This program slips us into the region from which we all once came, the continent of Africa. The ever-present theme of African colonialism is the undercurrent that carries these films downstream. Join us to meet a few of the gifted twentieth-century storytellers—among them Ousmane Sembene, Langston Hughes and Jean Cocteau—and come face-to-face with the struggles of life under Apartheid.
RHYTHM OF AFRICA, 1947, 17 min.
Produced and conceived by French filmmakers Jean Cocteau and Francois Villiers, with a screenplay by Langston Hughes, this rarely screened film takes a look at the special ceremonial dance of atonement in Chad. The heartbeat of the jungle, the day-to-day life in the modernizing village, and the bustling marketplace take on a hypnotizing rhythm of their own. A changing Africa asserts itself in a changing world.
BOROM SARRET, 1964, 20 min.
The first film directed by Sengalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembene, is the story of a young cart-driver’s struggle for survival in Dakar, Senegal, a country that had achieved independence only four years earlier. Natural composition and haunting audio make this simple story of loss a masterpiece. The film is based on Sembene’s short story of the same name. French with English subtitles.
WITNESS TO APARTHEID, 1986, 58 min., 16mm
Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary directed by Sharon I. Sopher (who also won an Emmy for her direction) is now rarely screened and difficult to find. Through wide-ranging interviews with subjects that include Bishop Desmond Tutu, student protestors, white residents, and more, the film becomes an in-the-moment look at the harsh life facing black South Africans living under Apartheid in the 1980s. For most, the future looks bleak, even as they continue to fight for their lives in the townships.