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2006 • dir Abderrahmane Sissako w/Aïssa Maïga, Tiécoura Traoré, Danny Glover • 117 min • in French and Bambara with English subtitles

An extraordinary trial is taking place in a residential courtyard in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. African citizens have taken proceedings against such international financial institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whom civil society blames for perpetuating Africa’s debt crisis, at the heart of so many of the continent’s woes. As numerous trial witnesses (schoolteachers, farmers, writers, etc.) air bracing indictments against the global economic machinery that haunts them, life in the courtyard presses forward. Melé, a lounge singer, and her unemployed husband Chaka are on the verge of breaking up; a security guard’s gun goes missing; a young man lies ill; a wedding procession passes through; and women keep everything rolling – dyeing fabric, minding children, spinning cotton, and speaking their minds.

Written and directed by the celebrated filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako (Waiting for Happiness) and co-executive produced by Danny Glover (who also provides a cameo in the film), this critically acclaimed political drama – filled with a lush mix of warm colors and impassioned music – offers a unique opportunity for audiences to become familiar with contemporary Africa. Sissako, who grew up in the courtyard that the film is set in, hired professional lawyers and judges along with “witnesses” to express their true feelings. Bamako voices Africa’s grievances in an original and profoundly moving way.

“A courtroom drama with a difference… a light touch, a dry wit, and vast sympathy.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“A work of cool intelligence and profound anger… a haunting visual poem.”
– A. O. Scott, The New York Times