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Sep 30
Scholastique Mukasonga & Maaza Mengiste ONLINE EVENT Brookline Booksmith and City of Asylum Bookstore
Sep 30
Scholastique Mukasonga & Maaza Mengiste ONLINE EVENT Brookline Booksmith and City of Asylum Bookstore
Sep 30
Scholastique Mukasonga & Maaza Mengiste ONLINE EVENT Brookline Booksmith and City of Asylum Bookstore

Retrospective Moustapha Alassane: Pioneer of the Golden Age of Nigerien Cinema

This first North American retrospective of Moustapha Alassane (1942–2015), a pioneer of populist cinema in newly independent Niger in the 1960s and 1970s, is presented in association with La Cinémathèque Afrique de l’Institut français. A fabulist who sheathed the sharp sting of his political satire within playful stories of water genies, pugilistic frogs, cowboys, and brave fishermen, Alassane parodied colonialist attitudes toward black Africans, the corrupt despotism of local officials, and the shallow materialism of Niger’s youth in a series of animated, fictional, and ethnographic films that remain beloved and influential today. The lure of cinema, with its magical play of shadow and light, inspired Alassane to give up his career as a mechanic and turn toward making art for the masses. His earliest animated films were simple projections of cardboard cutouts, but his work quickly matured, leading to friendships and collaborations with Zalika Souley, one of Africa’s preeminent actresses, the French documentarian Jean Rouch and the Canadian animator Norman McLaren. Alassane’s films are vital and imaginative records of Nigerien traditions and rituals. 

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, with Amélie Garin-Davet, Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York. Special thanks to Mathieu Fournet and Véronique Joo’Aisenberg from La Cinémathèque Afrique de l'Institut Français. 


F.V.V.A.Women Cars Villas Money (FVVA: Femme, voiture, villa, argent (1972)
A clerical worker considers a life of crime in order to attain the material wealth he so desires. (68 mins., 16mm)

Shaki (1973)
Alassane considers the mingling of traditions during the coronation of the new Shaki king of the Oyo State of western Nigeria. (25 mins., 16mm)

The Ring of King Koda (La bague du roi Koda) (1962)
Alassane brings to life the Zharma legend of King Koda who, in order to test the loyalty of a subject, asks him to guard one of his rings for a year. (24 mins., 16mm)

Aoure (1962)
This hybrid documentary chronicles the life of a young married Zharma (ethnic Muslim) couple living in the Niger River Valley. (30 mins., 16mm)

Bon voyage Sim (1966)
The President of the Republic of Toads gets a rude welcome from his citizens when he returns from a luxury holiday that had been disguised as a diplomatic mission. (5 mins., 16mm, animated)

The Return of an Adventurer (Le retour d'un aventurier)(1966)
Among Alassane’s most acclaimed films, this homage to the American Western follows a gang of bandits that wreaks havoc on a small village. (34 mins., 16mm)

The Cowboys Are Black (Les cowboys sont noirs) (Directed by Serge Moati, 1966)
An engaging behind-the-scenes look at The Return of an Adventurer that contrasts the weekday jobs of the “actors” with their weekend roles as cowboys in Alassane’s film. (15 mins., 16mm)

Samba the Great (Samba le Grand) (1977)
A princess puts her would-be-lover through a series of trials in order to test his fidelity. (14 mins., 16mm, animated)

Toula, or the Water Genie (Toula ou le génie des eaux)
(2001) In a packed arena, the citizens of the Kingdom of Frogs watch their warriors battle and enjoy a festive concert. (14 mins., 35mm, animated)

Moustapha Alassane, Cineaste of the Possible (Directed by Christian Lelong and Maria Silvia Bazzoli, 2008)
Alassane reminisces about his career in this captivating portrait of the pioneering director. (90 mins., beta SP)

All films are directed by Moustapha Alassane, unless otherwise noted.
All films are in French, Hausa with English subtitles.