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(Re)imagining African Independence

Film, Visual Arts and the Fall of the Portuguese Empire


Edited By Maria do Carmo Piçarra and Teresa Castro

The fortieth anniversary of the independence of the African countries colonized by Portugal presents a valuable opportunity to reassess how colonialism has been «imagined» through the medium of the moving image. The essays collected in this volume investigate Portuguese colonialism and its filmic and audio-visual imaginaries both during and after the Estado Novo regime, examining political propaganda films shot during the liberation wars and exploring the questions and debates these generate. The book also highlights common aspects in the emergence of a national cinema in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. By reanimating (and decolonizing) the archive, it represents an important contribution to Portuguese colonial history, as well as to the history of cinema and the visual arts.


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Part I The Birth [through Images] of African Nations


Maria do Carmo Piçarra 1 Ruy Duarte: A Cinema of the Word Aspiring to Imagine Angolanness With the series of films Angola 76, é a Vez da Voz do Povo [Angola 76, Is It the Turn of the People’s Voice?] and Presente Angolano, Tempo Mumuíla [Contemporary Angola, Time of the Mumuhuila], Ruy Duarte took part in what he called a ‘cinema of urgency’ which, after the beginning of Angola’s independence process, registered ways of life and traditions, as well as the quest to build the country.1 Duarte’s ‘cinema of urgency’ is a cinema of the word, of bearing witness, a cinema that goes beyond colonial films made, which merely records bodies and objects. But is what he makes, he queried at a given point, ethnographic cinema? This chapter seeks to analyse Ruy Duarte’s work as a filmmaker keeping in mind the confrontation between Jean Rouch and Ousmane Sembène, in 1966, regarding cinema and anthropology. The chapter will further dis- cuss Duarte’s filmography in its search to find a line of balance between two dynamics – the time of the Mumuhuila ethnic group and that of the Angolan nation present – within the framework of Angolan cinema as envisioned by Luandino Vieira (b. 1935). Finally, it aims to understand what place is occupied by Nelisita in constructing a ‘delicate zone of com- promise’ – as a utopian space – ‘between those who supply the means [the new Angolan State], those who handle them [Ruy Duarte and the crew that backs him up from...

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