The film o Herói ('the Hero') by Zeze Gamboa was released recently. According to the director the end of the war which lasted over thirty years, marks the beginning of a new era in Angolan cinema.
Vitório has just returned from the front lines, where he lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine. He is stumbling (literally and figuratively speaking) in his attempt to build a new life for himself in the capital of Luanda. Vitório, the main character of o Herói, the latest feature film of Zeze Gamboa (49), is illustrative for Angola. 'The idea for the film first came into my mind when I saw a news picture of a wounded war veteran on the street. That was back in 1992, after the government and the UNITA-rebels had made their peace. That's when we wrote the script.'
However, a new episode of war meant that o Herói could not be produced until a decade later. According to Gamboa, who worked for Angolan television from 1974 to 1980 and made his first documentary (Mopiopio) in 1991, the Angolan film industry has been booming ever since the end of the war in 2002. In 2004, not only o Herói, but also Comboio da Canhoca ('the Train of Canhoca') by Orlando Fortunato de Oliveira and Na Cidade Vazia ('In the Empty City') by Maria João Ganga were released.
Three film productions in one year is a lot for a country like Angola, without film studios and where the odd auditorium merely shows videos. Angolan cinema originated during the 1970s with 'guerrilla-films' about the battle for independence by Sarah Maldoror and mainly consists of documentaries and videos that are cheaper to produce. The Angolan film institute IACAM was in ruins for many decades, but was given a new lease of life last year. The first task in hand for the institute is to build more cinemas, and to assist in developing Angolan film productions.
Zeze Gamboa : 'There are many excellent writers in Angola whose books are suitable for adapting to the screen. There is plenty of material, including social issues. You can deal with problems using a sense of humour. Talking about it in films is more important than just creating entertainment. Many people in Angola are illiterate. So they can't read books, but they understand everything about films. They speak the language, see the images. It is a powerful medium for development.'
O Herói, 2004, movie;
O Desassossego de Pessoa, 1999, documentary;
Burned by Blue, 1999, documentaire;
Dissidencia, 1998, documentary;
Mopiopio, sopro de Angola, 1991, documentary.
Still from o Herói