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Festival Schedule and Program

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2007 Festival Feature Films (March 30 - April 1)


Director Abderrahmane Sissako presents this special screening of Bamako

director Abderrahmane Sissako screenwriter Abderrahmane Sissako producers Denis Freyd, Abderrahmane Sissako starring Aïssa Maïga, Tiécoura Traoré, Hélène Diarra running time 118 min
general audience


Over the course of a few days, a trial pitting African civil society against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has set its stage inside the domestic courtyard of Chaka and Melé’s home in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. Judges have been Westernappointed, witnesses have been summoned and lawyers from both sides have arrived armed with passionate, scathing and uncompromising accusations. Is the World Bank guilty of not following its mandate to serve mankind or is Africa to blame for her suffering? Meanwhile, life in the courtyard presses forward.

Framed against the urgency of the trial, the case of a stolen gun leads a local detective to Chaka who lives in a home within the courtyard with his wife Melé. Melé is a popular bar singer, her husband Chaka is out of work and the couple is on the verge of breaking up …

In the midst of the powerful testimonials and pleas being made at the trial, the juxtaposition of Chaka and Melé’s story and those of their courtyard neighbors give a voice to Africa’s silent majority and further fortifies Africa’s case against the International institutions.

“A film that needs to be seen, argued over and seen again”
– A. O. Scott, The New York Times

“Very important, very impressive”
– Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Cesar 2007Congratulations to Aïssa Maïga on her 2007 César nomination for Most Promising Actress.

Abderrahmane Sissako

2006 Bamako by Abderrahmane Sissako
  Daratt (saison sèche) by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
2003 Malenkie lyudi (Les petites gens) by Nariman Turebayev
  Le Silence de la forêt by Bassek Ba Kobhio and Didier Ouenangare
2002 Heremakono (En attendant le bonheur) by Abderrahmane Sissako
  Abouna by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
1998 La Vie sur terre by Abderrahmane Sissako
1997 Rostov Luanda by Abderrahmane Sissako
  Sabriya by Abderrahmane Sissako (short film)
1996 Le Chameau et les bâtons flottants by Abderrahmane Sissako (short film)
1993 Octobre by Abderrahmane Sissako (short film)
1989 Le Jeu by Abderrahmane Sissako (short film)

Aïssa Maïga

2006 Bamako by Abderrahmane Sissako
2005 Prête moi ta main by Eric Lartigau
  Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas by Philippe Lioret
  Paris je t'aime – Segment: Place des Fêtes by Olivier Assayas
  Caché by Michael Haneke
2004 Les Poupées russes by Cédric Klapisch
  Travaux, on sait quand ça commence… by Brigitte Roüan
  L'Un reste, l'autre part by Claude Berri
2003 Mes enfants ne sont pas comme les autres by Denis Dercourt
2001 Les Baigneuses by Viviane Candas
2000 Lise et André by Denis Dercourt
1999 Jonas et Lila, à demain by Alain Tanner
1997 La Revanche de Lucy by Janusz Mrosowski
1996 Saraka Bo by Denis Amar

Maimouna Hélène Diarra

2006 Bamako by Abderrahmane Sissako
2002 Moolaadé by Ousmane Sembene
2000 Code inconnu, récit incomplet de plusieurs voyages by Michael Haneke
1998 La Genèse by Cheick Oumar Sissoko
1997 Taafé Fanga by Adama Drabo
1996 Macadam Tribu by Zeka Laplaine
1995 Guimba, un tyran une époque by Cheick Oumar Sissoko
1989 Finzan by Cheick Oumar Sissoko

Interview with Abderrahmane Sissako

First, this film is linked to my desire to shoot a film in [the] house of my father who has passed away. This house is located in Bamako, in the poorer neighborhood of Hamdallaye. It's a plain house, made of earth. For years, a tap and a well have been standing side by side in the courtyard. Here, water is expensive and to save money, my father dug a well.

This courtyard is where I grew up, with my many brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, close and distant relatives. Never have we been less than 25 sleeping, eating, learning, living in turn, one after the other.

Today, most of us have left the house to live elsewhere – and yet the house is still always full. New cousins and close and distant relatives live there, go to school or quit to work on some odd job or another. For me, this house is associated with the memory of passionate discussions with my father about Africa.

The other reason that urged me to make this film has to do with my views on Africa. Africa is not the continent I call my own, but as a place of injustice which directly affects me. When one lives on a continent where filmmaking is difficult and uncommon, one feels entitled to speak in the name of others: faced with the seriousness of the situation in Africa, I felt a kind of urgency to bring up the hypocrisy of the north towards southern countries.

Director’s note

MeleToday’s core missions of the Washington-based IMF and World Bank, which were created in the wake of World War II, are to regulate the international monetary system and lend money to developing countries. Since many countries had difficulty repaying their debts, rich countries imposed structural adjustment policies in the early ‘80s that set the rules of the game for millions of people. International financial institution officials were granted the power to impose a policy on the most debt-ridden countries’ governments that was supposed to balance their budgets. These days most sub-Saharan African countries are under structural adjustment programs. These programs based on neo-liberal principles serve rich countries’ vested interests, essentially those of the United States and of Europe. The reforms imposed on southern countries have always been the same while, paradoxically enough, they are far from being implemented in northern countries: suppression of state subsidies (in agriculture, textiles, etc.), the dismantlement of public services and job cuts in the public sector (school teachers, doctors, etc).

In debt-ridden countries, the privatization of state-owned firms, which managed natural resources, water, electricity, transport and telecommunications, always has been carried out in the interest of rich countries’ multinationals. The contracts – signed against a background of corruption and political pressure – always have benefited these multinationals. At the same time, the populations under structural adjustment have grown poorer and poorer, their life expectancy has declined, their child mortality has risen and their literacy rate has dropped.

Most official reports indicate that the very indebted poor countries are poorer today than they were 20 years ago.

However, if we take into account the total capital flow and wealth transfer, African countries have more than repaid their debts to rich countries. Many of them have had to relinquish everything they owned and can no longer secure their future development.

A long overdue debt relief now seems to be deceiving.




Virginia Commonwealth University University of Richmond University of Richmond