Cameroon’s enfant terrible filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo is back with another work that I suspect will be much talked about.
His last film, “Le President” (“The President”), which premiered during FESPACO 2013 (not in Official Selection, but at the Goethe Institut of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), was effectively banned in the filmmaker’country due to content that’s critical of the government.
In short, Cameroonian authorities didn’t approve of the film’s seemingly daring plot, which sees the film’s fictional president disappear a few days before elections (although it’s clearly meant to be more than a jab at the country’s real-life president, Paul Biya, who has been in power for more than 30 years).
In the film, a mockumentary, Bekolo essentially challenges the status quo, asking critical questions of government, highlighting stories of succession, independence and transformation, to make his point. And in response, Cameroonian authorities increased pressure to stop the film from screening the film to the public in Cameroon – seemingly so as not to inspire or fan the existing flames of any potential insurrection among the people, I assume.
Bekolo’s filmography is made up of mostly bold, unconventional, challenging material like the 2005 genre-busting, sci-fi, vampire, political satire, “Les Saignantes,” or The Bleeders, which is set in the year 2025, and follows 2 high-class prostitutes, who use their sexuality to gain access to some of the highest ranking political officials in Cameroon, supposedly with the intent to rid the country of those corrupt men who have run Cameroon for decades, creating this dystopian society as presented in the film.
Another knock against the Cameroonian government.
It’s a heavily stylized flick, and while Le President isn’t quit as stylish, it’s just as challenging and critical – maybe more directly so.
As I learned over the weekend, Bekolo is currently working on a new work titled “Naked Reality,” which has a synopsis that reads: “Wanita was leaving home that morning, not knowing that her first prayer to her own ancestors has started her journey to the DIMSI – the earth you can’t see – because we were living in strange times where people were dying from a disease called BAD LUCK. Wanita could not figure out that her journey was blinded by her other self; her desire to be someone else. It is 150 years from now in a time when African cities have grown into one big metropolis. Operating in a world controlled by the immortals who had taken over our wholes being. Everything we put in our mouth, eyes, ears, skin, nose, ass was theirs… including our prayers. Wanita was the only one who could save us. Wanita was the first of a new generation that was not just working at a job. She was working to fulfill her mission according to her DNA instructions. If Wanita is so into presenting the weather on television, it was because she was a force of nature that could control other forces such as hurricanes, storms and tornados. But someone had infiltrated her DNA. This is why she could not hear our calling.”
Somewhat cryptic with a tinge of potentially biting humor, and a message; but that’s all typical of Bekolo.
Not much else is available on the film at this time. Needless to say, I’m certainly curious about what Mr. Bekolo is cooking for us with “Naked Reality.” As soon as I know more, so will you.