Focus on film from Africa

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Film Society showcases new movies from Africa; Walker Art Center highlights Moroccan film culture.

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Danai Gurira in a scene from “Mother of George.”

Photo: Jenny Baptiste • Oscilloscope Laboratories,

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Film and film culture from Africa is the focus of two programs beginning Friday, one at Walker Art Center and another at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Film Society showcases “Images of Africa,” 27 documentary, animated and narrative entries from across the continent (Nov. 15-21). Opening the series is “The Square,” Jehane Noujaim’s documentary on Egypt’s revolution. Her on-the-ground account of the Egyptian coup and its aftermath follows the personal stories of participants in the last two years’ election protests, marches and street battles. The film premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, but as events continued to unfold, Noujiam cut a new, up-to-the-minute version for September’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it won best documentary. (7 p.m. Fri.)

Closing the program and beginning a weeklong run at St. Anthony Main the following day is “Mother of George,” a rich and complex marital drama about a Nigerian couple living in New York City. Veteran actor Isaach de Bankolé (a favorite of Jim Jarmusch) and Danai Gurira (the zombie-slaying Michonne of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) deliver breathtaking performances as a loving couple whose relationship is rocked by their inability to conceive. Cultural pressures and family intrigue push the wife to make an overwhelming decision that could rescue the marriage or shatter the clan. Director Andrew Dosunmu demonstrates a riveting command of dramatic technique and a superb artist’s eye for framing action in one of the year’s must-see films. Dosunmu’s background as a designer for Yves Saint Laurent clearly informs his visually sumptuous work. The filmmaker will be present for Thursday’s premiere and a post-screening reception. (7 p.m. Thu., Nov. 21, $15, $12 students, www.mspfilmsociety.org.)

Walker Art Center’s “Cinémathèque Tangier” is a multilayered exhibition of films, artworks, movie posters and archive materials that paints a rich, complex portrait of the Moroccan port city. The exhibit’s focus is films and gallery pieces by contemporary artist Yto Barrada, a founder and the director of programming of the Cinémathèque de Tangier, Morocco’s only venue for independent cinema and repertory programming. Artist-commissioned posters for features spanning a half-century of cinema, a sculptural theater marquee and Scopitone films (an old format in which special jukeboxes played 16mm promotional shorts for the songs, a forerunner of MTV videos) create an environment celebrating Moroccan film and visual culture.

The exhibit will showcase a screening program of North African films from the cinémathèque’s archives and the Walker’s film and video archives, as well as Moroccan 8mm home movies from the 1960s.

The free opening-night program (Nov. 21), which includes a cash bar, will feature Barrada and special guest DJ /rupture, a New York mixmaster whose range straddles funk, avant-garde and Moroccan lutes. The exhibit ends May 18, 2014.

 

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186

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