Restoration: Sambizanga
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Restoration: Sambizanga

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Sarah Maldoror’s Sambizanga is recognized as one of the first feature films made in Africa by a female director. The beautifully filmed scenes follow the journey of a woman and her child after her activist husband has disappeared as a political prisoner. Though ostensibly a fiction narrative, the film was made in direct collaboration with members of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (including Maldoror’s husband Mário Pinto de Andradea). Created in the weeks before Angola’s war for independence from Portugal, Sambizanga stands as a vital document of Black resistance against colonial occupation. 1972, Angola/France, 16mm transferred to DCP, in Portuguese with English subtitles, 102 min. Content advisory: scenes of violence.

This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the FEPACI, and UNESCO, in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, to help locate, restore, and disseminate African cinema.

Preshow playlist in the Cinema organized by the Otolith Group.

Students attend for free on Friday.

Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) was a revolutionary filmmaker of the African diaspora, born in southwestern France to parents of Guadeloupean and French descent. The artist co-founded Les Griots, France’s first Black theater troupe, in 1956. In the early 1960s she went to Moscow to study film, where Ousmane Sembène was one of her contemporaries. Maldoror moved to Algeria with activist writer Mário Pinto de Andrade and worked as assistant director on revolutionary films including Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966). Maldoror’s first film was set in Angola featuring mostly activists in Angola’s fight for independence from Portugal. Maldoror made 42 films combining anti-colonialist politics with her love of music and poetry.

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