A riveting neorealist testimony to Angola’s anti-colonialist struggle, not screened there until after independence, this is an unforgettable revolutionary film.
Mario de Andrade, Sarah Maldoror
Elisa Andrade, Domingos de Oliveira, Jean M’Vondo
Angola-France 1972. 102min
Cineteca di Bologna
With English subtitles
Set in the weeks leading up to the guerrilla war for independence, Sambizanga focuses on the plight of a young couple. Domingos (Domingos de Oliveira), a member of the liberation movement, is arrested, interrogated, brutally beaten and sent to the dreaded Luanda prison by Portuguese authorities. Not knowing of her husband’s fate, Maria (Elisa Andrade) and her child relentlessly search for him, from village to village and navigating a web of colonial bureaucracy. Sarah Maldoror’s early theatre work led her to study film with Ousmane Sembène and Sambizanga, based on a book by Portuguese-Angolan author and activist José Luandino Vieira, is a passionate dramatisation of a pivotal moment in Angola’s fight for freedom.
Contains scenes viewers may find distressing.
Restored in 4K in 2021 at L’Image Retrouvée (Paris) from the 35mm original negatives. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Image Retrouvée in association with Éditions René Chateau and the family of Sarah Maldoror. Funding provided by Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – to help locate, restore, and disseminate African cinema.
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