Sambizanga (newly restored)

(Angola/France/1972—directed by Sarah Maldoror) 

A searing, indelible, now-classic portrait of anti-colonial struggle in 1970s Africa, Sarah Maldoror’s adaptation of a novella by the Angolan writer José Luandino Vieira was banned by the Angolan government until the country obtained its independence from Portugal in 1975. Sambizanga follows Maria (unforgettably portrayed by Cape Verdean economist Elisa Andrade) as she tries to pick up the pieces after her husband, a secret anti-colonial activist, becomes a political prisoner.

Co-written by Maldoror’s husband Mário Pinto de Andrade (himself a leading figure in the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola), Sambizanga—shown during the DFT’s first season in 1974—is a forceful, stirring evocation of the Angolan population’s plight before the revolution and their intensifying political consciousness during it. Restoration funding is provided by Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.

This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project (founded by Martin Scorsese), the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers and UNESCO—in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna—to help locate, restore, and disseminate African cinema. In Portuguese with English subtitles. (102 minutes) 

“An essential landmark. Once seen, never forgotten: as cinema and politics, Sambizanga is unimpeachable. Don’t miss it.” –Jon Dieringer, Screen Slate