Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021 | The restoration of Sarah Maldodor’s Sambizanga

On July 24th, the Auditorium DAMS Lab hosted the talk on the restoration of Sarah Maldodor‘s Sambizanga with the partecipation of Annouchka De Andrade (Daughter of the director and Amiens Film Festival Artistic Director) and Cecilia Cenciarelli (Cineteca di Bologna). This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, created by The Film Foundation, FEPACI and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – in support of the restoration and the distribution of African cinema. Cecilia Cenciarelli explained that this restoration was in the works for a very long time and it was made possible by The Film Foundation and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers – La Federation Panafricaine des Cineastes (FEPACI). Without associations that highlight the African film heritage, many films would be lost forever.

Annouchka De Andrade illustrated the history of the film and Sarah Maldodor‘s career. Her mother is the first afro-descendant woman who shot a film in Africa and Sambizanga is recognized as fundamental for African cinema. The film is based on the novella A vida verdadeira de Domingos Xavier (“The Real Life of Domingos Xavier“) by Angolan writer José Luandino Vieira and it was adapted by Maurice Pons and Mario de Andrade. For the restoration of Sambizanga, the most difficult part was obtaining the copy of the film. Jacques Poitrenaud who owned the film had sold all his catalogue to René Chateau in 1982 and the film was kept hostage. They fought to obtain back the rights, even Martin Scorsese wrote him a letter highlighting the historical importance of the film and Chateau refused to give up the rights. It took another four years to obtain the rights.

De Andrade and Cenciarelli explained how important it is to restore the African film heritage in order to help its distribution and its future. In case of Sarah Maldodor, her daughter fought for the film to be restored but other films don’t have this luck and Cenciarelli said that the film archivists have to act as the sons and daughters of these directors and help in keeping their memory alive.

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