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Europa, “Based on a True Story”

Introduction by Kivu Ruhorahoza
Directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza.
With Oris Erhuero, Jennie Lathan, Lisa Moorish.
UK/Rwanda/Switzerland, 2019, DCP, color, 93 min.
DCP source: Filmmaker

With his penultimate film, and indeed the logical outcome of the previous two films, Kivu Ruhorahoza now turns to reverse ethnography, by becoming a Rwandan/African cine-ethnographer in contemporary Europe. Britain was Europe’s most powerful country in the Age of Empire but is currently suffering from a prolonged “postcolonial melancholia” (Gilroy), unable to confront and “work through” its inevitable decline (as is the fate of all empires), and using African and other migrants and asylum seekers as scapegoats deliberately left to rot in dehumanizing bureaucratic machines. The director engages in what may be termed “cine-care” by rendering this situation through the fictional story of a love triangle between a white British couple and a Nigerian asylum seeker and setting it against the backdrop of Brexit anti-immigrant passions and debates. He does so by deploying the fictional and essayistic modes of representation in tandem, rendering, in the process, homage to Chris Marker in Sans Soleil (1983), Ousmane Sembène in Black Girl (1966) and Jean-Pierre Bekolo in Aristotle’s Plot (1996). One of the most powerful sequences in the film is a nightclub scene in which the film’s African hero, in the depths of despair, dances for money, turning on its head the notion in feminist film theory of the male subject as holder of the gaze.

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