Personal Passages: African Filmmakers in Europe

Personal Passages responds to the concurrent Block exhibitions Caravans of Gold and Isaac Julien: The Leopard (Western Union Small Boats) through a series of films which illuminate 20th and 21st century migrant experiences across the Mediterranean. While dozens of films have been made by European filmmakers addressing the challenges faced by refugees and immigrants to Europe, the films in this series, made by Tunisian, Mauritanian and Malian emigré filmmakers, all provide more intimate perspectives on these experiences of displacement and diaspora.

Soleil Ô

Thursday, February 7, 2019 7:00 PM FREE
(Med Hondo, 1970, France/Mauritania, DCP, 98 min.)

In French and Arabic with English subtitles

One of the most important works of post-colonial cinema, Med Hondo’s Soleil Ô confronts the racism and exploitation of French society through the eyes of a Mauritanian immigrant worker in Paris. Working independently on a tight budget, Hondo refracts his own experiences—and his deep insight into centuries-old structures of oppression—through an ironic and subversive sense of humor. Unseen for years, this formally audacious, politically galvanizing film has recently reemerged thanks to a restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna, the George Lucas Family Foundation, and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation; it has lost none of its power, or its relevance, since it first appeared in 1970.

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in collaboration with Med Hondo. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.


An Opera of the World

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 7:00 PM FREE
(Manthia Diawara, 2017, Portugal/USA/Mali, digital, 70 min.)

A world-renowned scholar, filmmaker, and theorist of cultural hybridity, Manthia Diawara left Mali at the age of 19, emigrating to France and later to the United States. He returned to Mali in 2008 to film rehearsals for Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera that tells the story of northward migration. Diawara frames this moving performance between interviews (including discussions with filmmaker Alexander Kluge, novelist Fatou Diome and sociologist Nicole Lapierre), personal commentary, and archival footage that documents the cycles of migration throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The result is a cinematic essay as free-ranging, and as inspiring, as the borderless society he imagines.

In person: filmmaker and NYU Professor of Cinema Studies Manthia Diawara

Brûle la Mer (Burn the Sea)

Thursday, March 14, 2019 7:00 PM FREE
(Maki Berchache and Nathalie Nambot, 2014, France, 35mm, 75 min.)

In French and Arabic with English subtitles

The 2011 collapse of the Ben Ali government in Tunisia prompted a mass exodus of so-called harragas (literally, “border burners”) to Europe. One of these migrants was a young hospitality worker, Maki Berchache, who collaborated with French filmmaker and activist Nathalie Nambot on this poetic and intimate experimental documentary. Shooting on Super-8 and 16mm film, Berchache and Nambot gather together the memories, reflections, dreams and fears of the migrant community in France, imagining cinema as a space of connection and collective practice within an unfamiliar and sometimes hostile landscape.