Mambety's previous film, Hyenas, was picked up by an American distributor -- who went belly up before the film could be released. That's still a success story compared to most African films -- even those by major filmmakers such as Sembne and Ouedraogo -- which would never surface here if not for the film festival, the PFA and the Red Vic. Commerce, not racism, is the culprit: Foreign-language films have a tougher time than ever elbowing into arthouses overrun by English-language imports, from overrated Anglophile fare like A Man of No Importance to the manipulative pyrotechnics of New Zealand's Once Were Warriors. Chinese films are the lone exception, still riding the coattails of Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine and aglow with the lush production values that pass for cinema art these days. Trust me, as soon as the first African film breaks through at the box office (fueled by a killer soundtrack of infectious African songs), a wave of films from the continent will follow.
A Woman's Tale
Perhaps your anger about Hollywood's opposition to women in the director's chair has been alleviated by chart-toppers Tamra Davis (Billy Madison) and Betty Thomas (The Brady Bunch Movie). More likely, you agree with local director Erica Jordan that "in America you have freedom but not a sense of belonging." Walls of Sand, Jordan's languid, hypnotic debut feature about the tenuous friendship between an Iranian immigrant and an agoraphobic single mother, has its world premiere Sat, March 18, 2 pm, at the Bay Area Women's Film Festival.
By Michael Fox