The Wisconsin Film Festival is presented by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Arts Institute in association with the Department of Communication Arts. Founded in 1999, the Festival presents over 150 films in eight theaters in eight days, April 9-16.
Among these films are the following opportunities related to Africa:
with introduction by African Studies Program faculty member Aliko Songolo.
Nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards and winner of two prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, Timbuktu is the most universally acclaimed African film of the decade. Inspired by real events, this incomparably moving portrait of a cattle herder fending off jihadists in northern Mali unfolds during a fundamentalist occupation that enforces bans against sports, music, and laughter. Master director Abderrahmane Sissako (Bamako, WFF 2007, Waiting for Happiness, WFF 2003) weaves together stories that capture all the absurdity, hypocrisy, and terror of living under an occupation. Yet at the same time, his film is also lyrical, gorgeous, and exalting-Sissako locates the warm human poetry that exists even under these conditions, loading Timbuktu with ravishing imagery and transcendent music as an overwhelmingly powerful protest against fundamentalism. “A work of almost breathtaking visual beauty, it manages to ravish the heart while dazzling the eye simultaneously, neither at the expense of the other” (Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com). Winner of seven César Awards (the French Oscar equivalent), including Best Film, Director, Writer, Cinematography, and Music.
As a set designer, Maha specializes in creating worlds that don’t exist. But one day, while preparing a set on a rote melodrama, she turns around, and finds herself inhabiting it. Her husband and career are gone, replaced with a life as a Cairo housewife and a young child she doesn’t recognize. Just as she starts to get her bearings, Maha slides back into reality-or is it? As Maha continues to oscillate between worlds that occasionally overlap, director Ahmad Abdalla keeps her (and us) guessing as to which is her “real” life. Shot in classic black-and-white, this canny riff on the Hollywood “women’s picture” provides a very modern commentary on the binary roles offered to women, both onscreen and in life. Abdalla’s sensitive, thoughtful portrait of a woman feeling her way through a psychic breakdown has earned critical comparisons to the films of Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut, and Woody Allen.
African Studies Program faculty member Greg Mitman and Sarita Siegel
The Ebola virus crisis is brought into vivid focus through this on-the-ground documentary directed by Sarita Siegel and UW-Madison’s own Gregg Mitman. In the Shadow of Ebola tells the story of Emmanuel Urey, a Liberian student at school here in Madison, and his desperate effort to get family members safely out of Monrovia before the virus spreads uncontrollably. Struggling with visa issues and government mandated quarantine, the plight of Urey’s family and their attempts to make it to safety bring this issue harrowingly to life and extremely close to home.