UK Restoration Premiere.
*In solidarity with the general strike to support the victims of Israeli occupation of Palestine, our panel discussion will not take place*
Our screening on Friday 20 October will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by writer and Theatrum Mundi co-director, Labeja Kodua Okullu, and featuring Dr Sarah Jilani (City, University of London) and writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Anthony Badu.
By all measures one of Med Hondo’s lasting masterpieces, West Indies is a visually and aurally stunning musical appropriately set on a giant slave ship symbolising the relationship between Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. Placing the ship in an abandoned Citroën factory, Hondo highlights the foundational role of the so-called triangular Atlantic slave trade in the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the emergence and rise to power of the bourgeoisie, massive urbanisation, the appearance of modernity, and the global spread of capitalism. Hondo explores parallels, indeed, an unbroken historical continuum between the forced migration of the Atlantic slave trade and the more recent migration of Afro-Caribbean subjects to former colonial metropoles.
In this explosive demonstration of virtuosity, Hondo deftly takes advantage of the staging, framing and montage possibilities of filming in one location and in widescreen format to tell four centuries of history through genial tracking shots—well-crafted with exquisite and geometrically precise high-angle, horizontal and vertical long takes—as well as changes in temporality through camera movement, lush colors and poignant lyrics and choreographies that invite the spectator to join in the struggle to transform the world. The film ends with a dizzying 360-degree rotating shot celebrating revolt and marking the demise of the ship and the entire system it represents, arguably offering one of the most vertiginous closing sequences in film history.
With West Indies, Med Hondo confirmed his status as one of the incontrovertible masters of cinema.
Robert Liensol, Roland Bertin, Philippe Clévenot, Hélène Vincent