Sarraounia, an African Queen
An audacious widescreen epic detailing Sarrounia’s fight against French colonial forces.
Burkino Faso-Mauritania-France 1986
Dir Med Hondo
With Aï Keïta, Jean-Roger Milo, Féodor Atkine
‘I wanted to illustrate authentic historical facts to show that the African continent was not easily colonised and had a history of resistance to colonialism. There were a number of African women involved in the fight against colonialism. Queen Sarraounia in Niger, Jinga in Angola, Ranavalona in Madagascar, Beatrice of the Congo, to name a few. We never speak of the role of African women in history, but they headed kingdoms and had an important status in matriarchal societies.’ Med Hondo, 1997 interview with Francoise Pfaff. Shot in glorious widescreen with a vivid colour palette and featuring large-scale, exquisitely staged battle scenes, this adaptation of Abdoulaye Mamani’s eponymous novel is set in 1898 and details defiant Queen Sarraounia’s resistance to invading French colonial forces. So disrupted was the film’s initial distribution in France – allegedly a result of political interference – that figures such as Bertrand Tavernier, Constantin Costa-Gavras, Ousmane Sembène and Souleymane Cissé petitioned a protest.
The screening on Sat 7 Dec will feature an introduction and Q&A with special guests.
Part of our Med Hondo season.