African Legacy - Maison Française
This series brings together a total of fourteen films offering a range of interpretations of the culture of French-speaking Africa and the African diaspora.The films tell the stories of artisans, musicians, storytellers, and much more, all of which confront the colonial accounts of African legacy and invention. A number of them have recently been preserved or restored.
Muna Moto by Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa
1976 | Cameroun | 160 min
February 8 | 2:30 p.m. | National Gallery of Art - West Building Lecture Hall
An early fiction feature from Cameroon, Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa’s Muna Moto is a stunning Romeo-and-Juliet saga. N’gando wishes to marry N’domé, but her family expects the traditional
wedding offering. Sadly, N’gando is poor and unable to realize this customary duty. N’domé, meanwhile, is bearing his child and, according to village tradition, she must take a husband who can afford to support her. When the villagers decide on N’gando’s uncle, the story takes a downward turn.
La Femme au couteau by Timité Bassori
1969 | Ivory Coast | 77 min
February 16 | 4:00 p.m. | National Gallery of Art - West Building Lecture Hall
In Timité Bassori’s film from the 1960s, Freudian psychology is introduced into an African tale. A young man from Ivory Coast returns home after a long time in Europe. Traumatized, he has to readjust to his own society and to his own sexual inhibitions, made manifest by a dream about a woman brandishing a knife. This alienating nightmare prevents him from having normal relations. As he turns to provincial healers, he discovers he’s wedged between traditional values and modernity.
African Legacy: Three Short Films
Afrique sur Seine by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra and Mamadour Sarr
1955 | France | 21 min
& Samba le Grand and The Return of an Adventurer by Moustapha Alassane
1977 & 1966 | Niger | 14 & 34 min
February 18 | 7:00 p.m. | Embassy of France - La Maison Française
While the pre-independence Afrique sur Seine explores the lives of Africans living in Paris, Samba le grand’s colorful stop-motion puppets relate an African folktale about a would-be conqueror who meets his match in a female potentate.
The Return of an Adventurer is the story of a man coming back to his home village from America bearing gifts of cowboy outfits for his friends.A mock-ruthless Western movie ensues, scorning contemporary values and consumerism and poking fun at the filmmaker’s own postcolonial peers.
Borom Sarret and La Noire de... by Ousmane Sembène
1963 & 1966 | France | 18 & 80 min
February 23 | 4:00 p.m. | National Gallery of Art - West Building Lecture Hall
Borom Sarret, made on a shoestring budget using a secondhand 16 mm camera and donated stock, is a beautiful short story about a horse-drawn cart driver who refuses to charge his passengers for rides and, on the surface, seems to lack the skill necessary to run a business. Ousmane Sembène’s debut feature La Noire de..., the first work by an African filmmaker to be seen widely in the West, adapts Sembène’s own short story, a contemporary tale of a naïve young woman lured to France by a white couple who enslave her as their domestic.
Le Franc & La petite vendeuse de soleil by Djibril Diop Mambéty
1999 | France | 45 & 46 min
March 3 | 7:00 p.m. | Embassy of France
Both Le Franc and La petite vendeuse de soleil are modest stories of present-day urban Africans, part of Djibril Diop Mambéty’s series, Histoires de petites gens.
La petite vendeuse de soleil portrays the only young girl who dares to sell newspapers on the street, struggling to overcome hurdles in pursuit of a better life. In Le Franc, down-on-his-luck musician Marigo buys a lottery ticket and glues it to his door, eager to show his annoying landlady that he might one day have some rent money. When he gets lucky and wins, Marigo has to detach his door and carry it miles across Dakarto claim the prize.
Chez Jolie Coiffure and Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman by Rosine Mbakam
2019 & 2017 | Belgium | 70 & 76 min
March 8 | 4:00 p.m. | National Gallery of Art - East Building Auditorium
Cameroon-born Rosine Mbakam’s feature documentary Chez Jolie Coiffure is a graceful chamber piece shot in a tiny hair salon in Brussels. Managed by the charismatic but undocumented
Sabine, Jolie Coiffure is a hub for West African women — many, like Sabine, are from Cameroon. In Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman, Mbakam returns to hermother’s village in Cameroon. She wants to introduce her young son to the family, but even more, she wants deeper knowledge of her past and speaks at length with her mother and the other village women.
Hyenas by Djibril Diop Mambéty
1992 | France | 110 min
March 19 | 7:00 p.m. | Embassy of France - La Maison Française
Hyenas is a satirical adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit. A newly wealthy woman returning to her desert village proposes a deal to the citizenry: she will give the village her fortune in exchange for the murder of the local man who, years earlier, seduced her and abandoned her with a child. Mambéty said, “My task was to identify the enemy of humankind: Money . . . I think my target is clear.”
Wend Kuuni by Gaston Kaboré
1982 | Burkina Faso | 75 min
March 21 | 4:00 p.m. | National Gallery of Art - East Building Auditorium
A parable of precolonial Africa, Wend Kuuni recounts the saga of a mute and famished youth who, abandoned in the bush, is discovered and raised with tender compassion by the Mossi tribe.
February 8 - March 21, 2020
Embassy of France - La Maison Française
4101 Reservoir Road, NW - Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art
6th and Constitution Avenue NW - Washington, DC