Luta ca caba inda / The Struggle is Not Over Yet

CACHEU, 2012

The "Luta ca caba inda" project is concerned with finding the remains of a short phase of militant cinema in Guinea-Bissau in the archive of the National Film Institute (INCA – Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual) and allowing them to be seen again (see also "Animated Archive"). This title “Luta ca caba inda” was taken from an unfinished Guinean film – included in the archival corpus – dating from the end of 1970s.

In November 2012, a screening of the material took place in the context of “Luta ca caba inda” and in collaboration with curator Tobias Hering and director Sana na N’Hada statt. This program sketched out a possible decolonialist cinema in Guinea-Bissau by means of fragments, rough cuts as well as films produced either later or elsewhere. Here too, the visual inventory and imaginative space of the archive in Bissau are supplemented with films from the Arsenal archive and placed in a critical dialogue with them. 
Further screenings and presentations took place at Jeu de Paume (Paris), The Showroom (London) and ZDB (Lisbon).

The Arsenal archive contains a copy of the film ACTO DOS FEITOS DA GUINÉ (Fernando Matos Silva, Portugal 1981), which is a sort of chronicle of the fight for independence in Guinea-Bissau (1963–1974) and contains material from other Guinean films which have now been lost. Numerous films on the colonial history of and political resistance within several countries have been shown as part of the Berlinale Forum or at Arsenal Cinema and thus found their way into Arsenal archive as a result. This fact can be seen as an extraordinary piece of luck in that it allows both a Western and an African archive to be processed in mutually complimentary fashion.

ACTO DOS FEITOS DA GUINÉ, 1981

"Beginning of November. Stefanie Schulte Strathaus asks me to join a Living Archive meeting in order to present the project to the participants. (…) I show them the viewing device from Sollacher and two pictures from the archive room. The curator Tobias Hering – who, following the meeting, invited me to work with him – had the film ACTO DOS FEITOS DA GUINÉ by Fernando Matos Silva on his list of Arsenal films dealing with decolonization processes – the subject of his research. We watch it together on the flatbed editor. The film is new to both of us, and it is the only film dealing with Guinea-Bissau at the Arsenal archive. The statues that I remember seeing in Flora Gomes’ MORTU NEGA (Portugal 1988) and Chris Marker’s SANS SOLEIL (France 1983) (one of which made an appearance in my own film THE EMBASSY, shot in early 2011 in Bissau) appear here once more. Shown as part of the Berlinale Forum in 1981, Matos Silva’s film is a sort of chronicle of the fight for independence in Guinea-Bissau and itself works with archival material. (…)

Fernando Matos Silva at Cinemateca, Lisbon, 2011 © Filipa César

Later, in December. In Lisbon I interview Fernando Matos Silva. At the Cinemateca, in front of the Steenbeck, the light cast by the flickering images of his film illuminates his profile. In the stills taken from this interview, there’s more than one place you might find the centre of the image: In one, mid-sentence, in three-quarter profile, Silva is at a right angle to the frozen actor on screen, a statue standing upright and looking outward. Their gazes would cross, if they could. In another, he reads the text of Arsenal’s brochure – an interview with him from 1980 by Viola Zimmerman. Extending from the edge to the centre, he reads his own words on my screen. At one point in the interview he says, “people asked me how I could tell 500 years of history in 85 minutes of film...”. He points to the padlock on screen, the chains fastening a gate are slaves’ chains, reappropriated.

January 2012. Together with the Angolan film technician Victor Lopes from the Portuguese Cinematheque who has volunteered to join me, I make a trip to Bissau. We notice that the film ACTO DOS FEITOS DA GUINÉ is one of the films making up the corpus in Bissau. It lives between worlds, incorporated into three archives, which form a line – Bissau, Lisbon, Berlin: one disintegrating and smouldering; one archived in the stopover city, which is also the former centre of colonial power over Portuguese Guinea; the last – situated in the city where in 1884–85 colonial powers re-distributed and regulated their shares of Africa at the Berlin Conference – an archive conscious of the need to continuously revisit the elements that make history, and which is poised, enthusiastic about supporting the revivifying of the first. It should be mentioned at this point that numerous films on the colonial history of and political resistance within several countries have been shown as part of the Berlinale Forum or at Arsenal and thus found their way into the Arsenal’s archive as a result. Under the technical direction of Victor and together with four volunteers – Felismina Tavares, Onélio Cardoso, Joaquim Gomes, and Fátima Silva – I work for four weeks cataloguing the archive in Bissau and have regular consultation meetings with Flora Gomes, Sana na N’Hada, and the director of INCA (Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual, the Film and Audiovisual Institute of Guinea-Bissau), Carlos Vaz. (…)

Still from GUINÉ-BISSAU, 6 ANOS DEPOIS, 1980 (unfinished film)

March 2012, Berlin. Following a last-minute invitation from Georg Diez and Christopher Roth to participate in a day of performances entitled “What Happened 2081?” at Kunstwerke and together with friend and actress Joana Barrios, I shoot the film Cacheu as a performative lecture. The piece has grown out of the narrative arc formed by the recurrence of statues as spectral appearances in several different films. Colonial representation and its persistence in the territory, as well as onscreen, seem to enact a power that is still latent in the present. To me the statues seem like deputies of an asynchronous structure left by colonialism, which has morphed into other forms (such as corruption, geo-strategic politics, the drugs trade, international NGOs, or the multi-national trade in mineral resources). They are spectres of the past that become visible – animated – through the medium of film. (…)

In June 2012, Natxo Checa and I pick up the 94 film rolls and bring them to Berlin for digitisation. To read the film, the engineer Reiner Meyer uses a prototype he has developed himself. In the process of digitisation, the same dismantled statues once more appear in the footage meant for the unfinished Guinean film GUINÉ-BISSAU, 6 ANOS DEPOIS…
Berlin, 22. März 2013"
(Filipa César, Living Archive catalogue)

CACHEU was presented as part of the Living Archive exhibition (June 2013) at KW Institute for Contemporary Art. An additional “Luta ca caba inda” program was shown at the Arsenal cinema.

Thanks to Enoka Ayemba, Edwige Baron, Ute Baron, Joana Barrios, Suleimane Biai, Matthias Biber, Tobias von dem Borne, João Botelho, Franziska Brode-Keil, Anna Canby Monk, Dulce Maria Cardoso, Isabel Carlos, Natxo Checa, Antje Ehmann, Rita Fabiana, Harun Farocki, Gorka Gamarra, Marta Gili, Flora Gomes, Cristina Guerra, Doris Hegner, Tobias Hering, Tanja Horstmann, Grada Kilomba, Marta Leite, Mónica Lima, Nuno da Luz, Colin MacCabe, Chris Marker, Lúcia Marques, Diana McCarty, Doreen Mende, Philip Metz, Reiner Meyer, Avi Mograbi, Eglantina Monteiro, Sara Moreira, Lætitia Moukouri, Christian Ndombi, Sana Na N’Hada, Silvia Nissen-Hülse, Filipa Oliveira, Júlio Pereira, Emily Pethick, Stefan Pethke, Alexandra Pinho, António Pinto Ribeiro, Marta Ponsa, Christopher Roth, Markus Ruff, David Rych, Manuela Sambo, Silvia Scharf, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Catarina Simão, Valerie Smith, Inês Teixeira, Mark Waschke and Florian Zeyfang

Biography of Filipa César

Additional credit: Footage from GUINE-BISSAU, 6 ANOS DEPOIS, 1980 (unfinished film) © INCA Guinea-Bissau, José Cobumba, Josefina Crato, Flora Gomes, Sana na N’Hada