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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About the Director

Zézé Gamboa

zeze_gamboa-273Biography: Zézé Gamboa was born in Luanda, Angola, in 1955. Between 1974 and 1980 he directed television programs, and in 1984 he graduated from Néciphone in Paris with a degree in sound engineering. He has directed numerous films and has been a member of the jury at several international film festivals. His 1991 documentary, Mopiopio, Sopro de Angola (Mopiopio, Breath of Angola), received several awards at the FESPACO and at the Milan African Film Festivals. His 1998 documentary, Dissidence, presents a modern history of Angola through a look at dissidents from two belligerent parties. His first full-length fictional film, O Herói [The Hero], opened the 2005 New York New Directors New Films Festival. Zézé Gamboa considers himself in the camp of African filmmakers who see their work as contributing directly to the task of national reconstruction.

(Sources:
– AFF, Inc.
Through African Eyes – Conversations with the Directors – Volume 2, BONETTI Mahen and SEAG Morgan (Editors), 2010, African Film Festival, Inc. and Printinfo JV LLC, Yerevan, Armenia, p.45)

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
Mopiopio, Sopro de Angola [Mopiopio, Breath of Angola] (1993);
O Herói [The Hero] (2005).

Filmography:
Mopiopio, Sopro de Angola [Mopiopio, Breath of Angola] (1991);
Dissidence (1998);
Burned by Blue (1998);
O Desassossego de Pessoa (1999);
O Herói [The Hero] (2004);
5 Films about AIDS (2007);
L’Afrique vue par… [Africa Seen by…] – Bom dia Africa (2009);
O Grande Kilapy (2010).