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104 minutes, 4 titles, 26 minutes each on 1 cassette, 1997, South Africa / Mozambique / Namibia / Senegal / Tunisia Executive Producer: Jeremy Nathan in Arabic, French, Nama, Portuguese and Wolof with English subtitles
ABOUT THE FILM
Africa Dreaming is a landmark in African television - a series drawing together for the first time broadcasters, television producers, film directors and writers from across the continent.
Africa Dreaming was designed to give Africans a rare opportunity to speak directly to each other in their own words and images. It is also the first continent-wide media project in which South Africa played a leading role. Africa Dreaming may be a harbinger of what South Africa's advanced telecommunications infrastructure can contribute to the long-term goal of creating a regional film and television industry.
Series Executive Producer Jeremy Nathan (In a Time of Violence) called for script proposals for 26-minute dramatic shorts on the broad theme of love in Africa. Six programs were selected and produced - from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Senegal and Tunisia; four are included on this cassette.
Sophia's Homecoming Director: Richard Pakleppa, Producer: Bridget Pickering Namibia, In Nama with English subtitles
Sophia's Homecoming reminds us that the devastating personal effects of the massive social dislocations caused by apartheid can never be erased. Sophia, like so many other women, becomes a self-reliant provider for her family, working as a domestic for a white family in Windhoek for 12 years. When her husband Naftali finally finds a job, she returns home with the dream of resuming her former family life. She quickly discovers that during her absence her sister Selna has replaced her in the affections of her children - and her husband. Naftali reluctantly admits that he prefers Selna; he is ashamed of Sophia because she has had to support the family. Sophia pressures Selna to leave but her sister confesses she is pregnant with Naftali's child. Sophia realizes that she alone has developed the strength to make a new life for herself and returns with her three children to Windhoek, an ironic homecoming.
Sabriya Writer/Director: Abderrahmane Sissako, Producer: Dora Fourati Tunisia, In Arabic with English subtitles
This film explores the impact of the modern world on the traditional male society of the Maghreb. It is a film about men who prefer to live life as an abstract game and the free-spirited woman who changes everything. Said and Youssef have fulfilled a life-long dream by opening a "chess bar" in the middle of the desert. They sit around drinking palm wine, playing board games and composing love poetry to imaginary women. All this changes with the arrival of Sarah, a sexually liberated, uninhibited métisse who easily lures Youssef into an affair. Soon he is dreaming not about chess but about opening a coffee bar in Genoa. The friendship is destroyed, the bar sold. Youssef, dressed in Western clothes, waits to leave with Sarah; will she show up? Said boards a train and sits down next to a Westernized woman bearing a resemblance to Sarah...
So Be It Producer/ Writer/Director: Joseph Gai Ramaka, Senegal, In French and Wolof with English subtitles
Based on a play by Wolé Soyinka, The Strong Breed, So Be It offers an emotionally searing allegory of present-day Africa's bloody internecine convulsions. Michael, an idealistic foreign doctor (Martinican star Alex Descas), has had little success bringing the promises of modernity to a dusty village of the damned in the Sahel. His lover, Sunma, a teacher and native of the place, has no illusions about the village, believing it to be "a world which will cannibalize its children" (according to a Wolof incantation) in a futile effort to compensate for human powerlessness. She simply wants to live and love - and leave before the killing starts. But Michael is transfixed; he stays and tries, ineffectively, to prevent the villagers from sacrificing a mentally disturbed mute boy he has befriended. Perhaps Michael sees in himself, even in his hope for scientific progress, a reflection of the villagers' own horror at human fate. Director Gai Ramaka has described the origins of this African Heart of Darkness: "I had to make this film to exorcize the terror of this continent, trapped inside me and driving me, so that on that day I will not be able to say, 'I did not know.'"
The Gaze of the Stars Director: João Ribeiro, Producer: Pedro Pimenta Mozambique, In Portuguese with English subtitles
At the center of this story is a woman felt only by her absence - in other words, a dream of a woman, perhaps symbolic of the lost dream for a post-independence Mozambique. Salomão owns a bar in Maputo, still down at the heels after the civil war, where the local machos drink and talk of soccer and women. He rather gruffly takes care of his adopted nephew Betinho, a war orphan. Some years before, a young woman, Julia, left him because he refused to let her work or study outside the house. Instead, she married Saide, the man next door. Nothing has been heard of her for months, but the sound of constant wife-beating comes from inside Saide's house. When Salomão finally decides to put a stop to the beatings, he discovers that Julia left Saide long ago because he blamed her for his own sterility. The mock beatings were Saide's pathetic way of convincing the world he still had a wife. In this wry but pessimistic film, the men sense their machismo has driven away what they most desire but lack the strength to change. Salomão explains to Betinho that they are like the stars, cursed to look for their lost dream forever.
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"Captivating and highly effective,...There is a mystical yearning in each film and the landscapes are more characters than locations... One of the most provocative offerings of this year's festival."
"Africa Dreaming represents the talents of a fresh generation of African filmmakers. A unique intracontinental collaboration, each segment transcends geographical boundaries and delivers an engrossing story with universal appeal"