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"Le cercle des noyés" (The circle of the drowned men) is the term for a group of political prisoners arrested in Mauritania in 1986 because of their fight for equal rights for blacks, and who, cut off from the outside world, were incarcerated in a fortress in the desert for years. There they had to endure inhumane conditions, humiliation, forced labor, and torture.

Le Cercle des noyés is a political documentary that is reflective both aesthetically and politically in equal parts, without causing one to suffer at the expense of the other. A text, read calmly and with great dignity, consisting of the testimonies and memories of the prisoners, never rehabilitated, is juxtaposed with stunningly impressive black-and-white images from 2006 – "scenes of the crime" that bear no traces of the past, just as if nothing had ever happened. The film is not so much an analysis of the historical and sociopolitical background in Mauritania as it is about the paradigms of political tyranny, misuse of power, injustice, and torture. As such, it can be understood not only as a gesture against forgetting, but also as a parable that can extend as far as Guantánamo.

Birgit Kohler

Production: Cobra Films, Brussels; Zeugma Films, Paris; Images Plus, Epinal; Gsara, Brussels; CBA, Brussels; Les Ateliers du Laziri, Namur

Screenplay: Bâ Fara, Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd

Cinematographer: Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd

Sound: Alain Cabaux, Bâ Oumar

Editor: Philippe Boucq

Narrator: Bâ Fara

Format: HDCam, b/w

Running time: 75 minutes

Languages: Fula, French

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur