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GreenCine Movie Talk
Foreign
From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.
183

African Cinema
Topic by: dpowers
Posted: February 9, 2003 - 2:55 PM PST
Last Reply: November 24, 2003 - 11:07 AM PST

page  1  2      prev | next
author topic: African Cinema
dpowers
post #1  on February 9, 2003 - 2:55 PM PST  
A place to talk about films from Africa.
dpowers
post #2  on February 9, 2003 - 3:03 PM PST  
i'm so sad that i just found out today. you people who watch teevee in the bay area, shame on you for not mentioning that KQED will be running african films every sunday this month, at noon!

check 'em out or borrow pelikan's tivo after he records them for everybody, because they're unlikely on video any time soon.

(today's film, the first of three, was ousmane sembene's faat-kinÚ, the latest of his i've seen. (i don't think it's playing again.) faat-kinÚ is the story of a woman with two children, each abandoned to her by their egotistical fathers, told starting from the time when these two children have grown tall and strong and both earned BAs. politically very interesting, more interesting for sembene's unique ability at presenting each character's situation from that character's point of view.)

okay coming up are:

Africa in the Picture: Broadcasts

Sun, February 16, 2003 -- 12:00pm
Tales of Ordinary People
This program consists of the two films in a proposed trilogy by the late Senegalese visionary director Djibril Diop Mambety. Through fables and humor, Mambety juxtaposed the harsh economic and social realities against the dream of economic and social justice in Africa.
-- In the first film, Le Franc, a down-on-his-luck-musician and West African "everyman," reminiscent of Chaplin's "little tramp," stakes all his hopes on the national lottery. It is a parable about the plight of ordinary Africans buffeted by the changing winds of the international monetary system.
-- In the second film, La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun), a feisty 12-year-old paraplegic wants to become the first female news vendor in Dakar. Refusing to accept the role the world has assigned her; her self-reliant vision transforms the reality around her. Both films are in Wolof with English subtitles.

Sun, February 23, 2003 -- 12:00pm
Daresalam
Emerging director Issa Serge Coelo sets Daresalam, one of the first features from the central African nation of Chad in the 1970's when the country was plagued by civil war, and shows how ordinary people were swept up into larger political events. Two young friends join the rebel army after their village is brutalized by the government army for refusing to pay exorbitant taxes. Their friendship is later destroyed when they take opposite sides after the rebels split into factions. Daresalam means "Let there be peace" in Arabic, very appropriate for a film calling for an end to war and a return to the urgent tasks of nation building. In Chadian Arabic and French with English subtitles.
dpowers
post #3  on February 9, 2003 - 3:09 PM PST  
> these two children have grown tall and strong and both earned BAs.<

oops, that was wrong, what happened was they passed their baccalaureate exams, which are college entry, i think? inherited from france.
SRhodes
post #4  on February 10, 2003 - 2:23 PM PST  

I meant to post something about the series but forgot. I wrote about it for TVBarn and have a review tape of the first film.

It is playing on some other PBS stations. There is a list and more info on the films at Africa in the Picture (and if you PBS station isn't running it, contact them and ask them to).

Programs on PBS usually have a window of from one to three years when programs can be repeated, so it will be shown again.
dpowers
post #5  on February 10, 2003 - 5:01 PM PST  
lucky you to have a tape of one of sembene's films in your hands.

love those viewing tips you linked to, mostly good. a few... ick! from the first item:

The acting sometimes seems a little formal, almost reticent.

right, almost like some of the performers don't act for a living. strangely this is similar to the performances in some of robert bresson's films, which are considered quite westernized and metropolitan.

Dont fight these differences; try to appreciate the timeless rhythms and ordered life of a less industrialized society.

hee hee. a guy from senegal once told me, when he'd gone to northern france as an exchange student, an older woman commented that he'd probably never seen a car before. he said, "lady, of course i've seen them! i come from a city with more than a million people in it! it's bigger than anything around here except paris!" apparently though, she never came to believe that dakar was really a city city.

timeless rhythms can be found in many places....

then there's point 3 - "A recurrent theme in many of these films is the tension between self-assertion and group cohesion" - so sloppy. as written, that's the central issue in every single coming-of-age story known to humankind. but more clearly ill-considered is the second sentence:

Traditional agrarian societies need to preserve social harmony and continuity sometimes at the expense of the individual initiative and innovation so prized in industrialized economies.

"individual initiative and innovation" is the central social goal of all of the "industrialized economies"? somebody should tell canada, japan, and much of europe about this, people there might be surprised.
dpowers
post #6  on November 20, 2003 - 11:10 AM PST  
great news!

first, kino video is having a sale on its entire catalog. 25-30% discounts on most DVDs.

second, they have hyenas and yeelen on DVD. hyenas is a fantastic senegalese flick, "a witty, acidic satire of consumer culture and its corruption of modern africa" directed by djibril diop mambety (touki bouki) of which billy wilder would have been very, very proud. yeelen (brightness), by souleymane cissÚ of mali, i haven't seen, but it won the jury prize at cannes, and jonathan rosenbaum has called it "conceivably the greatest african film ever made" - which could be faint praise, but he's a big fan of senegalese filmmaker ousmane sembene, so putting yeelen above sembene's guelwaar or camp de thiaroye is a big deal.
hamano
post #7  on November 20, 2003 - 12:53 PM PST  
> On February 10, 2003 - 5:01 PM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Traditional agrarian societies need to preserve social harmony and continuity sometimes at the expense of the individual initiative and innovation so prized in industrialized economies.
>
> "individual initiative and innovation" is the central social goal of all of the "industrialized economies"? somebody should tell canada, japan, and much of europe about this, people there might be surprised.
> ---------------------------------

You said that not the author. The author is probably American and meant the comment to be self-critical...

Also, in many respects Japan IS a traditional agrarian society, except that we've dispensed for the most part with the icky and back-breaking farming aspect of it. And of course "initiative and innovation" is again beaten out of our children before middle school... People with "initiative and innovation" spearheaded the bubble economy in the '70s and '80s, and look what happened.
dpowers
post #8  on November 20, 2003 - 4:18 PM PST  
sorry, "probably" isn't what was written. what was written reduced the non-industrial world to a "timeless" agrarian ghetto backwater, to help that potential viewer enter a compatible but false "african" mindset.

to equate image sophistication with a competitive nature - what a crime, it still pisses me off. keep in mind that some of those films were more grittily urban than many industrial country productions, and others were told in a self-consciously non-urban style, alluding to folktales still in an urban audience's mind.

"Notice how many of the characters in these films are torn between 'tradition' and 'modernity'" still burns me up. like that isn't a constant theme everywhere! kill bill: tradition (hattori hanzo) versus modernity (bill). master and commander: tradition (surprise) versus modernity (acheron). zion (tradition) versus matrix (modernity). pick a movie. life is change, society is continuity, crash bang boom.

a couple different words and it would have been much less patronizing, and the bridge they were building would have been sturdier. the other questions are quite good. i wish they'd posed all six tips as questions they might have avoided the problem.
hamano
post #9  on November 20, 2003 - 5:40 PM PST  
> On November 20, 2003 - 4:18 PM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> a couple different words and it would have been much less patronizing, and the bridge they were building would have been sturdier.
> ---------------------------------

I think it sounds patronizing to you because you're assuming that the questions were formulated by someone like you for the benefit of viewers like you.

Who built this website, and who do they hope will see the films? What do they hope will be the result of viewing these films?

The beauty of the internet is that no one can tell you're a dog. The tyranny of the internet is that everyone assumes you're part of some happy majority.

And anonymity makes some people write incredibly patronizing things...I know, I'm guilty!

I guess in this present context, you're perfectly correct. Those patronizing dumbheads formulated the question stupidly.
hamano
post #10  on November 20, 2003 - 8:21 PM PST  
I'm sorry. It's just that if someone writes "Traditional agrarian societies need to preserve social harmony and continuity sometimes at the expense of the individual initiative and innovation so prized in industrialized economies." I think I understand what the author meant, without getting all worked up about other possible implications of the text as written.
dpowers
post #11  on November 21, 2003 - 11:10 AM PST  
> I think it sounds patronizing to you because you're assuming that the questions were formulated by someone like you for the benefit of viewers like you.

no, i never thought that. my first opinion formed was that it was written by an educated person (perhaps a man, or a group of people more male than female), with a love for africa and a certain idealistic admiration for aspects of african culture, who got involved with african films because of that personal affinity or relationship.

the writer may or not have been black but i think might have been. the target reader, however, i think, might have been black. a lot of the text strikes me as being somehow... grant-like... as though the writer(s) had raised money for the series on with a very particular cultural angle and were still aiming at that angle, in mental harmony with their sales pitch to the granting parties. a black heritage project.

the two "statement" tips are slightly over-written. i couldn't figure out where that put the focus. i think the writer(s) were aiming to pull another group of people into the questions, maybe a more conservative audience, but not an older audience... many of the used words are close to being business buzzwords... perhaps those were added to engage white readers.
hamano
post #12  on November 21, 2003 - 12:14 PM PST  
> On November 21, 2003 - 11:10 AM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> no, i never thought that. my first opinion formed was that it was written by an educated person (perhaps a man, or a group of people more male than female), with a love for africa and a certain idealistic admiration for aspects of african culture

NEVER? I may be grossly mistaken, in which case I apologize, but the above description sounds a lot like the kind of person who would start "A place to talk about films from Africa."

> the two "statement" tips are slightly over-written. i couldn't figure out where that put the focus. i think the writer(s) were aiming to pull another group of people into the questions, maybe a more conservative audience, but not an older audience...

Or maybe the author's purpose is to educate, but his writing style is an artifact of a pedagogy that is different from our culture's. And it might work in the context of the intended audience...
dpowers
post #13  on November 21, 2003 - 2:06 PM PST  
> the above description sounds a lot like the kind of person who would start "A place to talk about films from Africa."

what can you really tell from 8 words... but anyway, eoliano had already started this thing where a thread would be posted for a country or a continent famous as a group for its filmmaking, i wanted to post about those movies, nobody'd started a topic for africa, africa seemed like a good enough group. i don't have an affinity for african culture, i just like the sense of humor of the movies i've seen, probably because most of the filmmakers are anti-colonialists.

> Or maybe the author's purpose is to educate, but his writing style is an artifact of a pedagogy that is different from our culture's.

hm. our culture. american culture? hm. i feel like a detective, the rain's bashing against the windows, the room is cold, we're all gathered to hear the revelation, for the killer is none other than the writer of these six items...

> And it might work in the context of the intended audience...

still think it's patronizing.
hamano
post #14  on November 21, 2003 - 3:33 PM PST  
> On November 21, 2003 - 2:06 PM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> i just like the sense of humor of the movies i've seen, probably because most of the filmmakers are anti-colonialists.

That's "a certain idealistic admiration for aspects of african culture" me thinks.

> hm. our culture. american culture? hm.

I probably should say GreenCine culture, as far as I can figure out from reading the post in these forums. We're all part of that, however different our backgrounds and "roles". And maybe different from the culture of websites outside GreenCine... Or maybe that's all in my own head! I read Snow Crash then I took the red pill....

>i feel like a detective, the rain's bashing against the windows, the room is cold, we're all gathered to hear the revelation, for the killer is none other than the writer of these six items...

Mmm... I much prefer playing RISK to CLUE. I'm attacking the Anime Forum from Japan, 3 dice! Anyway, as dwhudson would say, "Good grief, hamano. Mountain, molehill."
hamano
post #15  on November 21, 2003 - 4:42 PM PST  
I heard the song "Shosholoza" for the first time when I saw the Jamie Uys film Dingaka on late night TV in Canada. The movie was pretty cool (some creepy witch doctor stuff) and a bit like stuff that Peter Weir would try later when he was still making films in Australia. But I really liked "Shosholoza" and I was glad when it popped up on a Peter Gabriel single (was it the Biko single?)... Does anyone else remember seeing Dingaka?
dpowers
post #16  on November 21, 2003 - 5:36 PM PST  
>> i just like the sense of humor of the movies i've seen, probably because most of the filmmakers are anti-colonialists.

> That's "a certain idealistic admiration for aspects of african culture" me thinks.

you devil. if you know the secret birth stories of m.k. gandhi, pablo neruda, and thomas jefferson, out with them. people are ready to hear the truth.
hamano
post #17  on November 21, 2003 - 7:05 PM PST  
I heard the song "Shosholoza" for the first time when I saw the Jamie Uys film Dingaka on late night TV in Canada. The movie was pretty cool (some creepy witch doctor stuff) and a bit like stuff that Peter Weir would try later when he was still making films in Australia. But I really liked "Shosholoza" and I was glad when it popped up on a Peter Gabriel single (was it the Biko single?)... Does anyone else remember seeing Dingaka?
dpowers
post #18  on November 23, 2003 - 5:53 PM PST  
i said, to equate image sophistication with a competitive nature - what a crime, i think i have a way i like to say this better, i want to change sophistication to specialization. it's not like the person behind the camera or the person in the theater is watching with less overall experience. after everybody's gotten over the picture-really-moving novelty, i think i want to call what happens next as a form of disagreement about what is right to show, what deserves to be included after it's been established that everything can be shown. calling that sophistication... it might be better to say that the tastes and politics of different groups start shaping the drama, ruts form, familiarity leads to quality and style battles...

dictionary says sophistication can mean "the process or result of becoming more complex, developed, or subtle." my specialization mixes that with inurement. not about controversial subjects. a total self-disciplining, throughout the viewing process, what you want to watch, how you find out about it, where you go to see it.

that's always been the bluff of coming up the ladder, right, deft on the outside = deft on the inside.

oh too bad, waiting for happiness isn't out yet, it deals with this some.
hamano
post #19  on November 23, 2003 - 8:51 PM PST  
It seems that you're making a politically/philosophically valid point here, but if you got "to equate image sophistication/specialization with a competitive nature - what a crime" from a teaching/viewing guide that stated 3. A recurrent theme in many of these films is the tension between self-assertion and group cohesion. Traditional agrarian societies need to preserve social harmony and continuity sometimes at the expense of the individual initiative and innovation so prized in industrialized economies. Notice how many of the characters in these films are torn between "tradition" and "modernity."it suggests that reading it triggered a pre-existing pet peeve rather than a specific comment on this specific document. I certainly don't think the guide is saying that "modernity" = sophistication/specialization.... but maybe the point you're making is made confusing because you're binding it to this text.

Ultimately, though, it's up to the viewer to judge if a "teaching guide" or "viewer guide" is helpful, or misleading, or propagandistic. Since you saw the films and then read the guide, I guess you're entitled to make this judgement...It just a bit hard to see how you got from A to B. I mean, the six "tips" refer to the entire African Library collection, not just the African films you saw on PBS just now.... I don't think they're really insisting that these points apply to each and every African film....

I'm probably missing your point entirely, but if the aim of the guide was to foster further thinking and discussion, I guess it was successful...
hamano
post #20  on November 23, 2003 - 9:25 PM PST  
> On November 20, 2003 - 4:18 PM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> "Notice how many of the characters in these films are torn between 'tradition' and 'modernity'" still burns me up. like that isn't a constant theme everywhere! kill bill: tradition (hattori hanzo) versus modernity (bill). master and commander: tradition (surprise) versus modernity (acheron). zion (tradition) versus matrix (modernity). pick a movie. life is change, society is continuity, crash bang boom.
> ---------------------------------

Well, it's right under our noses if we're talking old vs. new (and still we're usually blind to it, zion vs. matrix). But they're really saying "cultural values A" vs. "cultural values B" whatever A and B are. There's an aspect to this that isn't really "agrarian" vs. "industrialized" or "tradition" vs. "modernity" although it's easier to characterize the friction as such. I see it myself going back to Japan once in a while after living abroad for 75% of my life. It's a "thisness" vs. "thatness".

However, since "thisness" vs. "thatness" comes down almost to a matter of faith, maybe it's easier to begin a clear discussion or a thought process if we say "agrarian" vs. "industrialized" and "tradition" vs. "modernity".

I can understand your appeal to Waiting for Happiness...What was the original title, Hamanomakono or something? No one is telling you in "words" what to think or feel, mostly the images and music. A lot of your response to it will be stuff that you brought to it.

You could say that the whole concept of pushing a viewing guide on someone is unfairly trying to influence thoughts based on the agenda of the guide's author. But maybe that's the currency of social discourse... So if you understand that there might be an intent to influence your thinking, then you can take it or leave it. Clearly you have that understanding.
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