The Chronic Youth Film Festival at the Barbican is a yearly event that offers young programmers the opportunity to craft a selection of international and British films, tied together under some common themes. This year marks the 7th edition of the festival and its return to theatres after two years of screenings online due to the pandemic. The chosen movies pivot around the central question of “Home” and what that means to those facing adversity.
The joint screening of the Dominican film ‘Bantú Mama’, and the Brazilian short documentary ‘Mother’ tied perfectly together, both navigating through themes of chosen families, newfound homes in hostile environments, music and the African diaspora.
Mother’s young directors Jas Pitt and Kate Stonehill believe in the exploration of conflict through creative devices and in the art of playing with genre convention. Their short documentary on the queer communities of artistic performers in Brazil delves into their stories, their trauma and the insoluble bond of solidarity that ties them together through dance and performance. We witness the heart-warming dynamics of the group and their theatre director, “Mother”, who acts as a confidante and a guide towards her pupils. We watch her help the healing process of her young artists, who share touching stories of assault and violence, through spiritualism, love and dance. Without overwhelming us with over-editing or over-politicisation, the film trusts its raw material and lets images and unscripted conversations speak for themselves. More than portraying a community, the film plunges us into a colourful and spectacular world of performance through beautiful imagery and music.
Bantú Mama is a Dominican film centred around the misadventure of Emmanuelle, a French-Cameroonian woman who is forced to hide from the police in the barrios of Santo Domingo. She finds refuge in the house of three parentless kids, who have become the adults of their own house and mend for themselves. An unconventional but joyful dynamic is quickly born, as the three bond over stories, music and hair, and the kids get to experience a glimpse of the childhood they were stripped of. But their harmony holds by a thread, and it is obvious that by staying there, the kids are destined to follow the same path of drug and weapon dealing as their family. The director Ivan Herrera is passionate about photography, which shows through the beautiful and deeply symbolic imagery and the creative use of colour. Clarisse Albrecht, writer and main star of the movie, uses many autobiographical elements that interweave with the character of Emmanuelle, such as her Franco-Cameroonian origins and her nostalgia for Africa. A very personal and cinematographically gorgeous film, that fits perfectly within the narrative of newfound homes.
Both the programming of the festival and the movies were remarkable and proved that the young programmers were more than up to the task that was given to them. Check out Barbican’s new events at https://www.barbican.org.uk.
Bantu Mama + Mother | Barbican Photography
Reviewed by Céline Galletti- Celine is a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. Originally from France and Italy, she follows her passion for writing and art by studying Comparative Literature at UCL, London. As an international student living in London, she is determined to fully experience and understand the city’s vibrant arts scene, and be a part of its creative storm.