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4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days





So far, A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has had time to see the following films. Here are his ratings, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


Sylvain Richard Among Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (Delices Paloma, Secret of the Grain, Africa Paradis, Si le Vent Se Leve Sur les Sables, Moolade, U-Carmen e Khayelitsha, Kounandi, Madame Brouette, La Symphonie Marrocain, Junon/Demences).

2.6 -- A WINTER TALE, Frances Anne Solomon
(Seen at FFM07) On a wintery night in Parkdale (downtown Toronto) gun shots intended for a drug dealer kill a 10-year old boy. Community tries to continue as usual but can't. Riveting social commentary.

2.7 -- HIER ENCOR, JE T'ESPERAIS ENCORE, Catherine Veaux-Logeat
( premiered at RIDM08/ saw at Ex-Centris) Touching and humaine documentary recounting French writer and activist Nadine Bari 's sruggle to shed light on the disappearance of her Guinean husband in 1972.

2.7 -- NOLLYWOOD BABYLON, Samir Mallal & Ben Addelman
Retina riveting documentary examining Nigerian film industry, now 3rd largest in the world; but despite the numbers, cinemas don't exist -- everyone rents. Memorable shots of Lagos and its teeming 12 million -- the backdrop to the preternatural popularity of escapist genre films.

3.6 -- CAIRO STATION, Youssef Chahine
One of four films presented as an hommage to the master of Egyptian cinema. Released in 1958, this classic film noir with a strong sensual element uses Cairo's main train station as a microcosm of all levels of Egyptian society.

2.4 -- ALLIYAH, Ben M. Kalambayi
A fictional look at the day to day lives of immigrants in Toronto that explores generational clashes, African traditions vs Canadian customs and laws, often resulting in very funny exchanges. Amusing but not high art.

3.4 -- ALEXANDRIA WHY?, Youssef Chahini
First part of an autobiographical trilogy; in 1940s Alexandria, as Rommel's forces are approaching the city. Smooth integration of archival footage. Film needs restoration work.

Informative look at the "Abayudaya," a community of peasant farmers in a remote corner of Uganda who have been practising a home grown form of Judaism for the past 90 years.

2.7 -- LE SILENCE EST D'OR, Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque
Another conscious raising film documenting the struggle between ordinary people and corporate greed; this time the effects on the village of Dumasi, Ghana by a Canadian company strip-mining for gold.

3.1 -- THE DESTINY/ AL-MASSIR, Youssef Chahine
A criticism of intolerance and religious fundamentalism. By setting the film in 12th century Marrakech ( Morroco) and Cordoba (Spain) -- based on the story of Arab philosopher Averroës -- we learn the hard way that intolerance and xenophobia are written in our DNA. Exquisitely detailed, beautiful cinematography and a profusion of inspired period music: a mix of Arab classical and folk.

2.4 -- VICTOIRE TERMINUS, Renaut Barret, Florent de la Latullaye
A portrait of a group of women boxers and their trainer in Kinshasa, Congo -- in the context of 2006 summer elections. Though a bit unfocused, we are clearly shown the "fragility" of peace.

Post-Apartheid South Africa, year 2000; Man in early 60s, who has worked for 43 years at Port Elizabeth's central library is making preparations to bury his brother who had been living in exile in England. Will the truth about the past finally be revealed? A film that looks at the after-effects of apartheid.

Third and final film of Chahine's autobiographical trilogy. Unlike the first two, this one is somewhat self-indulgent but the dance sequences are exquisite, especially those involving the director.

2.6 -- TRIOMF, Michael Raeburn
Title refers to a poor white suburb of Johannesburg that was built upon the ruins of Sophiatown, a former black community -- in March 1994, just days before South Africa's first free elections. By the director's own accounting, the tragi-comedy about a strange and bizarre Afrikaans family was watered down, which reduced the impact of the film.

2.8 -- THE HILLSIDE CROWD, Berni Goldblat
Modern day gold diggers setting up makeshift villages on the hillsides of Burkina Faso. Complicated subject approached from from a humanistic rather than sensational point of view.

2.9 -- MOMO LE DOYEN, Laurent Chevalier
A tribute to a pioneer of Afrojazz -- Momo Wandel Soumah (1926-2003; Guinea). An enriching discovery.

2.5 -- GLORIOUS EXIT, Kevin Merz
Actor Jarreth Merz has a Swedish mother and is the eldest son of a Nigerian father. Thus, according to Nigerian tradition, it is his responsibility to take care of all the funeral arangements. A uncertain journey unfolds that obliges him to confront the complexities of Nigerian funerals and the ethos that informs them: superstition, clan rivalries, unscrupulous financial dealings.

2.6 -- EAT FOR THIS IS MY BODY, Michelange Quay
A symbolic allegory mixing colonialism and ceremonial voodoo etc. Magestic opening leads us inland to a former Haitian plantation now occupied by a French matriarch and her daughter simply addressed as Madam. Time will be the final judge of this film.

3.8 -- JOHNNY MAD DOG, Jean-Stephane Sauvaire
Disturbing war film focusing on the horror of child soldiers. Set in Liberia during the civil war, this film grabs the viewer where it hurts the most and doesn't let go until the very last note of the final credits. Everything, from the riveting dialogue, the charged scenes and the telling music (including Nina Simone's rendition of "Strange Fruit") factor into making this an extremely disturbing, difficult and very important, must-viewing film.

2.0 -- LE PAYS EN L'ENVERS, Sylvaine Dampierre
Director returns to Guadeloupe her father had left 50 years earlier to retrace the origins of her name. Very personal and subjective. Of greater interest to those of Antillesian origin.

2.4 -- MASCARADES, Lyes Salim
Algerian comedy about a prideful man whose narcoleptic sister is mocked by other villagers. One night while drunk he announces in the village square that a wealthy businessman has asked for her hand in marriage. All kinds of complications arise as he attempts to keep up with this mascarade. Enjoyable but predictable.



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