Director: Abderrahmane Sissako

Screenplay: Abderrahmane Sissako

Mélé: Aïssa Maïga
Chaka: Tiécoura Traoré
Saramba: Maimouna Hélène Diarra
Falaï: Balla Habib Dembélé

Jury Special Prize, Carthage Film Festival (2006)
Best Francophone Prize, Lumière Awards (2007)

Running time: 115’
Production: France, Mali, USA, 2006
Language: French and Bambara
Rating: Not Rated
Gauge: 35mm, DVD (color)
Genre: Drama

Distributor: New Yorker Films


"A less confident, more facile director might have tried to force a connection between macroeconomics and a single family’s plight, but Mr. Sissako’s sensibility is too subtle for such shortcuts. Melé and Chaka are beautiful and dignified… But they are hardly the noble, suffering Africans of well-intentioned Hollywood caricature. Not that subtlety is everything. Mr. Sissako is trying to make a point, and to use whatever cinematic means he has at hand to bring it home. The most striking of these is a film within the film, a mock-spaghetti western starring Danny Glover and the Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman that turns the prosecution’s brief into a bloody allegory".
A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Over the course of a few days, a trial pitting African civil society against such international financial institutions as the World Bank and the IMF has set a stage in the courtyard of a home in Bamako, Mali. The trial’s examination of Africa’s debt to the World Bank, which threatens Africa’s sovereignty and continues to alienate and deprive her people, provides a surreal contrast to the everyday life shared by families whose homes surround the courtyard. As numerous trial witnesses (schoolteachers, farmers, writers, etc…) air bracing indictments against the multinational economic machinery that haunts them, life in the courtyard presses forward. Chaka, an unemployed married father, is preoccupied with the imminent break up of his marriage to Melé, a popular Bamako lounge singer. He is being harassed by a detective who accuses him of stealing a gun. In the midst of the powerful testimonies being made at the trial, the juxtaposition of Chake and Melé’s story, as well as those of their neighbours, give a voice to Africa’s silent majority and further fortifies Africa’s case against the World Bank. Filled with warm colors and inspirational music, Bamako voices Africa’s grievances in an original and profoundly moving way: educating, and at the same time, entertaining the audience.

PHOTO New Yorker Films  
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