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(Re)imagining African Independence

Film, Visual Arts and the Fall of the Portuguese Empire

Series:

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 II The Fall of the Portuguese Empire:Foreign Gazes during the Cold War

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Part II The Fall of the Portuguese Empire: Foreign Gazes during the Cold War Afonso Ramos 5 ‘Rarely penetrated by camera or film’: NBC’s Angola: Journey to a War (1961) Angola has become for much of the world, as Berlin is for Europe, the centre of the great battle between freedom and oppression […] For these reasons Angola in the eyes of much of the world is the test case of America’s commitment to freedom. — G. Mennen Williams to John F. Kennedy (1961)1 At 9pm, on 19 September 1961, millions of spectators across the US tuned to the leading network in television news, NBC, for the awaited premiere of Angola: Journey to a War, an hour-long film by Robert Young and Robert McCormick. This was the first documentary made about the Portuguese Colonial War/Angolan War of Liberation (1961–1974), and the last time this channel covered an independence struggle in Africa. The momentous event speaks volumes to both the short-lived heyday of the television docu- mentary genre and to the visual status of what became the most protracted conflict in the continent. Though largely overlooked by critical scholarship (partly since it was censored in the lands it covered), one cannot overstate the unique significance of this film. It single-handedly achieved, in the first year, what proved impossible over the following forty years of con- flict that beset Angola: to put it on TV screens worldwide, during prime time viewing hours, for mainstream audiences. In addition, the film also circulated internationally...

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