Monday, February 19, 2007

Fade To Black

African Cinema: By the People, for the People

If you're interested in African cinema like I am, be sure to check out the February issue of the British Film Institute's magazine Sights & Sounds. A number of recent films have looked at Africa through white eyes (Hotel Rwanda, The Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond, Catch a Fire, The Constant Gardener, Sometimes in April) but to get the big picture you have to go native and see it through African eyes. That's why Mark Cousins' article "Africa Cinema: Invisible Classics" is such a good read and an excellent resource for further viewing. As Egyptian director Youssef Chahine once quipped about African cinema's Third World status, "I'm the First World. I've been here here 7,000 years."

By the way, Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library has an excellent collection of African films at its Central Library in the form of California Newsreel's Library of African Cinema series. The library recently screened one of the films in this collection, Mapantsula (Oliver Schmitz, South Africa, 1988), as part of its Black History Month events. This film, which follows the social and political awakening of a petty thief when confronted with his country's struggles, was the first anti-apartheid film made by and for South Africans and was banned by South African authorities upon its initial release.



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