From the Chicago Reader (March 9, 2007). — J.R.
DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY ABDERRAHMANE SISSAKO | WITH AISSA MAIGA, TIECOURA TRAORE, HELENE DIARRA, ROLAND RAPPAPORT, AMINATA DRAMANE TRAORE, DANNY GLOVER, AND ELIA SULEIMAN
Before the main title of Abderrahmane Sissako’s startling new feature appears, an elderly farmer arrives at a hearing that’s being held in a shared backyard in a poor section of Bamako, the capital of Mali. He’s there to testify, but when he steps up to the microphone he’s told politely to remove his hat and wait his turn.
What’s on trial in this backyard court is globalization, particularly the high-interest loans of such organizations as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and the pressure they put on governments to cut costs by privatizing or ending social services and firing workers. Unlike the seemingly random everyday details that surround the mock trial — small talk, the performances of a pop singer in a club, the illness of the singer’s daughter, a wedding, clothes being dyed or hung out to dry — this public reckoning is obviously staged. A year before he began filming, Sissako hired the judge, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, real lawyers who wrote their own dialogue, mainly in French (we’re often reminded that Mali is a former colony of France).… Read more »