West Africa

Den muso - the daughter (1975)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
86′
A young mute woman is raped and becomes pregnant, with disastrous consequences within her family. The film also sketches the social/economic situation in urban Mali in the 1970s, particularly in relation to the treatment of women.
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Félicité (2017)
Alain Gomis
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)
123′
Félicité is a proud and independent woman who works as a singer in a bar in Kinshasa. Whenever she goes on stage, she appears to leave the world and her everyday worries behind. Her audiences are quickly infected by the rhythm of her music and her powerful, melancholy melodies. But then one day Félicité’s son has a terrible accident. Whilst he is in hospital she desperately tries to raise the money needed for his operation. A breathless tour through the impoverished streets and the wealthier districts of the Congolese capital ensues. One of the bar’s regulars is a man named Tabu who has been known to get carried away in every sense of the term. Tabu offers to help Félicité. Reluctantly, she accepts. After his spell in hospital, Félicité’s son has a hard time picking up his old life, but it is lady’s man Tabu of all people who manages to coax him out of his shell. Félicité’s sparsely furnished flat with its permanently defunct fridge becomes a mini utopia in a country that holds no hope for most of its population. The trio forms an eccentric community thrown together by fate, each of whom is free to go their separate ways together.
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Finye (1982)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
102′
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Hyènes (1992)
Djibril Diop Mambéty
Senegal
113′
In Colobane, people expect the return of Linguère Ramatou, a former local girl now rumored to be richer than the World Bank. But her generosity has its conditions: she offers a check of ten billion for the death of Dramaan Drameh who refused to admit that he was the father of her child 30 years ago. "Life made made me a whore, now I'm turning the world into a brothel" she tells the citizens of Colobane.
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Ken Bugul (2015)
Silvia Voser
Senegal
62′
Ken Bugul is a Senegalese writer who lives in Africa, where her soul is anchored. She has had an exceptional life. Silvia Voser’s film shows her as an iconic figure of the female condition and of relationships between Africa and the West. Ken Bugul is considered one of the most brilliant writers in Senegalese and French of these past decades. Over the years, thanks to her great command of the French language and the uncompromising care she takes with the wording of the meaning of Wolof vocabulary, her mother tongue, her novels have become absolute references in the realm of linguistic studies. "What you read in French in my novels is how we think and speak in Wolof in my village". Ken Bugul’s personal story is overshadowed by Africa’s turbulent history. She was born in 1947 in an isolated village in Senegal, at that time a French colony. Her father was 85 years old and her mother left them before Ken turned five. This was a fundamental event in Ken Bugul’s life. In spite of lacking a mother’s love, she was full of energy and a yearning for freedom, and she received an exceptional education for a village girl of that time. In 1971, she left for Europe to go to university and there she met people from the upper middle class and discovered new ideologies and liberties, modern art, drugs, alcohol, loneliness, incomprehension and disdain, and prostitution to relieve her need for affection. As she says in "The Abandoned Baobab": "For twenty years all I had learned was their thoughts and their emotions. I thought I’d have fun with them, but I ended up even more frustrated. I identified with them, but they didn’t identify with me." She came back to Senegal, a broken, lonely and penniless young woman. People thought she was crazy and she was rejected by her family and society. For two years, she slept in the streets of Dakar, hanging out with outcasts, beggars, prostitutes and artists. Dirty, hungry, almost naked, she started writing her first novel, "The Abandoned Baobab". Worn out, she decided to go back to her family. And there, in her mother’s village, she found refuge with the Serigne (marabout), a wise and much respected man. He took her as his 28th wife, enabling her to re-enter society, and he supported her in her desire to write and to be free. He died in 1981, a year before the publication of her first novel, "The Abandoned Baobab", which was an immediate success. Ken Bugul was invited to present her book all over the world. She met a doctor from Benin, married him and moved to that country, where she gave birth to their daughter Yasmina. Her husband passed away four years later. For the past thirty years, novel after novel, Ken Bugul has painted a picture of her life as a woman, of her loves, of the relationship between her continent and the West. "To write", she says, "is to dazzle the senses, and the senses are colourless." Silvia Voser leads us gently into the secret, tormented world of an artist whose writings show an understanding of the world that is rarely achieved.
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Mortu nega (1988)
Flora Gomes
Guinea-Bissau
92′
The story of a woman who searches through the country for her husband, a resistant, while the war for independence is raging. She finds him at last and saves his life. When peace finally arrives, they have to learn how to be together again and start living in a destroyed land.
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Sankofa (1993)
Haile Gerima
Burkina Faso
119′
Powerful, moving and highly acclaimed, director Haile Gerima’s Sankofa is a masterpiece of cinema that has had a transformative impact on audiences since its release in 1993. This empowering film tells a story of slavery and of the African Diaspora from the perspective of the enslaved, challenging the romanticizing of slavery prevalent in American culture. Sankofa was developed from 20 years of research into the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the experiences of African slaves in the New World. The film represents complex characters and empowering moments of resilience that assert humanity in the face of subjugation. Unlike Hollywood’s depiction of slavery, Gerima presents the often suppressed history of slave resistance and rebellion and represents the enslaved as agents of their own liberation. The story begins with Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), an African American model on a fashion shoot at the former slave castles in Cape Coast, Ghana. Mona undergoes a journey back in time and place to a slave plantation in North America where she becomes Shola, a house slave, and experiences the suffering of slavery firsthand. In becoming Shola and returning to her past culture and heritage, Mona is able to recover her lost slave identity and confront her ancestral experience. Shola’s interactions with her fellow slaves are marked with humanity and dignity, most notably with Shango (Mutabaruka), a rebellious field slave, and Nunu (Alexandra Duah), one of the few slaves to remember her life in Africa before being stolen by Europeans. The film’s narrative structure follows the concept of "Sankofa," an Akan word that signifies the recuperation of one’s past in order to comprehend the present and find one’s future. Allyson Nadia Field, ucla
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Soul Power (2008)
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)
89′
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte has brought the disparate and unedited film of Zaire '74 together into one coherent form for the first time. The rainchild of South African musician Hugh Masekela and American record producer Stewart Levine, Zaire '74 was a three-day music festival that took place in Kinshasa in 1974. The event assembled America's biggest rhythm and blues talents – including James Brown and the Mighty JBs, Bill Withers, B.B. King, and the Spinners – along with top African acts such as Miriam Makeba and Afrisa. The festival was held in conjunction with the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as the "Rumble in the Jungle." Most of the American performers, emboldened by the civil rights movement, were visiting Africa for the first time, exploring their roots and somewhat naive beliefs about the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The promoters hired a team of esteemed documentary cameramen to film everything, including street life in Kinshasa and behind-the-scenes footage of the show being assembled. The crew masterfully recorded classic numbers such as Makeba's "The Click Song," King's "The Thrill Is Gone," and of course, Brown's "Soul Power." And then the footage sat unedited for over thirty years, until now. DHE MUSIC *************** SOUL POWER Written by James Brown Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Crited Music, Inc. (BMI) BAKOBOSANA Written by Lita Bembo Performed by Lita Bembo & Les Stukas All rights reserved - Tous droits réservés I'LL NEVER LET YOU BREAK MY HEART AGAIN Written by Fred Wesley, Charles Bobbit, Reggie Bryan Performed by “Sweet" Charles Sherrell and the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) ONE OF A KIND (LOVE AFFAIR) Written by Joseph B. Jefferson Performed by The Spinners Under License from Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) SIMBA NKONI Written by François “Franco” Luambo Makiadi Performed by OK Jazz featuring Franco All rights reserved - Tous droits réservés HOPE SHE’LL BE HAPPIER Written by Bill Withers Performed by Bill Withers Under license from Songs of Universal, Inc. on behalf of Interior Music Corp. (BMI) THE CLICK SONG Written by The Manhattan Brothers Performed by Miriam Makeba Under license from Makeba Music Company ON AND ON Written by Curtis Mayfield Performed by Sister Sledge Under License from Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. on behalf of Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. and Todd Mayfield Publishing (BMI) THRILL IS GONE Written by Rick Ravon Darnell and Roy Hawkins Performed by B.B. King Under license from Universal Music-Careers (BMI) PUT IT WHERE YOU WANT IT Written by Joe Sample Performed by the Crusaders Under license from Chrysalis Songs (BMI) QUIMBARA Written by Junior Cepeda Performed by Celia Cruz and the Fania All Stars Under license from Universal –Musica Unica Publishing on behalf of Fania Music (BMI) PONTE DURO Written by Johnny Pacheco Performed by the Fania All Stars Under license from Universal - Musica Unica Publishing on behalf of Fania Music (BMI) BONJOUR L’AFRIQUE Written by Big Black Performed by Big Black Published by Jokot SELI-JA Written by Tabu Ley Rochereau Performed by Tabu Ley Rochereau & L’Afrisa International Under License from EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. PAYBACK Written by James Brown, John H. Starks, and Fred Wesley Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) COLD SWEAT Written by James Brown and Alfred James Ellis Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) I CAN’T STAND MYSELF (WHEN YOU TOUCH ME) Written by James Brown Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) SAY IT LOUD (I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD) Written by James Brown and Alfred James Ellis Performed by James Brown & the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI) . SAME BEAT Written by James Brown Performed by Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s Under License from Unichappell Music, Inc. on behalf of Dynatone Publishing Co. (BMI)
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Take Off (2013)
Bruno Moll
Ghana
93′
Ghana is considered a model country in West Africa - democratic, open, ambitious. Ghana's government is proud and likes to refer to good governance: to the best rule of law in West Africa and above all to stable economic growth - despite the global financial crisis. The government is determined to achieve faster socio-economic development, especially by expanding the industrial sector. Ebenezer Mireku comes from a Ghanaian jungle village. He made some detours to obtain his doctorate at the University of St. Gallen in 1988 and then returned to his home country to apply the knowledge he had acquired as an entrepreneur. For several years he has been passionately fighting for the realisation of his major project: the construction of a new section of the Ghanaian railway. The railway line is intended to stimulate the development of the entire region. His future-oriented, gigantic railway project was at the centre of the film project and is the leitmotif of Bruno Moll's film Take Off. The film narrative follows Ebenezer Mirekus' biography and experiences with the railway project, documenting encounters with Ghanaians. Questions about development, growth and progress are of specific interest.
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