For the 46th session of our series we are excited to host Dr. Barbara Gronau and Dr. Maja Figge who will screen Sambizanga from Sarah Maldoror.

The happy family life of Maria and Domingos (Elisa Andrade and Domingos Oliviera), a young black African couple in Portuguese-occupied Angola, is shattered when repressive colonial authorities hustle Domingos into jail, leaving Maria to tirelessly search for him across Luanda. Set shortly before the 1961 uprising and made with a cast of veteran anti-colonial activists, Maldoror’s deft, bracing film distills decades of incomprehensible suffering into one human-sized story.

Barbara and Maja explain their choice as follows:

Sarah Maldoror made her film, beautifully shot in 35mm, to raise consciousness about and solidarity with the forgotten wars of independence in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau for European and US audiences. Instead of focusing on the war she presents the momentum that ignites the uprising in 1961 and even more – this motivates our choice – the film shows “Le temps que l'on met a marcher” (Sarah Maldoror) from a female perspective.

Barbara Gronau, PhD, is professor for theatre studies at Berlin University of the Arts and spokesperson of the research training group “Das Wissen der Künste” (Knowledge in the Arts). In 2010, Gronau obtained the Joseph Beuys Award for Research for her Ph.D. thesis on installation-art as interference of theatre and visual arts: Theaterinstallationen. Performative Räume bei Beuys, Boltanski und Kabakov (München: Fink, 2010). Since 2008 she developed considerations on negational aspects of the performative, such as passivity, silence, destruction, desubjectivation, which has been reflected in numerous writings and research projects. Publications include: Performanzen des Nichttuns (Wien: Passagen, 2008), Ökonomien der Zurückhaltung. Kulturelles Handeln zwischen Askese und Restriktion (Bielefeld: transcript, 2010), How to Frame. On the Threshold of Performance and Visual Arts (Sternberg, Berlin/New York: 2016).

Maja Figge, PhD, is a guest professor for media theories at the University for Art and Design Linz. Her research interests include gender, race and media, critical whiteness studies, postcolonial theory, film, history and memory, political feelings, German and transnational cinema. She is co-curator of the exhibition MOV!NG ON. Border activism – Strategies for anti-racist actions (Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin 2005). Currently, she works on a study on the entanglements of cinematic modernisms looking at transnational film relations between Western Europe and India (1947-1975).

Sambizanga is shown courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. We thank the DFG-Graduiertenkolleg "Das Wissen der Künste" at the Universität der Künste for their support of this of this event, and Arsenal Institut for Film and Video Art for their support with the projector and projection. Much thanks also to Juana Awad, Anselm Heller, Elena Rossi-Snook, Markus Ruff, and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus. And our warm gratitude to Sarah Maldoror and Annouchka De Andrade for granting us the permission to show this film.