two young black women squat in front of another in a dark, luridly lit roomalr

The Bloodettes
(Les Saignantes)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Bekolo.
With Adèle Ado, Dorylia Calmel, Emil Abossolo M’bo.
Cameroon, 2005, 35mm, color, 92 min.
French with English subtitles.
Print source: Arsenal Berlin

A science-fiction film and erotic thriller, Les Saignantes follows two sex workers as they attempt to dispose of the corpse of one of their clients, a political leader. As usual, Jean-Pierre Bekolo mixes genres in this hybrid film, which is part female revenge film, part antisexist denunciation and part open criticism of the systemic corruption of Cameroonian politics. The director also looks to the future, placing Africa and women at the heart of a narrative in which they are usually absent, and drawing inspiration from the precolonial cultures of Cameroon's powerful Beti women's secret society to imagine Black heroines capable of fighting and healing the postcolonial state.

Journalist and critic Olivier Barlet (Africultures) describes the film as "astonishing, provocative, insolent, fun and perfectly paranoid.” With Les Saignantes, Jean-Pierre Bekolo offers a future tale of a dystopian Cameroon, with burlesque outbursts and lurid lighting, mixing sex and death, as if to underline an impossibility: indeed, "How can you make a film of anticipation in a country that has no future? How can you make a detective film in a country where you can't investigate?" asks Bekolo.

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