At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
Friday, August 22: Sarraounia (1986) by Med Hondo – 120 mins – Burkina Faso/ Mauritania/ France, Drama/ History/ War. In Dioula, Peul, and French with English subtitles.
With Ai Keita, Jean Roger Milo, Feodor Atkine.
Sarraounia was co-produced by financiers in both France and the country of Burkina Faso (formerly known as The Upper Volta). Mixing equal parts fact and fiction, this historical epic traces the rise of 19th-century Queen Sarraounia of Azna. Sarraounia holds her place in a traditionally patriarchal society by sheer physical strength – and, according to legend, she is also an accomplished sorceress. In 1899, two xenophobic French officers go on a mission to thwart the uprising of Sultan Rabah in the Cameroon. Ignoring orders from the French government, these renegade officers kill anyone who crosses their path. But then they come face to face with Queen Sarraounia.
From Time Out Film Guide: Sarraounia is a young warrior queen of the Azna tribe, whose mastery of the ancient 'magic' skills of martial arts and pharmacology is first put to the test when she defends her people from attack by a neighbouring tribe. But the real trial of strength comes when the French army marches south to widen its colonial grip on the African continent. The second half of the film centres on the French, acidly but plausibly satirised as little tyrants whose megalomania swells in proportion with their failure to grasp the realities of the culture they are trying to crush. Everything here is grounded in careful but never pedantic historical research. The film is superbly crafted and expansive; the tone is celebratory, loud, assertive and spirited; but Hondo doesn't allow the visual and musical splendours to swamp his certainty that Africans need to learn to value and develop the identity that was theirs before the white man came.
Friday, August 29: Serko (2006) by Joël Farges – 80 mins – France, Drama. English subtitles.
With Jacques Gamblin, Alexei Chadov, Marina Kim.
At the beginning of winter in 1889, mounted on Serko, his small, grey horse, Dimitri leaves the Amour River, situated on the eastern borders of the Russian Empire, and sets out on a journey. After extraordinary adventures, they both arrive in Saint Petersburg, at the Tsar’s court. Having covered 5,600 miles in less than 200 days, this young horseman and his horse have thus achieved the most amazing equestrian feat of all time.
A genuine charmer for kids on up.