Another aspect of Bamako that I loved was its oratory aesthetic and how the film teaches people how to even talk about these issues. I find that with repeated viewings of Bamako, it helps my mind address and articulate these issues of privatization and corporate ethics.
There are three levels the film operates on to articulate the images: Through the actual life stories and narratives; through the court proceeding; and the visual language of the life you see that interacts and intertwines itself in what's going on. Those are three specific ways in which the story is told. In a way, you can almost say, "Is this a documentary?" At the same time, it attempts to present arguments on both sides. But at the same time, you see this life teeming around [the proceedings]. You see the life as it reflects on children, reflects on men and women who are trying to find a way out and find a way in which they can sustain themselves. All those things are told within the story.
Is Bamako an indictment of the specific policies of the IMF or more of a blanket critique of the entire system?
Certainly the IMF is the engine that runs this system. We talk about - just mention it - enormous talk about compensation, about the situation with the African debt, whether it be forgiven or be restructured or whatever. When we talk about the debt, what do we mean by the debt in itself? Do we include compensation in our dialogue? The idea that the debt in relation to privatization, the debt in relationship to trade, the debt in relationship to aid, the debt in relationship to currency fluctuations in the various countries: these are the issues that we don't particularly understand in the relationship to the debt. I had someone from the UN tell me, "If Africa would simply price fairly in terms of finished goods and spare parts, it would save billions and billions of dollars in African countries." So I think what we have to talk about with the debt, even though we see one extreme of a manifestation of the villainous aspect of the debt in the vulture fund situation that exists with Zambia and other countries, is that the IMF was set up to do one particular thing and that was to promote growth. But it was set up at a time when we weren't talking about [countries] that have since been liberated since 1957. What is its relationship to that?
Part of my involvement with the UNDP (the United Nations Development Program) for the last few years is because I wanted to understand and be a part of what should be a public discourse around development. With the first UNDP initiative that I became involved with, one to eradicate the most grievous forms of poverty, we had a four-tiered plan: 1) To deal with equity, the equal distributions of whatever the outcome was; 2) To deal with the issues around gender; 3) To deal with environmental concerns and protection; and 4) To deal with sustainable economic growth and job creation. Those were the four tenets involved in the UNDP platform. Those have simply been undermined.
If you look specifically at the millennium development goals, which the IMF does not adhere to, it seems as if the IMF at this particular point in time is interested in sustainability from the vantage point of making sure that those countries pay their loans to private banks.
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