Scen.: Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa. F.: Jean-Pierre Dezalay, Jean-Luc Léon. M.: Andrée Davanture, Dominique Saint-Cyr, Jules Takam. Mus.: A. Gastyl, Georges Anderson.Int.: Philippe Abia (M’bongo), Arlette Din Bell (N’domé), David Endéné (N’gando), Gisèle Dikongué-Pipa (la bambina), Jeanne Mvondo. Prod.: Cameroun Spectacles. DCP. D.: 89’. Bn.
Muna Moto is one of the two earliest feature films produced in Cameroon. The title means ‘the child of the other in Douala’.[…] Though in some ways constrained by the film-making conventions upon which it rests, this film remains the work of an inspired director, who would probably have approached his political material with a more refined touch if censorship had not been so strict under the Ahmadou Ahidjo regime. Of course, Muna Moto is not just a polemic against the dowry system but also and perhaps mainly an essay about power in Black Africa. Dikongué-Pipa’s evil M’bongo character is clearly used to raise the issue of political legitimacy. Clearly, also, the fact that the three wives are sterile is intended as a symbol. In many ways, the character of N’gando (not to mention N’domé!) represents a younger Africa, aspiring to a better future, despite the combined effects of an undigested colonial past and a neo-colonial present, which present a fearsome hurdle. Dikongué-Pipa is to be taken at his word when he says that he was able to say in this film “only one fifth of what he felt at heart”. Nonetheless, in what it succeeds in showing and what it is unable to show, in its achievements and in its failures, Muna Moto shows the extent to which African cinema is able to chronicle reality, however its representatives may be gagged by the power of money and by those in power. How many Mozarts of the people have thus been spiritually if not physically slain?
Guy Hennebelle, Muna Moto,
“Écran 76”, n. 49, 15 July 1976
Restored in 4K in 2019 by Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. Restored from the original camera and sound negative and a second-generation internegative preserved, respectively, at the Éclair laboratories and LTC. Despite wet-gate scanning to minimise mould damage, some sections of the camera negative had to be replaced by the dupe negative. Following Jean-Pierre Dikongué-Pipa’s suggestion, the dupe negative was also used for the opening and closing titles. A vintage 35mm print was used as a reference for picture grading. Special thanks to the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique.
This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Fepaci and Unesco – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – to help locate, restore and disseminate African cinema.