The Non-Aligned Film Archives is an ongoing programme curated by researchers and archivists Léa Morin and Annabelle Aventurin in collaboration with Open City Documentary Film Festival. The project aims to create a space to share films that have been neglected and overlooked – important works, many of which have been recently restored, that have been marginalised from dominant cinematic narratives. Each session revolves around a single lost work that is instead invoked through other films that have survived.
At the centre of this programme is an unfinished documentary by Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo. Commissioned by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regards Inversés was shot between 1984 and 1985 yet remains unedited, its rushes and negatives currently lost. The aim of Hondo’s project was: ‘to attempt, as a team, an inversion and revision of the ethnological approach, to enable researchers from the Third World, the “former observed”, to take a critical look at the deep structures of Western, rural and urban societies’. From Modou NGO in Soleil, October 13 1983.
The films in this programme act together as an invocation of Hondo’s lost work. From their positions as outsiders, Désiré Ecaré, Mostafa Derkaoui, Hamid Bensaïd and Ibrahim Shaddad borrow and subvert the codes of the dominant Western cinema to present their perspectives on Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. Filmed in France, Poland and Germany respectively, these works examine the colonial spectre and its consequences for the mental and physical health of the African diasporas living at the margins of the political and social realities of their host countries.
Screening introduced by Annabelle Aventurin.
Tickets available here.
Concerto pour un exil (Concerto for an exile)
Désiré Ecaré, France, 1968, 43 min
Completed just after Désiré Ecaré’s graduation from French Cinema School IDHEC, Concerto pour un exil portrays, through a Nouvelle Vague aesthetic, the lives of African students in Paris in the late 1960s. The film follows Hervé, a student union leader contemplating his return home to the Ivory Coast after graduating from The Sorbonne. He hopes to become an ambassador one day, but a series of encounters with other young people in Paris’s Latin Quarter leave him increasingly disillusioned. Closely based on Ecaré’s own experiences, there is a note of nostalgia running through the film that at times becomes one of real pain. ‘That pain that we all feel when the reminder of our situation as exiles wakes us up from a momentary euphoria. Even if we didn’t do anything about the Africa that awaited us’.
– Désiré Ecaré in Cinéastes d’Afrique Noire, Guy Hennebelle and Catherine Ruelle, 197
Mostafa Derkaoui, Poland, 1968, 4 min
Adoption is the first documentary by Moroccan filmmaker Mostafa Derkaoui, made whilst still a student at the Łodź Film School in Poland. The film portrays the struggle to find adoptive parents for Agniezka, a young black girl in the Center for Mothers and Children in Lódź.
Zofia and Ludmiła
Hamid Bensaïd, Poland, 1971, 9 min
A portrait of two Roma sisters, Zofia and Ludmila, seen through the eyes of their family who have been re-settled near the city of Lódź. For his student film, Moroccan filmmaker Hamid Bensaïd was supervised by the great Polish documentary filmmaker Kazimierz Karabasz.
Jagdpartie [Hunting Party]
Ibrahim Shaddad, Germanu, 1964, 41 min
Made as a graduation project at the German Academy of Film Art in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Shaddad’s seminal film is a Western-inspired treatise on racism. Shot in a forest in Brandenburg, it portrays a white mob’s hunt for a black farmworker.
Non Aligned Film Archives
“Through screenings, interventions and meetings, we will try to consider possible tools, methodologies, alliances and actions for a movement of non-aligned film archives
With international allies (venues, filmmakers, platforms) we will share a reflection and actions in favour of the preservation and circulation of a cinema in struggle against authoritarian narratives and models (colonial, state, capitalist, patriarchal, etc.), a cinema that struggles (or has struggled) to exist, and still struggles to be preserved, and not to be pushed to the margins of dominant histories.
Given our incomplete histories of cinema, what place can be accorded to unfinished, lost or non-existent films, to the fractured cinematographic journeys and the orphaned traces of a potential cinema that have been neglected by these dominant narratives? How can we approach and restore the desire for revolution carried by cinemas in struggle, when these images do not reach us?
Each session within this series will be an attempt to reconstruct, through screening programmes and our imaginations, some of the films that are absent from our histories of cinema. Documents will be shared to make this desired yet prevented cinema exist, so that we can take care of these torn and shattered narratives together by giving them a place. Collectives and archivists will be invited to talk about their work of political, aesthetic and cinematographic reconfiguration for the circulation of this marginalized cinema”.
– Léa Morin and Annabelle Aventurin
* In reference to the non-aligned political movement, a transnational and decolonial political project born in 1961 in Belgrade, a coalition of countries struggling against systems of economic, political and cultural domination.