more radical than exhortation and admonition

To assemble this report, director Daniel Bogado traveled around the CAR digging up facts and opinions about the witchcraft situation. Actually, there turns out to be a single opinion that virtually everyone shares: witches are real, dangerous, and ubiquitous. Physicians, lawyers, judges, and nuns believe this as firmly as pendants villagers; the lone exception Bogado finds is a nonbelieving district attorney who handles witchcraft trials by arguing against the charges he's supposed to be prosecuting. Adding to the nightmare, accused witches are invariably the powerless women, children, and old men of a community-as the prosecutor says, nobody ever charges a politician or army officer with casting spells or eating a neighbor's heart. Produced by Insight News TV, an independent company based in London, this tiffany pendants for sale movie casts a troubling light on political and cultural dysfunction in a nation so poor that last year a United Nations report ranked it fourth from the bottom on the human-development scale. The privileged West should be paying much, much more attention to such things.


Deciding to calm my nerves by watching a more upbeat view of Africa, I turned to Sascha Paladino's music-filled Tiffany Pendants Down Your Heart (2008), a Cinema Guild release. It has no explicit politics to convey, but its implied politics are quite persuasive. Paladino and his crew accompanied banjo star Béla Fleck on a trip to Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Mali, chronicling Fleck's campaign to reconnect the banjo, originally an African instrument, with the varieties of music that originally produced it. The film consists mainly of music, performed by Fleck and a changing array of African players in outdoor settings before casual, tunedin listeners. The cinematographer, Kirsten Johnson, captures everything vividly, expressively, and without a hint of ostentation. The implied politics of the film come across most clearly when one of the African musicians says to the camera, "There is this negative thinking about Africa.... 'They are beggars, there is HIV-AIDS, they are at war all the time.' But that is just a very small bit of what Africa is." Paladino's movie proves this proposition.


I was less persuaded by Paula Heredia's hour-long Africa Rising (2009). Released on DVD by Women Make cheap tiffany pendants, it zeroes in on female genital mutilation, a problem vastly more widespread than the CAR's witchcraft mania. The film travels with activists to villages in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, and Tanzania, where they urge "circumcisers" to throw away their knives, police forces to enforce anti-FGM laws, and communities to spread information about the practice's cruelty and hazardousness. Everyone in the movie means well, but we learn nothing about whether their efforts have lasting effects or succumb to the mandates of tradition after the educators leave town; the World Health Organization reports that three million girls are still at risk of FGM each year, and the latest trend is for medically trained professionals to carry it out, reducing the immediate danger but not the permanent damage. Regrettably, Africa Rising works harder at cheerleading for the activists than tiffany pendants sale root causes and suggesting solutions more radical than exhortation and admonition. Viewing it was a reminder that the PBS-ization of documentary cinema extends to nontheatrical as well as mainstream film.

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