Pan African Film Festival #4

(Entry 4 from Jeff H, BWMTSC Cochair)

On Saturday Feb 13 I saw two very different but fascinating movies. First I met up with Johnny to see “KPIANS The Feast of Souls,” a Nigerian horror film about an ancient curse and efforts to return a lost sister to life. This is a well done scary movie set in an abandoned house in the jungle. The threats are mysterious and enhanced by a style of close ups and focus on the interpersonal connections of the young Nigerian professionals summoned to the house. The message seems to be that the old ways and powers can still threaten even very modern denizens of urban society. The takeaway lesson on Africa is that they make all kinds of movies including this genre film with a unique Nigerian touch.

Then I rushed over to see the South African documentary “Nelson Mandela:The Myth and Me.” This is a fascinating exploration of the decision by Mandela to turn from vengeance to forgiveness towards the whites of South Africa who had inflicted such unspeakable misery and hardship on the Black African population. The movie is in the form of a dialogue between a young South African man and Mandela, and it ranges broadly from South Africa to other locations of mass murder and oppression such as Nazi Germany, Chile under Pinochet, etc. Many interesting thinkers and activists discuss the merits of forgiveness (“moving on”) vs a more hard core vengeance or retribution. One question asked is whether it’s easier for Mandela to forgive since he’s president compared to the poor widow whose children and husband were killed by the apartheid government but who isn’t president. (NB: a brief clip of Kissinger coming out in favor of forgiveness…I wonder why?)

The movie is a thoughtful exploration of this issue, and it was especially relevant in light of our own country’s efforts to deal with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow racial oppression and especially with the issue of reparations raised recently and persuasively by Ta Na’hisi Coates. Should we just move on and try to help everyone succeed, or should we try to compensate those individuals and communities that suffered so grievously for centuries? The discussion conducted in this movie is one we should be having in this country, but of course GOP heads would explode if we did. Anyway it was a fascinating documentary that I highly recommend to everyone.

Next: “Out of Darkness,” “The Boda Boda Thieves,” “LUV Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” from Sunday.

And today (Monday, last day of festival) I’m about to head out to see “America’s Blues” (documentary about blues music), “America is Still the Place” (drama about a Black man’s struggle in SF in the 70’s starring the charismatic Michael Colter of Jessica Jones), “Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill” (the great Audra McDonald portraying Billie Holiday), and (final movie of PAFF 2016 for me) “While You Weren’t Looking” (South African lesbian drama). Anyone want to join me?

Jeff H.