Life On Earth (1998, Abderrahmane Sissako)

Sort of a slice-of-life movie set on the last day of the century (which is summer in Africa). Has a Bamako-village feel to a few of the scenes. Slight, but a nice movie. Kept returning to the idea that “it’s difficult to contact people; it’s a matter of luck”, with townspeople visiting the post office to use the telephone and try calling others, usually unsuccessfully.

Otherwise, there’s a boy kicking a ball, a pretty girl on bicycle, a guy (who likes the pretty girl) returning to his hometown for new year, this guy’s father writing him a letter (descriptive at times, poetic at others), farmers chasing birds off the crops, and of course, some scenes about radios.

I like how Sissako shows the passage of time with a group of men sitting in chairs in the shade from a building, out in the street… later sitting closer to the building, then right next to it, then standing against the building, and finally (no more shade) picking up their chairs and going home.

I think there were six or eight of these last-day-of-the-century movies done by different directors as part of a Y2K film project. So far, this is the better of the two I’ve seen (vs. Hal Hartley’s Book of Life).

Katy remembers more than me:

“This is an ensemble film, with Dramane, played by Sissako, composing a letter to his father in the village of Sokolo. Dramane lives in Paris but decides to visit his village at the dawning of the new millennium because he misses the life of the village.”

“The film opens in a brightly lit supermarket in Paris, with rows and rows of cheeses. Dramane’s voice over begins there, and we switch to the village which shows people working for their food: drawing water, out in the fields. The colors also change. The brightness remains, but the yellow mud homes and the yellow sand of the village dominates the color palette.”