THE HARVARD FILM ARCHIVE and THE FILM STUDY CENTER present
ALAIN GOMIS - 2017-18 McMillan-Stewart Fellow in Distinguished Filmmaking
Friday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. + Q&A w/filmmaker + reception
Directed by Alain Gomis. With Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, Gaetan Claudia, Papi Mpaka
France/Belgium/Senegal/Germany/Lebanon 2017, DCP, color, 129 min. Lingala and French with English subtitles
Gomis’ latest work stars Congolese singer Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu in her first film role as a nightclub singer and mother whose life is suddenly turned overturned by the near-fatal accident of her wayward son. Following in the footsteps of Pasolini, Bong Joon-Ho and Ripstein-Garciadiego, Gomis invents an indelible maternal figure who vividly embodies the hard truths and paradoxes of motherhood: the crushing burden of responsibility; the festering resentment between mother and offspring; and the love that nevertheless grows between them, like a stubborn root in rocky soil. Making innovative use of music, Félicité adds a new dimension to Gomis’ cinema by offsetting Mputu’s captivating vocal performances with her real-life collaborators, the Kasai Allstars, against a moody and contrapuntal score provided by a local orchestra whose music floats up to accompany Mputu at some of her most difficult moments. Here, and in unexplained nocturnal dream or fantasy sequences, Gomis holds up melodrama as a construct—pointing to the role of melos, or music, to elicit emotion and empathy. Winner of top prizes in both Berlin and FESPACO, Africa’s most important film festival, Félicité offers both a moving portrait of resilience and an indictment of the corruption and violence that colors everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Saturday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m. + Q&A w/filmmaker
Directed by Alain Gomis. With Saul Williams, Djolof Mbengue, Anisia Uzeyman
France/Senegal 2012, 35mm, color, 86 min. French and Wolof with English subtitles
How would you spend your last day on earth if you knew exactly when your life would end? So asks Gomis in this gentle existential parable that finds a man given the knowledge of his death and the freedom to live his last hours exactly as he pleases. Taking almost mythological form, Aujourd’hui follows the course of this final day as its hero first stands before the judgment of family members and then steps out into the streets of Dakar animated by an intense appreciation of all that passes before his eyes and ears. For his lead actor, Gomis made the unexpected choice of American slam poet Saul Williams, whose inability to understand either French or Wolof makes hauntingly real his floating distance from the fleeting world and the flood of emotions, accusations and regrets that color his poignant encounters with family, friends and lovers. Embracing a kind of stream-of-consciousness flow as it wanders with Williams on an emotional itinerary, Aujourd’hui is also punctuated by intense documentary style—sequences that look beyond its death-driven hero to reveal enraged protesters against the corrupt presidency of Abdoulaye Wade. In these moments, Gomis seemingly refuses his own film’s Felliniesque oneirism by reminding us of the stark instability and injustice that has gripped Senegal in recent times.
Little Light (Petite Lumière)
Directed by Alain Gomis. With Assy Fall, Djolof Mbengue, Thierno Ndiaye
France/Senegal 2013, DCP, color, 15 min. French and Wolof with English subtitles
ORGANIZER: Harvard Film Archive
EVENT WEBSITE: http://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2017decfeb/gomis.html