African 20th century liberation movements, film review


This video says about itself:

Concerning Violence – Official Trailer

A film by Goran Hugo Olsson, 2014, Sweden/U.S.A./Denmark/Finland.

By John Green in Britain:

Friday 28th November 2014

Gordon Hugo Olsson’s film on the anti-imperialist liberation movements globally in the ’60s and ’70s fails to connect with contemporary concerns, says JOHN GREEN

Concerning Violence (15)

Directed by Goran Hugo Olsson

3/5

DURING the cold war, radical Swedish filmmakers set out to capture footage from the anti-imperialist liberation movements in Africa first hand.

With their 16mm footage he discovered in the Swedish Television archives, Goran Hugo Olsson draws on his experience in Concerning Violence to create a visual narrative of the continent.

He bases his documentary on the ideas of Frantz Fanon and his explosive book about colonialism The Wretched of the Earth, written over 50 years ago.

While Fanon’s ideas at the time were iconoclastic and became immensely influential among liberation movements worldwide, this film — despite the best of intentions — hardly does them justice.

It begins ominously with a long and monotonously spoken introduction by academic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak from Columbia University, who reads from a script.

If you haven’t already nodded off, a series of clips follows using unique archival footage from the archives. They include a night-time raid with the MPLA in Angola, interviews with Frelimo guerilla fighters in Mozambique, as well as with Thomas Sankara, Amilcar Cabral and other African revolutionaries.

These are contrasted with self-revealing interviews with dyed–in-the-wool colonialists including General Spinola, former Portuguese colonial warrior and later short-term president of Portugal.

While we well know that colonial attitudes and the horrific exploitation of Africa still continue today and that imperial countries are still waging brutal wars against struggling nations, the assembled footage feels ancient and no longer really relevant to the present.

Between clips of those anti-colonial struggles we are presented with large text bullet points or slogans taken from Fanon’s book, also read out like a Power Point presentation for dummies.

The filmmakers argue that Fanon’s work is still a major tool for understanding and illuminating the neo-colonialism happening now as well as the violence and reactions against it, but that claim is very open to question.

While it is salutary to be reminded of those anti-colonial struggles during the late 1960s and ’70s — and the sacrifices involved that gave the world so much hope and inspiration — it is also sobering to realise what became of them, demonstrating that a struggle is never finished. That’s something I’m sure Fanon would have agreed with.

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