New film highlights global injustice impacting Africa

By staff writers
7 Feb 2007

International development agency Christian Aid and leading British Muslim magazine, Q-News, have teamed up to host a special screening of Bamako, a powerful film about the devastating effects of World Bank and IMF policies imposed on African countries, at the Curzon Cinema, Mayfair, London on 12 February 2007.

The film is being shown around the country. Bamako won critical acclaim when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2006. Set in Mali, which is 90 per cent Muslim, but representing all of African society, the film puts the World Bank, IMF and WTO on trial.

One by one ordinary Africans – an unemployed teacher, a farmer and a fabric dyer – voice their anger at the disastrous policies which have led to increased debt, unfair trade rules and privatisation across the continent.

A mock court, filmed in the director Abderrahmane Sissako’s own father’s courtyard in Bamako, provides the setting. It is where Sissako grew up with his extended family and where he remembers the passionate discussions with his father about Africa.

"This film expresses the anger and frustration many African people rightly feel towards international bodies like the IMF and World Bank," said Dionne Gravesande head of church networks at Christian Aid.

She continued: "It delves into the reasons why the continent is facing such huge economic problems and it’s a film everyone who wants to know more about Africa’s struggle should see. Bamako definitely pushes the boundaries of debate – in this case, the relationships between powerful rich nations and the developing world."

Q-News editor Fareena Alam said: "Unscripted, raw, utterly human – Bamako takes on the policies of World Bank and the IMF with clarity and emotional punch."

"It’s a powerful statement from Africa's people about the ravaging effects of globalisation and international debt, the privatisation of their natural resources such as water and the ‘war on terror’ fear-mongering that is used as an excuse for world domination.

"[The film] is a call to action that cannot be ignored. We are proud to stand with Christian Aid in making sure the greatest number of people see this film and are compelled to act."

After the screening Charles Abugre, Christian Aid’s head of policy, will be joined by Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako and actor Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon and Dream Girls) who makes a special appearance in the film, for an open debate on the issues raised by the film. The discussion will be chaired by actress Adjoa Andoh (Casualty and Dr Who).

The debate will continue online through the Bamako Petition calling upon Chancellor Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for International Development, to push for fundamental reform of the IMF and World Bank.

It will be delivered to the IMF and World Bank meeting in Washington DC in April 2007. The release of the film follows lobbying by campaigners in September 2006 who called on the UK government to stop paying for poverty and cut funding to the IMF and World Bank until they reform.

UK development secretary Hilary Benn responded by holding back £50 million of the UK's contribution of £1.3 bilion over the period 2005/08, triggering significant political and media debate in Autumn 2006.

Bamako goes on general release in the UK on 23 February 2007. Regional screenings events will be at:

• Glasgow Film Theatre, Wed 7 March
• Manchester Cornerhouse, Friday 9 March
• ‘The Drum’ Birmingham, Friday 16 February
• FACT Liverpool, Monday 19 March

A full listing of all preview screenings can be seen on www.bamako-themovie.com

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