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“African Perspectives” Windhoek: "Les Saignantes", 26 March 2011, 19h00

On Saturday 26 March 2011 at 19h00 AfricAvenir Windhoek presents the movie, winner of the Silver Stallion at FESPACO 2007 “Les Saignantes” by Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Pierre Obama Bekolo at Studio 77 in Windhoek.

In cooperation with Studio 77, Bank Windhoek Arts Festival, WhatsOnWindhoek, and the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre.

Les Saignantes
By Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama, 2005, Cameroon/France,
French with English subtitles, 92 min.


A short interview with Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama will be screened before the film.

Date: 26 March 2011, Time: 19h00
Venue: Studio 77, Old Breweries Complex, entrance via Garten Str.
Entrance: 20,- N$


About the film
After eight years of absence, maverick Cameroonian director Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama (“QuartierMozart”, “Aristotle’s Plot”) returned in 2005 with his magnum opus, “Les Saignantes/The Bloodettes”, a superbly photographed, stylishly edited and tastefully scored film about two young femmes fatales who set out to rid a futuristic country of its corrupt and sexually obsessed powerful men. In this stylized sci-fi-action-horror hybrid, Majolie and Chouchou, exquisitely played by Adèle Ado and Dorylia Calmel (both budding stars to look out for), navigate a sordid world where sex, money, politics and death are perniciously imbricated. Young, attractive, fashionable and lethal, they are on a mission to change the destiny of their country. But their task is made difficult by a formidable foe.

Also embedded into the film is the Beti-ritual called Mevungu, which is traditionally performed by women’s secret societies, only in times of deep social crisis. Africa and particularly Cameroon, says Bekolo, is facing such a deep social crisis that it was high time to perform this ritual.

Revealing in its display of excess, committed to aesthetics of “cool”, “Les Saignantes” is one of the first science fiction films to come out of Africa. It is a film with attitude, a film that poses questions about relationships between men and women, about the destiny of a continent, about the nature and future of cinema… The film nearly fell victim to censorship in Cameroon.

In the film, Bekolo raises questions which are much broader than just the themes covered in the actual plot. “How can you make an anticipation film in a country that has no future? How can you make a horrorfilm in a place where death is a party? How can you make an action film in a country where acting is subversive? How can you film a love story in a society where love is impossible? How can you make a crime film in a country where investigation is forbidden? How can you watch a film like this and do nothing after?”

Director’s Comment
"There is a connection between the idea of human corruption and girls, because at an early age they have the experience – earlier than boys – of deciding that, although I don’t love this person, he has something that I want, and I can sleep with him and get what I want. They feel this at an early age: sometimes thirteen, sometimes sixteen. They are under the pressures of competition; they have to be socially competitive. So, for me it was important to deal with corruption from that angle."

Press
“Along with the intertitles, the abundance of crooked politicians and the trading of sexual favors all point to Bekolo’s radical political commentary, an aspect that has gotten the film into trouble with Cameroon’s censorship board.” Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle

The film critique Aboubacar Sanogo qualifies „Les Saignantes “ as avantgarde in any sense of the term, particularly in its narrative methods and its approach. For him, the film symbolizes the birth of a « cinéma du corps » (cinema of the body) in Africa as well as of an African science-fiction genres. The idea to stage two modern young women as the avengers of the whole continent against a corrupt political elite is just ingenious, writes Sanogo.

“In his third feature film Bekolo remains faithful to his inclination towards provocation, mockery and social satire. (…) With beautiful colours, fantastic actors/actrices, „Les Saignantes/The Bloodettes“ is perhaps more magic than futuristic. More than once the action goes against any logic and rationale.” Francis Mbagna, written in the context of a workshop at the 10th Festival Ecrans Noirs, Yaoundé.

About the director
Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama was born in Cameroon in 1966 and currently lives in Paris and Johannesburg. He has made several short films including “Boyo (1988), “Un Pauvre blanc” (1989), “Mohawk People” (1990), “La grammaire de grand-mere” (1996), and “Original Sin Toronto” (1998).

Bekolo’s debut feature film, “Quartier Mozart”, received the Prix Afrique en Création at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.

His second film “Aristotle’s Plot” was one of several films commissioned by the British Film Institute to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cinema and included works by Martin Scorsese, Jean-Luc Godard, and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Then Bekolo released “Les Saignantes”, which premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival and won the Silver Stallion (2nd prize) and Best Actress Award at FESPACO 2007.

In 2007 he made “Une Africaine dans l’espace/An African woman in space” for the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris.

Bekolo studied film semiotics under Professor Christian Metz in Paris and taught film for UNESCO, at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Duke University.

In 2009 he published the book “Africa For the Future – Sortir un noveau monde du cinema”.

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