An Opera of the World by Manthia Diawara (Mali, Portugal, USA, 2017, 70 min.)
Manthia Diawara’s film is based on the African opera Bintou Were, a Sahel Opera, which recounts an eternal migration drama. The Bintou Were opera, filmed on location in Bamako, in 2007, serves as a mirror for Diawara to build an aesthetic and reflexive story, through song and dance, about the current and yet timeless drama of migration between North and South, and the ongoing refugee crises. The film ponders on the realities of cultural encounters through the concepts of métissage and hybridity. The success and limits of fusing African and European perspectives are tested by interlacing performances from the Bintou Were opera, past and present archival footage of migrations, classic European arias, and interviews with European and African intellectuals, artists and social activists – including Alexander Kluge, Fatou Diome, Nicole Lapierre and Richard Sennett.
Manthia Diawara was born in Mali, West Africa. He is a distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Film at New York University. Diawara was educated in Guinea-Conakry, Bamako (Mali) and Paris (France), before migrating to the United States to pursue his studies. Manthia Diawara is a prolific writer and filmmaker. His essays on art, cinema and politics have appeared in The New Times Magazine, LA Times, Libération, Mediapart and Artforum. He is the author of two acclaimed memoirs: In Search of Africa (Harvard University Press, 2000) and We Won’t Budge: An African in the World (Basic Books, 2008). He has published several books on African and African American cinema. Diawara’s notable films include: An Opera of the World (2017), Negritude: A Dialogue between Soyinka and Senghor (2016), Édouard Glissant, One World in Relation (2010), Maison Tropicale (2008) and Rouch In Reverse (1995).
Director: Manthia Diawara
Producer: Jürgen Bock
Editor: Kenan Akkawi
Producers: Maumaus, Lumiar Cité, with core funding from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, ZDF/3sat, Portuguese Ministry of Culture/Directorate-General for Arts and documenta 14
Production countries: Mali, Portugal, USA
With the support of Maumaus/Lumiar Cité.