotional integrity and dignity have been restored, stand beside him, true activists for peace, and hungry for justice.
ALGERIA AND FRANCE / 2001 / ARABIC ND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
Yasmine and Rachid, two young Parisians children of Algerian immigrants, are in love and live a quiet life in France. One day, Rachid disappears and Yasmine learns that he is in Algeria. She decides to follow him, in that country that she does not know, that is filled with violence. As she travels looking for Rachid, she falls deeper into the horror of a country where nothing seems normal, another world, where death is ever present. She learns that Rachid was in a military convoy that was attacked by terrorists. Only two soldiers in the convoy survived. She can't believe Rachid is not one of them...
SENEGAL, FRANCE AND GERMANY / 2012 / WOLOF AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 87 MIN
In Moussa Toure’s powerful epic fiction film, a group of 30 men sail to Europe in a pirogue, facing the sea - and the possibility of never reaching their destination - in exchange for the myth of a better life in Europe.
Baye Laye is the captain of a fishing pirogue. Like many of his Senegalese compatriots, he sometimes dreams of new horizons, where he can earn a better living for his family. When he is offered to lead one of the many pirogues that head towards Europe via the Canary Island, he reluctantly accepts the job, knowing full-well the dangers that lie ahead. Leading a group of 30 men who don't all speak the same language, some of whom have never seen the sea, Baye Laye will confront many perils in order to reach the distant coasts of Europe.
"Senegal, a West African nation on the Atlantic Ocean, was home to Africa’s greatest movie-maker, Ousmane Sembene. Today, Moussa Toure follows in the master’s footsteps with this drama of 30 men (and one woman, a stowaway) who set out on an illegal 7-day voyage to Spain - making the perilous trip in a pirogue - a boat resembling a vastly oversized dinghy. While sharing a common desire to build a better future, these men hail from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The story grows from a finely delineated mosaic of personalities - reactions to the journey’s mounting danger - that span the emotional panoply of human experience. Toure’s compelling tale says as much about the universal nature of courage and perfidy as it does about the economic realities faced by so many of the world’s people. THE PIROGUE was featured in Cannes 2012, in the Un Certain Regard section." ~ Film Forum.