D'AFRIQUE FILM FESTIVAL
far, A & O film critics have seen the following films.
Here are their ratings, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or
more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film,
4 for a classic.
LES BARONS ,
Nabil Ben Yadir
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A clever, but lazy group of Muslim
guys living in a small town in Belgium call themselves
The Barons. They see themselves as artists. They don't
do much during the day, but hang around a vegetable
stall. They aren't fond of serious work, so they make
jokes. Hassan is the one with the real talent. He performs
standup comedy in a tiny cabaret club that few people
frequent. Caving into his dad's wishes, he forgoes his
comedy dreams and takes on a bus driving job. He comes
close to marrying a girl, but the truth is, he is really
in love with the sister of les Barons' group bully.
The brother beats Hassan up when he finds out Hassan
loves his sister. Les Barons have a unique philosophy:
they believe everyone is allotted so many numbers of
walking steps predetermined at birth. When your number
is up, you die. Ironically, this bully -- the leader
of the gang, who is also the brother is killed in a
car accident. Hassan ends up living his dream. A quirky
movie with a lot of comedic play, "Les Barons" is entertaining.
Light-hearted elements successfully develop into serious
twists that lead to a fine finish. It's a film full
of snappy dialogue and superb ensemble acting. Racism
weaves into the film, without heavy-handedness.
-- BLACK DIAMOND,
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] It's really sad that this documentary
suffered so badly from confusion. The lack of cohesiveness
forced the viewer to put the puzzle together which revealed
a conspiracy whose tentacles (metaphored in the film as
Anancy, the Spider) are far-reaching. This is a film about
Africa and its soccer scams. Most of the film features
young players in Ghana and The Ivory Coast whose lives
have been shattered by having been taken - as in'duped'.
Posing as soccer scouts, a slew of unsavoury characters
collect money from wanna-be kids' parents, promising to
better train and place them in professional teams in Europe
and Latin America. Parents pay, kids fly away, but when
the plane lands, no one is there to start the ball rolling.
An investigative reporter uncovers layers of different
organizations, spear-headed by Aspire which is caught
up, in a round-about way, in the exploitation of African
children and teens. Its big bait is a career in soccer,
so Aspire is primarily to blame. Headquarters are in Qatar.
Here only a handful of older youngsters receive education
and soccer training; few and far between ever end up there,
though Aspire sends out scouts saying that it accepts
kids aged 13 and up. Uncovering this massive problem and
putting an end to it is in the works, but the film indicates
the problem may never go away -- as long a there are poor
kids kicking around a soccer ball.
-- KINSHASA SYMPHONY,
Claus Wishmann, Martin Bauer
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] In Kinshasa, a hovel hole of a town
in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, a group of remarkably resilient
people come together -- 200 men and women form the only
all-black symphonic orchestra in Central Africa. As the
film follows several of them eking out a living to survive,
we discover their one joy in life is this orchestra. Though
most don't have electricity in their shack dwellings (power
often blips out during their rehearsals), they play on
without a single pout or complaint. Hand-made instruments,
such as the double bass we see being made from start to
finish, are played in the middle of the dilapidated towns'
dusty streets. When in need of repair, these dedicated
musicians find ingenious ways to solve problems, even
using the brakes of bikes -- in one case. When the big
evening arrives for their outdoor public performance of
Carl Orff's "Carmina
Burana" and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", a sea of
people arrive to enjoy the momentous concert. We witness
a collectively joyous epiphany. Kinshasans' huge smiles
seem to float to heaven; hardships are forgotten for at
least two hours, and their expressed passion for classical
music makes the next day livable. Touching and life-affirming,
this Vue d'Afrique opening festival film is unforgettable.
-- AFRICA UNITED,
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This awesome film is an instant classic
that will appeal to both children and adults. An enchanting
yet heart-wrenching story that could well be called, "The
Incredible Journey," this wonderful movie focuses on the
dream of two young kids -- one a brilliant soccer player,
the other his "manager." They are set on traveling to
Johannesburg to compete in the 2010 FIFA games. But how
will they cover 5000 kilometres? That's the distance from
South Africa's capital to Rwanda where they live. They
are spurred on to compete by a scout who happens upon
them while they are kicking the ball around in their hometown.
Defying incredible odds, they make it to the games but
not without enduring life-threatening hardships, including
army thugs wishing to recruit a run-away who joins the
kids, bringing along a sack of money he's stolen from
his army bosses. The money goes so far until they are
forced to hand it over to the thugs who doggedly follow
them. Riding in a boat, getting, submitting to AIDS tests,
smuggling themselves across borders in various vehicles,
they get to the finish line -- so to speak. Sadly the
kid manager, a total charmer in the movie, keeps a deadly
secret that is uncovered just before the dream looks like
it will come true. The ensemble acting is remarkably engaging,
and the story doesn't sink into sentimentality -- even
though the ending is both sad and joyous.
the ratings of 2009 Vues d'Afrique Film Festival, HERE.
the ratings of 2009 Vues d'Afrique Film Festival, HERE.