Mauritanian director Med Hondo created this experimental masterpiece in 1969, about a man newly arrived in France. The film details the systematic inequality in labour, housing, and French society overall, but is avant-garde, fast-moving, and at times surreal
In West Africa, black men line up before a white priest for baptism and renaming. In France, colonial blacks, encouraged by propaganda, arrive to seek a better life. What they find is very far from the welcome they were promised. Rather, they face unemployment, blatant racism, bureaucratic indifference, rejection and humiliation. A scathing attack on colonialism, the film is also an exposé of racism and a brutal indictment of Western capitalist values, shockingly just as relevant today as it was in the 1960s.
The film first screened at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, and screened again at Cannes in 2017, celebrating its restoration by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation. Soleil O is important for its anti-colonial urgency, and is celebrated as central to the history of African film. This is one of the first chances to view it in the UK.
Followed by a panel discussion.
Curated by Dr Jacqueline Maingard, Reader in Film, University of Bristol
Part of Africa's Lost Classics. With thanks to Glasgow University and AHRC.