Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali/France/US, 2006, 35mm, 115 min., French & Bambara w/ English subtitles

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Bamako, by director Abderrahmane Sissako, is a narrative film centered around a tribunal between ordinary Africans and the representatives of the international financial institutions that supposedly exist to eradicate poverty. The plaintiffs are the people of Africa; the defendants, charged with worsening the economic plight of the continent, are the World Bank and the IMF. To staff the tribunal in Bamako, Sissako sought out real judges and lawyers, whom he armed with extensive research material. He also assembled a cross section of witnesses, from childhood friends to a former minister of culture, all appearing as themselves. Once the cameras were rolling, he allowed the improvised arguments to unfold without interruption. Witness after witness lands blow after blow against the economic policies of the international financial bodies, contending that they have contributed to the impoverishment of Africa and led to cuts in health care and education.

Abderrahmane Sissako’s work is suffused with humanism and social consciousness and explores the complex relations between North and South as well as the fate of a much-beleaguered Africa. He crosses cultures and continents: born in Mauritania in 1961 and brought up in Mali, he went to Soviet Union to attend the VGIK film school in Moscow. His film Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness) was selected at Un Certain Regard in 2002. He returned to Cannes in 2006 with Bamako, presented Out of Competition. In 2014, his latest film Timbuktu became Mauritania’s first entry to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards (2015), and won seven César awards in France, including Best Director and Best Film.

Presented in conjunction with No Mud, No Lotus, a series of screenings presented in collaboration with Louverture Films that seeks to generate discussions about cinema as a strategy of complexity and plurality and as a resistance to constructed realities. No Mud, No Lotus, the inaugural project of the Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, is produced by Slought and presented in partnership with the School of Social Policy & Practice and the Cinema & Media Studies Program and the Center for Africana Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. 

For more information: https://philajustice.org