Mortu Nega

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Mortu Nega
Directed by Flora Gomes
Produced by Instituto Nacional de Cinema da Guiné-Bissau
Screenplay by Manuel Rambout Barcelos Flora Gomes David Lang
Starring Bia Gomez Tunu Eugenio Almada Mamadu Uri Balde
Music by Djanun Dabo Sidonio Pais Cuaresma
Cinematography Dominique Gentil
Edited by Christiane Lack
Release dates 1987
Running time 85'
Country Guinea-Bissau
Language Crioulo

Mortu Nega (English: Death Denied or Those Whom Death Refused) is a 1988 historic film by Flora Gomes, a director from Guinea-Bissau. Mortu Nega was Gomes' first feature-length film. This is the first docufiction, more precisely the first ethnofiction, from his country that shows, in an expressive and touching way, the experiences of the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence. This film blends contemporary history with mythology, in this case African mythology. Mortu Nega was the first film produced in independent Guinea-Bissau. Its world premiere was at the Venice Film Festival on August 29, 1988.

Synopsis[edit]

1973: Diminga accompanies a group of camouflaged soldiers who travel down a path, in the middle of the shrubland, carrying supplies to a war front near Conakry, where Diminga’s husband Sako is fighting. The country is ruined and there is death everywhere, but hope is what keeps life worth living. In the encampment where she meets Sako, Diminga does not have much time to enjoy his company. The rebels are gaining ground and they are certain that they will command victory.

1974-77: The end of the war, but not truly an end. There is a great drought across the country and life continues to be difficult. It is true that where Diminga lives, in between the crying, there are great celebrations for the end of the war. But the drought continues, Diminga has a sick husband and other fighting (mostly over rations) starts.

The film, in the words of its director, is an African parable. The colonies won their independence and eliminated Portuguese colonialism. A question that arises is about Africa’s future. As Flora Gomes suggests, Africa cannot be itself without its beliefs, its myths, its philosophy, and its culture.

Interpretation[edit]

The year the film premiered, 1988 "not only marks the 25th anniversary of the independence of Guinea-Bissau and the assassination of its leader Amílcar Cabral, it is also the year in which the country was practically annihilated by a brutal civil war” (Teresa Ribeiro, a journalist for Voice of America). The film is an “elegy, not for the victims of the war of liberation, but for its survivors."

Mortu Nega has become a cult film seen as having “no ideologies or morals. It is a love story: nervous, carnal, sensitive” (René Marx, Pariscope, March 14, 1990).

Cast[edit]

  • Diminga - Bia Gomes
  • Sako - Tunu Eugenio Almada
  • Sanabaio - Mamadu Uri Balde
  • Lebeth - M'Make Nhasse
  • Estin - Sinho Pedro DaSilva
  • Mandembo - Homma Nalete
  • Onkono - Caio Leucadio Almeida
  • Irene Lopes - Brinsam
  • Nurse - Abi Cassama
  • Doctor - Ernesto Moreira
  • Head of Sector - Flora Gomes

Technical information[edit]

  • Script - Flora Gomes, Manuel Rambault Barcellos, and David Lang
  • Direction - Flora Gomes
  • Production - National Film Institute of Guinea-Bissau
  • Producers - Cecília Fonseca, Odette Rosa, Nina Neves Aimée and Jacques Zajdermann
  • Photography - Dominique Gentil
  • Editing - Christiane Lack
  • Format - 35 mm film
  • Genre - historical docufiction, ethnofiction
  • Duration - 92 minutes
  • Distribution - California Newsreel

Festivals and Shows[edit]

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