The beautiful woman Melé is a bar singer, her husband Chaka is out of work. The couple that lives in Bamako, the capital of Mali, is on the verge of breaking up… In the courtyard of the house, where they live together with other families, a trial court has been set up. African civil society spokesmen have taken proceedings against the World Bank and the IMF, whom they blame for Africa’s woes… Amidst the pleas and the testimonies, life goes on in the courtyard. Chaka does not seem to be concerned by this novel Africa’s desire to fight for its rights. –Trigon Film
Abderrahmane Sissako was born in Kiffa, Mauritania, in 1961 and raised in Mali, his father’s homeland. When he returned to Mauritania in 1980, the emotional and financial difficulties of adjustment made him turn to literature and film. A study grant allowed him to attend the Institute of the University of Moscow. Le Jeu (1990), first presented as a graduation assignment, won the prize for best short at the Giornate del Cinema Africano of Perugia in 1991.
In 1993, Octobre was shown at Locarno and won prizes the world over. His film, Waiting for Happiness, was screened at Cannes 2002 and was winner of the FIPRESCI award for best film in the Un Certain Regard section. It was also shown at the New York Film Festival in 2002 and won the Grand Prize at FESPACO in 2003. His last film, the overtly political Bamako represents a move away from autobiography but the explicit subject of Bamako had been the implicit themes of his other films: the legacy of colonialism and the lopsided relationship… read more
Vibrant photography amidst understated performances, following a kangaroo court set up in Mali’s capital to lay blame on Africa’s woes, all the while as life goes on for the city’s inhabitants. As much a political statement as a human snapshot - between the impassioned testimonies and technical arguments centering on globalisation, liberalisation and governance, and the more defused portraits within the latter window, they’re thoughtful depictions, both; a confronting climax insuring such.
What could have easily turned into a work of simple didactic discussion is transformed by the weight of genuine human experience into something profound and engaging. Throughout the film these speakers put forward their arguments with a passion and integrity, but it is the audience of nameless faces who watch, listen and exist against this background of unrest and degradation that give credence to their words.
What is the 21st Century? is the column where Ignatiy Vishnevetsky tries to find an answer to the titular question. *** Above: Michael Bay