A series of screenings presented in collaboration with Louverture Films that seeks to generate discussions about cinema as a strategy of complexity and plurality and as a resistance to constructed realities



A film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako about a tribunal between ordinary Africans and representatives of international financial institutions

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Politics / Economics
  • Social Justice

Opens to public





Lightbox Film Center
3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

On the web


Slought and the SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce a special screening of Bamako (2006), a narrative film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, on Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 7-9pm at Lightbox Film Center. This event is free and open to the public, however registration is requested. Please plan to arrive early as registering does not guarantee you a seat. Seating is first come, first served.

Bamako centers around a tribunal between ordinary Africans and the representatives of the international financial institutions that supposedly exist to eradicate poverty. It is a courtroom drama set in the traditional courtyard of an African home. It revolves around an unlikely cast of characters: the plaintiffs are the people of Africa; the defendants, charged with worsening the economic plight of the continent, are the World Bank and the IMF. To staff the tribunal in Bamako, Sissako sought out real judges and lawyers, whom he armed with extensive research material. He also assembled a cross section of witnesses, from childhood friends to a former minister of culture, all appearing as themselves. Once the cameras were rolling, he allowed the improvised arguments to unfold without interruption.

Witness after witness lands blow after blow against the economic policies of the international financial bodies, contending that they have contributed to the impoverishment of Africa and cuts in health care and education. Even as the film equates globalized capitalism and neocolonialism, Bamako also emphasizes the drift of daily life. In the very space where the court is in session, residents come and go, women dye fabric, a wedding party passes by. It is a film about the power of the spoken word, giving voice to those normally denied that privilege. "The idea of the trial," Sissako says, "was born together with the idea of showing life adjacent to it."

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Abderrahmane Sissako's work is suffused with humanism and social consciousness and explores the complex relations between North and South as well as the fate of a much-beleaguered Africa. He crosses cultures and continents: born in Mauritania in 1961 and brought up in Mali, he went to Soviet Union to attend the VGIK film school in Moscow.

His film Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness) was selected at Un Certain Regard in 2002. He returned to Cannes in 2006 with Bamako, presented Out of Competition. In 2014, his latest film Timbuktu became Mauritania's first entry to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards (2015), and won seven César awards in France, including Best Director and Best Film.


Reservations Requested

This event is presented in collaboration with Louverture Films and produced by Slought. It is presented in partnership with Lightbox Film Center, the School of Social Policy & Practice, the Center for Africana Studies, and Cinema & Media Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.