Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Meet the Cast of 'Desperate Housewives - Africa' + the Characters from the American Original They Each Play (Premieres in 2 Weeks) Meet the Cast of 'Desperate Housewives - Africa' + the Characters from the American Original They Each Play (Premieres in 2 Weeks) Netflix's 'The Getdown' Directed by Baz Luhrman Has Found Its Female Lead Netflix's 'The Getdown' Directed by Baz Luhrman Has Found Its Female Lead Meet the 3 Leads for the Next 'Star Wars' Movie (John Boyega Is One of Them) + Watch New Teaser Meet the 3 Leads for the Next 'Star Wars' Movie (John Boyega Is One of Them) + Watch New Teaser Quentin Tarantino's 'H8ful Eight' Gets a Teaser Trailer (Samuel L. Jackson, Belinda Owino) Quentin Tarantino's 'H8ful Eight' Gets a Teaser Trailer (Samuel L. Jackson, Belinda Owino) Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Will Open Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Will Open Trailer: Pilot Project 'First Gen' (The Trials and Tribulations of Being a First Gen Nigerian-American) Trailer: Pilot Project 'First Gen' (The Trials and Tribulations of Being a First Gen Nigerian-American) TV One Shores Up 2015-2016 Slate with 8 New Series, 16 Original Movies + New Production Partnerships TV One Shores Up 2015-2016 Slate with 8 New Series, 16 Original Movies + New Production Partnerships 'Walking Dead' Creator Says Rick and Morgan's Reunion Will Be "The Spine" of Season 6 'Walking Dead' Creator Says Rick and Morgan's Reunion Will Be "The Spine" of Season 6 Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Quietly Grosses Over $1 Million in USA Box Office - Rare for an African Film Abderrahmane Sissako's 'Timbuktu' Quietly Grosses Over $1 Million in USA Box Office - Rare for an African Film Rumorville: Ernie Hudson Circling T'Chaka Role in Marvel's 'Black Panther' Movie Rumorville: Ernie Hudson Circling T'Chaka Role in Marvel's 'Black Panther' Movie Watch Cuba Gooding Jr. Wield a Gun and Snort Coke in his Underwear in Clip from 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' Watch Cuba Gooding Jr. Wield a Gun and Snort Coke in his Underwear in Clip from 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' People in Chicago Are Not Happy with Spike Lee’s 'Chiraq' People in Chicago Are Not Happy with Spike Lee’s 'Chiraq' Check Out the First Trailer for HBO's New Dramedy Series 'Ballers' Starring Dwayne Johnson Check Out the First Trailer for HBO's New Dramedy Series 'Ballers' Starring Dwayne Johnson 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper,' on Serial Killer Who Murdered Black Women for 25 Years, Debuts April 27 on HBO 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper,' on Serial Killer Who Murdered Black Women for 25 Years, Debuts April 27 on HBO Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Review: 'La Pirogue' And The African Struggle (Opens In NYC Tomorrow)

Shadow and Act By Zeba Blay | Shadow and Act January 22, 2013 at 7:38PM

A vast expanse of ocean. A small boat, bobbing with uncertainty amongst looming waves. It’s an image that’s been created many times in many iterations across the cinema landscape - in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, in The Perfect Storm, more recently in Ang Lee’s opus Life of Pi. And now, also, in Senegalese director Moussa Touré’s latest film, La Pirogue.
0
'La Pirogue'
'La Pirogue'

A vast expanse of ocean. A small boat, bobbing with uncertainty amongst looming waves. It’s an image that’s been created many times in many iterations across the cinema landscape - in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, in The Perfect Storm, more recently in Ang Lee’s opus Life of Pi. And now, also, in Senegalese director Moussa Touré’s latest film, La Pirogue.

One of the two gala screenings at the 20th edition of the African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF), its US premiere last fall, La Pirogue is Touré’s third film in twenty years and, much like his sophomore effort TGV (1998), it is a film about survival, a distinct sort of survival - African survival.

The struggle and eventual perseverance of people of the diaspora has always been a favorite topic occasionally amongst ourselves but especially in the West, where somehow the more pain and suffering the brown and black  folk experience on screen, the more satisfying the final act when they achieve some sort of redemption, learn a lesson, deliver a stirring and emotional speech. It’s a narrative seemingly inherent to the full realization of the true African experience.

From the quiet sorrow of Diouana in Le Noire de..., to the visceral and often unpleasant imagery of films like War Witch and Kinshasa, the idea of African survival is predicated on the belief that in order to enjoy life, specifically the African life, the black life, we must define ourselves by our pain.

In La Pirogue, a reluctant fisherman named Baye Laye (Souleymane Seye Ndiaye) agrees to captain a small, open air fishing boat with a faulty motor, a few leaks, and thirty men and a woman - all from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, all determined to make the harrowing 900 mile voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain and something like a better life.

It’s a harrowing journey, a journey that puts the Senegalese immigrants under extreme physical, mental, and emotional distress. And as horrible as their journey is, it still, somehow, seems righteous - it’s that noble struggle, again. That African hustle. The important thing, the beauty in Toure’s approach, though, is that it does manage to find a certain balance between pain and perseverance - and it does this by rejecting the idea that the struggle - rejecting the very notion that the African identity is tied so tightly to misfortune.

Where La Pirogue goes on its own Hollywood journey remains to be seen. Buzz at Cannes, where it screened in the Un Certain Regard section, garnered it places in festivals all over Europe, as well as an October theatrical release in France.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 22, it opens for a limited theatrical run in the USA at the Film Forum in New York City, where it'll play for at least 2 weeks. And the response it gets there may very well fall in line with the responses of other movies that have followed it’s formula but failed to follow through. Because there is always, of course, the African struggle - when the lights go up and the buzz begins to fade by degrees - a reality most films have to face, but perhaps more potent in the film world of the diaspora, where every “good” film is an oddity and an anomaly, something to be admired but rarely ever truly understood.

For screening days and time, as well as ticket info at Film Forum, click HERE.

Some clips from the film below.

Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York. She is a regular contributor to Digital Spy, Huffington Post, Africa Style Daily, and Slant Magazine. She runs a personal movie blog, Film Memory. Follow her on Twitter @zblay.

This article is related to: Moussa Touré, La pirogue


Shadow & ActNewsletter