Kinemastik weekend at MCA, 21st and 22nd March 2009
Saturday 21st March, 17:00
Life Without Death (2000) Frank Cole
The Sahara Desert occupies most of the northern continent of Africa. It’s eight-and-a-half-million square kilometres in area, and stretches from Mauritania on the Atlantic coast, through Mali, Niger and Chad, and ends at the Red Sea in Sudan. It’s arid, bleak and unforgiving. Outbreaks of civil war between various desert tribes spring up continuously along the entire route. The carcasses of the desert’s victims — camels, goats and scorpions – litter its vast expanse, having succumbed to the heat or the lack of water or the violence of its storms. What, then, would possess someone to traverse this hell on earth – alone?
In the case of the late Ottawa filmmaker Frank Cole, equally obsessive passions for love of life and fear of death were reasons enough. In 1989, following the death of his grandfather, Cole set out to cross the Sahara. He carried with him water bottles, preventive medication, his grandfather’s ashes and a Bolex camera equipped with a timer. Over the course of a year-long journey, he recorded in meticulous detail the adventure that would earn him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The journey would also earn him a unique position in the world of film. Life without Death, the 90-minute documentary that Cole created over the ensuing 10 years, is a haunting, brilliant and bittersweet homage to the pursuit of eternity.
Saturday 21st March, 19:00
Music Is the Weapon may be short, but it’s essential viewing for Fela fans. Filmed in 1982, the 53-minute documentary captures the late Nigerian musician/activist at his peak. (There are slight differences between the English and French versions, so it’s best to watch both.) For the uninitiated, it’s hard to explain–in mere words–how one man could so successfully mate the sexuality of James Brown with the righteous politics of Bob Marley and sinuous sounds of Miles Davis. Fela drew as much inspiration for his “Afro-beat” from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as funk, reggae, and jazz. Music Is the Weapon features interviews with Fela and a few of his many wives, along with performances of “ITT,” “Army Arrangement,” and other anthems. A controversial figure throughout his life, Fela is described as both “superstar” and “man of the people.” This short, but potent document ably explores that dichotomy. –Kathleen C. Fennessy
Sunday 22nd March, 17:00
Le Peuple Migrateur by Jacques Perrin
The cameras of Jacques Perrin fly with migratory birds: geese, storks, cranes. The film begins with spring in North America and the migration to the Arctic; the flight is a community event for each species. Once in the Arctic, it’s family time: courtship, nests, eggs, fledglings, and first flight. Chicks must soon fly south. Bad weather, hunters, and pollution take their toll. Then, the cameras go south of the Equator; Antarctica is the summer destination. The search for food, good weather, and a place to hatch young takes this annual cycle of stamina across continents and oceans. There is a spare narration and a few titles; for the most part it’s visual, a bird’s eye view.
Sunday 22nd March, 19:00
The larger scope of the story explores the gun trade to Africa that takes place under the covers — Russian pilots fly guns into Africa, then fly fish back out to Europe. The hazards and consequences of this trade are explored, including the pan-African violence propagated by constant flow of weapons into the continent. If it is a “survival of the fittest” world, as Darwin concluded, then the capitalist interests that fund the gun runners are climbing the evolutionary ladder on the backs of the Africans in this stark Darwinian example. Much like the foreseeable extinction of the Lake Victoria perch, and death of Lake Victoria itself, the Africans are in grave jeopardy, even as they survive in the only ways they know how.