Macadam Tribe

This 1996 debut by African director Jose Laplaine provides an insightful view of urban dislocation and the new communities that form in a changing Africa. Set in an unnamed city, the film follows two brothers, an auto mechanic and a boxer, as they talk and gamble at a local bar; the episodic story abjures narrative tension in favor of vignettes that reveal character and community. Laplaine traces the shifting forces that bind his characters; in cities, he says, most “have never known their tribe . . . they form a tribe in the neighborhood, around the bar or the boxing club.” The TV in the bar reminds us of the outside world: images of an old Muhammad Ali fight provide an ironic and disjunctive counterpoint to the brother?s boxing career. Laplaine sets his characters in desolate cityscapes to express the contradictions between their grand aspirations and the opportunities open to them.

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