Saving Bruce Lee – African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy
Film program, talks, lectures
January 19-21, 2018
How did the Cold War’s cultural diplomacy influence the course of film and film production in the African continent and Arab world? These territories were coveted during the Cold War by both the USA and for the USSR. With Saving Bruce Lee – African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy, curators Koyo Kouoh and Rasha Salti explore the impact of the USSR’s policy of granting scholarships and training professionals in the field of film production, in a program of film screenings, talks and lectures from January 19-21, 2018.
Saving Bruce Lee will discuss the legacy of Soviet filmmaking on the film history of African and Arab countries based on, for instance, recordings, films and the personal memories of students enrolled at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow who took part in the program from the early 1960s to in the late 1980s.
In the opening program, the filmmaker Ossama Mohammed will introduce the screening of a film by his mentor Igor Talankin alongside his own diploma film Step by Step (1978) and his feature film Sacrifices (2002). The following day, historian Constantin Katsakioris, will give a general lecture on the forgotten chapter of Soviet-African relations and educational aid. Later, filmmaker Valérie Osouf, will screen a documentary film about Abderrahmane Sissako, that will be followed by the screening of Sissako’s diploma film, The Game (1988), and his first-person documentary feature Rostov-Luanda (1997), where Sissako sets off from Mauritania to Angola, looking for a long-lost classmate from the days in Moscow. Film historian Elena Razlogova will talk about the politics of live interpretation at film festivals in the former Soviet Union, with a focus on the Festival for Asian and African Film in Tashkent. Political scientist and specialist of Soviet and post-Soviet history Gabrielle Chomentowski will talk about the understudied histories of African students in Moscow. Filmmaker Ali Essafi will engage in a conversation with former VGIK student Mohamad Abouelouakar, followed by a screening of Abouelouakar’s diploma film. Filmmaker Suhaib Gasmelbari will engage in a conversation with Sudanese filmmaker and VGIK graduate Suleiman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour, followed by the screening of two short documentaries Elnour directed while at the VGIK. Egyptian filmmaker and author Jihan El Tahri will present her research on the Guinean filmmakers who studied at the VGIK with a focus on late filmmaker Costa Diagne. Her presentation will be followed by the screening of two of the films Diagne directed when he was in Moscow. The event will end with a screening of the film Hadda (1984) by Mohamed Abouelouakar, which is regarded today as an unknown gem of Moroccan auteur cinema.
In 2012, Koyo Kouoh curated the Chronicle of a Revolt exhibition, Rasha Salti curated the Past Disquiet exhibition in 2016, both at HKW.
Saving Bruce Lee – African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy is part of Kanon-Fragen, which is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.