What Nigeria’s Nollywood Can Learn from Med Hondo’s "West Indies"

  • MUBI
West IndiesOne of the biggest revelations at the 72nd Locarno film festival was a film made 40 years ago. Playing as one of only two African films—the other being Ousmane ‎Sembène’s redoubtable La Noire de…—in a terrific “Black Light” retrospective curated for the festival by American Greg de Cuir Jr.—West Indies (1979), directed by the late Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo has been infamously out of circulation for decades. This despite its landmark status as one of the most important films to ever come out of African cinema.Adapted from a play, Les négriers (The Slavers) by Daniel Boukman and shot in Creole and French, the fate of West Indies was perhaps sealed back in 1979 when it landed on an unsuspecting French public and was received with a shrug. It would take another six years for the film to get an American release. Hondo’s epic, considered as his crowning achievement,
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