dir. Medhin Tewolde Serrano, Mexico 2023
Nyanga’s freedom was stolen from him when he was kidnapped from the coast of Africa in the 16th century. From his homeland, his journey took him over the Atlantic to slavery in America. Forced to work on a plantation, Nyanga never stopped dreaming of freedom. He led others like him to freedom and was later celebrated as a national hero in Mexico. The silhouette animation about slavery in colonial times honours all those who broke the chains of colonialism.
Omar Fasolah (translated by Inari Ylinen)
Filipino director Lav Diaz travels to Cuba to search for a general who committed atrocities during the reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The general is rumored to be hiding in the Cuban countryside, running a farm under a false identity.
In this documentary, Diaz assumes the role of the subject, rather than the director. The film consists of two parts, and director Tommaso Santambrogio has created a fascinating tension between them. In the first part of the film, Lav Diaz travels around Cuba with a taxi driver. The two men discuss politics, life, humanity, and love, and finally, avenging the crimes of the former general. They understand each other despite not sharing a common language. Cuba and the Philippines share a long, undemocratic history, as well as high rates of emigration.
The second part of the film is fictional. It takes place on a farm and aesthetically mirrors the country’s historical burden. People on the farm seem equally subservient as the animals squirming in their pens. The black and white imagery and the powerful use of sound accentuate the feeling of a looming threat: crickets chirp, birds cry and pigs squeal, but people stay silent. These scenes can also be seen as an homage by the young director to Lav Diaz’s life’s work and his slow cinema-style films. Taxibol is a thought-provoking analysis of humanity and evil.
Laura Manninen (translated by Mira Sairanen)
Tommaso Santambrogio visits the screening of his film on Thu, Feb 1.