Africa, 2005, 120 min., drama
A fiery fusion of low-budget cinema and
Mark Donford-May's exceptional directorial debut - which won the Golden Bear at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival - offers a spirited tribute to the power of African music. In this adaptation of Bizet's opera (translated into Xhosa), Carmen (Pauline Malefane) works in a cigarette factory in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township. Her Don José is Jongikhaya (Andile Tshoni), a policeman set to marry another woman. But Carmen proves seductive, and the two begin a tempestuous, doomed affair. Bizet's score is complemented by local movements and rhythms against hardscrabble street backdrops, while Malefane's performance is voluptuous, bawdy, exuberant and unconquerable.
Carmen has been the subject of many re-workings over the years, but no version has better balanced the pleasures of movie magic with real world grit.
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