Rostov - Luanda
1997, Colour, 76 min
9 Jul 2010 - 22:00
Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako (b. 1961) records his journey across war-torn Angola to find an old friend but really to recapture his own hopes for Africa.
He explains that Angolan independence in 1974 represented to him a new beginning for Africa. Like so many young Africans, he went to the Soviet Union in the 1980s for political and technical training and met an Angolan, Baribanga, whose confidence in his country's future embodied Sissako's own hopes for the continent. But the intervening years of civil war between Angolan factions each backed by a superpower and all the other catastrophes plaguing Africa have devastated the optimism of Sissako's generation. Rostov Luanda is thus a significant response to the disillusionment found in many recent African films, including Afrique, je te plumerai, Udju Azul di Yonta and Tableau Ferraille. Rostov Luanda is also a film built around an absence. The elusiveness of its ostensible subject in a familiar postmodern trope turns attention back on the filmmaker and his response – or lack of response – to his immediate surroundings, to the unpremeditated… Thus in Rostov Luanda the "subject" continually drifts from the search for Baribanga to Sissoko's encounter with the reality of Angola in the nineties.
Rostov Luanda is a travel film and was premièred at Documenta X in Kassel, in 1997.