African classics

with bonus
Cairo Station (1958)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
73′
Melodrama and thriller, social drama and love story in one, the masterly feature film by the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, made in 1958, is located entirely on the station grounds. The old Madbouli is the owner of a kiosk at Cairo's main railway station. One day he finds a half-starved, poor man at the edge of the tracks. Madbouli feels sorry for the sad-looking, limping farmer Kenaoui and hires him as a flying newspaper salesman. At work, Kenaoui meets the beautiful Hanouma every day, who also earns her living at the station by supplying travellers with lemonade drinks. Kenaoui falls for the cheerful woman and makes it his goal to marry her. Lonely and in obsessive longing, he cuts out lightly dressed women from magazines in his hut at the edge of the train station in the evening, hanging his walls with them. Although he knows that Hanouma is already promised to the suitcase porter and trade unionist Abou Serih, one day he reveals his feelings to her and proposes to her. Her rejection, soaked with mockery and ridicule, drives Kenawi further into a rage-drenched obsession for Hanuma. Restored version.
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Alyam, Alyam (1978)
Ahmed El Maanouni
Morocco
87′
Set in a small village in the Moroccan countryside, Alyam, Alyam tells a story culled from the lived reality of young men almost forty years ago while still remaining very much of the present day. A young man named Abdelwahed pins his dreams of a better life for himself and his family on travelling to France and finding work there. As the eldest of eight children, he becomes the principal caretaker and breadwinner for his family after his father passes away. He fills out forms and waits for his work permit to arrive. Meanwhile, Hlima, his recently widowed mother who’s reticent to let him go, tries in vain to dissuade him and enlists the help of Abdelwahed’s grandfather too. As the days flow by to the cadence of life in the countryside, marked by the hardships of farming, Abdelwahed waits. All he can do is wait. Straddling fiction and documentary, Alyam, Alyam is Ahmed El Maanouni’s first narrative feature, and the first Moroccan film ever to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival. Recently restored, the film’s splendor and finely crafted editing has become available once again for cinéphiles and new generations to discover.
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Bab'Aziz (2005)
Nacer Khemir
Tunisia
100′
The story of a blind dervish named Bab'Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every thirty years. With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape.
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Den muso - the daughter (1975)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
85′
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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Finye (1982)
Souleymane Cissé
Mali
105′
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with bonus
Hyènes (1992)
Djibril Diop Mambéty
Senegal
111′
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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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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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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Al asfour - The Sparrow (1972)
Youssef Chahine
Egypt
102′
The Sparrow fascinates with its parallel strands of action. The various ways of encountering a criminal trader, namely by a police officer and a journalist, are ultimately only traces that lead to the tip of an iceberg: the corruption of Egyptian society on the eve of the Six-Day War.
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Toula ou le génie des eaux (1973)
Moustapha Alassane
Niger
72′
The gods have declared the drought of the country. There seems to be no hope. A holy man summoned by the king requires the sacrifice of a young woman to put an end to their anger. A young man in love decides to go in search of water to save the girl from a tragic end, but when he returns with good news it's too late: the genie had his satisfaction and Toula has already disappeared in the holy swamp.
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