Feminism meets tribal traditions in Desiré Ecaré's Faces of Women | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Feminism meets tribal traditions in Desiré Ecaré's Faces of Women

The Ivory Coast director's comedy of manners paints urban and rural portraits, bound together by dance.

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This 1985 debut feature by Ivory Coast director Desiré Ecaré gathered some attention for its steamy sexuality (the film was banned in its native country), though Ecaré ultimately seems more concerned with establishing connections between economics and emerging African feminism than in providing erotic kicks (not surprisingly, the feminism that emerges owes more to tribal traditions of gender solidarity and rivalry than to modern ideological consciousness). The film divides into rural and urban halves (shot ten years apart), which Ecaré ties together with scenes of ritual music and dancing (less "authentic" than the folk sequences in Ababacar Samb's Jom, to which they've been compared: Ecaré's Africa is nothing if not a sociocultural hybrid). Naive and ragged by ordinary standards, but a lot of life breaks in where formalism breaks down. Presented by Chicago Filmmakers and Black Cinema House. In French with subtitles.

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