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Lecture and screening: Voicing-over silences as cinematographic violence in Gaby Ruan Felix’ „À travers l’Ubangi“: Restoring indigenous cultural heritage beyond the colonial gaze

Key Visual from FilmRestored

Thu 26.10.

In À TRAVERS L'UBANGI, what story does the voiceover tell? What does it silence? This question forces us to change our relation to the sounds and images of this film. The colonial stance of the voice-over invites us to go on a panoramic voyage into the ‘evolved’ version of the Belgian Congo across the equatorial river Ubangi. This version is an account of the ‘success’ of colonial experiments in agriculture, transportation, education and health. An important element of indigenous life of the journey across the river Ubangi is dance. However, what dance represents to the indigenous population is described as ‘unknown’, ‘abstruse’, ‘confusing’ and ‘primitive’. The five dances in À TRAVERS L'UBANGI are rituals of life and death. They represent authentic structures of indigenous worldviews that have been lost, hidden, forgotten or silenced. Restoring this indigenous memory beyond the colonial gaze of this film aims to open viewers’ eyes to the treasures of indigenous life and its crumbling traditions.

À TRAVERS L'UBANGI Gaby Felix Belgien 1949 Original version with English subtitles DCP 15 min.

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media