Arlecchino Cinema > 11:00


Ruy Guerra
Introduced by

Catarina Simão (on video)



Friday 28/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

In 1979, the National Cinema Institute of Mozambique (Instituto Nacional de Cinema de Moçambique – INC) produced a film entitled Mueda, Memória e Massacre, directed by the Mozambican filmmaker Ruy Guerra – who returned to Mozambique after more than 20 years of self-imposed exile in Brazil and Europe. The film examined an episode during the anti-colonial resistance movement that became known as the ‘Mueda Massacre’, which occurred in 1960, in the Cabo Delgado region, a few kilometres from the border with Tanzania. Even though it essentially involved ethnic and local elements – a conflict between Makonde migrants in Tanzania and the Portuguese administration – the contours of this episode meant that it was interpreted as the crucial turning point for the commencement of the armed struggle. […] Guerra did not adopt a heroic approach, imbued with overtones of virility and physical confrontation, which might have seemed an opportune way of honouring the sacrifice and courage of the liberators. Instead, the film substituted “realist” violence with popular theatre, with laughter, words and satire. During a journey to Cabo Delgado, Ruy Guerra learned of a play that the guerrillas used to stage in the Nachingwea training camp during the war years. Surprisingly, the play continued to be performed even after independence, in the town of Mueda, during commemorations to mark the anniversary Mueda, Memória e Massacre of the massacre. While this play was an integral part of mobilising for the independence struggle in Nachingwea, its repositioning during that moment and at that very site resulted in a particularly interesting symbolism: the inhabitants of the town of Mueda – which included survivors of the massacre – became actors representing a theatrical version of their own story. They portray the events that had taken place 18 years earlier, an illustration of past realities, as though it were a Western or a thriller. Captured on film this way, the play recreates the dialogues, the protagonists, the songs and the sequence of events that induced the colonial authorities to respond with disproportionate violence to the populace’s peaceful demands for independence.

Catarina Simão, Specters of Freedom – Cinema and Decolonization, edited by Tobias Hering and Catarina Simão, Berlin Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art and filmgalerie 451, Berlin 2018

Mueda, Memória e Massacre was originally shot on 16mm. The original elements and other prints have been researched by Catarina Simão as part of her investigation into this film. The restoration used a 35mm print with Portuguese subtitles preserved at the Cinemateca Portuguesa as well as a 35mm held by Arsenal to replace heavily damaged portions of the optical soundtrack. The English subtitles were completely revised to also include all the song lyrics.   

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Calisto Dos Lagos. F.: Ruy Guerra, Fernando Silva. M.: Ruy Guerra. Int.: Alfredo Mtapunsunje, António Sumba, Baltazar Nchilene, Cassiano Cornélio, Felipe Gunoguacala, Mauricio Machimbuco, Romão Canapoquele. Prod.: Instituto Nacional de Cinema (INC) Maputo. DCP. Bn.

Five Minutes with Ruy Guerra. The Mozambique Archive Series

Director: Catarina Simão
Year: 2017
Country: Portogallo
Running time: 5'