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[Short Reviews]


If films from Africa canít find an audience in this country, then at least we have a film about Africa thatís poised for art-house success. Lumumba tells the story of political martyr Patrice Lumumba (a charismatic Eriq Ebouaney), the first prime minister of independent Congo, whose brief tenure in 1960 ended in murder at the hands of political rivals. Haitian director Raoul Peck gives it the full Spike Lee treatment: polished cinematography, fiery politics, and powerful acting. It looks important even before you realize it is important.

More remarkable still, the movie doesnít tell any substantial lies; instead, hagiography and complexity play off each other. Lumumba is presented as a hero: he narrates the film from beyond the grave, has forebodings of doom, and chooses to be a " sacrifice for the people. " Yet the film isnít afraid to show how Lumumbaís nationalist passion led his country into chaos. Itís easy to admire the grace of a Nelson Mandela. But itís easier to relate to the fury of a Patrice Lumumba.


Issue Date: September 6 - 13, 2001