The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project 2015

Programme curated by Cecilia Cenciarelli


“A director can survive in a museum, in a field or in the jungle – writes Serge Daney – of the first, second or third world. In the jungle of the third world he will be judged on his ability to survive, on the obstinacy with which he continues to propose committed films and believe in the power of cinema, even if no one has asked him to”.
Shot with lucidity and an admirable economy of means, the three films restored this year by the World Cinema Project are free, imperfect, generous, and for different reasons, revolutionary works.
Far removed from one another in geography, vocation and style, La Noire de…, Insiang and Alyam Alyam (respectively, the first Senegalese, Filipino and Moroccan films presented at the Cannes Festival), are driven by the same urgency to give voice to a language of their own, free from any form of cultural imperialism.
In his slow, almost timeless evocation of a rural Moroccan life coming to terms with the passing of its ancestral laws and the mirage of prosperity, Ahmed El Maanouni, in his first work, finds the perfect balance between a never-detached investigative work and an ‘affectionate’ homage to a community and its collective memory. The violence of the exodus that strips the countryside, told through Abdelwahad’s tale, is just one of the possible variations of the, painfully present, story of migration. The disconnection between the expectations of the protagonist in La Noire de… for her new life in France (initially shot in colour by Sembène) and a claustrophobic and gelid reality in which she is denied every desire and human contact, will bring the woman towards a slow and inescapable alienation. Her loss of identity mirrors the drama of Senegal, newly independent yet still ravaged by unconscious and racist neo-colonialism.
In contrast to the production and distribution conditions of North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in the 60s and 70s, Lino Brocka worked in a bulimic film industry that tried to impose on him only films of pure entertainment. Challenging commercial laws and political censorship, Insiang displays the bright colours of the hot-blooded melodrama which Brocka uses to “denounce the violence caused by the overpopulation of the urban environment and the destruction of a human being”.
Without wanting to stretch the similarities too far, these three works definitely seem to share a moral significance that transcends any one particular narrative. The choice of placing at the centre of the story the loss of human dignity and the absence of a thought for the future makes their value as works of political protest and cultural resistance universal and timeless.

Cecilia Cenciarelli