Review: Another Day of Life
by Aurore Engelen
- CANNES 2018: Raul de la Fuente and Damian Nenow present a well-researched and exhilarating rereading of the landmark book by famous Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski
Another Day of Life [+see also:
interview: Raul de la Fuente
film profile], the film by Raul de la Fuente and Damian Nenow presented in a Special Screening during the 71st Cannes Film Festival, is a well-researched and exhilarating rereading of the eponymous book by Ryszard Kapuscinski, which thrusts the viewer into the heart of 1970s Angola and the dream of a free Africa in the period following independence.
Kapuscinski is a brilliant journalist; he’s both experienced and an idealist. A staunch defender of lost causes and revolutions, he convinces his superiors at the Polish press agency to send him to Angola, a country that is sliding towards bloody civil war in these early days of its independence. In this context, Kapuscinski’s is a suicidal journey that will take him to the very core of the conflict. Once again, he must bear witness to the harsh realities of war and, inevitably, he begins to feel powerless. Angola will change him forever: he leaves Poland a journalist and comes home a writer.
These are the facts of the story, which are related in great detail by various characters in the film. But, facts aside, this is also a journey to the core of the journalist’s psyche, who interrogates his role, his place in history, his influence, his power and his responsibilities. Kapuscinski is a historical figure in international journalism, having spent the duration of his career at the very heart of the conflicts that rocked the third world at the close of the last century, eager to provide a voice for all those muzzled by poverty.
On leaving Angola, at the close of the story, he is transfigured by what Angolans call "confusão", a state of total disorientation. He witnesses what he refers to as the awakening of Africa when Angola, liberated from neo-colonialism, breaks out into a battle that will makes its way into world History. But this civil war soon turns into international conflict, and Angola becomes the battlefield on which a new cold war is fought. On hearing about external Cuban military support which could change the face of the conflict, Kapuscinski decides to renounce his right to impart information, on behalf of history and the ongoing battle led by the MPLA movement, which he had followed thus far in its most intimate entrenchments.
The first breath-taking scene offers an animated and dizzying immersion into the thronging streets of Luanda, a chaotic whirr of a city, where emotions have reached boiling point. The virtuoso direction of the film plays with the possibilities made available by animation (camera submersion, morphing of backgrounds and faces) to develop fictional elements that are key to this documentary, or to revive the history behind it. Animation also allows for scenes of a dreamlike nature which bring to life the nightmares detailed by Kapuscinski and his comrades of the time who were traumatised by the atrocities they witnessed. Last, but not least, it brings back to life the battle, but also Carlota, the proud fighter encountered by Kapuscinski who died engulfed by gunfire and who was, alongside Farrusco and according to the reporter, the living embodiment of commitment to a just cause.
Mixed in with the animated sequences are a few (rare) images from the archive, as well as modern-day interviews with those involved in the action, witnesses from the time, and modern-day shots of Angola, as if to show the ripples of recent history. This visually hybrid approach also finds an echo in the film’s narrative, further enriching a story which swings from biopic to historical documentary.
Another Day of Life is produced by Platige Image and Kanaki Films, and is co-produced by Walking the Dog, Animationsfabrik, Wüste Film, and Puppetworks, between Poland, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Hungary. International sales are managed by Indie Sales.
(Translated from French)
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