By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act February 17, 2012 at 11:00AM
S&A isn't attending the Berlin International Film Festival this year (although I'm planning on it for 2013), but thankfully an S&A reader, Denise VanDeCruze (The Mic Movement - Amplifying Art In Berlin & Beyond) is there, and offered to write up some reviews for me to share here.Here are 2 of a few more to come - both films that have been profiled/covered here on S&A so they shouldn't be too foreign to you if you've been reading.
First is Indignados which stars newcomer Mamebetty Honoré Diallo as Betty, a young undocumented immigrant from the African continent (although the synop doesn't say what country exactly; however, given her real name, I'd guess Senegal), travelling along the edge of the borders of a Europe on the verge of collapse in terms of its social cohesion.
Here's what Denise had to say about the film:
Tony Gatlif’s film starts off with an undocumented African immigrant named Betty who washes up on a beach in Greece seeking a better life. The beach is littered with the shoes of other people like her, and these are just one of the symbols that the director uses in a film that feels like an art/film school project more than a serious piece. I went into this movie thinking it would be about the plight of one immigrant against the backdrop of the beginnings of the Occupy Movement, which actually started with the Spanish Indignado Protests in Madrid. There is that, and witnessing the trials of the young Betty as she travels across Europe gives the film a grittiness and reality. However, the surrealistic artsy parts interspersed throughout the movie work in some ways but distracts from the movie in others. For instance, Gatlif’s use of shoes to represent undocumented persons works for me. We see their faces and often only their names are given which clearly shows that these people can even come from developed countries like Germany. Movement is conveyed through fruit rolling down the street, flowing water and quickly passing clouds. However devices that didn’t work for me were things like the rolling soda can. Ok so she’s supposed to be like the soda can that gets used and tossed away, that rolls down the street until it’s stopped by something. Alright I get it. There’s a fox in the hen house scene which really is too much. Despite these distractions, I felt myself still interested in Betty’s situation, perhaps because I could relate to her. I too was once a person of color stuck in a foreign place with no passport, money or a place to stay and in constant fear of the police, ironically in sunny Espagna. When I actually did get frisked and questioned by police, my American driver’s license was my saving grace. The scenes with the actual protests, with young people in full force fighting for their rights were very stirring. If only more care was given to tie Betty’s plight with that of the movement. As it is, the movie seems to be trying to tell two different stories, and Betty is merely a way for us to see a revolution unfolding. She encounters different people but no relationship is established with them. She takes part in the protests but you wonder if she knows what’s happening or if those protesters whom she meets know what her situation is. There’s are several lines from Stéphane Hessel’s essay Be Outraged in the film. Among them is: “Look around at the treatment of illegal immigrants”. Good for the audience, but perhaps the people in the movie could take notice as well.
The second film is Epoir Voyage (direct translation would be Hope Voyage, or Hope Travel, or more than likely, Voyage Of Hope) by Burkinabe filmmaker Michel K Zongo, a documentary feature centered on the directors search to understand his dead brother's reasons for leaving home at a young age, following a path from Burkina Faso to Côte d'Ivoire.
For that review, I'll send you to Denise' website. So click HERE to go there and read it.
Thanks to Denise and the rest of the Mic Movement crew; looking forward to other reviews.
Here's a trailer for Indignados:
And here's a poster for Espoir Voyage: