June 3, 2020 - Artist Cinemas - Artist Cinemas presents École du soir
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June 3, 2020

Artist Cinemas

Wanuri Kahiu, Pumzi (clip), 2009. Copyright: Focus Features

Artist Cinemas presents École du soir
Six Films, from Rwanda and Beyond: Week 6

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Artist Cinemas is pleased to present an online screening of Wanuri Kahiu's Pumzi (2009), the sixth and final installment of École du soir, on view from Wednesday, June 3 through Tuesday, June 9, and featuring an interview with the filmmaker by Shariffa Ali.*

École du soir is a six-part program of films, video works, and interviews from Rwanda and beyond put together by Christian Nyampeta. It is the first program in Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film

To mark the conclusion of École du soir on Artist Cinemas, a one-day repeat of all the program's films will be available on the last day—Tuesday, June 92020.

Artist Cinemas will be back with a new program on June 17 organized by Oleksiy Radynski—stay tuned!

Artist Cinemas presents École du soir: Six Films, from Rwanda and Beyond
Week 6: June 3–9, 2020

Wanuri Kahiu, Pumzi (2009)
21:52 minutes

In a future world made uninhabitable by the ecological devastation that ensued after the Third World War or the Water Wars, the remaining survivors of the East African region live under lockdown in controlled settlements. However, a young woman rebels against the directives of the governing council and ventures onto Earth’s ruined surface.

Running at barely 22 minutes, Wanuri’s short film compresses environmental concerns together with related issues of urgency: patriarchy, authoritarianism, technology, communication, classism, and poverty. Probably like everyone else living thirty-five years after the end of WWIII, the film’s protagonist Asha takes a suppressant to neutralize her dreams and to comply with the autocrat who regulates the living conditions of all survivors. Still, Asha manages to conceive a vision strong enough to take her beyond the hermetic confines of the astronautic underground settlement, where even sweat and urine are recycled and purified back into drinking water.

According to scholar Amanda Renée Rico, Wanuri’s film “imagines a black feminist future through ecological imagery,” in a manner comparable to the methods practiced by her compatriot Wangechi Mutu in her work The End of Eating Everything (2013), and found in “The Farming of the Gods” (2010), a short story by Haitian-American author Ibi Zoboi. Following Mutu, Rico suggests that “imaginative forms of world-building must connect systemic corruption to consumptive practices.” From there, Rico points out that these “Afrofuturist works use geographical spaces marked by ecological abuse (poisonous spores, pustules, desert landscapes), displacement (discarded objects) and violence (human limbs) to negotiate the symbolic and material ‘marking’ of black female bodies.” Ultimately, Rico writes, these works are to be understood as “meditations on new forms of transnational communities that not only survive but thrive in the twenty-first century and beyond.”

*The interview with the filmmaker by Shariffa Ali will be published here on the last day of the screening on Tuesday, June 92020.

About the program
Presented a week each, the six films in École du soir are not direct points of comparison to the current crisis but reflection devices that draw from localized specificities and historical events, in order to make a linking with the pandemic. The sense of isolation, alienation, and despair felt today finds echoes in these films, as their makers navigate the afterlives of the crises that still shape their present. Effectively, although the geographic and economic scales of the current pandemic are unprecedented, the films bring home the fact that some members of the societies in which the films are located feel or have felt as though their existence is a form of quarantine, characterized long before this moment by trans-generational trauma, the disappearance of habitable environments, exile, and even genocidal brutalities that take away the ability to mourn. Each film is accompanied by a newly commissioned dialog that loosely relates the film to the ongoing pandemic.

École du soir is convened by Christina Nyampeta; with films by Kivu Ruhorahoza, Rahima Gambo, Philbert Aimé Mbabazi, Amelia Umuhire, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, and Wanuri Kahiu; and interviews with the filmmakers by Natacha Nsabimana, Ogemdi Ude, Aïcha Diallo, Yasmina Price, Andros Zins-Browne, and Shariffa Ali.

About the series
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image. 

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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