Tales of Ordinary People

California Newsreel
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2 videos in this playlist

Le Franc
In the first film, LE FRANC, Mambety uses the French government's 50% devaluation of the West African Franc (CFA) in 1994, and the resulting hardships as the basis for a…
La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl who Sold the Sun) 
In LA PETITE VENDEUSE DE SOLEIL (The Little Girl who Sold the Sun), Mambety brings us the feisty Sili Lam, a twelve year old paraplegic who becomes the first girl…

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Hyenas
Twenty years after his astonishing first film, Touki Bouki, Djibril Diop Mambety brings us a second feature, HYENAS, as provocative as his first. He adapts a timeless parable of human greed into a biting satire of today's Africa - betraying the hopes of independence for the false promises of Western…
Tableau Ferraille
The story of an idealistic young politician's rise and fall in a small town, TABLEAU FERRAILLE ("scrap heap") paints a picture of a corrupt post-colonial elite. TABLEAU FERRAILLE offers an intimate view of how modernization, at least as practiced in today's Africa, corrodes traditional communities and retards grassroots development. Like…
Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun
Zora Neale Hurston, path-breaking novelist, pioneering anthropologist and one of the first black women to enter the American literary canon (Their Eyes Were Watching God), established the African American vernacular as one of the most vital, inventive voices in American literature. This definitive film biography, eighteen years in the making,…
Zan Boko (Homeland)
This story of a village family caught up in the transformation of an agrarian, subsistence economy into an industrialized commodity economy. Gaston Kabore's film ZAN BOKO explores the conflict between tradition and modernity, a central theme in many contemporary African films, such as Keita and Ta Dona. It tells the…
Black Gold - A Look at Coffee Production Around the World
Part of the Series: Globalization
This film traces the tangled trail from the two billion cups of coffee consumed each day back to the coffee farmers who produce the beans. In particular, It follows Tadesse Meskela as he tries to get a living wage for the 70,000 Ethiopian coffee farmers he represents. In the process…
A Son of Africa - The Autobiography of a Slave
"The Interesting Narration of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African" was the first influential slave autobiography. It caused a sensation when published in 1789, fueling a growing anti-slavery movement in the U.S. and England. This BBC production employs dramatic reconstruction, archival material and interviews with scholars…
Black Theater - The Making of a Movement
This film documents the birth of a new theater out of the Civil Rights activism of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. It is a veritable video encyclopedia of the leading figures, institutions and events of a movement that transformed the American stage. Amiri Baraka, Ossie Davis, James Earl Jones and…
Mortu Nega (Those Whom Death Refused)
A fictional account of the closing months of the war against the Portuguese and the consolidation of the independent West African nation of Guinea-Bissau both reflecting and critiquing the revolutionary process. Mortu Nega, as its title implies, is a unique kind of elegy -- not so much to the victims…
Race - The Power of an Illusion
The division of the world's peoples into distinct groups - "red," "black," "white" or "yellow" peoples - has became so deeply imbedded in our psyches, so widely accepted, many would promptly dismiss as crazy any suggestion of its falsity. Yet, that's exactly what this provocative, three-hour series by California Newsreel…
Sabriya
Part of the Series: Africa Dreaming
This film explores the impact of the modern world on the traditional male society of the Maghreb. It is a film about men who prefer to live life as an abstract game and the free-spirited woman who changes everything. Said and Youssef have fulfilled a life-long dream by opening a…
A Dance for the Heroes - Finzan
A film which raises one of the most important issues of African rural life, the status of women, in a style accessible to every villager. FINZAN tells the story of two women's rebellion. Nanyuma, a young widow defies her brother-in-law, the village fool, when he asserts his traditional right to…
Sango Malo (the Village Teacher)
A story about a village teacher who introduces education for local self-development explores the relationships between progressive activists, entrenched social interests, traditional belief system and rural Africans. SANGO MALO offers American viewers an intimate and engaging portrait of the complex social dynamic underlying economic and political change in a typical…