“These are the first images of a country. One rainy night, one flag is taken down. Another takes its place.” A woman’s voice pronounces these simple words that with picture and sound constitute a masterly opening of a film, which takes a sentimental journey back to 1975, when Samora Machel and FRELIMO declared the independence of Mozambique from Portuguese colonialism.

Tue Steen Müller
Previous founder/editor of the DOX magazine.

Kuxa Kanema

Margarida Cardoso

Portugal 2003, 52min

Kuxa Kanema is the title of the film referring to the weekly ten-minute newsreels that were produced. It means “birth of the cinema”, which is the main focus of the story that has newsreels and other film material as amazingly strong archive material to draw on. Look at Samora when he speaks: what a charismatic figure, loved by the cameras and very conscious of what these cameras could be used for.

He beats Fidel Castro! The film invites us to look back. Film professionals who took part are the witnesses. They put the magic reels on the Steenbeck table and let them roll. It is sweet history, but we are also told right from the beginning that this is over and that it was far too short. The images become propaganda in the long and tragic war with the South Africans that followed. “We thought it was a great project and that it would last forever,” one of the film witnesses says. It did not, and look at Mozambique today! The film institute is still there, the 35mm prints lie on the shelves but the building is symbolically in ruins.

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Margarida Cardoso

The perspective of today is not predominant. I’m primarily captivated by the director’s ability to transmit the feeling of a melancholic sweet remembrance of an ambition, i.e., that film should help give back the images of the past and the present to the people, that film should be independent and free to the people for their expression. Men in black suits danced, singing “down with capitalism” on the 35mm film copies that were shown in the cinemas and in 16mm prints taken all over the with equipment provided by the USSR. Many foreign filmmakers came to the country, Rui Guerra is interviewed in the film, the story is told about Godard’s dream of a television set up for the people – give the equipment to the people. Also the story about the Yugoslavs who came to teach the art of making effective propaganda films is told!

By making this film Margarida Cardoso confirms the enormous talent for smooth, subdued and elegant storytelling that was demonstrated in her first film Natal 71, also with Mozambique as the subject. More, please.


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