Saturday, October 21, 2006

BAMAKO/THE COURT - Africa versus the World Bank

BAMAKO/THE COURT is a fascinating movie set in the court-yard of a house in Mali. In this court-yard African society - represented by witnesses from writers to mothers to economists - is trying the international financial institutions who have saddled Africa with onerous debt repayments and the hated Structural Adjustment Programmes. They are supported by professional lawyers on each side and heard by a be-robed panel of judges. The arguments presented are not particularly well-presented and will be familiar to anyone with a smidgeon of knowledge of this issue. I remember reading about the disaster of the SAPS twelve years ago and more recently in Joseph Stiglitz' book on the IMF. However, it is moving to hear these arguments being made by ordinary men and women in Africa rather than dessicated old white men (although there are one or two of those as well.) Where BAMAKO is more successful is in capturing the rhythems and every-day occurences in a small town in Mali - from the women dying clothes to the child rocking a baby to sleep to the men drinking coffee and complaining about how long the trial is taking. There's even a surreal sequence showing the Malian kids watching an odd western starring Danny Glover and set in Timbuktu! So, while some will go to see BAMAKO for the polemic, this is probably not the best means to get educated on this issue. However, for a fascinating and moving slice of Malian life - BAMAKO has to be recommended.

BAMAKO played Cannes and London 2006. It is currently on release in France and opens in Belgium on November 29th and in the Netherlands on February 8th 2007.

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