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Mes voisins

My Neighbours
Med Hondo
France 1971

25.02.2020 20:00 Eng. subtitles Akademie der Künste
26.02.2020 12:00 Eng. subtitles Kino Arsenal 1

35 min. Arabic, French.
(screening together with EL GHORBA (LES PASSAGERS))

African migrants in Paris talk about everyday life and racism on the labour and housing markets. The chanson from which the film takes its title sings of misery on people’s own doorstep. Hondo then switches to another mode to continue his analysis of social conditions: never has the post-colonial state of the world been summarised as succinctly as in the closing animated sequence. (ah)

Med Hondo was born in Atar, Mauritania in 1936. At the end of the 1950s, he emigrated to France, founding a theatre group in Paris and turning to film. In the mid-1960s he began shooting his first feature film Soleil Ô which attracted international attention. In his subsequent films, Hondo addressed the history of the African continent and its diaspora. In addition to his work as a director, Hondo also worked as a dubbing artist. He died in Paris in 2019.

The discovery of the Third World at international festivals

The Mauritanian director Med Hondo, whose film SOLEIL Ô scandalously received no recognition in most African countries, showed a new film: MES VOISINS is a short film that is to be turned into a second feature film as soon as the director obtains the needed funds. As in SOLEIL Ô, the director addresses the theme of African emigration to “douce France” (sweet France). He interviews workers in Hassania, the Arabic spoken in Mauritania, about their difficult living conditions, while a gripping chanson by Catherine Le Forestier makes fun of the crocodile tears shed by the defenders of the “little blacks in Biafra”. By following the effects on their life, Med Hondo exhibits his typical acerbity and verve, concluding (preliminarily) by showing an outstanding cartoon denouncing the plunderers of Africa. Nixon and consorts, their local lackeys and secret agents.
Screened at the same time as Annie Tresgot’s LES PASSAGERS, MES VOISINS wonderfully completed the picture that the French director, despite her talent and seriousness, can only suggest. Med Hondo is currently working on a film about apartheid, UN MONDE À CÔTÉ. By combining political inspiration with a modern, efficient style, this director clearly represents the avant-garde of African cinema.

(AfricaAsia, No. 46, 2 Aug. 1971. Press review 1971)

Written and directed by Med Hondo. Cinematography François Catonné. Sound Alain Contraud. Animation Jean Michel Quesne, Marc Chartier. Digital restoration Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst.

Films

1969: Balade aux sources / Ballad to the Springs (25 min.), Partout ou peut-être nulle part / Everywhere, or Maybe Nowhere (30 min.). 1973: Les Bicots-nègres, vos voisins / Arabs and Niggers, Your Neighbours (190 min.). 1977: Nous aurons toute la mort pour dormer (160 min.). 1979: West Indies, ou les nègres marrons de la liberté / West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty (110 min.). 1986: Sarraounia (120 min., Forum 1987). 1994: Lumière noire / Black Light (104 min.). 1998: Watani, un monde sans mal (78 min.). 2004: Fatima, l’Algérienne de Dakar / Fatima, the Algerian Woman of Dakar (89 min.).