Wednesday, October 5, 2011

African Cinema: A Screaming Man and Munyurangabo

Netflix Watch Instantly is not particularly strong in African cinema.  In an earlier post, I mentioned the work of Ousmane Sembene, the late Senegalese director who has three films on Netflix Watch Instantly (Black Girl, Xala, and Mandabi).  But overall Netflix could take some lessons from Mubi and Fandor regarding African cinema.  However, I was very pleased to see that A Screaming Man from Chad began streaming on Netflix this past weekend.  I had a chance to see A Screaming Man at the 2011 Wisconsin Film Festival and it was a straightforward but very moving story about a man's complicated relationship with his son after he loses his job (and his pride) at an exclusive hotel in Chad.  In addition to strong visual storytelling, A Screaming Man also features exceptionally beautiful cinematography.  It's debut on Netflix Watch Instantly prompted me to look at other features that I have missed over the past few years, Munyurangabo and Bamako, both of which are now in my queue.

A Screaming Man (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad, 2010, 91 minutes)
Netflix: Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) was a security guard at a posh Chad hotel until its new owners replaced him with his son (Dioucounda Koma). In this nation torn apart by civil war, citizens are called upon to help. But Adam only has one thing to give, forcing him to make a devastating choice. Emile Abossolo M'bo and Djénéba Koné co-star in this powerful drama, winner of the Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.  Netflix link.

Munyurangabo  (Lee Isaac Chung, Rwanda, 2007, 93 minutes)
Netflix: Orphaned by Rwanda's genocide, young Ngabo (Jeff Rutagengwa), a Tutsi, sets off to mete out rough justice with his Hutu friend Sangwa (Eric Ndorunkundiye) in this earnest drama, which netted director Lee Isaac Chung an Independent Spirit Awards nod. Packing a stolen machete, the boys leave the city of Kigali and head to Ngabo's rural village. Along the way, they stop at Sangwa's parents' home -- where their tribal differences soon come to a head.  Netflix link.

Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali, 2006, 112 minutes)
Netflix: Director Abderrahmane Sissako's insightful social drama juxtaposes the troubled relationship between a bar singer (Aïssa Maïga) and her unemployed husband (Tiécoura Traoré) with the overwhelming economic hardships of Africa, illuminated through a mock trial against key international financial institutions. While spokesmen from African civil society rail against the World Bank, Melé and Chaka are struggling just to keep their marriage together.  Netflix link.

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