In his film the Ghanaian-born director uses science fiction as a metaphor for the PanAfrican experience. Film becomes literally a vehicle for exploration. This idiosyncratic documentary features musicians Sun Ra and George Clinton, science fiction writers Samual R. Delaney and Octavia Butler, author Ishmael Reed, and a number of others, intertwined with images of PanAfrican life at different points in history, jumping back and forth from past to future. Akomfrah, who directed Seven Songs for Malcolm X, is one of a number of exciting young black filmmakers now working in England.
John Akomfrah-the filmmaker behind Seven Songs for Malcolm X and winner of the prestigious British Film Institute Grierson Award-returns with an engaging and searing examination of the hitherto unexplored relationships between Pan-African culture and music, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and technology. This cinematic essay posits science fiction as a metaphor for the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and "otherness."
Akomfrah's analysis is rooted in an exploration of the cultural works of Pan-African artists, such as funkmaster George Clinton and his Mothership Connection, Sun Ra's use of extraterrestrial iconography, and the very explicit connection drawn between these issues in the writings of authors Samuel R. Delaney and Octavia Butler. Included are interviews with musicians DJ Spooky, Goldie, and Derek May, who discuss the importance of George Clinton to their own music, Novelist Ismael Reed, and cultural critics Greg Tate and Kodwo Eshun, who tease out the parallels between black life and science fiction. In keeping with the futuristic tenor of the film, the interviews are intercut with images of Pan- African life from different periods of history, jumping between time and space from the past to the future to the present.
(1996, United Kingdom/Ghana, 45 min.), directed by John Akomfrah
1997 | Fespaco | OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso | www.fespaco.bf
* Paul Robeson Award