Week 186 – African films

On Tuesday evening Rowena bravely invited lots of friends plus their small kids to an early evening meal in a restaurant to celebrate her birthday! There were at least as many kids as adults, but happily we had our own private corner and there were plenty of pizzas, chips and colouring pictures to engage them (and great long banquettes to drive toy cars along). They pretty much managed to entertain each other – so despite not having Neil’s back-up (he was still away), I was able to enjoy a glass of wine and a pizza of my own, and a few grown-up conversations!


Our Wednesday morning park bootcamp was enlivened by several bits of intrigue! For a few weeks now, we’ve been aware of a regular steamy assignation kept on the back seat of a large black SUV (windows shielded with sun-blinds) which is parked up next to our training site. In addition, this week, we spotted a man under a tree determinedly throwing random objects at a high branch. When Elias went over to ask if he could help, the man explained that his girlfriend had thrown his car-keys up there (in a fit of pique?!). Elias saved the day by finding a huge broken-off branch (there were plenty around after the previous day’s storms) which he used to dislodge the keys from their high perch (plus the various other things that the man had tossed up there in his attempts to retrieve the keys, including a jack, an umbrella and a car glove-box!).


On Wednesday evening I went to see a double bill of vintage West African films, showing as part of the Human Rights Film Festival. The first was renowned Senegalese Director Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 drama ‘Black Girl’. I quote the programme blurb – it is a ‘strikingly complex exploration of racial and cultural prejudice that combines social-realism with the spare but freewheeling aesthetics of the nouvelle vague’. The story follows a young Senegalese woman who works for a French family, first as a nanny in their large Dakar villa, and later as a general housemaid in their cramped apartment on the French Riviera. It was beautifully articulated, angry and moving.

The second movie, Jean Rouch’s 1970 comedy ‘Petit a Petit’, combined improvised fiction with observational documentary in an ambitiously farcical send-up of colonialism and capitalism. Three successful import-exporters from a small market town in Niger decide that they need to build a monstrous concrete and glass tower block in order to be taken seriously. So they head to Paris on a fact-finding mission, to learn how people live and work in high-rises, and how they might be built. One of the men accosts (real) strangers in the street, asking them about their clothes and families, and measuring their heads with a pair of callipers. Sacha Baron Cohen must have used the film as a model for ‘Borat’!


On Thursday we went on an outing with Maisie’s friend Charlotte (plus mum Adriana, and baby Isobel) to Art Play, a kids art-workshop centre in the city. All sorts of imaginative facilitated sessions are run there but they are usually expensive and over-subscribed – happily this one was free! Aimed at 2-5 year olds (perfect!), they’d blacked out the room, and lit it with overhead projectors and light boxes, torches and strings of fairy-lights. There were colourful translucent things to make patterns with, blocks to build with and a craft table set up for decorating great coned hats. All the kids had a lovely time!

circus_camel copy

The ‘Great Moscow Circus’ has landed on St Kilda for a couple of weeks – their huge yellow and red stripy Big Top is set up on the grass right next to the beach – it is quite a sight! Next to the tent are a number of neatly fenced animal pens full of (healthy-looking) exotic animals. On Saturday we took Tommy and Maisie down to see the camels, llamas, ponies, huge-horned oxen and blue/gold macaws. The kids were so fascinated that we didn’t reckon we needed to pay to go inside the tent!


On a balmy Saturday evening I went into town to the opening of the Melbourne Photomarathon exhibition. On my way there, as the the dusk sky glowed and the lights of the high-rises started to sparkle, I caught the 5pm carillon of the Federation Bells. Anyone can write tunes for them, so you never know what you might hear. A simple, urgently rhythmic peal was the most effective.


The photomarathon exhibition was pretty low-tech. The organisers had simply made 6×4 prints of every single photo entered and stuck them in vertical lines (one line per entrant) down the walls. There were so many photos, it was pretty overwhelming, and in many cases, it was hard to see what the images had to do with the brief. The winning images weren’t that amazing – which I guess goes to show how tricky a task it was. I was disappointed that my photos didn’t get any recognition, as they were much more colourful, bold and well-composed than most! Some of the images that stood out for me included a shot of a used condom in a park for ‘intimacy amongst strangers’, and two nice ones for ‘under the covers’ – in one the photographer had snuck into an empty sports stadium, in another the photographer had found a cocooned car parked in one of Melbourne’s most graffitied alleyways.