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Bamako Image



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 witnesses including teachers, farmers, and writers 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, Timbuktu) 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.

"I’ve never seen a film quite like Bamako. A work of cool intelligence and profound anger; necessary viewing." A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"Endlessly cogent, confrontational—and, best of all, as captivating as it is illuminating." Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times

"A powerful polemic leavened with beauty and humor." Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

Director Icon Director
Abderrahmane Sissako

Aïssa Maïga, Tiécoura Traoré, Hélène Diarra, Habib Dembélé, Djénéba Koné
Source Icarus Films
France, Mali 2006 117 min. French, Bambara with English subtitles 19+ Trailer | Review


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