Bekolo’s rolicking debut Quartier Mozart takes on the politics and magic of gender roles in Yaounde’s working class district. The adventure begins when schoolgirl “Queen of the Hood” asks a local sorceress what it would like to be a man. Mama Thekla puts her into the body of a ladykiller to find out. Chaos ensues when he falls for the police chef’s daughter, Thekla is not far behind, and while she guides the freshly-minted “My Guy”, she’ll take the penis off any man who shakes her hand. Bekolo’s impish editing and hip-hop score give new meaning to a popular folktale.
Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Cameroon/FRance, 80 min, 1992
Cast: Pauline Andela, Pauline Andela, Jimmy Biyona, Essindi Mindja, Sandrine Ola'a
Produced by: Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Cinematography: Régis Blondeau
Film Editing: Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Production Design: Maria Dubin
Costume Design: Maria Dubin
Distribution: Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Language: French with English Subtitles
Poster/Pictures/Press Kit: Can be sent digitally
Jean-Pierre Bekolo channels the manic freeverse, urban culture, and confrontational humor of Spike Lee's early films in Quartier Mozart, an eccentric, socially incisive fable on a schoolgirl known as Queen of the 'Hood who, with the aid of the village witch, Maman Thekla, asks to experience life as a man in Yaounde's working class district of Mozart. Metamorphosed into a handsome, young man named My Guy, the metaphoric New Man emerges from a desolate field where he immediately catches the eye of Saturday, the virginal daughter of the police chief, Mad Dog.
Accompanied by Maman Thekla, now transformed into a modern day folkloric comic figure, Panka who emasculates those who unwittingly shake his hand, he becomes My Guy's guide and protector to the social and sexual politics of the quarter: a self-made man who reinforces his stature by taking on a second wife, the subtle inculcation of Christianity into daily life, even as the people continue to practice traditional - often conflicting - customs, the marginalized role and maltreatment of women that sharply contrasts with their real roles as family nurturers and community builders (and, as in the case of Mad Dog's exiled first wife, literally feeds society when she sets up a vending stand near a high traffic street). As in Lee's films, Bekolo uses archetypal characters, informal fourth wall address, jaunty camerawork, and integral incorporation of pop music to illustrate the paradox of social and gender inequity and anachronism of contemporary life in post-colonial Cameroon.
Text from the Strictly Film School Website
- 1993 Nominated for the British Film Awards (Tarantinos Reservoir Dogs)
- 1992 Cannes Film Festival Prix Afrique en Création
- 1992 Locarno Film Festival Prix Swissair - Prix Carte Jeunes
- 1992 Montréal World Film Festival Mention Spéciale du Jury
"Take one horny young female transformed into a man, a chief policeman who is afraid of his wives even when he’s holding a gun at them, a potentially young gay man who wears tuxedo jacket and a red scarf, and a bunch of middle age ladies who spend their days making fun of men’s performance in bed and you have a delightful 80 minute fiesta. If you have to watch one Cameroonian movie, this is the one. Also pay attention to the soundtrack. It’s simply hilarious and it successfully reflects the moods and the attitudes of the characters." Codrin Arsene
"In times when movies about Africa focus on either war, violence, AIDS, or poverty, a delightful comedy such as Quartier Mozart is both unexpected and sublime. If you have the chance, watch this great movie. It is one of the savviest African comedies of the 1990s." Codrin Arsene
"Jean-Pierre Bekolo is doing with Quartier Mozart what Spike Lee has done for Brooklyn. This film is audacious, inventive, smart! Quartier Mozart is the character, sex is the challenge from the little ones to the elders... with all the trouble sex can bring. And we laugh at all this. Each line of dialog is full of energy... sometimes too much energy added by the pace of the editing and its music. This is what I expect from a movie, to reinvent the culture of the city it is taking place. Quartier Mozart is redefining what is a movie for Cameroon People as well as for all Africans. Very modern in the form and the content it is a real piece of art as well as a piece of pleasure!" IMDB user review, Helene Ebah from Paris, France, 2005
"I was amazed by the innovation and the originality of a director who wasn't trying to apply any formulae the western audience are used to and at the same time telling a popular story. What is visible is the creativity and the courage of the filmmaker who made this first feature at 22 in his native Cameroon." IMDB user review, lohez, USA, 2003
Director: Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Jean-Pierre Bekolo was born in Yaounde, Cameroon in 1966 and is now known to subvert the conventions and didacticism of African film and literature with an aesthetic that “tosses it all merrily together”. He has taught film at Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at Duke University. In the late 80’s Bekolo trained as a television film editor in France at INA. He returned home shortly thereafter and worked for Cameroonian television, where he was responsible for editing short films. During this time, he was also involved in the production of films, such as Boyo, Un Pauvre Blanc, and Mohawk People, as well as video clips for Les Têtes Brûlées and Manu Dibango. His first feature film was the award-winning Quartier Mozart (1992), which won prizes at film festivals in Cannes, Locarno, and Montreal and was nominated, in 1993, for a British Film Institute award. The film mixes sorcery and urban realities in a satire of male and female roles. Aristotle’s Plot was the African entry in the British Film Institute’s series of films commemorating the centenary of cinema. Part meditation on the trials of African filmmaking, part action movie, and parody of Aristotelian and African preoccupations, it shows his skill as an “increasingly fearless trickster”. Other feature-length films include Have you seen Franklin Roosevelt? (1994), Les Saignantes (2005) and Le Président (2013).