Kuxa Kanema in Mozambique

During the symposium CIRCULAR GROUNDS #1 the Sunshine Socialist Cinema will introduce a couple of clips from Kuxa Kanema newsreels, recorded in Mozambique in the mid 1970’s. Kuxa Kanema means “Birth of Cinema”. When Mozambique gained independence in 1975 after nearly 500 years of colonial rule, the Marxist FRELIMO party and the president Samora Machel founded the National Institute of Cinema in order to produce and distribute images of the country re-building itself into an independent nation. The 10 minute Kuxa Kanema newsreels were screened weekly in cinemas and through mobile screening units transported around the country in old VW buses.

The people working on these newsreels were all novices, educated by foreign filmmakers invited by FRELIMO from Yugoslavia, Cuba, Brazil and the Soviet Union. Jean-Luc Godard attempted to help set up a national television system, teaching people in rural villages to film using video cameras. The anthropologist Jean Rouch set up documentary filmmaking workshops which shot so-called Cartes Postales every morning on 8 mm and then screened them the same evening, in the first instance of what became known as Varan Workshops. Postcards on film, of the people, by the people, and presented to the people.

In Kuxa Kanema, film was meant to be an educational tool used to create an independent  Marxist state. Its’ example has inspired several contemporary artists to comment upon it. Kuxa Kanema speaks of jilted idealism and of conflicting desires, of a wish for art to get to play a part in the construction of a new society.

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