Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 10, No. 2, 2011
  Current Issue  
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Andrée Lafontaine
Samuel Burd
Sylvain Richard
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert





So 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.


3.0 -- 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.

2.0 -- BLACK DIAMOND, Pascale Lamche
[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.

3.6 -- 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.

3.9 -- AFRICA UNITED, Debs Gardener-Paterson
[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.


For the ratings of 2009 Vues d'Afrique Film Festival, HERE.

For the ratings of 2009 Vues d'Afrique Film Festival, HERE.


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