Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fraternity of Womenhood

Snow Canons (2011) - Diop
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Mati Diop, a niece of famous Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty and daughter of a musician Wassis Diop, directs this short film. She is also the luminous actress who starred in one of my all time favorites, Clare Denis's 35 Rhums. She says in an interview that she makes films based on what she finds interesting at that moment. All her films, 4 to date, are very different in subject matter and method I'm told. Snow Canon concerns a slight lesbian romance with the stunning French Alps as a backdrop and its very delicious. A lanky teen Valina (Niala Bal) is left to her own devices in a house overlooking the Alps. She incessantly exchanges texts about boys with her bbf who is traveling in South America. Then an American babysitter Mary Jane (Nour Mobarak) shows up. Smokey eyed and heartbroken, she tells Valina never to fall in love. Valina's sexual curiosity gets the better of her though. Mary Jane is hot. They develop certain physical intimacy. Diop's presentation is never obvious. As they take bath together and play dress up, there is a certain fraternity between them rather than something sexual. Shot in 35mm, the film's gorgeous and less experimental but just as rapturous in its mood and sensuality. There is a nod to a quite a bit of Clare Denis there, not only the appearance of bunny rabbit.

You Don’t Have a Home Until You Leave It

Touki Bouki (1973) - Mambéty
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Mory (Magaye Niang) dreams of leaving Dakar and going to Paris with his college student girlfriend, Anta (Mareme Niang). Always on his trusty motorbike with a cow skull attached to the front, Mory is somewhat of a dreamer and doesn't really fit well in a society where young men only talk about revolution. The couple cheats and steals their way through getting tickets for a sea voyage, but Mory has second thoughts at the last minute. He realizes that wherever he goes, he will be like that of a bull in the slaughterhouse with a noose around his neck. That is the legacy of colonialism. It dawns on him that there is no escape, that he might as well stay.

Even though Mory and Anta are from a shantytown, Touki Bouki is not an overtly socio-political condemnation of colonialism or anything. It's definitely there though. There are elements that stress the view of white Europeans on Senegalese but that's beside the point. The film is, first and foremost, fun. It has a very loose structure and fluidity and playfulness throughout. It's very much French New Wave. You can totally see Breathless- Touki Bouki- Leos Carax connection here. The energy combined with colors and sound make quite an arresting experience.