Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 337: Tue Dec 3

Soleil O (Honda, 1967): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 8.30pm

An assured feature debut by Med Hondo, displaying a bravura exploration of form and theme, this is part of the ‘Africa from the Seine’ season (full details here) and can also be seen on December 6th (full information here). Tonight’s screening is introduced by Kunle Olulode of VOICE4CHANGE.

New York Times review:
The Mauritanian director Med Hondo’s bitterly insightful, artistically freewheeling 1970 film begins with an antic sketch of the European colonization that subjugated and impoverished Africans. It depicts, with sardonic fury, the adventures of an unnamed young African man (Robert Liensol) who arrives in Paris and, with naïve optimism, seeks his fortune among his colonizers. He considers himself at home in France, but soon discovers the extent of his exclusion from French society. Facing blatant discrimination in employment and housing, he and other African workers organize a union, to little effect; seeking help from African officials in Paris, he finds them utterly corrupt and unsympathetic. Making friends among France’s white population, he finds their empathy condescending and oblivious, and his sense of isolation and persecution raises his identity crisis to a frenzied pitch. Hondo offers a stylistic collage to reflect the protagonist’s extremes of experience, from docudrama and musical numbers to slapstick absurdity, from dream sequences and bourgeois melodrama to political analyses. Hondo’s passionate, wide-ranging voice-over commentary, addressing the hero in the second person, blends confession and observation, aspiration and despair, societal and personal conflicts.
Richard Brody

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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