Namibian-Brazilian Film Wins International Festival Award

JOGO de CorpoBody Games, a Namibian-Brazilian joint production, won the Ousmane Sembene Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival 2014.

The film was directed by Richard Pakleppa with co-directors Cobra Mansa and Matthias Assuncao. Production was a collaboration between On Land Productions and Manganga Produccedilotildees.

Jogo de CorpoBody Games tells the story of African combat games, dances and music that have connected Africa and Brazil since the times of slavery to today.

“The story was driven by Mestre Cobra Mansa’s need to understand the ancestry of his art form, Capoeira, as part of a wider concern with his Afro-Brazilian heritage,” a press release about the film’s accomplishment stated.

This search for his roots begins in Rio, as 12-year-old Cobra, a street kid, finds a sense of survival and self-esteem through the ancient martial arts of Capoeira. He narrates his journey into Brazil’s black movement and a discovery of his identity as an Afro-Brazilian.

In Angola, Cobra Mansa follows the traces of a powerful Brazilian myth about Capoeira’s African origins. This myth links Capoeira to a legendary Angolan game called Engolo – the Zebra dance. His search takes him to remote villages in southern Angola where Engolo players teach him “the art of bending with the wind” and tell of Engolo players who enter the game through being possessed by the spirits of their ancestors.

Through an exchange of Capoeira and Engolo in the dusty villages of Angola, Cobra begins to understand the affinities and differences between combat games played on both sides of the Atlantic. Besides Engolo, he finds other African combat games that remind him of 1970s street fighting in Brazil. In southern Angola he also finds musical bows that are strikingly similar to the Brazilian berimbau, an instrument played by Capoeiristas.

At a ceremony held at the Old Fort in Zanzibar on the evening of Saturday 21 June, the film received the prize for “The artistic merits of the film with its unique visual approach and for being an important document for future generations”. This was a joint accolade which was also awarded to “Umunthu” – a film from Malawi about human rights and sexuality.

“We are honoured to be acknowledged this way and to be associated with the name of Ousmane Sembene who is one of the greatest film makers from the African continent”, says Richard Pakleppa. He also acknowledges the groundwork that Ousmane Sembene laid in using film to tell stories even to those in rural areas and using the power of film in telling stories.

“Ousmane Sembene took his films to the villages for screening and believed deeply in the transformative power of cinema and the responsibility film makers have to make thematically relevant work and to share it with the people. We take strength and inspiration from him and this award,” he says.

Jogo de CorpoBody Games will be premiered in Namibia in September this year.

Source : The Namibian