88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Today's stream is sponsored by Maxie's

Sound Travels Cinema: "Bamako"

Click to enlarge

We've all made some New Years resolutions and so have I for 2012. Namely to draw more music and media into my blogosphere here at 88Nine. That means more freebies, links and reviews. Reviews of music certainly, but also of cinema and films from other countries that you may want to connect with.

In addition to my love of music, I also have a deep passion for film and watch at least one a day. Like my love of music, my film forrays are often global in their purview. As one who watches a lot, I realize first-hand how hard it can be to find good films. That's why I'll be endeavoring to share my leads on ligit films from around the world. Hopefully, I'll inspire some of you to expand your own palettes a bit beyond the familiar story-lines Hollywood has to offer, and explore another world within the world...

...Bamako...

...is not only a city in the Central African republic of Mali (famed home of the ancient city of crossroads, Timbuktu) but the title of a very fresh movie I ran across yesterday on Netflix by a Malian producer named Abderrahmane Sissako. For fans of Malian music, this movie is a must-see simply for the fact that Sissoko weaves Malian music throughout the story in perfect counterpoint in a way that makes it almost commentary on the ugly social reality of poverty and disenfranchisement endemic in post-colonial, modern Mali. Nevertheless, a beautifully shot film that put the viewer right in dusty heat of Bamako, and into a story told on parallel lines. 

On one hand, Bamako centers on the relationship between a character named Melé, who is a bar singer and her husband Chaka who is out of work as well as hope. His life is stagnant, seemingly bereft of an original dream for a future and this lack in turn, threatens his marriage. With the personal story to connect with and feel, Sissoko makes it an analogue for a deeper dialogue on the relationships between "developing" countries, their former colonial overlords and the West in general. In the courtyard of the couples' house they share with other families; the courtyard of their life if you will, a trial court has been set up pitting African civil society spokesmen against the World Bank and the IMF. In this context, Sissako can frame the very big issue of African development and post-colonial colonialism and the people whom it affects.  

And affecting people is exactly what it does as midst the pleas and the testimonies, life goes on in the courtyard and Chaka, representing Mali itself, does not seem to be concerned by this desire to fight for Africa's rights even as his family and his very way of life crumbles...or does he? Bamako, a very interesting film indeed...