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Bamako

Abderrahmane Sissako's deceptively placid yet searing film recalls the political theater of the late 1960s and early '70s -- at once artificial, naturalistic and allegorical.

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In a guarded courtyard of a home in Bamako, Mali, citizens hold a trial hoping to convict the World Bank, G8 and the IMF of crippling Africa's development. As they present their case, other villagers go about their daily lives around them, be it menial work, tending to the sick or simply being unemployed. Abderrahmane Sissako's deceptively placid yet searing film recalls the political theater of the late 1960s and early '70s -- at once artificial, naturalistic and allegorical. There's a clever inset film, depicting Africa's economy as a twilight Western (with a cameo from co-producer Danny Glover). As Bamako is more of an indictment by way of art than an explicitly educational film, it is helpful to know something about contemporary African history. Sissako offers no preamble, no helpful titles or background -- his film is an acutely framed snapshot, albeit one with a deep focus that rewards the patient viewer with an impassioned conclusion and provocative new perspective. In French and Bambara, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Aug. 17. Harris

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