Life on Earth

Rated NR 61 minutes 1999

With poetic directness and artful use of repeated motifs, this visually rich film conveys the rhythm, vitality, and color of life in Sokolo, Mali, as well as its hardships. The action begins in a supermarket in wintertime Paris: rows upon rows of goods, shoppers bundled in overcoats, silence, a bluish-white tinge to the whole scene. The transition to Mali hits all the senses at once: The screen is filled with rich browns, reds, and yellows; one feels the heat, hears the music, and is plunged into the flow of continuous but unhurried action. It is through the eyes of emigre son Abderrahmane Sissako, just returned from France to shoot a film, that one experiences Sokolo. As the developed world hurtles toward a high-tech celebration of the new millennium, the ebb and flow of village life follow old rhythms. In the central square, the barber and photographer set out their tools, and the townsfolk come to gossip, flirt, and discuss the affairs of the world. Close by is the post office, equipped with a single, ancient and unreliable telephone, where a call to a distant town often takes hours to complete. A bit further away is the technological jewel of the city, its only radio station. Powered by cast-off equipment many decades old, it provides news, music, and, through on-air readings, novels and poems. Life on Earth is a poignant tale of the conflict between old and new ways, of men and women reaching out to each other in a changing world.

Film Credits

Director: Abderrahmane Sissako

Writer: Abderrahmane Sissako

Producer: Carole Scotta and Caroline Bento

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