Ayen’s Cooking School for African Men

Director: Sieh Mchawala
Country: Australia
Year: 2007
Running Time: 52 min.
Language: English

ayens cooking school

In Sudan it is taboo for a man to cook. But when a group of refugee Sudanese men in Australia is found starving because the men don’t know what to do with a fridge full of groceries, something has to change. Ayen Kuol, a Sudanese health worker, decides to challenge a million years of custom and culture and to start a cooking school for African men.

Africa: The Beat

Director: Samaki Wanne
Country: Tanzania
Year: 2011
Running Time: 59 min.
Language: Gogo and Spanish

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Africa: The Beat was filmed in Nzali, an enclave situated in the heart of Tanzania where the Wagogo live. Theirs is a unique musical universe. From the film’s first frame to the last sound heard, each image takes us further into their daily reality while their music gradually engulfs us in a world of surprising sensations. Day and night, the passage of time and the seasons, nature and the elements, water, the importance of the word and the stories, the stages of life…all of this emerges from a pulsation around which every instant of existence is articulated. Filmed with rudimentary technical means, Africa: The Beat conjoins the perspective of a painter, the vision of a filmmaker and the sensibilities of two musicians. It does away with the concept of the voice-over, which conditions and invades the spectator’s senses. Instead, the film permits the spectator to experience his or her own emotions, and bear witness to the essential place music occupies in life.

Xala

Xala (DVD cover), 1974, 123 min.

Director: Ousmane Sembène
Country: Senegal
Year: 1974
Running Time: 123 min.
Language: Wolof with English subtitles

This satire deals with a self-satisfied businessman who is afflicted with the xala  (pronounced “ha-la”): a curse that renders its victims impotent. While he chases after witch doctors and soothsayers in search of a cure, his impotence becomes a mirror of the impotence of young African nations over-dependent on white technology.

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The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son (DVD cover), 2008, 64 min.

Director: Kurt Orderson
Country: South Africa
Year: 2008
Running Time: 64 min
Language: English and Caribbean Patois

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The Prodigal Son retraces the lost history of the Orderson family. The filmmaker’s great grandfather, Joseph Orderson was of the generation of newly emancipated slaves, who with fellow West Indians left Barbados to settle all over the world, including Cape Town’s District Six. These men came as sailors and were part of the pioneering Black Atlantic Communication Network, inspired by the UNIA.

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The Hero (O Herói)

Director: Zézé Gamboa
Country: Angola
Year: 2005
Running Time: 97 min
Language: Portuguese

The Hero, Zézé Gamboa, Angola, 2005, 97 min.

The Hero (O Herói) is the story of Angola, a nation torn apart by forty years of uninterrupted war, and now trying imperfectly but courageously to piece itself back together. It is also the story of a city, Luanda, like so many in the Third World, trying to absorb the millions of people displaced by civil strife and global economic change. After a thirteen year national liberation struggle against the Portuguese colonialists ended with independence in 1975, Angola plunged immediately into a brutal civil war. The national MPLA government, backed initially by Cuba and the Soviet Union, and the UNITA rebels, supported by the U.S. and the South African apartheid regime, remained locked in conflict until 2003, long after the end of the Cold War itself.

The central character of the film, the hero of the title, is Vitório. We meet him at a hospital where he has been waiting for months for a prosthetic leg to replace the one he lost after stepping on a landmine, ironically in the last months of Angola’s civil war. He was impressed into service at age fifteen while at a seminary and has been fighting for twenty years since. A doctor finally takes pity on him and gives him a new leg; Vitório is compared to someone beginning a new life. But the decorated war veteran encounters little sympathy and much prejudice for an unskilled soldier with a prosthetic limb as he scours Luanda looking for a job.

Winner, Grand Prize, World Dramatic Competition, 2005 Sundance Film Festival

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