Monday, July 16, 2012

Multicultural Films in the Neumann: Third in an Ongoing Series

Hispanic and Latino Immigrants  Afghanistan  Africa
Films about Africa and Africans abound at the Neumann Library. The library has an excellent collection of documentaries and dramatizations on Africa and Africans. Among the former are the nine-episode National Geographic series entitled Africa. This series consists of eight one-hour segments and a ninth episode on the making of the series. The series was shot over two years in 11 countries. It aims at showing Africa in its variety. The episodes go from the east African savanna to the Sahara, from the rain forests of central Africa to the Republic of South Africa. They cast light on nature, social and political forces, and customs. The documentaries draw an excellent thumbnail sketch of Africa.
Road to Riches: Black Empowerment in Today’s South Africa is a documentary about South Africa since the end of apartheid. The film points out the disparity in earning power between blacks and whites, with some blacks feeling that they were financially better off during apartheid. Road to Riches looks at  empowerment programs that provide opportunity to blacks. Uthingo, which manages the national lottery, provides thousands of jobs for blacks, but black ownership of businesses and large-scale participation in industry has not moved as quickly.
Witches in Exile deals with four of the women who entered the Kukuo camp in Ghana after being labeled witches. Women in this camp are so labeled when they age beyond childbearing or can no longer do fieldwork. Their families or other members of their villages of origin accuse them of killing other family members or of causing misfortunes such as crop failures or natural disasters. The women were subjected to violence and humiliating rituals and entered the camp to scratch out a meager living. The film explores this phenomenon in a socioeconomic context.
Nelson Mandela is arguably the most revered figure in contemporary Africa. He battled apartheid as a member of the African National Congress (ANC), spending 27 years in prison for doing so. Nelson Mandela: The Life and Times is the story of how Mandela, who was born poor, rose to negotiate the transition to majority rule with F.W. de Klerk, with whom he shared the Nobel Peace Prize. Nobel Prize-winning author Nadime Gordimer, de Klerk, biographers of Mandela, friends, family, and fellow inmates were interviewed for the documentary.
The library owns excellent feature films on Africa and Africans. One of these is Tsotsi. This film, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006, is South African and deals with Tsotsi, a thug who murders a young woman while stealing her car. After driving away, Tsotsi discovers a baby in the back seat of the vehicle. Gradually, he finds redemption through his concern for the infant. Gavin Hood directed the film, which was the first South African film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Lumumba is the story of Patrice Lumumba, who became the first Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo in 1960. His dream of a united Africa conflicted with the Cold War fears of Belgium and the United States. In 1960, those two powers engineered a coup that toppled Lumumba, and he was killed by the new government in January 1961. Lumumba has won several international awards.
Hotel Rwanda is another based-on-a-true-story film about events in Africa. This film deals with Paul Rusesabagina, who sheltered more than a thousand refugees during the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. Hotel Rwanda, which stars Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, and Nick Nolte, received three Academy Award nominations.
AIDS is the scourge of Africa, and Yesterday is a film about the disease’s effects on individuals. It concerns Yesterday, a woman who raises her daughter, largely alone, while her husband works in the mines in Johannesburg. Yesterday is diagnosed with AIDS and sets for herself the goal of accompanying her daughter Beauty to Beauty’s first day in school. Yesterday, which is from the Republic of South Africa, was nominated for the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film.
Check ‘em out of the Neumann Library.  

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