MOTO TAXI, Narcisse Wandji's first feature film, explores questions and concerns related to the daily life of three Cameroonians,two men and a woman, who manage to make a living working as motorcycle taxis.
Sani, Marie and Franck are three young moto-taxi drivers with unique destinies and stories. Sani has to face Charles, his employer and also father of Samedi, his girlfriend, who is pregnant with his child. Marie, raped five years ago, tries to find Tom, her rapist. And Franck, on his side, must do everything to get rid of the lifeless body of an 8 month old child.
In Moto Taxi, Narcisse Wandji refers both visually and through the dialogues in his film to some important auteurs in African Cinema. Quartier Mozart by Jean-Pierre Bekolo is mentioned casually in a conversation while a Moto Taxi driver explains that the corn on his motorcycle was inspired by Djibril Diop Mambety’s Touki Bouki.
“These references reassure the cinephiles looking for cinematic innovation. The question of cultural identity remains at the heart of the auteur’s work while he/she strives to give a universal feel to his/her creation. “ Pierre Patrick Touko.
Directed by Narcisse Wandji, Cameroon, 2021, 90 mins, drama, French (with English subtitles)
Fatem, sixth month pregnant, leaves her village perched in the mountains, to fill a frame with empty glasses for the elder of her village, the only person who can decipher the letters sent by members of the villagers’ families who have gone to work in the cities. She moves from station to station to arrive in town in the middle of a protest. This will turn her trip into a peaceful revolution that she is hardly aware of.
Directed by Sanaa Akroud, Morocco 2020, 86min, drama, Arabic w/English subtitles
"A beautifully observed meditation on faith, perseverance and integrity, Moroccan director Sanae Akroud’s sophomore feature is an immersive and heart-breaking unique female saga. " ~ The Brazilian
"This film, which carries beautiful qualities of image and lighting, speaks of poverty, of the feminine condition and of a happiness so simple that one can hardly grasp its meaning nowadays. ~ La Presse
"Fatem is played by Sanaa Akroud, also the film's director. Akroud was in the acclaimed 2011 Egyptian film "Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story". In "Myopia" she is brilliant as our unsettlingly passive villager, whether inquiring about a letter from an absent husband or when wandering innocently through the city in search of an eyeglass shop." ~ Barbara Nimri Aziz
"She will be questioned by the police, defended by an association, interviewed by a journalist… She is accused of having endangered her baby, she is asked some of the most intrusive questions, but each person applies their own way of thinking - myopia of a society incapable of perceiving its difference. Agressive police officers falsely accused, activists urging her to press charges, sensationalist journalist who transforms news, even a listening minister… none understand that she only wants to fix the glasses." ~ Olivier Barlet
"It is in listening to these women that Sanaa Akroud wrote this script which she both interprets and directs. Apart from the interviews, she does it with few words. Wolfango Alfi's sequence shots respond to this desire to account for the time taken by everyday acts. They contribute to the open-mindedness called for by this film without a clear message, if not to invite people to understand that an equivocation is not a limit but a complexity." ~ Olivier Barlet
"This story is sure to resonate with many American viewers learning about the depth of racial disparities and the flaws in U.S. democracy where agents of ‘liberal’ society and opposition parties once again reach out to Black and Brown Americans and immigrants with shallow promises of equality and reform." ~ Barbara Nimri Aziz
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.
SENEGAL, SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE / 2006 / ENGLISH AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 108 MIN
A musical road movie,Return to Goréefollows Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour's historical journey tracing the trail left by enslaved Africans and the jazz music they created. Youssou N'Dour's challenge is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire of his own songs to perform a concert in Gorée, the island that today symbolizes the slave trade and stands to honor its victims.
From Atlanta to New Orleans, from New York to Bordeaux and Luxembourg, the songs are transformed, immersed in jazz and gospel. Transcending cultural divisions and rehearsing with of some of the world's most exceptional musicians, Youssou N'Dour is preparing to return to Africa for the final concert...
Ghofrane, 25, is a young Black Tunisian woman. A committed activist who speaks her mind, she embodies Tunisia's current political upheaval. As a victim of racial discrimination, Ghofrane decides to go into politics.
We follow her extraordinary path, ranging from acting on her ambition to be in politics to disillusion. Through her attempts to persuade both close friends and complete strangers to vote for her, her campaign reveals the many faces of a country seeking to forge a new identity.
In its own unique way, this documentary sheds light on the place of women and Black people in Tunisia's changing society.
Directed by Raja Amari, Tunisia, 2020, 90min, documentary, Arabic and French w/English subtitles
* IDFA 2020 - World Premiere
"Binous' determination to be an agent of change lends the film an engaging, upbeat energy that enhances its appeal..." ~ Screen International
"Effortlessly balancing the personal and the political - and the invisible line between them - the filmmaker offers a glimpse into the future of a better Tunisia through Binous's unique odyssey." ~ Film Inquiry
"As a Black woman from a working-class neighborhood in Tunisia, 25-year-old Ghofrane Binous has spent her whole life dealing with class inequality, racism, and sex discrimination. Following an extremely racist incident in 2018 while working as a flight attendant, she posted a cry for help on social media that was widely viewed, then joined a women’s movement and became politically active. The film follows this charismatic figure in the run-up to the 2019 national elections—during the turbulent campaign period, on the way to countless meetings, and in heated conversations with family members, friends, and party members.
The camera stays close to this young woman who is keen to perpetuate the myth of her own invulnerability—and maybe that’s exactly what she needs to do to rise to the top. The backdrop to her political ambition is a divided society where people have little confidence in their own democracy. Connecting it all is the voice-over in which Binous shares her vision of life, and her motivations for becoming politically active in a paternalistic, segregated society where women generally draw the shortest straw." IDFA
BURKINA FASO / 2001 / BAMBARA WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 96 MIN
Kombi is a poverty-stricken city dominated by a tyrant king. In order to bring back prosperity, the king is advised by his priests to make the traditional human sacrifice of a young virgin to a mystical snake god. Sia, the most beautiful young woman of the village, has been designated. Lieutenant Mamadi, her fiancé, rebels against the decision to perform this ritual and the village becomes divided. Struggles and revelations follow as the characters confront issues of honour, corruption and power.
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.
In today’s Ecuador, the black population, the descendants of enslaved Africans, continue to experience strong racial and social discrimination. Yet people in the community still strive to value their specific culture and transmit the rebellious memory of their ancestors who fought for freedom.The Esmeraldas Beachsets out to expose the invisibility of Afro-Ecuadorians and rectify the narrative of the country’s history with the film’s central protagonist, Juan García, who has worked on that project for years. He developed a school book that presents black Ecuadorians prominently since the only Afro-descendants shown in local school books are portrayed next to a marimba and football. The documentary also addresses the 1999 assassination of Afro-Ecuadorian legislator and presidential hopeful, Jaime Hurtado.
Directed by Patrice Raynal, 2020, France/Ecuador, 58 minutes, documentary, French and Spanish with English subtitles.
In the midst of the Cold War, ten young promising musicians from Mali are sent to Cuba to study music and strengthen cultural links between the two socialist countries. Combining Malian and Afro-Cuban influences, they develop a revolutionary new sound and become the iconic ensemble ‘Las Maravillas de Mali’. New Year’s Eve 2000. Richard Minier, a French music producer meets a former member of the band in Bamako and decides to bring the band back together.
Directed by Edouard Salier and Richard Minier | 2020 | 81min |France, Cuba, Mali | Documentary | Spanish, French with English subtitles
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 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 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.
The Man Who Mends Women - The Wrath of Hippocrates was awarded on the 8th of February 2016 the Best Documentary Magritte given once a year by the Académie André Delvaux to the Best Feature Length Belgium Francophone Documentary of the year.
It also received on January 29, 2016 the HUMANUM AWARD by the Belgium Film Critic Union (Union de la Presse Cinématographique Belge - UPCB) for its advocacy in favor of harmonious living among different peoples.
Other awards include: * Best Documentary Special Jury Award at the 2016 Pan African Film Festival, in Los Angeles (USA); * Special Mention at the Festival Internacional De Cine Documental De La Ciudad de Mexico 2015 (Mexico); * The Public Award at the Algiers International Film Festival 2015 (Algeria); * The Golden Butterfly - A Matter of Act award at the Movies That Matter Festival 2015 (The Netherlands)
The film has received so far 5 Human Rights Awards, 3 Audience Awards, and 4 Grand Prizes for Best Documentary in festivals worldwide!
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.
HAITI / 2007 / CREOLE AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 110 MIN
Jimmy Jean-Louis -- featured among the cast of the television phenomenon “Heroes,” -- stars as musician extraordinaire in denial, President, in this Haitian comedy-drama about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Dao is the biggest movie star in Haiti, the self-proclaimed "President of Compas." He has women falling at his feet and men emulating him. He feels invincible-living the life of a rock star--sex, drugs and alcohol--except that he can no longer hide his illness which is threatening to derail his career. Despite pressure from his manager, he refuses to get tested for AIDS, turning instead to rituals, spells, and the church. At one of his concerts, he rescues Nina from the leery advances of Larieux, a wealthy and powerful businessman, who Nina's mother wants her to marry. As romance blossoms between Dao and Nina, who likes Dao despite his fame, not because of it, Larieux plots his revenge. Also starring Riccardo Lefeuvre and Jessica Geneus.
SENEGAL AND BELGIUM / 2008 / WOLOF AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 48 MIN
In a voice-over, we hear the thoughts of Amy, a girl from a rural area of Senegal who works as a domestic for a well-to-do family in Dakar. She complains about her employer, who continuously criticizes her and gets on her case, and she talks about her dream of one day opening her own eatery. Meanwhile, we see her sweep the pavement, prepare the food and clean the house. The contrast with her vast and barren native region is enormous. In Dakar, some 150,000 young women work as housekeepers for families whose daughters can go to school. "Why does the emancipation of some result in the servitude of others?" Amy wonders. The filmmakers interview other young maids who dream of going to school, and they film a woman who shouts her furious lyrics straight into the camera in rapper-like fashion: "I keep your houses squeaky clean, but you all think I'm dirty!" In a dramatized scene in a slum, the women demonstrate how they'd like to deal with a woman who doesn't pay her housekeeper enough. In response to the situation, the filmmakers make an appeal to change the rules of the world economy.
Demba is an African who has fled an oppressive regime in his own country and is seeking asylum in Paris. One night he encounters Lucien, a policeman from the Caribbean, who speaks to him in the voice of the dominant class. But in his country Demba is a professor of History and Geography while Lucien left school early to help his mother, a cleaning lady.
“YAFA Le Pardon” explores the social and economic dynamics at work in their relationship as they seek to understand each other, aided by Welcome, a Baule Komian who does not hesitate to officiate as the parties meet on the Quai de l’Oise, in the centre of Paris.
Directed by Christian Lara, France, 2019, 85 Minutes, drama, French with English subtitles
"In my young adult years in France, I could see that there was tension between the Caribbean community and the African community, but I didn’t know why. The hidden historical facts, the great Black characters erased or transformed, the identity and culture construction... This is the thread of the ongoing dialogue between Demba (Sidiki Bakaba) and Lucien (Luc Saint-Eloy). The migrant and the policeman. Africa and the West Indies." ~ Karukerament Read full review HERE
ABOUT DIRECTOR CHRISTIAN LARA Christian Lara is a Guadeloupean/French film director, writer, cinematographer and producer. Having shot more than twenty feature films in the Caribbean, France, Canada and Africa, he is regarded by many as "the Father of French Antilles cinema".
Official Selection Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival 2022 African Diaspora International Film Festival, NYC 2022