In contemporary Portuguese cinema, the question is to know how to represent the revolution. How can the revolution’s temporality be reconfigured in the present? How can it be made present and not past? How can the archives of the revolution’s political strength be restored? If the crossing of history is always a critical operation and if the historical approach implies a process of identification with past events, for contemporary Portuguese filmmakers — especially the children of the revolution — these vast archives and this impressive cinematic corpus place the question outside of the reach of any historicism.
ECAScreening5: The battle mentioned in the title of the movie is that between Good and Evil, symbolizing music and silence, Africa and Europe, told through the story of a Guinean musician who, caught in the convulsions of the colonial war, left for Portugal and returns home to the wedding of his daughter with a musician, ending up disturbing the ancestral equilibrium of mandinga mysticism.
ECAScreening9: Today a new African cinema is coming into being, which is adding something new and significant to the cultural and artistic life of this continent. The importance of this development was underlined at an international round-table discussion held last year in Venice on “Africa and Contemporary Civilization”. At this gathering Unesco presented several studies on the cinema in Africa. The article below is an edited and abridged version of a study by Jean Rouch, in which the French film producer traces the development of the cinema in Africa and looks at some of its new trends. The subject will also be dealt in future issues.
ECAScreening8: Representations of Africa tend to reproduce old stereotypes, adapted to recent trends but ultimately reproducing, even in postcolonial times, a largely negative and monolithic image of a diverse continent. The same can be said of cinema. A more or less consensual approach to "African cinema" associates it with exoticism, making it into a genre easily recognized by Western audiences. It is this idea of a backward, monolithic Africa that the curators of African Screens, Manthia Diawara and Lydie Diakhatí, intended to challenge.
ECAScreening7: Almost from the moment of cinema’s invention, Africa has been inserted into its global system, but on the most unfavorable terms: it has been the dumping ground for second-run “B” movies from Hollywood, Bollywood and Hong Kong, films that are often racist and always estranged from African realities and purposes, while the formidable technical, infrastructural, and capital requirements of making and distributing films made it nearly impossible for Africans to respond in kind with their own films. Because of these steep infrastructural and capital requirements, cinema everywhere depends on state support, and postcolonial African states have proved indifferent, timorous, corrupt, and inept at providing it; the postcolonial African elite has been as philistine as Fanon predicted, without the power or interest to invest in culture (Fanon).
ECAScreening6: A pair of Portuguese-language films quietly examine the standoff between old Europe and modern multiculturalism. Tabu was "Paradise Lost"; set in a forlorn, present-day Lisbon in which a middle-aged Christian, Pilar, takes a neighbourly interest in the affairs of Aurora, an elderly gambling addict who indulges in mild racism towards her Cape Verdean housekeeper, Santa. When Aurora dies, and Pilar tracks down the woman's former lover, the film's buttoned-up realism blossoms into "Paradise", a stylised account of the couple's days in Portuguese Africa. The affair is conducted against a stylised backdrop that is like a cinematic stampede of past-colonial fantasies and attitudes, from FW Murnau to Tarzan escapades, to the quirk-filtered nostalgia of Wes Anderson.
The booming economic juggernaut in Brazil has transformed lives. It has also acted as a beacon attracting migrants from all over the world, including the former Portuguese colony of Angola. Expecting to find a vast multicultural embrace, Angolan immigrant Badharo instead finds barriers and even racism in Rio. So he turns to music as a way to express his disappointment, pain and outrage.
Set against the tragic death of a young Angolan student, we experience the frustrations Badharo and his family face as their Brazilian dreams encounter a very different reality.
Substantial research has been dedicated to post-colonial productions in African Studies, Postcolonial Studies and Film Studies. Francophone and Anglophone film productions have been extensively assessed in academic writings; however there is a lack of critical research on the subject of Lusophone cinemas and co-productions. This special issue of Journal of African Cinemas intends to address this shortfall in academic work by presenting a critical and informative body of research on the subject.
This spurs the women to defiantly band together to undertake a real revolutionary action and assert their independence from their "liberators." An evocative exposé of a little-known chapter in the contemporary history of Mozambique, Virgin Margarida is a dramatic and inspiring elegy to the insurgent spirit of women across nations, histories and cultures.
All over Africa there is a certain revival of an industry of culture and memory, or perhaps even the cult of memory. And perhaps that's good news.
A frequent charge made about Brazilian cinema by Black intellectuals and artists is that the films do not present truly individualized characters, but rather mere archetypes and/or caricatures. The accusation is pertinent, since Brazilian cinema generally favors character-types, schematic or symbolic, Black or not.
In Black folklore in Brazil (1935), anthropologist Artur Ramos observed that orishas (African deities) “passed into Brazilian folklore and maintain close contact with the popular imagination, a magical and somewhat familiar contact, since they survive as symbols of individual complexes”. They appear as much in ancestral African religions (Candomblé), as in the Brazilian religion Umbanda, which absorbed other influences (e.g., indigenous, oriental).
This article uses a reading of Zézé Gamboa's award-winning 2004 feature as a basis for an exploration of post-conflict Angolan screen culture and of its impact both at home and internationally. It considers how O Herói‟s depiction of a war-torn nation, and of the impediments to its reconstruction, negotiates between a socially-engaged film-making practice, informed by local tradition and the tenets of „Third Cinema‟, and the demands of a globalised cinema market. The film achieves this compromise by deploying allegorical and symbolic tropes, familiar from the literature, cinema, and political discourse of the era of Angolan liberation (notably, the concept of a socialist „new man‟), to complicate a superficially optimistic story of post-conflict rehabilitation, and to insinuate a critique of the authoritarian practices and neo-liberal policies of the MPLA government.
The variety of techniques and approaches to film in use in the present day impedes overarching judgments. Women’s increasing esteem and importance within the world of cinema has led to a diversity of intentions and perspectives; moreover, the character of global culture is such that the lines separating Africa from the West are no longer so clear as before.
In Ethiopia films are financed entirely by private businessmen, who anticipate profit out of film production; in a best case, individuals who want to finance films for the love of the art and as a side business with less anticipation of big profit. Yet both groups of producers want to see their production at least covering its own cost and become a sustainable sector.
Carlos is the character I am most worried about. I’d only spent a few hours with him before, and I am not sure what he will reveal about his time in Angola and how that will fit into the film. He is a fisherman, his skin deeply tanned from a lifetime at sea.