“Il Manifesto” September 21, 2010 – Italy
From Conakry with fury. Guinea today. A documentary.
Let’s start over from Guinea to get rid of the enchantment of the “African paradox”. Will this Continent, which has most sadistically been deprived of all of its wealth, even human labour (is it atavistically obvious to say it’s been punished because of its communism?) ever stop getting under- developed by the Western Countries? Especially now that Obama, “our close relative, the international President who’s going to change Africa”, and Pretoria, not Stockholm, has become an antinazi’s oasis, maybe…
Let’s start over from Guinea Conakry. 250.000 kmq, population: 10milion, first African Country to achieve independence from colonialism. From the State which, after the attack that stopped the last former“strong man”, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, is going to (hopefully a few days from now) hold the first democratic election ballot: bipolarity (not as ethnical, racist and wild as ours), frauds, no military eligible (allowed to run for President).
We’re able to reach Conakry thanks to Chiara Cavallazzi, her mixed Italian-Guinean crew (music is Italian, sounds more like a horror carillon à la Dario Argento than exotism) and her film: Changement (previewed at Milano Film Festival), four years of work about the Country that best represents African independence: 2/3 of the World’s bauxite, abundant with diamonds, gold, oil, uranium, greedy corporations, black misery, thirst, illiteracy, darkness, diseases, dictatorships and slaughters of political enemies.
From Guinea, Cavallazzi, who comes from video-installations, didn’t bring back to Italy a news-anchor(wo)man booty: stentorian voice over texts, hers or written by an “expert”, which is poison for an “objective documentary”, since it puts the viewer in a self-defensive manner.
It is, instead, a visual composition seen strictly from the Guinean point of view, edited à la Butch Morris, in a dissonant harmony, with a free-jazz of split screens and overlays, composed by the editing of precise (and often dreadful) stock footage about slaughters (the 40 protesters killed in January 2007, the ones killed in 2009) and on-the-road interviews to the wealthy and politically informed civil society (students, doctors, kids, politicians, lawyers, housewives, people passing by, poor tradesmen), as well as to the militants: Saran Daraba Kaba and Thiermo Sow (human rights), Rabiatou Serah Diallo (unionist). An amazing “protesting” collective, playful and daring despite all the sufferings, which is the other glorious mystery of a tameless Continent.
Besides prohibiting any kind of interafrican communication, colonialism only built streets to commute raw materials towards the motherland, and hospitals for white people only, restraining Guineans from:
1. Autonomous industrial take-off
2. Plausible currency (French colonialists, while leaving, robbed Conakry of all of its gold, in 1958, and coined fake money to poison the economy)
3. A local middle-class, in all meanings, well-educated, extra tribal, incorruptible and autonomous.
Yet, the free Africa movement is more and more powerful and charming, such as vuvuzelas transformed into Trumpets of Jericho. Guinea Conakry, since 1958, already means Sekou Tourè. After the one in Haiti, which cost dear to the town of Port-au-Prince, Conakry is the first “I’d rather not” which broke the spell and, through a referendum, demolished De Gaulle’s smooth neocolonialistic advances. An uproar was caused by the shameless and ungrateful communist heir of Toussaint Louverture, who’s been ever since persecuted by the entire free world’s media. Of course, Sekou Tourè may have been cruel to his opponents, but not as much as the widely celebrated Saint Putin. And Cavallazzi’s documentary, which ends quoting Thomas Sankara, the last African Bartebly who had the courage to escape the “globalization from the top”, and the private lust, not like the corrupted traitor who murdered him (Compaorè), starts with a threatening Sarkozy pretending to beg forgiveness for the aggravated continuous robberies, for the massacres, for the criminal horrors committed during the 500 years of colonization, actually striking up the same old racist tune: “don’t forget it was us, the French, who also gave a lot, streets, hospitals…” and money to the corruptible militaries, such as Lansana Conté (1984-2004), Conakry’s ultraliberal dictator and drug dealer, persecutor of political opponents without having Europe ever worrying or protesting even once for the democratic and human situation. Guinea’s future, today, is linked to the international mediation of a similar gentleman, Compaorè. Is it just a coincidence?
Roberto Silvestri – Film critic
Milano Film Festival _ Colpe di Stato
Hamburg – RADAR festival