The first film to come from the Central African Republic, featuring Cameroonian actor Eriq Ebouaney, will be screened in Cape Town next week.
Le Silence de la Forêt (The Silence of the Forest) will screen at the Labia on Orange at 6.15pm on Tuesday. The screening is presented by the African Arts Institute in collaboration with M-Net’s African Film Library, as part of the institute’s Learn Africa Love Africa initiative.
When it was released in 2003, Le Silence de la Forêt was widely billed as the country’s first film and recognised by critics as a brave, dramatic movie strongly rooted in authenticity. The film explores the relationship between the Baka people, a Pygmée group, and an idealistic young French-educated African named Gonuaba, who believes he can use his experiences in Europe to aid his fellow citizens.
The film grew out of an initial idea of director Didier Ouenangare to draw attention to the Pygmies of Central Africa. After 10 years as a TV cameraman in France, he was ready to return to his country of birth and found a willing partner in Bassek ba Kobhio at a time when no other film-makers ventured into the Central African Republic.
No resources were available and equipment and cast had to be imported.
However, the result was an authentic portrayal of Pygmée life, with Baka people “acting” in their mother tongue and refusing to be involved in scenes that would compromise their traditions or believes.
Ebouaney (who’d gained earlier recognition on Raoul Peck’s Lumumba, 2000) had to learn Sango, the Central African language, to play the role.
The film is scored by Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, whose scores include work for directors Ousmane Sembene, Flora Gomes and Idrissa Ouedraogo.
This screening is the first in a second series of consecutive monthly screenings of contemporary African cinema. The rest include:
Les Saignantes (The Bleeders, 2007): a sci-fi film, directed by Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon) on Tuesday, April 10.
Lalla Hobby (1999): a comedy, directed by Moumen Smihi (Morocco) on Tuesday, May 8.
Gombele (1993): directed by Issa Traoré de Brahima (Burkina Faso) and Sidney Poitier na Barbearia de Firipe Beruberu (2001), directed by Francisco Vellardebo of Mozambique on Tuesday, June 12. Both are short films.
Le Destin (Destiny, 1997): a drama directed by Youssef Chahine (Egypt) on Tuesday, July 10.
Le Ballon d’Or (The Golden Ball): a comedy directed by Cheik Doukoure (Guinea/France, 1994) on Tuesday, August 14.
For info on the making of Le Silence de la Forêt and its directors in the week leading up to the screening, see www.facebook.com/ africanartsinstitute