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Bamako, Wed November 7
2007, 7:00 & 9:15

The World Bank on Trial

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Bamako shows at IFS on Wed November 7, 2007, 7:00 & 9:15

The World Bank on Trial
Wed November 7
2007, 7:00 & 9:15

Much of "Bamako" is set in the fly-ridden courtyard of a residential building in Mali, where a mock trial is being conducted by lawyers and judges in formal robes to decide the responsibility of the World Bank and other Western institutions for Africa's impoverishment. Trial movies can be painful, but "Bamako" is a powerful polemic leavened with moments of beauty and humor.

Director Abderrahmane Sissako opens the proceedings by intercutting scenes from the lives of those living in and around the building, particularly a young singer (Aïssa Maïga) who is having trouble with her husband. There are shots of an ailing man lying in bed, of female workers dying fabric and of a wedding party that marches through the courtyard. Repeated sequences focus on a court guard who takes his duties very seriously.

The lives of those affected by the issues formally examined by the court go on right beneath the noses of the bewigged debaters.

In fact, the trial turns out to be pretty one-sided: the International Monetary Fund and other creditor groups take a serious verbal beating. Some of the best scenes involve fiery oratory on the part of attorneys and witnesses, both black and white, denouncing those they hold accountable for poverty and suffering on a wide scale. Particularly impressive are speeches by Aïssata Tall Sall and William Bourdon as advocates for the plaintiffs, and a long harangue that isn't even subtitled -- the intensity of the speaker's delivery tells us all we need to know.

Sissako provides humorous, surreal commentary on his theme by including a short film-within-a-film, an African spaghetti Western called "Death in Timbukto" that features Danny Glover (one of "Bamako's" executive producers). But the comic mood ends when we see that this bloody shoot-'em-up draws laughs from its African viewers. It's a chilling touch, as is the remark by a character who is a cameraman and recounts that he prefers to shoot pictures of corpses, because they are "more real" than the living. (W. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle)

To see a trailer and read a review, visit


10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.


Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.


Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

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