This month marks the first Northwest African Film Festival. Its
not a musical event, but it is something that Spin the Globe listeners
will certainly find of interest, because it provides another type
of window into other cultures.
My experience with African film is limited, though the ones Ive
seen have been engaging and powerful. Taafe Fanga Skirt
Power (Mali, 1997, directed by Adama Drabo) looks at what
happens when the genders switch roles in a village. Jit
(Zimbabwe, 1993, directed by Michael Raeburn) features Oliver
Mtukudzi and is a very African version of the common story of
love overcoming class differences. The zany, subtly racist The
Gods Must Be Crazy (Botswana, 1980, directed by Jamie Uys)
looks at a clash of traditional and modern cultures.
Faraw stands apart from these films as a serious drama
without comic relief. Zamiatou is a mother of a beautiful daughter
and two healthy boys, but her husband has been returned from jail
a mental and physical wreck, and the kids are acting out. And
the familys food and money are exhausted. The situation
looks hopeless. It may take a village to raise a family, but that
doesnt mean the village will solve your problems for you.
Zamiatous tough choices are written on her face and echoed
in the harsh desert landscape, a landscape that ultimately provides
a way out of her trouble.
This is an inspiring film about the resilience of the human spirit,
and particularly that of African women. Catch it and other African
films at the Festival or at your local video store, and be prepared
for an experience unlike anything Hollywood can provide.
© 2002 Scott Allan Stevens