Film and talk

The Journey of the Hyena

Rijksakademie Schip
Free entrance, RSVP here

Jackie Karuti presents 'The Journey of the Hyena', a film program that compliments her studio practice while in residence at the Rijksakademie. 

"This is a modest selection but one that offers an authentic understanding of cinema, most notably from Francophone Africa. While the continent is the point of departure for the films, it is imperative not to categorise them merely as African films because their reach and focus is aimed at catapulting us out of this reductive framing."

"Throughout the films a shared disappointment of shattered dreams while grappling with Africa’s colonial past & local traditions lingers. Most of the characters share a longing desire to escape or leave for a better place but it’s not the voyage that’s important, it’s the freedom. Mambéty for example experimented with form by departing from the linear and narrative style of filmmaking attributed to filmmakers like Sembène in order to pursue his artistic freedom over the mere recording of facts."

"Another recurring theme is the symbolic portrayal of animals & artifacts through animism, ritual and how they are equally revered and subjected to torture. The films however move away from the ethno-fiction gaze of Jean Rouch and the typical racist & colonial films such as 'Africa Addio' (1966), 'Born free' (1966) & 'Out of Africa' (1985) that cast wild animals as pets for white settlers & the landscape as their playground while positioning Africans as savages. Looking at animals as is the case with zoo’s & well-meaning wildlife conservation projects is therefore used as a method to construct an image whereby these cumulative glances are understood as gathering evidence related to past crimes or ongoing violence."

"Additional films relating to colonial violence featuring scenes where animals are referenced, killed, hunted or chased for sport include 'Sans Soleil' by Chris Marker, 'Concerning Violence' by Göran Olsson and 'Chocolat' by Claire Denis. I would also add 'Tropical Malady' by Apichatpong Weerasethakul as a bonus. The film begins with soldiers posing with a dead body while striking a safari-type hunting photo. Here the idea of the animal, beast or monster takes on a surreal form and transports us into a folkloric supernatural journey."  

"Lastly, Sembène famously proposed cinema as a night school (école du soir). This approach has been embraced by other artists engaged in decolonial practices who have gone on to convene projects enriching this call. This program therefore serves as a way to think with and alongside others and a site for imagination that operates outside of the classroom and outside of time.”

Thursday 4 April

18.00 – doors open
18.45 – brief introduction to the program 

19.00 – 21.00 
Hyènes (Hyenas), 1992 
dir. Djibril Diop Mambéty 
1hr 50m | English subtitles 
'Hyenas' is a film adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Swiss-German satirical tragicomedy play 'The Visit'. Mambéty’s intimate story of love and revenge parallels a critique of neo-colonialism and African consumerism. After being kicked out of her village three decades earlier for getting pregnant out of wedlock, Linguere Ramatou has returned home. While she has done extremely well for herself; even becoming richer than the World Bank, her home village has fallen on hard economic times. Intent on punishing the man who fathered her child but refused to own up to the act, she makes a proposal: She will help the town financially, if the locals agree to execute him. 

Friday 5 April

18.00 – doors open

19.00 – 19.30
To Repel Ghosts, 2013
dir. Philippe Lacôte
20mins | English subtitles 
On 12 August 1988 the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat passed away. This film pays homage to him by telling the unknown story of his trip to Côte d'Ivoire before his death & the ghosts & disillusionment he encountered. This short is part of The African Metropolis Short Film Project, an initiative of the Goethe-Institut South Africa. 

19.00 – 19.30
La noire de... (Black Girl), 1966
dir. Ousmane Sembène 
59mins | English subtitles
Sembène’s brilliant feature film debut tells the story of Diouana, a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white family. A complex & layered critique of the lingering colonialist mindset of a supposedly postcolonial world. “La noire de…” better translated as “The Black Girl/woman” retains the French preposition ‘de’ with its ambiguous connotation meaning ‘of’, ‘from’ or ‘belonging to’. 

Saturday 6 April

10.00 – doors open

11.00 – 12.45
Atlantique, 2019 
dir. Mati Diop 
1hr 44m | English subtitles 
A mysterious supernatural drama. Souleiman and other disgruntled construction workers of a futuristic tower secretly plan their escape to Europe via the ocean from a gentrifying Dakar.

14.00 – 15.45 
Timbuktu, 2014
dir. Abderrahmane Sisakko
1hr 40m | English subtitles
Religious fundamentalists occupy the Malian city of Timbuktu and impose their beliefs & bans on the citizens.

17.00 – 18.40 
Touki Bouki (The Journey of the Hyena), 1973
dir. Djibril Diop Mambéty
1hr 35m | English subtitles 
With a stunning mix of fantasy & the surreal, Mambéty paints a vivid, fractured portrait of Senegal in the early 1970s. Anta and Mory are fed up with life in Dakar & long to escape to the glamour and comforts they imagine France has to offer. But their plan is confounded by obstacles both practical and mystical. Considered one of Africa’s earliest avant-garde films. Viewer discretion is advised: Explicit images of animal slaughter depicted.  

Closing remarks  

Jackie Karuti

Jackie Karuti is based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work departs from drawing by way of the moving & projected image as a way to generate thought while her practice is founded on ideas around looking, image construction, knowledge production & the depths of possibility enabled by radical imagination.

Karuti is currently a resident artist at the Rijksakademie. Programming films for educational purposes responds to her practice and since 2022 she has been convening the Artists Experimental Film Program in Nairobi. In 2023 she conducted a workshop that approached image making using an improvised camera-less approach as well as  through a restaging/screening of Ein Bild,1983 (An Image) by Harun Farocki. Elements of it unfolded as a live performance where the projection of the film was adjusted, obstructed, shifted and viewed on multiple screens allowing for numerous glances & angles of view from the participants.

Other projects include programming the Out Film Festival-Nairobi (2016-2019) at the Goethe Institut-Nairobi & Mid-morning Cinema (2016), a screening & talk program featuring work by filmmakers from the African continent.

Full bio: thirdroomstudios.com


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