Screening of White Material at the Bioscope / Johannesburg

White MaterialYou don't know where you are. You don't know when it is. You just know that war is approaching and you'd better leave soon. But it won't happen like that... White Material is a thrilling movie by French director Claire Denis. A tale of stubbornness, fear and rage in time of war, it is also a confounding work where the limits of good and evil, courage and cowardice and ultimately black and white are blurred.

Post-colonial stereotypes ?

At first sight, White Material – trailer here – is full of clichés. Again, war is storming somewhere in Africa. Again, the usual combination of unscrupulous warlords, child soldiers and mischievous politicians trap a whole country in dread. Again, a threatened white family must leave everything or die. But this is only illusion. Swallowed up by the violence surrounding them, the film's characters will quickly not behave according to wealth, education or skin color anymore . As the movie polarizes into humanity and savagery, they are depicted in raw light of their personal choices. From this point, expect nothing but the unexpected.

Two powerful women

Marie N'diayeIt is no coincidence that Claire Denis – see biography here – chose to make a movie set in this highly sensitive environment. Probably the most Africa oriented among contemporary French directors, she has often used her work to evoke difficult topics such as the fall of colonialism (her debut film Chocolat) or the fate of an African immigrant in France (S'en fout la mort). In what will remain one of last year's most exciting collaborations, she has drafted White Material's script with Marie N'Diaye – see picture, biography here – an audacious French writer who, too, has complex ties with the dark continent. The result is this outstanding movie, both inspiring and repelling by the strength of what it dares to show.

Hadrien Diez

Monday 16 May at 7:30pm
Thursday 19 May at 6:30pm
Monday 23 May at 7:30pm
Tuesday 24 May at 8:30pm
Monday 30 May at 6:30pm

Read the synopsis on the Bioscope website

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