Tell No Lies: Decolonizing Cinema in Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique

March 2–April 24, 2024

Tell No Lies explores the birth of African cinema through a selection of diverse films on the liberation struggles of the former Portuguese colonies of Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique, as well as contemporary films that continue to consider the legacy of colonialism.

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  • Spell Reel

  • Sambizanga

  • Quantum Creole

  • 48

  • Kuxa Kanema: The Birth of Cinema

  • Vitalina Varela

  • Upcoming
  • Past
  • Past

Past Films

  • Walking Archives: Thoughts on Mangroves, Schools, Round Houses, and Weaving

    • Wednesday, April 24 7 PM

    Three of Filipa César’s collaborative projects draw on memories and oral tradition: a militant school is re-created, Creole weaving is used to explore computer programming and globalization, and traditional round houses are compared to contemporary square ones.

    Filipa César in Person

  • Spell Reel

    • Tuesday, April 23 7 PM
    Filipa César
    Germany, Guinea-Bissau, 2017

    After decaying archival film materials from Guinea-Bissau’s war of independence were digitized, a mobile cinema screened them in the places where the original footage was shot. The resulting film is “a tribute, a documentary, and an excavation” (New York Times).

    Filipa César in Person

  • Resonance Spiral

    • Sunday, April 21 5 PM
    Filipa César, Marinho de Pina
    Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, Germany, 2023

    Moments from a collectively built new community space in Malafo, “a laboratory for archival practice, community gatherings, and communion with the ancestors’ knowledge, nature, and new technology” (Arsenal—Institute for Film and Video). With Mined Soil, on Amílcar Cabral.

    Filipa César in Person

  • Mueda, Memory and Massacre

    • Wednesday, April 17 7 PM
    Ruy Guerra
    Mozambique, 1979

    New Digital Restoration
    Screen Slate Pick!

    Three films reveal the history of the Mozambique liberation struggle through different cinematic forms. Ruy Guerra documents a reenactment of the massacre that triggered the Mozambique War of Independence, a protest song and dance recalls the migration to work in mines in apartheid South Africa, and a recent fictional reconstruction examines rural land dispossession.

  • Vitalina Varela

    • Sunday, April 14 4 PM
    Pedro Costa
    Portugal, 2019

    Vitalina Varela travels to Lisbon from Cape Verde, only to discover that her husband has died, in Pedro Costa’s emotionally and visually compelling work, winner of the Golden Leopard at Locarno. For Costa, dramatizing Varela’s true story gave him “the chance to approach the Cape Verdean immigration from the woman’s point of view.”

  • Sambizanga

    • Sunday, April 7 4 PM
    Sarah Maldoror
    Angola, 1972

    One of the first feature films made by a woman in Africa is an urgent call for political change. It is a fictionalized chronicle of the events leading up to a 1961 prison rebellion in Angola. With Foreword to Guns for Banta (Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc), an excavation of a lost film by Sarah Maldoror.

  • From Colonial Statues to Carnival Masks: Amílcar Cabral and the Liberation of Guinea-Bissau

    • Thursday, April 4 7:30 PM

    Four films, all concerned with Guinea-Bissau’s and Cape Verde’s struggles for independence, from different time frames and perspectives, include an analysis of four colonial statues and a celebration of carnival mask making.

    Introduced by Pheng Cheah

  • Kuxa Kanema: The Birth of Cinema

    • Thursday, March 21 7 PM
    Margarida Cardoso
    Mozambique, Portugal, 2003

    Three films reveal the power of an image and the importance of archives through their explorations of the role of newsreels and film documentation in the struggles of Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau against Portuguese colonization.

  • 48

    • Saturday, March 2 4 PM
    Susana de Sousa Dias
    Portugal, 2009

    Susana de Sousa Dias’s hypnotic film is composed of photographs taken upon the arrest of political prisoners during the forty-eight years of the Portuguese dictatorial regime. With A Story from Africa (Billy Woodberry) and Soldier Playing with Dead Lizard (Daniel Barroca), which also examine historic photographs.